Have you ever needed to hire a commercial cleaning company? The janitorial industry is a highly competitive industry. From the large, international franchised companies, to the small “mom-and-pops”, and everything in between, there are many companies to choose from.
Furthermore, since the onset of COVID-19, picking the right cleaning services has never been more important. I recommend that you look at, at least, 3-4 companies, before making your decision.
The following are 7 things you should consider when selecting your cleaning service provider.
1 – Does cheaper or expensive mean anything?
In our experience, price really does matter. In fact, we would argue that for most of the quotes we submit, our potential clients use price as the number one criterion for their decision making. Having said that, we suggest, as you make your decision, first try to set price aside, and evaluate each company from the service, and cultural standpoint that we will discuss further on.
As with anything in the market, the highest price does not always mean the best service, and the lowest price does not necessarily mean the worst service. Although, sadly, in our industry, we do see a lot of companies desperate for short term business that price themselves low enough to catch serious attention from the decision maker. Often, these businesses do not care about the product they deliver, or they might care, but they don’t have the know how for what it takes to actually deliver on their promises and to meet the client’s expectations. For this reason, we strongly urge you to do some further research on each janitorial company, to see if going with the lowest price is truly worth the risk.
Unfortunately, for a very long time, our industry was considered “bottom of the barrel.” We often heard jokes or analogies about the “janitor” being the lowest on the totem pole. As a result, many people looking for janitorial companies, have this in mind and only want the cheapest, because they believe cleaning is “just cleaning.” This could not be further from the truth. Cleaning is a complex business involving hiring, training, follow up, communication, consistency, insurance, etc. in addition to the actual cleaning itself. So, paying a little more, or sometimes even a lot more, can go a very long way toward ensuring that you get done the job you want done in a satisfactory manner. Furthermore, now with the threat of contracting a virus, you really want a company that does not cut corners and is a real expert in its field of work.
2 – How can you research each janitorial company that you are considering?
I highly recommend doing a thorough online search of the company. I don’t have to tell any of you, the World Wide Web has a plethora of information on any company you may be looking to hire. If there is not much information on the company, although not always the case, it may be a red flag.
Start with their website. Do not just look at their home page, but browse all their pages, read some of their blogs, watch their videos. Their website should tell a story of who they are.
Next, see what social media pages they have, and see how they communicate. This would include Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and more. Do you like their message, or does it not really jive with what you are looking for?
Finally, “Google” the company and look at their Google reviews. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading through each review, judging for yourself the authenticity of it. There are many companies that wash out their bad ones with fake ones. Believe me, I see a handful of local cleaning companies, here in Calgary, clearly doing this. If there are one or two negative reviews, but many positive ones, the negative shouldn’t be a deal breaker for you, but you may want to ask the company about their negative reviews, and how they handled them. In fact, read the response the company had to the negative review, to see how they handle bad feedback. Did they get extremely defensive and write angrily in CAPS LOCK, or did they handle it quite professionally, with class?
Doing all this will give you a good picture of the cultural DNA of the janitorial companies you are considering, and you must determine which company matches your cultural DNA. Are you confident that the company you choose will meet your standards and expectations? Can you imagine working well with them?
3 – What services does the cleaning company provide?
The cleaning world may seem quite straight forward and simple at first, but once you understand how many different types of services exist within the industry, you will realize there are different experts in different areas.
From residential cleaning, carpet cleaning, window cleaning, floor waxing, post construction cleaning, move in and out cleaning, to what my company does (commercial cleaning services), the industry has many different experts.
Some companies try to be experts in each of these categories. They do not know how to say no to anything and take on any job. In my experience, and this certainly is a generalization, most companies do not have the brainpower to be experts in all these areas, and yet, they claim that they are. As a result, each area of service is either compromised or sacrificed so that you are not given the picture perfect service you deserve.
We often get calls for residential cleaning, one-off deep cleans, post-construction cleaning, etc… As crazy as this sounds, we politely turn this business away. I have some great companies that I’ve met over the years, that I trust and to which we refer these inquiries.
Although, we are actively considering and pursuing a partnership with an existing business that will take on residential and post-construction cleaning, our focus will remain specifically on commercial cleaning. We will only take on one-off jobs for existing clients. We are proud of what we are experts in, and will always focus on those services.
I’m not saying this to sell our service, but rather, so that you know what to look for when doing your research. There certainly are exceptions. It’s possible that some cleaning companies can handle providing multiple types of services and do it really well. But, you had better make sure they are extremely organized, and have a strong management infrastructure.
4 – What are some credentials that the janitorial companies should have?
Any janitorial company that you are considering should have insurance, with a minimum of $2 Million liability, but ideally, $5 Million in liability.
The cleaning company that you hire should also carry Workers Compensation coverage, have a business license and be willing to do criminal record checks if requested.
5 – How important are reference checks?
The cleaning companies that you are looking at should be able to provide solid client references. We provide three automatically, when we send our quote; However, we always say we would happily give as many as they want, all the way up to the approximately 165 commercial clients we serve. The companies with which you engage should be extremely transparent and willing to share references from any clients they serve.
I do recommend that you call at least three of their current clients and ask questions such as: Are you satisfied with the quality of service? Do they always deliver on their promises? Do you see any management presence, are inspections done, and does the management show a highdegree of interest in providing high quality service? Is your experience with them professional? Would you highly recommend them?
6 – Should you go with a Franchise service company, a national company, or a local company?
I’ll first touch on franchises. Franchises have many benefits, but I would argue their model is flawed, and will often not be able to achieve the results you need. Let me be clear, not all franchises are this way, but in our experience many are.
The way the franchise model often works involves selling contracts to the custodians. Franchisors are very good at sales, typically having multiple sales people in their office. Once they acquire a contract the franchisor turns around and sells that contact for generally three to five times the monthly revenue value of the contract to anyone, or group that wants to purchase the contract. Not only do they sell the “franchise” to these people, but they also take, generally, 15-20% on the monthly revenue.
The reason this is so flawed, is, instead of a lengthy interview process, which a non-franchise company should be doing, the custodian is actually interviewing the franchise, to see if they want to dump all their savings into these cleaning contracts, that they have the potential to lose one day. The franchisee becomes a slave to these contracts, and often (again, not always) becomes stuck cleaning every day, while the dream of having their own cleaning company fades away, as they realize they bought themselves a job.
The franchisor, when bidding on contracts, will go much lower than anyone else, because all they care about is getting the contract, so they can sell the franchise and make a nice profit.
I am, no doubt, going to get some criticism from franchise owners, for this piece. But, so far, I have not seen a franchise model that I’ve been impressed with. In fact, many of our staff are ex-franchise owners, who, somehow, got out of their contract. They were so grateful to work with us:we pay them, and do not charge them a penny. I do believe there is a way to build an ethical and healthy franchise model, but I have not seen one yet.
As for national companies, they can be quite powerful and good. They often have the knowhow, the people resources, the professionalism, and the ability to run the same business in multiple cities. Where they often have flaws; however, is the ability to provide an intimate, hands on experience. Their managers might be good, but it is rolling the dice, especially with how much manager turnover many of the national companies have.
Finally, a local company. Huge notice to reader. Picture Perfect Cleaning is a local company, serving, Calgary, Alberta Canada. While, I am biased in this regard, I also am confident there is a lot of truth to my view.
When you are looking for a janitorial cleaning company, I highly recommend that you with the most professional, organized, intimate local cleaning company that you can find, the one with the best reviews, with the best reputation, that answers your calls right away, and responds to you extremely fast after you have put in your inquiry. Go with the company that is involved in local charities and participates in community events. Choose a cleaning company where the owners are only a call away, but still have all the systems set up. Choose a cleaning company where, the owners are working on developing and improving the business, and not doing the actual cleaning (although, they’re still not afraid to get their hands dirty).
You want to hire a cleaning company that has all the people resources, professionalism, and knowledge the national companies have, but also a level of intimacy that only a local company can truly provide.
7 – Is it important how the commercial cleaning company treats their custodial staff?
Yes! Let me put it this way: find me a company the genuinely takes care of their custodial staff, and I will show you a successful cleaning company. The custodians are the engine of the business. Without them, the janitorial company is really nothing.
There are many janitorial companies, that might say they take care of their custodians, but they do not really know how.
You should look for a company that really believes they treat their people better than anyone else does. And, ask these cleaning companies how they do it? Ask for examples. Look for things such as community involvement with the staff, Christmas parties and, summer BBQ’s. Look for companies that allow their staff to take time off at any time, that always pay on time, that pay fairly, and that offer their employees health benefits.
You might want to look at websites like Glassdoor or Indeed, where you can often find staff reviews of their companies. You might also be able to tell how companies treat their staff by pictures online (website and/or social media).
Happy custodians equal low turnover, high and consistent results. Many janitorial businesses surprisingly miss this mark, so when you are doing your research be sure to investigate.
Review and implement these 7 points when deciding on which janitorial company to hire, and you should feel quite confident in making your decision. If you are still not confident, you are welcome to reach out to us at Picture Perfect Cleaning with any questions you may have. We are happy to help guide you through your decision-making process. The cleanliness of your place of work is not something you want to take lightly.