Like all industries, the building services contracting industry comes with a unique set of challenges. From labor turnover to navigating customer service, there are difficulties all building service contractors (BSCs) face at all levels of their career. The good news is that there are many resources to help overcome these challenges, including Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI)’s peer groups.
Developed to provide BSCAI members with an avenue to network openly, peer groups allow colleagues in different or non-competitive areas of the country to share ideas, information and advice in a collaborative setting. BSCAI recently spoke with Brian Cradock of Kleen-Tech — who joined a peer group when he started his own business, Integrated Facilities Services Group (IFS Group) — to learn more about the impact his group has had on his success as a business owner.
“I started IFS Group with my brother over 20 years ago,” says Cradock. “We were in IT professional sales and service for about 10 years, then made a change to start our own business from scratch in the janitorial and facility services industry. We wanted to own a company that provided service contracts where you could earn residual income and keep clients long term and felt like this was an industry where we could learn, grow and educate ourselves.”
Cradock goes on to share that IFS Group was recently acquired by Kleen-Tech through Caber Hill Advisor. “Caber Hill Advisor, who we found through BSCAI, was a great resource. They handled the acquisition, and their experience in this space was invaluable,” he says. The acquisition by Kleen-Tech has proven to be a great success for Cradock and IFS Group. “Kleen-Tech is comprised of a family of companies that provide nationwide coverage,” Cradock says. “They were very much in sync with our business practices, culture and goals and joining them was the perfect opportunity for growth and taking the next step. It was a great fit, and us choosing them was as important as them choosing us.
Of course, every business owner and industry faces challenges. To help find solutions to these challenges, Cradock joined a BSCAI peer group, which aided in growth and advancement.
“I originally joined BSCAI when we started IFS Group,” says Cradock. “I got a mentor right out of the gate, and I learned a ton. Then IFS Group grew rapidly within the first five years and I stepped away from BSCAI, which was a mistake. After leaving, I felt we were just treading water for 10 years and weren't really learning, growing, embracing the industry or connecting with people that could help us move forward. When I rejoined BSCAI in 2014, I joined a peer group and threw myself into it. That was when the real surge started. I got back to getting involved and working with people on my level, sharing knowledge and experiences to help all of us in the group and our forum grow.”
The groups are especially beneficial to business owners like Cradock who face unique challenges in a position of leadership and have fewer options to turn to for high-level discussion and consultation. The shared experiences, insights and support of like-minded leaders are some of the most valuable benefits available to peer group members.
“Belonging to a peer group has helped my business because of the wealth of resources, shared experiences and best practices discussed,” says Cradock. “As a business owner, you’re limited in where you can go to share challenges and seek advice. You don’t want to bring in-house issues to your business, and you don't want to bring problems home to your family. In the peer groups, you have a group of other business owners that do exactly what you do, day in and day out. You have the opportunity to talk with them, collaborate with them and consult with them about the decisions that you have to make as a business owner. You need those collaborations and that support to grow as an individual and to be successful.”
Beyond the support and resources, Cradock says the friends he’s made in the group are perhaps what he’s enjoyed most. For BSCs looking for networking opportunities that fit the unique needs of this industry, and for those looking for meaningful relationships even beyond their companies, peer groups offer these benefits and more. Join a group today to take advantage of these invaluable connections.