Those working for the United States Postal Services have a common saying: “The mail never stops.” Essentially, what they mean is that no matter the obstacle, the mail continues to move through USPS facilities — 365 days per year, 7 days per week, 24 hours per day — to make its way into your mailbox. While the intent of uttering the phrase is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it is something that always reminds me of cleaning.  

Last month, this magazine published its annual management benchmarking survey. Naturally, I always look forward to this issue because I’m a big nerd when it comes to data surrounding the daily cleaning industry. Also, I like to learn what resonates inside cleaning departments, what the struggles are, what is driving decision making, and ultimately what the perception of cleaning is from a management point of view. This year’s survey was no different, offering plenty of insight to keep my curiosity satiated.  

One survey result caught my eye in particular — most cleaning managers find out about new product trends from distributors and manufacturers. While that has certainly been the professional trend for as long as I can remember, there is another key resource managers should consider that I think is just as valuable: peer-to-peer networking. 

Like the mail, cleaning is one of the few functions that affects every building in every city, every day, no matter what — and it never stops. As long as there is human activity in an indoor environment, there will be a need for cleaning. Keeping that in mind, the need to advance, grow, expand, improve and develop the delivery of healthy cleaning results is also perpetually in high demand. This leaves an intriguing conundrum for cleaning managers. When and where do you find the time to cut through the noise? 

Over the past two years, peer-to-peer networking has been hampered by travel restrictions, budget constraints and see-sawing infection rates. The effect that a community of leaders can have on each other, as well as those around them, cannot be understated. Yes, emerging technology is good, new education is good, and gaining exposure to these concepts cannot be understated. However, networking with your peers adds breadth to your problem-solving endeavors. Chances are good that several of your closest peers are working diligently to solve the same problems you are — or they’ve already solved them and are willing to share their experiences and give you creative solutions to apply to your own department.  

Thankfully, there are many opportunities coming up this fall to grow your peer network and share experiences. Everything from NFMT Remix and ISSA, to smaller, regional Cleaning Summit events that cater to benchmarking and networking with like-minded individuals. I encourage you to keep your peer network in mind as you seek out new information this fall. It’s how we progress as a community. 

Ben Walker is COO at ManageMen, Inc., a leading cleaning industry consultancy specializing in training, transitions, auditing and educational materials. He can be reached at