We are all too familiar with the pressures of being a jansan distributor in today’s world. Going from being just about the only source in town to purchase jansan-related products, end-customers now have scores of options from mega-retailers, e-commerce sites, office product suppliers that now have jansan product offerings, and more. It’s made it tough out there. Even more, there are operating costs and financial pressure that can make it hard to open the shop door in the morning.
While we can’t help very 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 along with Stephen Ashkin, the industry’s leading advocate for sustainability, is piloting a new program known as ISSA’s DEAL program – Distributor Efficiency Analytics & Learning Program. It is designed specifically to assist distributor members on ways to reduce operating costs and, as a result of those savings, be 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.”
But before we explain what this program is all about, let’s answer our question.
How can ISSA help it’s distributor members save $42 million annually? It all comes down to the math:
• The Association has approximately 2,400 distributor members.
• These distributor members have approximately 5,000 warehouses and offices.
• The sizes of these facilities range from 10,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet
• The square foot operating costs of these warehouses/offices runs approximately $2.50 per square foot, which amounts to $25,000 annually to $250,000 annually.
• According to performance data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), facilities can reduce operating costs from 10 percent to more than 30 percent when sustainability initiatives are implemented.
• This reflects a potential savings for a 10,000 square foot warehouse of $2,000 to $7,500 annually; for a 100,000 square foot facility, we are talking about savings as high as $75,000 annually.
We should note that these figures do not include another costly item for distributors and that is 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 gasses will be significant as well.”
Further, while the ultimate goals 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 on their steps to reduce consumption and protect the environment,” says Ashkin. “This program will not only provide proof that distributors are taking necessary steps and becoming more sustainability focused because they will have the data to prove it.”
Ashkin adds that this means this program is in many ways a marketing initiative. This is because 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 DEAL
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 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: As we know, benchmarking provides us with two types of information: data regarding 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 here in making this happen, 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 10 percent to more than 30 percent. SmartWay may be new to some distributors. It was launched in 2004 and is designed to assist organizations deliver freight using new procedures and technologies that also reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent to 30 percent, and their related greenhouse gasses.” (See Sidebar: Freight Growth)
Awards: As the program gets underway, ISSA will recognize those distributor members that have been able to reduce consumption, 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
We’ve covered a lot of territory here. The goals of the program, as discussed, are to lower operating costs, promote sustainability, as well as protect the environment. However, according to Ashkin, there is one more goal and that 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 organization, helping them adopt sustainability initiatives. This program is designed for smaller to mid-sized 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 twenty 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.”
Sidebar: Freight Growth
According to SmartWay, which is operated by the EPA, between 1990 and 2013, freight activity in the United States grew by more than 50 percent; it is projected to nearly double again by 2040. This is producing more greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions and it is projected that by 2050, global freight transport emissions of CO2 will surpass emissions from passenger vehicles.