We are all too familiar with the pressures of being a jansan distributor in today’s world. At one time, we were just about the only source in town to purchase jansan-related products. But end customers now have scores of options for purchasing jansan products including mega-retailers, e-commerce sites, and office product suppliers. It’s made it tough out there. Even more, operating costs and financial pressures can make it hard to open the shop door in the morning.

While we can’t help much with the many new ways end customers have to purchase cleaning and paper supplies, according to ISSA’s Director of Facility Services, Dan Walker, ISSA can suggest ways to ease the financial pressure many of its 2,400 distributor members are grappling with. It all comes down to one word: sustainability.

Beginning this year, ISSA and Stephen Ashkin, the industry’s leading advocate for sustainability, are piloting a new program known as ISSA’s Operational Efficiency Program. It is designed specifically to assist distributor members in reducing operating costs and, as a result of those savings, being more profitable. “While the focus is on distributors,” says Walker, “many components of this program are applicable to all segments of our industry: manufacturers, in-house cleaning professionals, as well as building service contractors.”

According to performance data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, facilities can reduce operating costs by 10 percent to more than 30 percent when sustainability initiatives are implemented.

In addition, these reduced operating costs do not include another costly item for distributors: delivery trucks. “We estimate that ISSA distributor members have approximately 25,000 such vehicles,” says Walker. “It’s pretty easy to see that if we can reduce the fuel consumption of these 25,000 vehicles, not only will there be significant cost savings, the reduction in greenhouse gases will be significant as well.”

Furthermore, while the ultimate goal of the program is to help ISSA distributors reduce operating costs through sustainability and protect the environment, there are other benefits as well. “Many ISSA distributors have already encountered situations with very large organizations that now require their vendors [to] provide sustainability reports, indicating what steps they are taking to reduce consumption and protect the environment,” says Ashkin. “This program will provide proof that distributors are taking necessary steps and becoming more sustainability focused.”

Ashkin adds that this program is in many ways a marketing initiative as well. It is helping astute distributors stand out from the pack just as they did a decade or more ago by marketing and training their clients on the use of Green Cleaning products and cleaning procedures.

The Essence of ISSA’s Operational Efficiency Program

According to Ashkin, the program consists of three key elements: education, benchmarking, and awards to recognize distributor member improvements. As he explains it:

Education: The program starts with a series of educational sessions, through the ISSA Data Portal, offering instruction on low-cost and no-cost improvements to help implement sustainability initiatives that lower operating costs. “My suggestion is that each distributor involved in the program form a team,” says Ashkin. “These will be your ‘internal champions,’ trained on the steps necessary to implement the program.”

Benchmarking: Benchmarking provides two types of information: how things have been in the past and how things are going today. Both are essential to the success of this program. Technology will play a hand in providing this information, once again with access to ISSA’s Data Portal, along with data from EnergyStar® and SmartWay®. “Most of us are familiar with EnergyStar,” explains Ashkin. “It helps organizations select products that use energy more efficiently, reducing consumption by from 10 percent to more than 30 percent. SmartWay may be new to some distributors. It was launched in 2004 and is designed to help organizations deliver freight using new procedures and technologies that also reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent to 30 percent and reduce greenhouse gases as well.” (See sidebar: “Freight Growth.”)

Awards: As the program gets under way, ISSA will recognize those distributor members that have been able to reduce consumption and become more sustainability focused, resulting in a reduction in operating costs. “In many ways, presenting these awards will be the most important component of the program,” adds Ashkin. “My experience has been when others see what can be done and how they have been able to reduce operating costs, other distributors want to follow suit and do the same. That’s what ISSA and I want to happen.”

More Reasons to Get Involved With ISSA’s Operational Efficiency Program

The goals of the program, as discussed, are to lower operating costs, promote sustainability, and protect the environment. According to Ashkin, one more goal is to allow smaller companies to get in on the sustainability bandwagon.

“The larger distributors have the funds to hire consultants, provide individual training programs for their staff, and hand-hold these organizations, helping them adopt sustainability initiatives. This program is designed for smaller to midsized organizations that do not have these funds. However, they can accomplish essentially the same in a much more cost-effective manner.”

Ashkin also suggests that ISSA is once again demonstrating its forward-looking leadership in the professional cleaning industry. “We are so fortunate to have ISSA. Over the past 20 years, many associations have folded. Often it is because they did not demonstrate their value to their members. With the Operational Efficiency Program, ISSA is once again demonstrating just how valuable it is to our industry.”


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