According to Sanitary Maintenance's "Report on 2012 Sanitary Supply Distributor Sales." building service contractors now represent the largest customer market. I know many of you are probably disappointed with this fact.

To you, BSCs represent small orders, late payments and someone who will switch vendors for the chance to save a nickel a case.

Some readers may not be aware that I am also the editor of Contracting Profits, SM's sister publication for BSCs. From my work there I can empathize with your concerns. There are a number of contractors in the market who live up to these negative perceptions. But I'm also happy to report that the contract cleaning industry is undergoing a transformation. Many young, next generation BSCs are taking over their family businesses and numerous savvy small contractors are growing into regional players, as well.

Associations are filled with this fresh blood who understand the true value of their vendors. These contractors appreciate the value-added services a distributor can bring to the table such as employee training or new account walk-throughs. These BSCs turn to their distributor to help navigate confusing topics such as worker's compensation or LEED, and they need advice for dealing with low-ball competitors.  And through it all, these BSCs will exchange this help for higher priced products.

How do you know which BSCs to take on as potential customers? Screen their qualifications.  Are they members of ISSA or BSCAI and are they active in the association — i.e. go to meetings and trade shows, or serve on the board. Have they earned CIMS or CBSE certifications? These designations help validate contractors in the eyes of their customers, but it can work for their vendors, too.