When building services contractors need insight on trends in product selection for the professional cleaning industry, they can take a cue from what larger cleaning companies in the U.S. are purchasing. Certain key conditions are shaping the business practices and buying habits of large cleaning companies:

 • Large cleaning contractors are under greater cost pressures now; this means they are looking for cleaning equipment that can improve worker productivity and reduce costs.

 • Major facilities in the U.S., typically cleaned by larger cleaning contractors, want their facilities as green and sustainable as possible; they turn to their contractors to help them accomplish this.

 • Many large manufacturers turn to large cleaning contractors to better understand their changing cleaning needs and challenges and develop equipment that addresses those needs.

So what are large cleaning contractors buying now?

According to Tobi Colbert, director of member services for the National Service Alliance, a group purchasing organization for larger cleaning contractors, the types of equipment her members are most interested in include the following:

Floor machines that increase efficiencies: companies are recognizing the advantages offered by automating cleaning processes to save time and labor and "floor machines are invariably at the top of the list."

Equipment that allows for variable service options: "when repairs are needed, larger cleaning contractors want equipment that allows them to remove specific components, overnight them to a manufacturer or distributor, and have them repaired and returned in a day or two."

Auto-dilution systems: These systems properly dilute chemicals and help reduce chemical use, which reduces costs.

Equipment designed for day cleaning operations: "more of our members say their customers want their facilities cleaned during business hours.  This means the equipment must be as quiet and unobtrusive as possible."

Value: Contractors want equipment that offers "value" for the contractor and their customer.

"This last point may need some explanation," says Colbert. "A product brings value to the workplace if it is designed to last longer, is engineered to help a facility be greener and more sustainable, lowers cleaning costs, or improves customer satisfaction. For many NSA contractors today, these are bread and butter issues."