The Personal Approach To Distribution
In the Montana/Wyoming market, Bruco Inc. is forced to cover a large geography and a diverse customer base of schools, hospitals, retail chains, churches, mines, building service contractors and more. But despite the various customer types and distance between them, owner Ben Uselman strives to give each customer a personal experience.
Founded 30 years ago by Ben and his wife Joei, Bruco, based in Billings, Mont., has flourished with the company mission, “We Teach Clean.” Staff members educate and consult clients on better ways to run their organizations. Ben wants to offer more than just easy ordering functions and a quick turnaround of products. Instead customers can receive workloading reports, cleaning and managerial classes at Bruco University, equipment repair, warewashing site visits and other services.
Q: How are you giving customers a personal experience?
A: What we’re taking advantage of today is the crisis in the service sector job market. The newer workforce is highly focused on things that are of interest to them and if they feel their work is not fulfilling in janitorial services, or they are not being given the best tools or the best education or not being appreciated, they have no qualms of moving on. And so the mobility in the cleaning industry today is so high, there’s a poor thread of continuity in systems, procedures and frequency.
Our administrative representatives in schools districts and healthcare are saying, “Our building is not clean, we’re having turnover, we have training issues.” So, our focus has not been to compete on low margin, efficient movement of boxes. Our focus has been to be able to provide reports on staffing that they should be at with the kind of cleaning level they are currently expecting, the budgetary numbers they should be looking at.
We also offer the customer an approach of changing the culture of their organization respective to their cleaning department. By that I mean we offer them a YES program, which stands for Your staff, Effectively cleaning, Staying within budget. We offer various types of reports that benchmark their operation against national standards.
Q: Why did you make a personal approach to customers a core aspect of your business?
A: The “We Teach Clean” dynamics of Bruco, our consulting division, Bruco University Class Courses and YES three-year partnerships, has become a key focus for our growth and for the retention of our customers. The customer knows we can come in and do an educational session or an in-depth work analysis to right size their staffing or the right type of cleaning with the equipment they’re using to what their expectations and procedures are.
However, with cleaning departments that have been doing their own thing in their own way with their own cleaning procedures at their own frequency and cleaning outcomes being different from one level of a building from one department to another, we have to explain to the customer that it takes a period of time to change the culture of your cleaning department and the expectations of your department. Your people need to be worked with on an ongoing basis until it becomes the culture and continuity of your cleaning department and understand the benefits of the cleaning program and proper use of tools and equipment.
We preach, “Make your life easier for your staff and you’ll retain them and retain continuity and start getting the outcomes in the buildings and departments you expect.” And it’s worked well for us.
Q: Your personal approach spills over into your company as well. The Web site includes photos and information about your employees. Do you see Bruco as more of a family than a company?
A: Really it is. We’ve been fortunate in retaining some of the key, inside infrastructure, leaders and employees. Our operations manager has been with us for 22 years; our office manager has been with us 13 years; head of service department has been with us 21 years. Many of their employees are long-term employees in the department. It is a true family. We support those people and take care of them. It makes a statement for our employees and for our customers of the kind of company we want to be and we are.
Q: Does this approach lead to better employee morale?
A: I think it does. We’ve seen that “me first and everybody else, whatever” approach in both government and multi-national corporate America and it’s turned off all America. I’m thinking, “Do right, and do your best.”