By Jeff Cross, editorial director

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, cleaning and restoration industry will never be the same again.

As I write these words, we are living in a time in which we are all in the same battle with similar concerns and challenges. Some of you involved in restoration might be as busy as always. Others in carpet cleaning and related services might still be working, but you are finding your faithful customers are doing what they feel is right: Cancelling their appointments and waiting this out.

Some of you are completely shut down. Your commercial accounts have shut their doors and are cancelling or postponing their appointments with you. From my conversations with some of you, it’s when you pull up to do the job when you find out they aren’t having you clean for them. Yes, you tried to reach them in advance, but it is difficult to connect with decision makers right now.

You owners of larger companies with many employees dread the conversations you have to have with your faithful employees when you have to “let them go.” Even if this is temporary, it still hurts.

Yes, the cleaning and restoration industry will never be the same again. What we are going through right now might be, if I can say it, good for the industry in the long run. Feels funny to write that, but I believe it. When we come out of this, we will find ourselves in a stronger position.

Here’s why.

A united industry

As seen on the Cleaning and Maintenance Management (CMM) website, there is a similar theme for the building service contracting and distribution/manufacturing segments of our overall cleaning industry. You can read these articles starting with this one.

We are uniting. We realize that going solo provides limited results. By teaming up and becoming “one” and pushing forward collectively, we can and will see great things come from this current crisis.

I would go out on a limb here and say that all leading associations and groups are joining forces with a collective theme. ISSA, IICRC, RIA, CIRI, and others, including influential companies in all segments of the industry, are coming together with a united voice as we deal with this pandemic.

Think about this. Right now, in all the states across the country that I am aware of, carpet cleaning is deemed an “essential service,” and you can operate. It makes sense. Government realizes that we provide a health benefit. It’s not just about “Let’s get the carpet cleaned for the graduation party.” It goes deeper than that. How can you have a sanitary home without a professional deep cleaning of surfaces?

Restoration is a “given” in that it is an emergency service. You restoration contractors are needed.

What comes next for the cleaning and restoration industry after COVID-19 is contained?

Here’s the bottom line, with this single question: What is this pandemic doing for global awareness of cleaning? Whether it is facility cleaning, residential cleaning, hard floor cleaning, carpet cleaning, furniture cleaning… any type of cleaning?

I’ll tell you. People are seeing the value of clean, which is what ISSA, the parent company of Cleanfax magazine, truly believes is important: We are changing the way the world views cleaning. We aren’t simply cleaning because of appearance issues, although to be honest that’s the number one trigger for most people. If it looks dirty, it’s time to clean it. No, the science of cleaning shows that more has to be done.

This pandemic is forcing the issue. It’s bringing our value to the top of the heap, and when this current pandemic crisis is over, you will have hard data, science, and evidence to push your cleaning company to the next level. For restoration, it is very similar. Homes and buildings must be restored to pre-loss, clean condition.

I predict there will be funding and money to make all of this happen. You will see people willing to pay more for quality service, which we have talked about for years but find a struggle to see come to fruition. You will see facility budgets increase what they spend on contract cleaners (still competitive but more profitable for you) and for their own cleaning crews.

Products are going to change. We are going to see more innovation with cleaning equipment, tools, and solutions. More money spent on research and development.

What happens during this time when there is pushback? All you have to do is point to COVID-19. There’s the evidence that this must happen, that we all have to embrace cleaning, disinfecting, and protecting public health.

Be ready

Right now, you are hoping your phone will ring and you hope another job will come your way. It’s going to be slow. You may check your phone wondering, “Is it still working?” We all have to be patient.

There’s nothing we can do now except be proactive and prepare for the future. Don’t wait for something to happen. Now’s the time to work on your company, to be creative about what you will do when we come out of this pandemic era.

Communicate with industry professionals. Get onto the social media sites that we all frequent. Share your thoughts and ideas, and you will get many more in return.

The cleaning and restoration industry will never be the same again. It is going to be bigger and better.

Resources for you

 Here are some links to online resources that will help you with this current pandemic crisis.

And more to come.

Share your thoughts

Cleanfax and ISSA want to hear your voice. Please contact us with questions and concerns and tell us how we can help you in this crisis. Share your own observations and what you are doing to handle this COVID-19 outbreak in your cleaning and restoration company. What are you doing? How will you cope? How will you move forward when the crisis is over? Share your thoughts.


Jeff Cross is the editorial director of ISSA Media, which includes Cleanfax magazine. He is the previous owner of a successful cleaning and restoration firm. He also works as a trainer and consultant for business owners, managers, and front-line technicians. He can be reached at jeffcross@issa.com.