The university where I teach requires every instructor to undergo student evaluations. Little is more merciless than the comments of students who just finished one of the most grueling projects required of them during their college tenure!

Thus far, my students’ comments have taught me that: I can single-handedly cause someone to fail every class; I am cruel to not assign homework around social and work schedules; and that requiring perfect attendance is a “direct violation of student rights and senior privileges.”

I also learned that however many off-the-wall comments I get, it still is a good exercise to receive the other honest, uncensored observations to compare with my own view of how I do. It is a valuable opportunity to reflect on how well I am meeting the needs of those I serve. I know I am a better teacher because of those evaluations.

Similarly, building service contractors could consider customer complaints or frequent quality checks their equivalent moment of truth. But I’d suggest that BSCs take additional time to evaluate the topics hardly touched upon in customer reviews. For instance, this month, we discuss what it means to run a cleaning company in an ethical manner. How often do you consider the moral consequences of your business decisions? Is your goal to serve yourself or your customers?

We also talk to industry veterans to find out just how committed this industry is to technical innovation. It is up to the individual contractor to research the best tools to use and to push suppliers to continuously improve upon what they offer.

To that end, we’ve also included a fax-back survey that allows you to evaluate how well suppliers are serving your product needs. You could win two free passes to the ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show this October by sending in your response.

Plus, columnist John Walker compares U.S. contractors to those he recently observed overseas. Find out whether you’d make the grade in their janitorial education system.