- THE MAGAZINE
On a recent business trip, I stopped in an airport restaurant to have dinner while waiting for my flight to depart. I was sitting at a table overlooking a bank of twenty or more pay phones. Actually, it was more like where the pay phones used to be.
I was struck by the realization that, with the popularity, reduced costs and efficiency of cell phones, there is no need for pay phones anymore. What a huge change for the telecommunications industry, as well as for the consumer. Can you imagine operating without a cell phone today?
Think of your computers, the Internet, E-mail and GPS; how in the world could we survive without them? I know I would have a very difficult time. I spend hours every day communicating with my friends, family, peers, IICRC board members and staff by e-mail. I purchase items and book airline tickets and hotel rooms online. I also pay bills and engage in online banking. I’m sure many of you do too. If I can’t get on my computer every day, I fall behind and I feel lost!
We all know that change is inevitable. How we deal with change is optional; it even becomes a test of character. And I have to admit, I haven’t always done this very well, though I keep trying.
The cleaning and restoration industry has experienced tremendous change over the past few years. On the cleaning side, just think about the recent shift in trends in the floor covering industry. Although carpet is still popular in homes and offices, the trend toward hard surfaces and area rugs has had a significant impact on the carpet production and cleaning industries. Today, most major carpet (flooring?) manufacturers produce ceramic tile, laminate, wood flooring and rugs. In 2002, area rugs represented about 17 percent of carpet production in the U.S.; last year, it was up to 25 percent.
Other changes on the cleaning side of the industry include the introduction of microfiber; increased popularity of polyester fiber in carpet; encapsulation cleaning, and manufacturer warranties specifying the use of CRI SOA chemicals and equipment and IICRC Certified Firms.
Certainly on the restoration side there have been tremendous changes because of weather patterns, improved technology and a better understanding of the science behind restoration and remediation processes. There are many new tools available for professional restorers including: meters and monitoring equipment, drying equipment and methods including “heat” drying, and of course, improved extraction methods and equipment.
Nothing is as important to the survival of an organization as change, while nothing has greater potential to cause failures, loss of production, or lower quality than resistance to it. History is full of organizations that failed to change and are now extinct. Just ask any automobile manufacturer who resisted alternative fuels or hybrid (gas/electric) technology.
One of the missions of the IICRC is to keep up with changes in our industry. That’s why we improve or introduce new courses periodically, write or revise our Standards, and require CECs (Continuing Education Credits) for registrants. Just a few weeks ago we began investigating hydro-electrolysis as a substitute for chemical cleaning in many hard-surface applications. Talk about the ultimate green cleaning process!
Resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss. Understanding the reason for change is the first step in accepting it. Recently, I had to explain to a registrant why several years ago the requirements for Master Restorer status changed. He feared that he had lost his Master Restorer status. Once he heard the reasons for the additional course requirements, such as Health and Safety Technician, he understood and now supports the program.
Remember, there are good, sound reasons why IICRC courses and Standards have changed over the years. Don’t sit back and let the industry and your competitors pass you by. Changing and keeping up with industry trends is not only the right thing to do, it is the key to your very survival and success.