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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