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What you need to know about the Swine Flu

Here is some information that I received from Stephen Ashkin. If you'd like to receive his newsletter you can sign up here:


What you need to know about the Swine Flu

WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Sunday it has declared a public health emergency in a bid to stop the spread of a swine flu virus.

Richard Besser, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said his agency has confirmed 20 non-fatal cases of swine flu within the Unites States, including eight cases found among New York City high school students. The other cases were detected in Ohio, Kansas, Texas and seven in California. Besser indicated that the U.S. cases were identical to the swine flu that has been hitting Mexico, where 81 deaths were deemed "likely linked" to the new strain of the virus with more than 1,300 reported ill.

The following are some “tips” for limiting your risk of catching the swine flu which comes from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and frequently asked questions from WebMD that may help you and your customers in dealing with this issue. We would encourage you to discuss the issue with your customers and help them encourage their building occupants to wash their hands and to consider additional cleaning.

If you work for a manufacturer or facility service provider, help your customers with hand care signage for the restroom, provide customers with articles for their internal news letters such as the “tips” below, provide small posters and other materials to encourage hand washing. Also, this is a time when they should consider placing waterless hand sanitizer stations in their buildings (NOTE: this is to be used in addition to washing with soap and water, not in lieu of it). At a minimum they should place units where occupants congregate such as in the elevator lobby, break rooms, etc., because they are more likely to actually use it! And even discuss with your customers placing a unit on occupants' desks.

Our industry represents cleaning professionals, so let's help our customers with these issues.


CDC Tips for Limiting Risk

Here are the CDC's tips for limiting your risk of catching the swine flu virus:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.?
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well. An updated case count of confirmed swine flu infections in the United States is kept at CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.

Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

How does swine flu spread?
Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How long can viruses live outside the body?
We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?
If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water. or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. we recommend that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting

How serious is swine flu infection?
Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.

Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked

More on Cleaning "Bid" vs Cleaning "Proposal"

We recently posted an article called Do You Offer Cleaning Bids or Cleaning Proposals?

This is a sore spot for a member of The Janitorial Store. He had this to say about Bid vs Proposal:

At one of my accounts there is a 24 yr old studying computer "stuff" as I call it because it is a world I'm not familiar with. Anyway he approached me and said hey, I'll get this certificate soon and that certification, etc etc. But what he said next really irked me. "So if you know anybody who needs their computer fixed, I'll do it for 1/2 of what Best Buy or Circuit City or the others do it for - spread the word."

I asked simply, "Why?"

"Why do you feel that you should get 50% of the same job that somebody else will do at twice your price? Are you only half as qualified? Is your work half as good? Are you desperate? Are you just looking to make some quick money?"

He looked at me like "what an a-hole." I said "Hey, I'm trying to help you. Better you hear this from me now than be miserable doing all kinds of work at half the pay.

I explained that it's great when you start out and you're not sure about things to get a job at any price, do good work and have something to show for it but as you grow you will get trapped into being "the guy who's cheap"

In my business, I make proposals. I hand them a 10-12 page proposal, yet I see a lot of my competition giving one-sentence bids. I call it "bidding in my inner circle" as the word bid is dominating, but I act as if I'm the only one for the job, I work the numbers as such and I don't care if I'm way over or way under as long as I get my price.

In one of my accounts, I clean the president's office. I like this motto he has pinned up in his office - "build relationships, not low bids"

What are your thoughts? Are you willing to slash your price in half and turn in "bids" just to get the work? Click on the Comments link below.

Do Your Cleaning Employees Really Leave For More Money?

Most people are under the assumption that cleaning employees generally quit for more money. The reality is, most employees leave because of poor training, poor management and lack of opportunities.

It all starts with the orientation and initial training. New employees form opinions of your company quickly, so first impressions do count. When you do an orientation are you having them fill out the required paperwork, telling them when pay day is and when to report to work? What about welcoming them into the "family" and training?

  • A good orientation should contain the following:
  • Required paperwork.
  • Comprehensive job description that outlines job duties, responsibilities and expectations.
  • Employee handbook or company policy manual that contains company information, company policies, and employee benefits.
  • Introduction to supervisor and other employees.
  • Training manual and safety training

Now that the employee has been welcomed and given the information and tools they need to become successful, don't just leave them on their own to fend for themselves. Proper training also includes on the job training and follow up on a regular basis.

Taking the extra time to train your employees properly is a very important step in the success of their performance and happiness while working for your cleaning company. And when your employees are happy and successful, chances are your business will succeed as well.

Do You Offer Cleaning Bids or Cleaning Proposals?

Steve asked Dick Ollek, author of Selling Contract Cleaning Services 101, why he thinks the word "bid" is used so much when talking about submitting a cleaning proposal.

Dick replied:

"Great question Steve. We seem to do it to ourselves. We call a prospect and ask 'when do you go out for bid'? or 'Can I give you a bid'?. When we use the word 'bid' we immediately imply that we are selling a commodity like a case of Pepsi. What we then are implying to the prospect is that we are no different than any other contractor or service provider that they may talk too.

Usually when I make that comment, contractors will say, 'now wait a minute, I do better work than my competitors because etc. etc.' You do? Then why are you asking to 'bid' the work? Why aren't you asking if you can present a proposal to the prospect so you can outline to the prospective customer why they should be hiring your company rather than all the others who 'bid' the job.

My theory is that if all you are going to do is 'bid' the work you may as well write the price on a napkin and hand it to the prospect. If you want to be classy, buy a Vanity Fair napkin and write the price in ink.

Steve, you can probably tell this subject can make my blood pressure elevate. We want to be treated like professionals by our prospects and customers and yet we are more than willing to just give a 'bid' for our service, which makes our company look like all the rest and makes us look like we are just selling a commodity instead of a needed professional service.

By now I have probably created a few enemies but I am very passionate about the fact that the only people that can professionalize our industry is us. We have only ourselves to blame when we allow ourselves to get caught up in 'bidding wars'. Believe me, the customers love it and we wonder why we don't have more profit.

The word bid needs to be eliminated from our vocabulary and replaced with 'proposal' and then we need to take the next step and really offer quality proposals to our prospects that truly differentiate us from our competition."

How often do YOU find yourself using the word "Bid" instead of "Proposal"? Click on the Comments link below to share your thoughts.

One Example of Why You Should Join Your Chamber of Commerce

Lately we've had a lot of people contacting us asking what to do to keep their cleaning business afloat during the recession. One cleaning business owner is a firm believer that joining the local Chamber of Commerce is helping them keep their business going.

"The goods news is, business is out there. We are working our tails off getting known in our community and especially the business community.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce first. Depending on where you live the Chamber could potentially provide you with literally thousands of leads. Our local Chamber has just over 1000 members.

Second, plan on spending many nights attending networking events i.e. classes, after hours, morning classes, new member orientation and ribbon cuttings of new businesses. Over the past three weeks I have already met and collected business cards of fifty to one hundred people and created an email list from that. I attended my first ribbon cutting yesterday and it was a blast and I also got free pizza. I am going to another one today at a Tapas Restaurant. When you go to these, if your Chamber has them, they take pictures and place them in the newsletter and your face is in there and that equals visibility.
One other thing. A friend of mine owns a marketing consultation company and when I told her we were starting a cleaning business she said "yeah you and a thousand other people". Then she went on to tell us to look at differentiating ourselves from the competition. Do something unique that no other cleaning service is doing. This will take some work and research on your part, but if you identify what separates you from the current vendor or other bidders, you will have have something different to offer when you cold call or submit a bid.
I will give you an easy one to start with -- the Chamber of Commerce. Out of all of the people I have met, not one of them are in the cleaning business! So when you go, have your niche ready, tell them about it and get their contact info!
You won't believe this. As I am typing this message the phone rings and it is the Chamber office wanting me to come over and look at some work! No lie. Gotta go!"