There are other ways to benchmark. (Click here for a definition of “benchmarking”.) Today we’ll talk about how you can benchmark your in-house custodial practices by joining a trade association.
One of the best trade associations in the cleaning industry is called APPA – Leadership in Educational Facilities. APPA members include over 1,300 universities, colleges, private and public K-12 schools, museums, libraries, and other organizations dedicated to learning. With more than 7,000 educational facilities professionals active within APPA and its six regional organizations, APPA and organizations like it are great places to do benchmarking. (See also: ISSA, an international cleaning industry trade assocation.)
Trade associations offer facility managers formal training programs – both at the managerial and executive level. They give supervisors an opportunity to compare/contrast their practices with best practices across the industry. Trade associations also offer a variety of accreditations, designations and certificates. Beyond any status appeal, these programs can strengthen your fundamentals and make your custodial organization more competitive.
Trade associations give you the information you need. As opposed to other organizations that are not industry-specific, your cleaning-industry trade association will allow you to pick and choose how you want to educate yourself. For example: when you attend an ISSA-sponsored conference, you choose to attend only sessions that will be most useful and applicable to your cleaning organization. Looking to improve your practices on flooring? Then choose only that session.
Finally, trade associations usually offer publications with useful information for its members. Example: APPA recently published the 3rd Edition of its Custodial Staffing Guidelines, which is considered the gold standard for universities. Both APPA and ISSA publish many more benchmarking-related materials over the course of the year. One word of caution, however: as useful these as these surveys may be, remember that the information contained in them can be misleading. Surveys are not always answered honestly and they usually contain averages – numbers that may have nothing to do with your specific university. Avoid relying too heavily on the results.
As you can see, membership in a trade association has its benefits and limitations. Maximizing the value of your membership will take time, experience, and maybe the helpful guidance of an outside source like a cleaning consultant. Stay tuned – next time we’ll discuss how you can benchmark through your equipment and supplies vendor.