Often companies in need of a cleaning services contractor put forth little effort to ensure that the provider they hire is the best fit for their facilities and for their company. The decision may be based on price, the likeability of the sales rep, or the flip of a coin, then the customer gets burned by poor service and the cycle repeats itself.
As a result, many resign themselves to low expectations and poor service from cleaning contractors, most of whom appear at first to be professional and quality oriented. Many facility managers tell us that their cleaning company started out great, but after a year or two they no longer provided the original high-quality service that they started out with.
Learning the answers to the following questions will help to prevent this frustration:
- Does the contractor have sufficient capital to cover payroll and other start-up
If not, corners will be cut in an effort to reduce overhead costs. Under-capitalization
is the primary reason businesses fail. Ask for a DUNS number to check the credit
rating of the contractor.
- How do they hire their people?
Is there a recruiting system? An application system? Are background checks
performed and work history checked? How are front-line workers paid? Are they legal W-2 workers or misclassified as subcontractors – or even illegally paid cash?
- What training is provided?
Contrary to the belief of many, cleaning is not mindless work that anyone can do. A
rudimentary knowledge of pH is necessary, and proper procedures need to be put
into place and adhered to in order to properly sanitize and disinfect touch surfaces to prevent viral outbreaks and costly absenteeism, and also to avoid damage to your building and potential injuries to building occupants as well as cleaning personnel. How and how often is training done? Is there a formal procedure or is it hit and miss? What about OSHA and EPA required safety, BBP, and right-to-know training?
- How is quality service assured over time?
Is there a quality control system in place? Is there a management team and are there non-cleaning supervisors to oversee the cleaning? Is there a formal inspection program
along with incentives for the workers to ensure that proper procedures are followed
over time and that cleaning standards are being met consistently?
- How is communication handled?
Can a contact person be reached any time? What are the preferred methods of
communication? Will you be looped in on any internal inspection reports or other
- What insurance is carried?
Does the contractor have at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage, and does the
liability policy include coverage for property under their “care, custody, and control,”
lost key coverage, and other insurance specifically designed for janitorial service
companies? Fidelity bonds can also put your mind at ease, although they generally
don’t pay out unless there is a criminal conviction. Another required policy that protects you is Worker’s Compensation. If there is an injury on the job site, who pays? Don’t let it
be you. Is Unemployment insurance maintained and are federal and state taxes withheld?
- What special services do they provide?
When your carpeting needs to be cleaned, cubicle partitions or upholstery cleaned,
tile floor stripped & refinished, ceramic tile & grout cleaned, windows cleaned, etc.
can they handle it? Do they have the experience and proper equipment? What other
services specific to your building(s) may be needed in the future and can they be
handled by this company?
- Where do they buy their supplies and cleaning products?
Are they part of a purchasing group? Do they have buying power to get national contract pricing? If they can’t turn a reasonable profit you both lose.
- What does their operations management team consist of?
Are there several layers of management and supervision or does their operations
department depend on one or two people? What is the back-up plan if key personnel are indisposed?
- Finally, what questions did they ask you?
Is the contractor interested in your needs and in solving your problems, or was the
conversation a series of elevator speeches? Did they offer specific solutions to your problems?
Hiring a building services contractor is more of a partnership than are most other vendor relationships. It’s important that you are both concerned with the same priority – your business, which is represented in large part by your building(s). Keeping them clean, healthy, and well maintained is vital to your company, to your employees, and also to the building services contractor – if you choose the right one.