In the last few months, I found myself discussing many different situations that all pointed to the same conclusion. Customer organizations from across the country have taken it upon themselves to measure and improve cleaning operations, some sharing the results with numerous peers. At the same time, contractors have been calling, trying to find basic industry data to help better run their operations. And suppliers also have called us, looking for industry statistics that can help define various markets and their needs.

The customer initiatives covered in this month’s cover story and the conversations I recently have had with others in the industry all pointed to one glaring problem — there isn’t enough hard data available to either quantify or qualify standards of cleaning.

Many other areas of facility services have developed highly technical measuring systems. Managers track HVAC, roofing and lighting, among others, using standardized spreadsheets and database systems. But cleaning continues to be a highly subjective process.

Yet, the few people mentioned in this month’s cover story are not the only innovators in the industry. There are many more people in the contract cleaning profession who have studied methods and processes. But their information hasn’t become available. Or if it has, they haven’t articulated its value to their peers.

Some of the organizations mentioned in our cover story are trying to do just that, but if the industry stops with their actions alone, so does the potential progress they are initiating by sharing their information. Instead, additional cleaning operations need to step up to offer their research and findings. Still others may not have hard numbers to share, but could lend their critical opinions to existing data, helping to improve upon what is available.

As the dialog expands, so does the pool of information available for all members of the industry. This data only can help improve the image of the cleaning profession and the level of quality customers can expect from any of its providers. But who will take on the important task of gathering and disseminating that information? So far, only individual companies have attempted the task. Yet, it seems one entity must come forward as the premier research provider for the cleaning industry, under which more research can be done, and through which valid and comparable data can be reported. The industry is ready to move to the next level, but who will come forward and volunteer to lead it there?

Editor's Note: In the August issue of Contracting Profits a news brief describing a recent BOMA survey regarding tenant satisfaction rates should have reported that respondents registered a satisfaction rating of only 44 percent regarding their current cleaning services.