Because GPOs are relatively new to the professional cleaning industry, many have questions as to what they are, how they work, and how they can benefit cleaning contractors.
According to Terry Sambrowski, Executive Director of the National Service Alliance,  founded in 1996 and now a leading GPO for the professional cleaning industry, the following are the six most common questions - and answers - her organization receives about GPOs:
What is a GPO?
A group purchasing organization negotiates agreements with manufacturers for their members to purchase cleaning solutions, tools, and equipment at reduced rates.
How old are GPOs?
They date back to the early 1900s and first served the healthcare industry. Today, virtually every hospital in the country belongs to one or more GPOs.
How many GPOs are there in the U.S.?
Estimates indicate there are about 600 GPOs or GPO-related organizations in the U.S.; about 30 of them are very large.
Why would a cleaning contractor join a GPO?
Usually it is for product cost savings; however, there are other reasons. For instance, many jan/san manufacturers "beta test" new equipment with GPO members. This means GPO members are often the first to be introduced to the latest technologies. In addition, meetings offer a lot of networking opportunities.
Are GPOs open to all cleaning contractors?
Larger cleaning contractors benefit the most from joining a GPO. Usually, contractors that purchase large quantities of cleaning supplies will realize the most savings.
Do GPOs benefit the entire professional cleaning industry?
Yes. We already mentioned how they let GPO members beta test equipment. After beta testing, these machines are refined and marketed to everyone in the industry. They also stimulate innovation. Our GPO members discuss their cleaning challenges with jan/san manufacturers. For many manufacturers, it is the best opportunity they have to really listen to the end-customer and develop products that meet their needs.
Sambrowski adds that cleaning contractors that join a GPO should view it as a long-term working relationship. "Take the time to research the available GPOs to help ensure this is a successful working relationship."