After more than two years in operation, the ISSA Canada Building Service Contractor (BSC) Council is continuing with its plans to develop new education programming that is of interest to the sector.
Ken Hilder, the council’s chair, told Facility Cleaning & Maintenance that the group has been invaluable in disseminating and prioritizing the messaging around the benefits of being an ISSA Canada member and, by extension, membership in the BSC council itself.
The council was formed in 2017 to ensure the ISSA has a “good, clear understanding” of the needs of building service contractors and to determine how to educate their workers in ways that provide real-world, on-the-job benefits. Leveraging the expertise and opinions of its eight founding members, selected from a variety of company types, business sizes, and geographical locations, the council discusses issues pertaining to BSCs at each of its seasonal meetings. The sessions are held at a different member’s facility each time, though Hilder notes that COVID-19 has forced a pivot to virtual meetings. “Although competitors in the marketplace, we are working together in a spirit of partnership that is designed to make sure we are sharing information that is important to everyone within the industry,” Hilder explained of the BSC council’s collaborative nature.
One facet of their work he feels is particularly important is spreading the word about ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) which encompasses a variety of training programs, including those built to support education within the BSC sector. Hilder lists basic custodial, advanced custodial, and supervisory-level programs as some of the institute’s offerings, adding that one of the council’s first priorities was ensuring CMI receives recognition across the industry.
But the BSC education offered by ISSA isn’t only for companies in that facet of the industry, Hilder points out. “If you think about it, a manufacturer of cleaning products or a distributor of cleaning products has sales people who are trying to sell to the contractors,” he explained, “and part of selling is trying to be able to relate to those you are selling to… sometimes [distributors and manufacturers] will take [CMI training] just to have a better understanding of what a contractor does on a day-to-day basis.”
Another focus for the council’s members is highlighting the importance of the ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS), which Hilder likens to “the ISO for the sanitation industry.”
“It’s a program that a contractor can embrace to help them become a better, more capable contractor that delivers services at a higher level and on a consistent basis,” he told FC&M. To support its CIMS-certified members, the council created programs with the aim of helping BSCs market their certification while creating widespread awareness of its value, which may not be apparent to their contacts in real estate and property management. And Hilder believes the council’s efforts are paying off. For example, he reported that BGIS, the largest property management company in Canada, modified their bid documents to give a higher level of recognition to CIMS-certified contractors.
The BSC Council is also concerned with ensuring there is a steady supply of workers available to companies in the sector. It is accomplishing this by creating an advocacy plan that will target secondary and post-secondary schools to inform teachers and students of career opportunities in the sanitation industry.
Hilder noted, “It’s not just all about frontline cleaners. There are supervisory positions, management positions, executive positions. We feel if we can create a program that over time creates more awareness and interest, it will begin to help contractors with one of their main needs, which is finding good people.”
Companies and personnel who are interested in becoming members of the ISSA Canada BSC Council, or who would like more information about its activities, can email Hilder for further information.