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VOL. 125 | NO. 220 | Thursday, November 11, 2010

Clean Slate

ServiceMaster takes cleaning international

JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Daily News

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ServiceMaster Clean trainer Jabin Newhouse, left, discusses a portable vacuum unit with Kazunori Imamura and Kazunori Iwanaga of ServiceMaster’s Japanese business partner, Duskin. Imamura and Iwanaga flew from Japan for a hands-on training session in ServiceMaster’s patient room training facility. (Photos: Lance Murphey)

A Memphis corporation is helping set standards for best practices in the health care industry on an international level.

This week ServiceMaster Clean’s Bartlett-area training facility led business managers from Japan through the gray areas of cleaning in medical facilities.

The three Japanese managers represent Duskin, a large residential and commercial services conglomerate, which purchases licenses from ServiceMaster Clean – a division of Memphis-based The ServiceMaster Co. – in order to receive training.

“Every new franchise that comes into our system has to go through the first level of health care training,” Jabin Newhouse, director of health care systems for ServiceMaster Clean, told the group Wednesday morning. “This is an immediate advantage (for franchise owners) during the selling process or the marketing process, that we train people by video or hands-on before we ever get into the account. That’s how we differentiate ourselves.”

The training took place in a 20,000-square-foot facility near Interstate 40 and Sycamore View Road that is equipped for training franchise owners in all three of the company’s divisions: janitorial, disaster restoration and residential.

ServiceMaster Clean was first incorporated in 1947 and currently has about 4,500 employees around the globe. Newhouse said that about 2,000 people train in the building each year, 200 to 300 of which are trained in health care janitorial. Groups from India, Turkey and the United Kingdom are among the largest internationals to attend.

ServiceMaster Clean has some 900 franchises in Japan.

“What we’ve heard is that many other companies give you a how-to book and you’re expected to learn on the job,” said Michael Bielskis, public relations consultant for ServiceMaster’s corporate office. “By that time, you’re not sterile and you don’t know how to clean properly. (Training) needs to take place beforehand.”

ServiceMaster Clean trainer Jabin Newhouse, center, and Japanese representative Ryan Oxley, right, train Toshimitsu Iwasaki, from left, Kazunori Imamura and Kazunori Iwanaga of ServiceMaster’s Japanese business partner, Duskin, in ServiceMaster’s unique health care patient room training facility. The three flew from Japan for a hands-on training session.

Bielskis said the company’s health care training has been lauded by third-party industry consultants for making headway in best practices in an area that has few established rules.

“There are recommendations out there, but there’s no uniform (rule) that’s established,” said Newhouse. “I think it’s a liability issue. If they tell you to use this cloth and this method, if it doesn’t work and you get an infection, the agency that gave you those recommendation is going to be responsible.

“That’s scary for us as consumers. It’s something we should consider as we talk about going to different places like surgery centers.”

In the United States, said Newhouse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done the most research into medical facility cleaning standards.

The Japanese managers asked questions through an interpreter about the differences in licensing for larger and small medical facilities and then Newhouse led them to a mock hospital room to demonstrate the use of equipment and chemicals.

A discussion broke out about the differences between using cotton cloths and microfiber cloths, which cost more than twice as much in Japan as they do in the United States.

Newhouse said although the Japanese managers had specific questions relating to smaller facilities, he does as little customization of training as possible so that all trainees will receive the same format and standards.

The training is five days long with an extra day for new franchise owners.

Bielskis said that new franchises are available immediately and that qualified applicants can finance their franchises through ServiceMaster Acceptance. The Shane Battier Franchise Scholarship program offers franchises valued at $31,900 to women and minorities who compete in an application process.

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