Chad Hendley: Creating a Leadership Culture at IH Services
Chad Hendley is the third generation of his family to lead a cleaning business that his grandfather, Dick Hendley, founded in 1955. After graduating from Liberty University with a degree in business finance, Chad returned home to South Carolina with dreams of working for IH Services, Inc. But a long-held family rule required any family member that had an interest in working for IH Services to spend a minimum of five years in another occupation. So, he spent the next five years in the furniture business, mostly in sales, before joining the company in 2005.
In January 2018, he was promoted from vice president of business development to president of the IH family of businesses, which today includes not only janitorial services but also acquisitions that have added facility maintenance, temporary staffing, and security to the portfolio. We recently sat down with Hendley to interview him about leading the business, creating productive cleaning schedules, better educating staff on cleaning, and other matters.
What follows is our conversation.
BSCAI: What are the keys to creating a balanced and productive cleaning schedule—one that is thorough and efficient and doesn't cut corners?
CHAD HENDLEY: The days of a BSC [building service contractor] walking into a facility and sort of "guesstimating" what resources are needed for a particular scope of work are gone. The larger the facilities and the wider scopes of work require a more sophisticated approach to identifying the level of labor, the supplies, and the equipment resources necessary to meet the requirements and expectations of the customer.
In the markets we serve today, we’ve created more of an engineered approach to determining those resources, and many times we will deploy an operations/engineering team to the location to develop the cleaning schedules for each specific area within the facility prior to the startup, simply because of the complexity and dynamics of the space. There may have been a time in our industry that "cutting corners" was acceptable. Today, it is not. "Cutting corners" is a direct result of the quality of your site leadership, the expectation that is set by that leadership, and the way that leadership treats your employees. All of those things combine to create a culture that is not conducive to customer retention. Cutting corners equals lost business.
BSCAI: Where do facilities and facility managers often go wrong when putting together such schedules?
CH: It might be losing sight of the individual specifications and frequencies that the customer has established to define the scope of work, or they use unrealistic cleaning times for the schedule they created. However, I think the biggest mistake made is thinking that a job schedule is a static document. It is not; it should always be a “work in progress.” This will then promote a continuous improvement mindset to explore efficiencies that will come from your increasing knowledge of the facility, the introduction of new technology, tools and equipment, analyzing and adjusting cleaning times and working with the customer to adjust some tasks and frequencies in the scope of work.
From our experience, improved efficiencies don’t always result in reducing labor but in many cases, we redirect that labor to areas that enhance our relationship with our customer.
BSCAI: Do you believe high touch surface disinfection should be done on a daily basis in office and other commercial settings?
CH: Forbes reported that $576 billion of productivity is lost each year in the U.S. due to worker illness and corresponding absenteeism. We can certainly make a difference in reducing the spread of illness in workplace settings by focusing on those surfaces and ensuring that we disinfect them frequently. In commercial office settings, those high touch surfaces are more easily identified and daily disinfection is easier to roll into a consistent job schedule, so my answer is "yes." However, in the markets we serve, it becomes a more difficult task due to the size of the facility, the high number of customer employees, the distances between contracted cleaning areas, and the frequency of touches in a given period of time. My answer is still "yes," but it requires us to incorporate the treating of those surfaces to a timeline that produces the biggest benefit to the customer and their employees.
BSCAI: How can facility managers be better educated with regards to cleaning matters? What is the most effective way to get the message across to them?
CH: Obviously, the answer is training, and that goes hand-in-hand with understanding what specifications and frequencies are contained in the contract. You must know what you've been asked to do and know how to do it effectively and efficiently. We are not just focused on the word "clean," but more importantly on the quality of the "clean." We spend a lot of time inspecting and analyzing the quality of the clean to ensure that all of our site leaders are knowledgeable of and understand the steps in the cleaning process. Inspection results are the indisputable indicators of how well we are performing, and we are constantly in a state of continuous improvement. Lastly, we have created an online learning platform as a resource to guide our site leaders through the tools that are necessary in achieving our cleaning goals; the completion of which is mandatory.
BSCAI: What makes IH Services stand out in the marketplace?
CH: This answer is an easy one for me. It's our culture. We have developed a culture that is squarely focused on achieving our vision, a culture that lives by our values and a culture that values people. We learned long ago that it's not about mopping the floor or emptying the trash. It's about how we make the person feel that's doing it. We focus on that.
We have been able to benchmark our top performing leaders and identify the character and leadership traits, as well as the values that make them successful, and then hire to that benchmark. Doing this brings more people into our organization that match our culture and can excel in the environment we have created. Additionally, we have focused on personal development and created an online program that further develops our leadership skills, as well as personal skills such as communication, decision making, problem solving, time management, and collaboration. We have recently replaced the word "manager" with the word "leader" and no longer refer to our site leadership as managers. We realize that we manage a lot of things but when it comes to people, it's our leadership that continues to make the difference.
BSCAI: What drives you? What is the favorite part of your job?
CH: First, I want to make sure that I am an able steward that will ensure the continuing success of our business … for the family and for all of our employees. I focus every day on asking questions and listening to feedback to help me identify areas that we can improve. The favorite part of my job? Watching others succeed and recognizing their successes as often as possible. I read this somewhere, and it really frames my thinking about our people: "People will always do more than is expected when they know they are appreciated." I make sure our people know that.
BSCAI: What challenges do you see in the years ahead for the industry?
CH: First and foremost, our labor pool is shrinking and making it more difficult to fully staff our customer accounts, and the rising wage rates compound the problem. Additionally, the turnover rates for our industry continue to cost us—both in profitability and productivity. We are laser-focused on reducing turnover and making our employees enjoy coming to work.
We must also begin to open the eyes of our customers to the downside of always selecting a cleaning contractor based on price alone. Our industry is becoming more sophisticated and employing more technology than ever before; from the equipment we use to the cleaning tasks we are assigned. It's my hope that we can continue to be a value-driven organization that provides service offerings that exceed our customer's expectations and promote more positive results in customer and employee retention.
BSCAI: Was there some advice given to you earlier in your career that has really stuck with you?
CH: Anyone who sits in a position such as mine must understand one important rule, and it's a rule I live by every day: "It's not about running the company, it's about allowing the company to run." Don't ever forget that. Setting goals, empowering people to make decisions, recognizing their efforts and being a part of their personal growth will allow any organization to realize more of their true potential regardless of the industry they serve.