In an environment where doing more with less became essential to the vitality of the business, so too did the working relationship between BSC and facility executive. Whether it was out of necessity or by default, a more sophisticated and strategic partnership emerged. 

“The facility management profession has been trying to elevate their work and look at it with a more strategic perspective — it’s not just about how to manage costs but how to add value to (client) organizations,” says Jim Whittaker, board chairman for International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and president and CEO of Facility Engineering Associates in
Fairfax, Virginia.

Facility executives like Whittaker say they are searching for BSCs who can guide them to more efficient and eco-friendly cleaning processes, as well as to other specialty programs such as cleaning for health.

“There is a recognition (by FMs) that a large percentage of our budget is custodial services,” Whittaker adds. “We need BSCs to talk about new tools, new technologies and higher performance cleaning.”

A Contracting Profits survey of facility executives shows a majority — 64 percent — value a healthy and sanitary environment for building occupants more than a clean appearance (28 percent), an environmentally-friendly green cleaning program (6 percent), or a low price for cleaning (2 percent).
Consider that in 2012, about 45 percent of facility managers were likely to pick a BSC based solely on price.

That bare bones approach to cleaning is dissipating now that clients have returned their focus to other areas than just survival, says Don Zerivitz, president of Pro Clean Building Maintenance in Orlando, Florida.

“We’re a more valued vendor — our work is a critical piece of their operations,” says Zerivitz. Especially in places where BSCs play a larger role, such as in healthcare, defense and food manufacturing, he adds.

So, what exactly are facility executives looking for? The CP survey shows high quality cleaning and consistent, broad line service.

In addition to traditional janitorial services, facility organizations would like providers to supply: Cleaning for health/infection control services (66 percent); window blinds cleaning (66 percent); green cleaning (63 percent); day cleaning (61 percent); and upholstery cleaning (49 percent).

Property managers also indicate interest in a variety of non-traditional services, such as recycling, exterior window cleaning, snow and ice removal, pest control, points toward LEED-EBOM certification, and general facility services, such as changing light bulbs, watering plants, and HVAC maintenance. More than half of facility executives are willing to pay more for these add-on services.

BSCs such as Zerivitz say they are making an effort to diversify their portfolios, going beyond basic cleaning tasks to include specialized services with the hopes of becoming a more attractive option for facility clients.

“I think you’re seeing a trend that BSCs who previously had a separate division (for these services) are now integrating those services into a single contract,” says David Hewett, an industry consultant and Building Owners and Management Association (BOMA) fellow. “You’re going to find that facility managers want someone who can do a little bit more. If the BSC says, ‘We can do upholstery cleaning,’ they would much rather have that BSC than have to go out and find more contractors.”

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