Two men talk to each other

Every building service contractor eventually runs into a problem or a dilemma that they need help with. Any number of business consultants will offer their services, or BSCs may consider turning to a lawyer, an accountant or nearby business owner.

But there’s nothing like getting help from a peer — someone who is actually in the industry. Only he or she can truly know what it’s like to be in the same shoes. That’s why peer groups are becoming instrumental in today’s evolving business landscape. Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) knows this and fully advocates peer-to-peer networking.

In fact, Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services founder and CEO Todd Hopkins helps set up peer groups for BSCAI members. This spring, training sessions were held at the Executive Management Conference in Miami Beach, Florida. 

“We provide a full orientation on how to participate in a BSCAI peer group, as well as an overview of the purpose and value of peer groups,” says Hopkins. “Seasoned peer group members share their experiences and how they run their meetings. While all groups have very similar goals of learning from each other, they tend to take on a life of their own as far as style and format.”

Peer groups tend to be made up of similar-sized businesses, but in different geographical areas. 

One industry professional who has benefited from peer groups is Richard Rodriguez, who currently serves as vice president of operations for Houston-based McLemore Building Maintenance Inc. 

“We’re part of a four-company peer group, and we meet once a year,” he says. “Networking with my peers has given me a better understanding of what is going on [in the industry]. Sometimes, we tend to put blinders on. We end up losing focus on everything around us. Peer groups get you to open your horizons a bit, and they get you to continue to think outside the box. To this day, if I have a problem or a question, I can pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, do you guys have any experience with this?’ It’s good to have a different resource.”

The benefits of belonging to a peer group are many: sharing of best practices, problem solving and business insights, among others. Rodriguez says the benefits for him are more personal.

“It helps me understand that I’m not on an island by myself,” he says. “Those problems I’m experiencing and dealing with day in and day out? I’m not the only one. Some of my peers are experiencing the same problems. Peer groups give you the opportunity to put it out there and ask, ‘How did you handle this?’”

BSCs may be reluctant to join a peer group for fear of spilling company secrets or giving away too much. Hopkins doesn’t believe this should be a concern. 

“There are no secrets,” he says. “Only good answers and helpful insights that can come at a perfect time from an industry peer who has ‘been there and done that.’ The best leaders in our industry are learners and sharers. We can all grow together.”