The Green Cleaning Movement Moves South

The professional cleaning industry in North America and much of Western Europe now recognizes the benefits of providing green cleaning programs to its customers. More importantly, we now understand the positive health benefits of these programs to building users and cleaning staff. However, that certainly is not true in many other parts of the world.

I am now working with ISSA, giving presentations in the main cities in central and South America. While I am discussing a variety of issues, a key focus is green cleaning. What I am finding is that many cleaning contractors, especially those operated by younger people, are excited about green cleaning and view it as a business opportunity. They are anxious to encourage their customers to adopt green cleaning products and strategies, but are not always sure how to go about it and what involves.

I thought I would share some of these questions I’m asked in other parts of the world with CMM readers. I would not be surprised many cleaning contractors here in North America are struggling with some of these very same issues.

For instance:

How do I introduce green cleaning to my customers?

There are several studies that can be found online about the benefits of green cleaning. These include how student performance and attendance has improved when green cleaning programs are in place; how worker productivity has been enhanced; how absenteeism in the workplace has declined and more. I am a powerful advocate of giving customer presentations. A presentation on the value of green cleaning can be one of the most important presentations you can provide them.

What types of customers most want green cleaning programs?

Your clients that are doing business nationally and internationally are the first to approach. What is happening around the world today is that companies want to do businesses with companies that have a shared culture and this includes green cleaning. In fact, it is often one of the items at the top of the list. Further, some large corporations will ask their vendors what green and sustainability initiatives they have in place. Your customers doing business nationally and internationally view adopting green cleaning and sustainability initiatives as very simply good business.

How do I get the staff to make the change from the traditional way of cleaning?

In some cases, it can be easier to get your clients on board with a green cleaning program than your staff. Cleaning workers become very accustomed to the products they have traditionally used and are reluctant to change. The first step to take is to show them that many green cleaning products are as effective and perform as well as the traditional alternatives they have used in the past. From here, emphasize that when used correctly, they are also safer and healthier for the cleaning worker, as well as protective of the environment.

How do I know what changes I need to make?

ISSA’s CIMS-GB (for Green Buildings) program is offered throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and in several key cities in Latin America. The program reviews all the key components of a green cleaning program and how to get one up and going for your business and your clients.

How do I sell and market my Green Cleaning program to prospects?

Earlier I mentioned that I am a firm advocate for giving a presentation before prospects, and increasingly, this is becoming essential to win their business. When calling on larger, more lucrative prospects, it will be expected of cleaning contractors. Prepare a professional PowerPoint (or similar) presentation. While your prospects are interested in what you have to say, having a very professional looking PowerPoint is icing on the cake.

Rehearse your presentation. Twenty minutes is enough time and allows for about ten minutes of questions and answers. Also, try and tailor it to what type of organization you are meeting with. A school, for instance, will have cleaning concerns that may not be shared by an office building filled with attorneys.

Finally, a question I frequently am asked is if contractors should provide both traditional and green cleaning programs. At this point, I suggest transferring to green cleaning. Because the performance of most environmentally preferable cleaning products is as effective as their traditional alternatives and cost effective as well, there is simply no need to offer both.


Ron Segura is founder and president of Segura & Associates, an international janitorial consulting company based in the U.S. He has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the cleaning industry with ten of those years spent overseeing the cleaning of over 4.5 million square feet for The Walt Disney Company. Ron can be contacted through his company website at