A lack of integrity. Tales from the dark side of the Janitorial Business…

Integrity has been defined as being honest, having strong moral principles or just having character. Yet, it all boils down to doing the right thing. There’s an old proverb that reads, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but they who make their ways crooked will be found out.” Bingo! The truth always comes out eventually. Call it karma, reaping what you sow or the Law of Reciprocity, but what is done in secret in the dark will be exposed by the light in due season. (By the way, the light is usually a company system or procedure violation that eventually sounds the alarm.)

Bad versus Good

Inevitably, after 25 years in the janitorial business, I’ve encountered a number of “crooked ways” of doing business (whether it was by a customer, supplier, competitor or employee). So with that said, I thought that Halloween might be an appropriate time to share a few assorted “Tales from the dark side of the Janitorial Business”…

  • A potential customer (for a national property management company) personally offered me over $20,000 a month in janitorial business if I would give him a monthly kickback. I declined his offer and later heard that he was fired.
  • A five year “trusted”, full time cleaner was discovered to have been manipulating our telephone clocking system (in multiple buildings) for several months, resulting in thousands of dollars in extra pay. As a result of this theft, this person didn’t qualify for unemployment and couldn’t receive a positive job reference. (Sadly, we later heard that they also lost their home.)
  • A supplier quoted prices for quality products but sent generic equivalents instead. That lack of integrity lost him $4,000 a month in business from me.
  • One of my (formerly good) employees recommended his/her adult child to work with them at the same job site. Turns out that these two family members took turns working alone while clocking each other in (something that was surfaced by an software upgrade). Both were terminated.
  • A customer, a go-getter at a national (pawn) chain who was on the fast track to becoming a Regional Manager, was found out to be making fake loans to fake customers and pocketing the ill gotten gain. After an accounting audit found him out, the fast-tracker was terminated, prosecuted and had to pay full restitution.
  • One of my employees (who was scheduled for an eight hour shift 5 days per week), was soon found to be going home after the fifth hour and and coming back to clock out just before the eighth hour. This person’s job was immediately terminated.
  • At one of the retail stores that we clean, a manager was bringing prostitutes into the back office after hours. He stayed on the clock and his overtime activity was eventually viewed on an in store camera. He was terminated and his wife left him.
  • Some of our competitors were found to be illegally classifying employees as subcontractors, thereby not paying the state or federal payroll taxes. They received huge fines and went out of business.
  • Back in my company’s early days, we did a bunch of subcontract floor work for another (much larger) cleaning company… However, all off their checks bounced and despite numerous promises, we never did get paid. They later went out of business.
  • A consulting manager at a hospital asked my janitorial company to perform some extensive work for an upcoming inspection. Later, when the invoice for the job was submitted, the manager denied requesting the work. At a face to face meeting with the hospital board, the truth came out and the manager was fired.


For perspective, I should note that I’ve had hundreds of customers and have employed close to 2,000 people over the years; The vast majority – 99.99% – have been good and decent folks, with integrity to spare. It’s the .01%, the bad apples, that have tried to spoil the bunch, but they were ultimately unsuccessful.

Having Integrity and doing the right thing is not only the right thing to do, but it also has no downside, my friends. So keep doing it right! You won’t be sorry, I guarantee it!


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Janitorial Employee Training – Top Tips!

Who needs janitorial employee training? Let me give you three groups that benefit greatly from it… Your company, your employees and your customers!

Janitorial Instructor

“Hey, come on..” you say. “Who needs training to sweep, mop floors and empty trash?  Besides, on the job training is good enough, right?”  Well yes, if you want your company to be “good enough”, with average employee turnover, average customer retention and average to below average company growth. But, if you want an exceptional company, with exceptional employee retention, exceptional customer retention and exceptional company growth you will definitely need to have a formal Employee Training Program.

Yes, training employees costs money, but that’s the wrong way to look at it. Training is actually an investment in your company that always provides a return on investment from day one.  After 25 years in the janitorial business, I’ve learned that for every dollar I’ve invested in training, I’ve seen a minimum of three to ten fold  return to my bottom line!

I can’t emphasize strongly enough that your customers need to see consistent cleaning results from your company every single day in order to keep cutting you a check each month. Training your employees, supervisors and managers from day one in the proper techniques, procedures, policies and systems will keep those checks coming in!

As I’ve developed and tweaked my Employee Training Program over the years, I’ve found that covering the following (high level) topics have produced consistently well trained employees:

  1. New Employee Handbook, Company Policy: (Part 1 of Orientation Class): This is a classroom training session where new employees are given their employee handbooks, uniforms, clock-in instructions, etc.. The handbooks are reviewed and they sign a form that they have received, understand and will comply by them.
  2. New Employee Safety Training Manual: (Part 2 of Orientation Class): This is a classroom training session where employees are trained in regards to safety and hazards on the job? Employees are given a safety test, results are verified and corrected until everyone understands the correct answer and a copy is placed in each employee’s file.
  3. New Employee Basic Cleaning 101 Training Manual: (Part 3 of Orientation Class): This is a classroom training session where all the basic cleaning tasks are explained and reviewed. Things such as, dusting, detail work, trashing, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, restroom, direct supervisor and customer interaction.
  4. Restroom Cleaning Training Manual: (Part 4 of Orientation Class): This is a classroom training session, where step by step restroom cleaning procedures are demonstrated and emphasized. Restroom cleanliness is one of the top areas of your customers will judge your performance. Keep them clean!
  5. Supervisor Training Manual: This is a classroom training session, where multiple topics are covered. Your site supervisors need to be trained to be leaders, trainers, problem solvers and mentors. This training will cover everything from basic cleaning and stain removal to budgets, work loading, specialty work, supply ordering, employee evaluations, customer relations and much more.
  6. Floor Care Training: This is classroom and on the job training sessions, primarily for your “Floor Techs”, where floor care cleaning techniques (primarily waxed floors) and procedures are explained, reviewed, demonstrated and learned. Things such as floor stripping, scrubbing, auto scrubbing and buffing/burnishing.
  7. Carpet Care Training: This is classroom and on the job training sessions, primarily for your “Carpet Techs”, where carpet care cleaning techniques and procedures are explained, reviewed, demonstrated and learned. Things such as spot cleaning, fiber identification, portable units, truck-mount units and general carpet cleaning maintenance techniques are explained.
  8. Specialty Work Training: This is classroom and on the job training sessions, primarily for your “Floor Techs and Carpet Techs”, where specialty cleaning techniques and procedures are explained, reviewed, demonstrated and learned. Things such as tile and grout cleaning, pressure washing, upholstery cleaning and exterior window squeegee cleaning to name a few.


I’ll go into more detail on each of these training topics in future posts. But however you structure your employee training, you’ll never regret making this winning investment in your business!


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