Janitorial employee theft accusations

In the cleaning business, accusations of janitorial theft are rare, but occasionally, you will get this customer call: “We came in this morning, and widgets were missing from someone’s desk. We’re not trying to accuse anyone, but… only the cleaning people were here last night… so it had to be them.”

Your business has been accused of theft! This is a very serious charge. In fact, it’s #8 (DO NOT STEAL) on the top 10 “DO NOT DO” list, just two below #6 (DO NOT MURDER).

Yikes! How do you handle this situation?

CleanlyRun blog post image

Years ago, a wise man told me, “Drake, do the right thing, and the right thing will happen.”

When your company receives an accusation, the right way to handle it is to empathize with and listen to your customer, get all the facts, get your staff’s input, ask your customer how they would like you to proceed, and then make a decision. The wrong way is to get haughty, angry or blow up at your customer. All that will accomplish is a lost customer, a lost/diminished reputation, lost revenue and possibly criminal charges — even if your business was falsely accused.

I didn’t say doing the right thing is easy, or even comes naturally — but if you want to keep this customer, you have to remain calm and do right by them. Remember, it’s the foolish person that says everything that’s on their mind. Trust me on this one. I’ve played the fool with my mouth more than once, and the wrong thing happened every time.

With that said, and in the hopes of helping someone who may be new to the janitorial industry, I’ll share a few real-life examples of how I’ve responded to accusations of employee theft during my three decades in business.

  1. Falsely accused of janitorial theft, and vindicated: This is the most common scenario. A customer calls to report that something is missing, and it has to be the cleaning people. You investigate, but soon get a call back noting that the missing item has turned up.

    Actual scenario: A client rep telephoned that she left her purse in her desk, and her wallet was missing. She was positive that it was in her purse, so it had to be taken by my staff. I listened more than I spoke, said I would talk with the staff that had been on duty, and told her I’d get right back to her. My employees that night were an elderly husband-and-wife team that I trusted completely. They vehemently denied even going through her desk, much less taking her wallet. A few days later, I received an apology call when the lady’s wallet was found in her car. The couple was relieved that they’d been vindicated, but they didn’t want to work at that site anymore. I didn’t blame them and assigned them to a different client. I also didn’t try to make my customer feel bad or (openly) get upset. Twenty years later, we still have this account, and it is one of the largest and most loyal accounts that we have.

  2.  Falsely accused of janitorial theft, and couldn’t prove otherwise: This is a tricky one. You don’t think it was your staff, but right or wrong, the cleaner is always the first suspect.

    Actual scenario: The client, a private school, calls to say that about 10 movies are missing from their daycare classes. Can we check to see if our staff took them, or knows what happened to them?  Keep in mind, there are hundreds of kid there, each with backpacks that could easily have the movies in them, but I digress. My staff denied taking them, and I believed them. I said the same to my customer and offered to pay to replace the movies, just to be above reproach.

  3. Simply informed of janitorial theft: This situation is more likely at larger facilities with hundreds of employees. The customer doesn’t call with a direct accusation, just a notification of a situation.

    Actual scenario: The facility manager at a building with more than 1,000 employees calls to let us know that there has been a “trend” developing. Disney trinkets have come up missing from employees’ cubicles.  This building has many employees of its own that work there late into the night after our staff has gone, and there are 24/7 security and cameras everywhere. I don’t think the culprit was one our folks, but alerting our whole staff that all eyes and cameras are on them is a good deterrent. Without accusing anyone, we informed our staff and supervisors there to keep their eyes open. By the way, this client is still a beloved customer, and we have a great relationship with them.

  4. Accused and proven janitorial theft: This has only happened twice to my cleaning company in 28 years. Call it luck, great hiring, or the grace of God –we have been blessed with few occurrences. (I’m going with the grace thing.) I was raised not to air your dirty laundry in public, and I’m a firm believer and practitioner of that philosophy. But because actual theft is so rare and I believe this story will help someone, I’ll share.

    Actual scenario: A customer calls, saying that we need to come in and take a look at a video. We meet and watch a video of a new staff member taking $6 off a desk. (It was a teenager that had been recently hired to pull trash.) I was truly shocked, saddened and disappointed to see this. I listened to our client and asked how they would like me to handle it. Of course, the client wanted the employee off of their campus and wanted the money replaced. They did not want to press charges. The employee was terminated from our company immediately. Our client was gracious in not firing us. They said that we were the best service they’d ever had and didn’t blame us personally for one bad apple. I still felt responsible, but grace does abound.

Some perspective… I take pride in running a company based on integrity, honesty and doing the right thing, always aiming to be above reproach and never giving the appearance of wrongdoing. For starters, my staff is highly screened, background-checked, and instructed not to even take a piece of candy off of someone’s desk (even if it has a “Free Take One” sign on it). And I’m pleased to note that over the years my awesome team has turned in lost wallets, cash, cell phones, diamond rings, credit cards, checks, laptops, iPads, jewelry, and the list goes on and on. Out of thousands of employees spanning three decades, the number of janitorial theft accusations has been minuscule, to say the least. I’ve very proud of these good folks!

CleanGuidePro Successful bidderDrake

Overcoming Anxiety in the Janitorial Business

How do you overcome anxiety in the janitorial business? A better question might be, how do you overcome anxiety in life in general? As the old saying goes, if you tell anyone you’ve met that you’ve heard about their problem, they will answer by saying, “Who told you?”.

Anxious Janitorial Businessman

It has been clinically proven that fears (real or imaginary problems) in the heart of a person cause anxiety or worry.

First, let’s focus on the “real” stressful things in business that you can control. In business terminology we’re talking about Risk Management. In any business, things can go wrong at any time any place. This fact alone can cause worry, but you can mitigate general anxiety just by practicing due diligence. Make sure you’re properly insured with liability insurance and workers comp. Stress safety with your employees via employee orientation, safety training and regular safety meetings. Maintain your vehicle and equipment on a set schedule. Pay your taxes promptly. Pay your employees fairly and treat them with honesty and integrity. Basically, if you do the right thing in business, your anxiety, stress and worry levels will all be decreased; Not totally eliminated, but dramatically reduced.

Okay, but what about the imaginary things you worry about? What if this happens? What if that happens? What if my best isn’t good enough? What if I fail? What if my health fails? What if _____ (fill in the blank)? I personally choose to replace my irrational, imaginary worries every day by renewing my mind with words of hope, life and peace! Isn’t it all about peace anyway, my friend? Peace is the antithesis of anxiety!

Let me share some of my favorite quotes to overcome anxiety with peace..

  • “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” -Benjamin Franklin
  • “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave person is not the one who does not feel afraid, but the one who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela
  • “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more”.- Mother Teresa
  • “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” -Mahatma Gandhi
  • “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”–Florence Nightingale
  • “Do not be anxious or worry about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” –Paul the Apostle
  • “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” -Jesus
  • “The message is clear: If you don’t like your situation in life, don’t fret or worry – do something about it. Worry less, act more!” –Zig Ziglar
  • “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address-Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”― Eleanor Roosevelt

So I encourage you to overcome any business anxiety with (a) practical business risk management tactics and (b) through words of peace. That’s what’s worked for me…


CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Janitorial Competition and Fair Market Pricing

Ask Drake

Grand Master Janitor, 30+ years

With the truly, humbling success of CleanlyRun(formerly CleanGuidePro), we’ve received a lot of questions (from companies all over the world) about a variety of topics in the janitorial industry. Today I’d like to share one about Fair Market pricing.


Hey Drake: I own a start-up janitorial business in a large U.S. city and I have to compete with large companies to win bids. How does CleanlyRun Janitorial Bidware address this issue as well the concept of “fair market pricing”?

Answer: First of all, there is no real “set market” or “fair price” chart – i.e. Dallas vs. Chicago – to go by. That’s the wrong way to think about it…

You need to think in terms of what’s the fair market costs associated with your area. For example, what are the minimum hourly wages, chemicals, state and local payroll tax rates that you have to pay. (By the way, our Bidware does all this for you in Step 4 of the bid creation process, the Workloading and Pricing screen.)

All companies (especially the large national and regional ones) have to FIRST calculate/count their monthly costs to clean a building. Only then do you add a fair profit price (which is also suggested by the software). Remember, the bigger companies will always have higher costs than the smaller companies because they have higher overhead, more mid level supervisors, and higher liability insurance which means slimmer profit margins.

Don’t be intimidated by the bigger companies, but rather focus on constantly improving your own company! Keep in mind that the “big companies” were all a startups once.


CleanlyRun Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Increase Your Janitorial Customer Retention Dramatically

Do you want to know how to increase your janitorial customer retention dramatically? Silly question, right? Of course you do! But what exactly is “customer retention” and how do you achieve it?  In practice, customer retention is less about you keeping your existing cleaning accounts and more about having your customers not get rid of you.

CleanGuidePro Janitorial Bidware - A proudly cleaned floorTo acquire new customers, you spend a lot of time, effort and money to market and sell your services. Once you get a new customer, that’s just the beginning; Now you have to keep them!

Don’t think for a moment that just doing the basics and going through the motions will retain customers. A Janitorial Service Agreement is a business relationship that absolutely requires you to be attentive, nurturing, caring, loving – (yes, I said it, love your customer!) – and to occasionally bite your tongue. And just like any other relationship, it has to be nurtured and developed this month and next month and the month after that…

You actually need to move from “Customer Retention” to “Customer Loyalty” to thrive in this business. There’s a lot to be said on this subject (and I promise to to do so in future articles), but for now, let me start with my core “Customer Retention/Loyalty Tips” that have served me so well for over 25 years in this great janitorial industry.

  1. COMMUNICATE: Right up front, when you do a walk through before preparing a proposal, make sure that you communicate with your contact about exactly what they expect. Do they have a checklist or do they want you to create one? Then, when you get awarded the account, make sure that you have a signed Service Agreement, spelling out the details and terms of your service. Customers understand the necessity of this document. Be on the same page on day one!
  2. SIMPLY DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU’RE GOING TO DO: Keep your promises! If your proposal stated that all waxed floors will be polished once per week, then do it. If it noted that return vents and blinds are dusted monthly, then do it. I know one national franchise that promises (on their proposals) to take all the trash cans outside and wash them every month. Of course, it rarely gets done. That task wasn’t required, but since it was promised, it became expected and was subsequently viewed as a failure to perform. If I had a quarter for every new customer that told me, “the last cleaning company didn’t do what they promised”, well.. I’d have a lot of quarters.
  3. KEEP THEIR BUILDING CLEAN: The #1 way to keep your customer happy and loyal is to keep their building clean! The #1 way to keep their building clean is to do regularly scheduled checklist inspections for quality control! It’s good and actually necessary for your customer to like you, but that alone will not keep you there. You need to consistently keep their facility clean and even exceed their original expectations. Go the extra mile, it will be well worth it. Strive to be a top service provider!
  4. THEY NEED TO LIKE YOU: Hear me out on this one. I’m not talking about a joke telling, fishing buddy (although, being “professionally” personable and friendly goes a long way towards customer loyalty). Instead, when they like the way you and your company take care of their facility, they will also like you! Yes, cliché, but take care of your customers and they will take care of you.
  5. BE PROFITABLE: You want to “retain” profitable customers. If you’re losing money on an account or just breaking even, then you will stop caring about the things that will make your customer keep you. They’ll probably drop you and you won’t care. Do all you can to keep your costs down and quality up. But if, for example, you start cleaning a private school with 200 students and 6 months later they’ve increased to 300 (which will increase your labor hours up to 2 hours a day), then it’s time to sit down and talk about a fair price increase. Even the Good Book says, “the worker is deserving of their pay”. That’s good enough for me.
  6. TRAIN YOUR EMPLOYEES: To provide consistent quality cleaning on an ongoing basis, your crew needs to know what to do. You need to have some type of training on cleaning techniques, chemical use, customer relations, safety, protocol, procedures, production rates, etc. A trained and competent employee creates a loyal customer!
  7. USE CHECKLISTS TO MANAGE “THE SYSTEM”: A checklist of exactly what is done each day is not just a good idea, but an absolute must to succeed. e.g. Individual employee checklists, area checklists, specialty work checklists, end of night supervisor checklists, monthly inspection checklists, etc. That’s managing a system that works!
  8. EMPLOYEE UNIFORMS/BADGES/NAME TAGS: At each customer location, project an image of trust, structure and professionalism. After hour customer accounts should still have company t-shirts with your name and logo. And higher profile accounts need to project a more professional image. Specifically, polo shirts with logos and khakis, with employee lanyard or company identifying name badges need to be worn. The more your customer sees your employees, the sharper they need to look!
  9. WHATEVER IT TAKES!: Commit to being that person that finds solutions. Every problem and situation has a perfect solution. Some tougher than others. Are you willing to fulfill a customer’s last minute, 4pm request to wax or polish floors tonight because their corporate boss is visiting tomorrow? Will you miss a little sleep or work late to provide a solution? Expect the unexpected! When another cleaning company comes “a courting”, they will say “No thanks, we’re very happy with our current cleaning service”. That’s customer loyalty!
  10. HAVE A SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE!: If you have a mindset of “it’s good enough, they’ll never notice, everyone cuts corners”, I know 4 coats of wax would look awesome, but 3 is enough for tonight”, then you don’t get it. When I used to ask my Floor Techs how a job came out and they would say “good”, I would ask them “do you know who the enemy of excellence is”? It’s “good enough”. They quickly got the point! They then started sending me cell phone pics of every job, and yes it was excellent work! Average Spirit equals Average Business and that equals average customer retention. Excellent Spirit equals Excellent Business and that equals EXCELLENT CUSTOMER RETENTION!

Always remember to nurture your customer relationships. Make them feel cared about and appreciated. Your customer retention will increase dramatically and your customer loyalty will soar!


CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake


Your Target Janitorial Customers – Tips – Part 2

Drake Thomas (President/Co-founder of CleanlyRun, formerlyCleanGuidePro) here… In my last posted article, I shared are a few observations and tips (based on my three decades in the janitorial industry) about ten typical types of janitorial customers that you may consider targeting. As promised, here’s another ten:


Janitorial Target Market

  1. HOSPITALS: Typical cleaning frequency: 3-7 days per week. Don’t let this one intimidate you. You don’t have to be a big national or regional company to get your foot in the door. You don’t need to take over the whole hospital housekeeping department to start. Take on a pressure washing job, offer stripping and waxing services to their always understaffed floor team, bid on some of their satellite clinics, offer fill in housekeepers on vacation, etc. Get with their facilities or housekeeping departments and let them know what services you have to offer. When you get work, do it perfectly and ask to bid on more. I started with one time per week floor polishing of the main cafeteria, which led to housekeepers, janitorial at their satellite clinics, trash/linen porters, full time floor techs, carpet cleaning and multiple hospitals.  Pros: Lots of lucrative work. Pays well and timely (3-5 wks). Cons: Can be late nights, holidays and weekends.Requires lots of coordinating and communication with housekeeping managers. You must have your own onsite working supervisor to make sure everything goes smoothly. Requires good cash flow, but every job requires that.
  2. CONSTRUCTION FINAL CLEAN: This is when a Construction Company contracts you to do a one time final clean of their project, in preparation for turn over to their client owner. This could be anything from a new home they built or small bank, to a huge school or even a hospital.Typical cleaning frequency on these projects could be a 1-3 days per week to 2-3 months depending on the size. Pros: Pays well. In just about every economy there’s some projects going on to bid on. Opportunities to be a Builders first choice for future projects when you do the job right and on time. Cons: They usually pay you on a monthly draw, meaning you may have to wait 4 weeks to receive a check. If a Contractor tells you, “you get paid when I get paid”, do NOT work for him/her. A reputable Contractor receives monthly bank draws to pay suppliers and vendors monthly. 
  3. FITNESS CLUBS:  Typical cleaning frequency: 3-7 days per week. Pros: Good profit margins. Lots of gym chains popping up everywhere. Opportunity to sell them supplies, roll towels, toilet paper, etc. Carpet and floor work opportunities as well. Cons: Just late night hours or very early. Years ago, this was the “who knows when you’ll get paid customer”, but now with corporate chain ownership, they’re timely payers. 
  4. HAIR SALONS: Typical cleaning frequency: 1-2 days per week. Pros: Salons on every corner. Cons: Not much, just hair, hair and more hair! Gets in your mops and can’t be washed out. Tip: Look for the chain of salons to bid on (as the owner of a small, single salon usually cleans the space his/herself). 
  5. RETAIL STORES: This could be a small strip mall cell phone store to a large mall department store. Typical cleaning frequency: 3-7 days per week. Pros: Usually pays a bit more. Fast payers. Usually easy cleans. Opportunity to sell them supplies, roll towels, toilet paper, etc. Carpet and floor work will all be yours. Cons: Not much. Great accounts to have… 
  6. MANUFACTURING PLANTS w/Production Area: Could be anything from a small manufacturing facility with a small front office (2-3000sq’) with a medium size production area (4k – 8k S.F.), to a huge front office and production area, like an auto manufacturing plant in Detroit. Typical cleaning frequency: 5-7 days per week. Pros: Very good accounts and timely payers.  Cons: Again, Not much. Great accounts to have. Just possible graveyard shift start times for larger facilities. 
  7. MEDICAL OFFICE up to 10k: Typical cleaning frequency: 3-5 days per week. Pros: Lots of medical facilities this size and 98% of the time they outsource their cleaning. Timely payers and loyal to a good janitorial company. Extra work potential and easy to staff . Usually always will buy their supplies from you. Cons: Understandably, they can be very picky at times. Requires a high level of detail cleaning and sanitizing. 
  8. MOVIE THEATER: Typical cleaning frequency: 7 days per week. Pros:Pays well and potential for lots of floor and carpet work. Cons: Can be difficult to staff, with start times usually 1-2am. Definitely, requires working site supervisor and some working team leaders. Frequent employee callouts on this one. Tip to overcome callouts: If you need a staff of 7 each night, you hire 9 (Trust me on this one!). That way, when the inevitable callouts come, your covered and if all 9 show up, you simply get finished earlier. 
  9. HOTEL/RESORTS COMMON AREAS: This is usually where you provide staff on 4-8 hr shifts (7am-3pm, 3pm-11pm), to clean lobbies, public restrooms, banquet rooms, etc. They’ll usually have their own housekeepers to clean and service hotel rooms.They may even contract you to clean kitchens daily. Typical cleaning frequency: 7 days per week. Pros: Any hotel account, especially national chains are excellent accounts. Opportunities to take on many more hotels. Relatively easy to staff the day and evening shifts. Usually always want you to provide floor work and carpet work. Cons: Not really a con, but you need to have a professional looking crew at all times. Nice uniforms are a must. Your staff not only needs to clean well, but also have friendly social skills and manners as they will interact with hotel staff and hotel guests. 
  10. GENERAL OFFICE BUILDINGS over 40,000 sq’: Typical cleaning frequency: 5 days per week. Typical Square Footage: 40,000 – 90,000 Sq. Feet. Pros: This is about the same as a General Office Buildings, up to 20,000 sq’. Easy to staff, usually early start time of 5:30pm. Extra work and supplies. Good pay and usually not difficult to clean. Cons: Everyone is trying to bid this one. Winning bids need to be very competitive. Tight budgets that require great site supervision and fast production rates. 

Remember, as your experience and resources increase (and they will), so will your target customers!

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Janitorial Manager Meetings That Get Results !

Let’s face it, most people don’t like meetings.  I never did.  But as you’re blessed with more and more janitorial business growth, you’re going to need them… And if properly planned, you’re going to love the results of your janitorial manager meetings. Twenty-five years in this industry has taught me that a weekly (group) meeting with my managers and supervisors is an essential tool to keep my company on the right track.

The underlying purpose of these meetings is to support my three main goals:

1. Customer Satisfaction – Keep that customer happy!

2. Cleaning Quality – Keep that building clean!

3. Company Budgets –Keep our company Profitable!

Nothing beats face time when it comes to praising a job well done, moving everyone in the right direction, and reinforcing accountability.  But because I have multiple Area Managers, responsible for multiple customer facilities, there are always (too) many items to cover. To ensure that we focus on the top 10-12 items that need the most attention, I’ve create an agenda guideline that I’d like to share…

  1. Have A Written Itemized Agenda: Be prepared and know exactly what your objectives are. Every meeting should have a clear purpose to affirm what’s right, identify what’s wrong and correct what’s wrong.
  2. Short And Simple: Try to keep the meeting to 1hour to 1.5 hours max. Focus on the “hot spots”.
  3. Keep The Focus: Keep the meeting on task. You need to direct the flow of the meeting and go item by item on the agenda. If someone wants to jump ahead to an item farther down the list, calmly direct them back to the task at hand. Not because you’re a control freak, but because you need to maintain order and structure to have an effective meeting.
  4. Review Last Meeting? Acknowledge what was corrected from last meeting. Any items from last week’s meeting that are still not corrected are first on this week’s agenda.
  5. Acknowledge What’s Right: Praise the good! Thank those responsible in front of their peers!
  6. Identify What’s Wrong: Here’s two examples:
    • Building is within labor budget, but customer has started complaining that paper towel dispensers are not being filled and they’re running out during the day.
    • Customer satisfaction scores are high and your inspections are high as well, but you’re labor budgets are suddenly 8 hours a week over.
  7. Fix What’s Wrong: Here’s the Fix (“action plan”) to the previous two examples.
    • Get directly with the employee (and site supervisor, if any) assigned to those dispensers and let them know of the customer complaint and make sure they haven’t lost the keys and usually that solves it. If there’s a site supervisor, make sure checking dispensers are on the End of Shift Checklist.
    • Identify what employees are over budget and contact them directly (and site supervisor, if any) about correcting. Usually attributed to new employees getting used to their assignments. Both of these ”fixes” are discussed at the meeting and expected to be corrected before the next meeting.
  8. Any Other Issues?: Just before the end of the meeting, I’d always ask, “any other issues or comments”? This gave all the managers a chance to briefly bring small issues up for discussion or just to tell a funny story that happened the past week.
  9. Recap: This would be where we briefly recapped the meeting, making sure everyone understood what was required of them to keep us on track.

Remember, everyone needs motivation, direction, structure and accountability to achieve a common goal!

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Janitorial Specialty Work Tips!

When starting out, most cleaning companies don’t offer janitorial specialty work. They offer basic, janitorial cleaning only. Things like general cleaning, dusting, sweeping, mopping, restrooms and trash. The problem with this approach is that you leave a lot of extra money on the table. That “extra money” comes from offering additional, specialty work like floor stripping and re-waxing, carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, pressure washing, tile and grout cleaning, etc.

In addition, you severely limit your company’s growth opportunities.  Most, if not all facility managers need and expect these services to be provided by one company. Trust me on this, the more specialty services that your company offers, the more opportunities you have to win bids and increase revenues at new and existing accounts!

The purpose of this blog is not to train you how to perform the following specialty services, but rather to simply point out a few of the opportunities that exist to increase your bottom line!

  1. FLOOR STRIPPING AND RE-WAXING: When waxed floors are stripped with a stripper solution, down to the bare floor and new wax (floor finish) is applied. Usually 4-5 coats of new wax (floor finish). Suggested competitive price range (per square foot) for “Floor stripping and waxing” is 0.26 – 0.65 (i.e. 26 cents to 65 cents).
  2. FLOOR SCRUBBING AND RE-WAXING: When waxed floors are scrubbed with a mild neutral solution, but not removing all layers of wax and new wax (floor finish) is applied. Usually 2-3 coats of new wax (floor finish). Suggested competitive price range (per square foot) for “Floor scrubbing and waxing” is 0.21 – 0.35 (i.e. 21 cents to 46 cents).
  3. FLOOR POLISHING/BUFFING: When waxed floors are polished, in between regular waxing intervals, using a floor machine that spins at 1000-2500 rpm (rotations per minute). Suggested competitive price range (per square foot) for “Floor Polishing/Buffing” is 0.06 – 0.13 (i.e. 6 cents to 13 cents).
  4. CARPET EXTRACTION CLEANING PORTABLE UNIT: This is the process where carpets are chemically pretreated using a sprayer or mixed in with the cleaning chemical solution inside the machine’s solution tank. An attachment wand is used to spray the carpets at 100-450 psi and simultaneously vacuums up the dirty water solution. Suggested competitive price range (per square foot) for “Carpet steam cleaning portable unit” is 0.16 – 0.33 (i.e. 16 cents to 33 cents).
  5. CARPET BONNET CLEANING: Sometimes called the “bonnet method”. When carpets are chemically pretreated using a sprayer or mixed in with the cleaning chemical solution tank attached to machine. The carpets are cleaned using a hand held, 175 rpm (rotations per minute) rotary scrubber machine with a damp bonnet pad on the bottom. The machine spins and agitates the pad and the pad absorbs the dirty solution. This method has its place, but does tend to leave chemical residue in the carpets, which leads to re-soiling. Suggested competitive price range (per square foot) for “Carpet bonnet cleaning” is 0.11 – 0.33 (i.e. 11 cents to 33 cents).
  6. TILE AND GROUT CLEANING: When a de-greaser solution is applied to the tile and grout, agitated with a nylon grit brush and then using a tile and grout machine that has a spinner tool attachment that spray rinses the floor at 1000-1200 psi and vacuums the residue at the same time. You can rent this machine at your local janitorial supply store until you have enough work to justify a purchase.Suggested competitive price range (per square foot) for “Tile and grout Cleaning” is 0.33 – 1.03 (i.e. 33 cents to $1.03).
  7. PRESSURE WASHING: This is an outdoor application. Sometimes called power washing. When you use an electric or gas powered “pressure washing machine” to wash down exterior walls, siding, awnings, driveways, sidewalks, etc. Water is sprayed on surfaces at high-pressure, usually 1500-4000 psi. Sometimes you need to pretreat surfaces with a cleaning agent.Suggested competitive price range (per square foot) for “Pressure washing” is 0.07 – 0.26 (i.e. 7 cents to 26 cents).
  8. EXTERIOR WINDOW CLEANING: When windows are scrub/cleaned with a wool, microfiber or cloth shammy, that has been pre-dipped into a bucket of cleaning solution, attached to an extension pole, then wiped clean with a rubber squeegee. If you need to clean exterior windows above the reach of an extension pole (above 2 floors) from ground level we suggest you sub it out to a professional window cleaning company that has the proper equipment, lifts, repelling harnesses and liability insurance to handle it.Suggested competitive price range (per window) for “Exterior Window Cleaning” is 1.89 – 6.00 (i.e. 1.89 dollars to 6 dollars). As an example, you might clean the facility’s 8 exterior, ground level pane glass windows and 2 front entrance glass doors monthly at $5 a panel for $50.00. Then again, you might clean all 200 of the facility’s exterior windows at $2.50 a panel for $500.00 quarterly.

When pricing Specialty Work, keep in mind that one time only jobs are priced at the higher end of the scale. Larger and more frequent jobs, say weekly or monthly in a regular maintenance program, are priced at the lower end.

Remember that one of the best and easiest ways to increase sales and net profits is within your own existing customer base! They need and want you to provide these services!

CleanlyRun Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Janitorial Growth Without Burnout, Top Tips!

When starting out in your janitorial business, you’re usually doing all the work yourself. We’ve all been there in the beginning, including me. Recently, I received email questions from one of our CleanGuidePro.com members. With his permission to post it here, this is what it said.

“Good News! I was awarded the new cleaning account. The only thing is that I’m nervous about all the hours I will be working. My day will start at 5:30am to 10am, then I go out again from 4pm until midnight, 7 days a week. On Saturdays it’s pretty much an all day marathon. What are your suggestions on hiring someone, am I looking for someone to clean some accounts on their own or should I get two people to clean together? At what point do I hire a supervisory type position? A bunch of years back, I became severely burnt out, so I made a career change while running my cleaning business part time. I’m now in a rebuild process and don’t want this to happen again.”

Sound familiar?

The answers to these questions are not a quick fix, one size fits all answer, but there are some common steps that myself and countless other companies (including some very large national companies I’ve known doing hundreds of millions of dollars a year) have done in the beginning to grow their businesses without “burning out” in the process. There are many additional things that go into each of these steps, i.e., labor law compliance, management skills, communication skills, marketing, training, cash flow management, etc., but in their simplest form, they are as follows:

  1. CLEAN BUILDINGS YOURSELF: In the beginning, clean your accounts yourself. Determine a reasonable number of hours you can work per week before hiring help. If you have a full time day job, probably about 20 hrs is the max. If you don’t have a regular day job, I would suggest no more than 40-45hrs. This could be one building or 3 or more, depending on the size of each. For our illustration purposes, let’s just say you don’t have a day job, clean 3 buildings alone and work 45 hours a week.
  2. ESTABLISH A GOAL: A goal to eventually not clean any of the buildings yourself. If these 3 buildings you clean, combined generate monthly revenue of $4,000 and about 90% (because you have no employees) net profit to you of $3,600. Once you start hiring employees to clean for you, your net profit will drop to about 30% per building. OK, let’s do the math, for you to generate that same $3,600 in net income without cleaning yourself, you need to do $12,000 per month in revenue. $12,000 x .30% = $3,600. Keep in mind that any monthly revenue generated above $12,000 is additional income for you and you’re no longer working a job, but rather running a business that is positioned to grow!
  3. LOOK FOR CLEANING EMPLOYEES: It takes time to find the right employees. Start looking for good employees now, before you even get the next account. Have time to check references and do background checks. Have 4 -5 people ready to go.
  4. GET 1 MORE BUILDING: At the same time, have a marketing plan and bids out and get the next new account.
  5. CLEAN NEW ACCOUNTS YOURSELF: When you get the new building, you clean it and assign the new employee to one of your existing accounts.
  6. ASSIGN NEW EMPLOYEE TO EXISTING ACCOUNT: You already know exactly what needs to be done there, so it’ll be easier to train someone there.
  7. INSPECT NEW EMPLOYEES BUILDING: : You are now their Supervisor. Work with them the first week for training. Then the second week you inspect their work each night for a week or so. When you’re confident in their work, reduce inspections to once a week.
  8. GET MORE BUILDINGS/REPEAT STEPS 5-7: Continue in these planned out, systematic steps with your goal in sight! Track it somehow, on a spreadsheet, a note pad, etc. Review regularly.
  9. REDUCE YOUR CLEANING, INCREASE YOUR INSPECTING: Your time cleaning buildings will start to decrease now and your time inspecting buildings will increase, but you’re making the same net income and your goal is fast approaching!
  10. HIT YOUR GOAL: Congratulations!! You’ve hit your goal. It may have taken you 6 months -2 years or more, but you don’t clean the buildings yourself, except for the occasional fill in. You’re doing $12,000 in monthly revenue and making the same net income as when you were physically killing yourself doing all the work yourself! Best of all, you’re positioned to continue growing the right way and you’re running the business instead of the business running you, into the ground.
  11. YOU’RE THE SUPERVISOR: You’re now the full time supervisor. When you start Inspecting and Supervising more than 45 hrs a week, you can start planning to hire a “working supervisor”. One that produces income by cleaning a building or two themselves, fills in when other employees are out and inspects their work at your accounts. This is usually one of your current employees that you’re promoting. This will start to reduce your night time supervisory time and eventually get you to running the business during the day, if that’s your goal. I can tell you it was a big goal of mine. I’m much more effective running business during normal daytime hours and now spend my nights and weekends with my family..

Just as “Faith without works is dead” Remember that a goal without a plan is just a dream. I hope this blog answer was helpful and insightful to you my friend and many more!


CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Top Ten Janitorial Business Systems!

A Janitorial Business Leader Manages Systems and Procedures!

The simple definition of Management is, “the act of managing something”. O.K., sounds simple, but exactly what is the “something” that you manage and how do you manage it? If you think it’s you personally managing your business, operations, employees and customers, etc., you’re partially right and completely wrong! Hear me out..you “CANNOT” manage people, operations, payables, receivables, etc.., you can ONLY manage the “System and Procedures” that manages people, operations, payables, etc.!

Business 101 and every successful business franchise model will tell you that they have systems and procedures in place for everything! Look at McDonalds for example. If you eat a cheeseburger and fries in California and one in Georgia, it tastes exactly the same and all their worldwide customers get the same consistent experience. It’s not by chance I can promise you…, it’s because they have systems and procedures in place that cooks the fries exactly 7 minutes and the cheeseburger has the exact same meat size, amount of ketchup, mustard, onions, etc.

Every business type (that wants to thrive and grow) must have specific systems and procedures in place to provide consistent predictable results! When something goes wrong, which is inevitable in any business, the corrective action should be to look at what Systems and Procedures have failed and implement corrective action. There’s countless management books and expensive seminars (which are fine and helpful) on this topic. I could write whole chapters in detail about these systems, but let me just touch on my Top Ten free, time tested Systems and procedures that have served me well in 25 years in this great janitorial industry.

  1. ORGANIZATIONAL SYSTEMS! You must establish a personnel organization chart. From Owner, President, Managers, Supervisors, Team Leaders, general cleaners, etc. Take the time to write out a “Position Contract” for each position, defining responsibilities, duties and who they report to and who reports to them.
  2. HIRING SYSTEMS! You can have the best systems and procedures in the world, but they won’t work without the right people. Before hiring, don’t just rely on a good feeling. Have an initial checklist of initial interview questions i.e. “tell me how you solved a conflict at a previous job”, etc.., check references, do background checks, call former employers, etc. Get the “right people”!
  3. EMPLOYEE SYSTEMS! Telephone clockin sytems with caller ID to track showing up and hours in bldg, dress code, conduct code, call out procedures, time off request procedures, employee/customer interaction procedures, verbal warnings, etc., etc. All this should be in an employee handbook that each employee receives and signs that they will adhere to it. Also, don’t forget affordable Employee Incentives!
  4. TRAINING SYSTEMS! Safety training, new hire training, supervisor training chemical training, floor care, carpet care, etc. Your staff should know and be trained in exactly how it’s expected to be done here!
  5. INSPECTION SYSTEMS! For Quality Control. Scheduled routine and formal building inspections to find and fix deficiences is the #1 Way to keep quality up. Be Proactive. Remember people do what you inspect not what you expect!
  6. CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SYSTEMS! Have a specific customer contact person, keep them informed of what your doing to take care of them through monthly reporting of inspections, floor work, carpet cleaning, supply deliveries, etc. and ask them how you can serve them better through satisfaction surveys and/or face time at least once a month. andThe #1 Way to keep the customer satisfied is to keep their facility clean!
  7. OPERATIONAL SYSTEMS! The day to day operations. How are supplies ordered/delivered, machines and vehicles repaired? Create schedules and procedures for all the mundane things that need to get done. Then delegate and manage the system!
  8. FINANCIAL SYSTEMS! How do you pay for it all? What’s your exact overhead fixed expenses%, variable expenses%, labor%, net profit%? Know exactly what it costs you to run your business monthly, then have systems in place for cash flow, budgeting, accounts payable, receivables, payroll, taxes, etc. Count the costs!
  9. SALES AND MARKETING SYSTEMS! Word of mouth new business is not enough. What’s the most “cost effective” way to systematically market your business and create steady new sales. Believe it or not, I have for years and you can also generate leads with customers calling you to place bids each month with the “right” direct mail marketing system for less than $100 a month! See how in the free bonus, marketing materials section in my CleanGuidePro.com janitorial bidding software!
  10. OPERATION MANUALS! Document all your systems and procedures in operation manuals. Everything should be written in these manuals as if you’re creating a franchise model. Review and update as needed for a “turnkey” business that has actual resale value whether you ever want to sell it or not!

In business the system is the solution!

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Janitorial Business Attitude – Top Ten Tips

The definition of Attitude is, “A complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in a certain way”. Your attitude is the very foundation of your business and it needs to be sound and solid or the whole structure can collapse. Cliche? Maybe. But twenty-five years in the janitorial business has taught me the value of attitude…

Whether you’re the owner, manager, crew leader or front line housekeeper, your attitude will dictate how far you’ll go. I’ve hired over a thousand employees throughout the years and I’ve selected the zero experience person with a great attitude – (“I’m willing to learn and do anything required”) – over an experienced person – (“Yeah, yeah, been there, done that, when’s payday?”) – hundreds of times.

What is your attitude towards business and how does it impact your bottom line? Not sure? Well, the first step is just making the commitment to develop the “right” attitude, one that will support your business growth. There’s countless books and expensive seminars (which are fine and helpful) on this topic, but let me share the mindset that has served me so well in this great janitorial industry!

Top Ten Attitudes of a Janitorial Business Leader

  1. BE GRATEFUL! Every day is an opportunity to be grateful for what you have and the countless opportunities that are in front of you. Count your blessings, every day is an opportunity to rejoice and be glad in it. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.
  2. BE AN EXPERT! Just like when a customer calls an Electrician or A/C company out to provide services or a proposal, they expect that they’re experts in their field. In the same way you should be an expert in yours. Do you know the difference between an alkaline and acidic chemical and which to use on what? Do you know what a “green chemical” is? What’s the OSHA requirement for chemical labels? What’s your recommended floor care maintenance program for waxed floors? How many coats of wax, what the best floor finish % solid content for floors that are burnished? What does your production rate need to be when cleaning a school to be competitive? Be committed to ever learning. Knowledge is power!
  3. WHATEVER IT TAKES! Commit to being that person that finds solutions. Every problem and situation has a perfect solution. Some tougher than others. Are you willing to fulfill a customers last minute, 4pm request to wax or polish floors tonight because their corporate boss is visiting tomorrow? Will you miss a little sleep or work late to provide a solution? Expect the unexpected and do whatever it takes to provide professional service that exceeds your customers expectations!
  4. THANK CUSTOMERS WHEN THEY COMPLAIN! Yes, you heard me right, you shouldn’t be happy about complaints and you should have systems and procedures in place to minimize them, but you should say, “thank you for bringing that to my attention, I apologize for that issue and we’ll take care of it right away”. Issues and complaints are virtually impossible to completely stop, but when they arise and your customer points out the little things that bother them and you correct them, you solidify to them that you’re a professional company that cares about them and their facility. When you always respond to complaints like “no way we missed a trash can last night”, you come off as belligerent and hard to deal with. Just thank them and say O.K. we’ll take care of it!
  5. BE THE EXAMPLE! Understand and embrace that you set the bar. Purpose in your heart to act the way you want your team to act with your customers. Don’t talk bad about customers, employees or co-workers in front of your employees and don’t condone it when they do. Be an exemplary Janitorial Business Leader!
  6. MAKE THEM KNOW YOU CARE! It’s true that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, about them! Make your customers, co-workers and employees feel appreciated, heard and valued by you and your business. The more they know you care, the more you solidify your relationship with them!
  7. OWN IT! Own it when you make mistakes. Take responsibility and don’t make excuses when problems arise. If you knock something over and break it, don’t hide it or throw it away and hope your customer doesn’t notice the next day. Leave a note or call first thing the next day and apologize and pay to fix or replace it. They may not like it if you break their favorite desk trinket, but they’ll see you as responsible for speaking up.
  8. NOTHINGS IMPOSSIBLE! Reacting to situations with statements like, “this is hopeless, this is impossible, no way good things can come my way” are all self fulfilling prophecies. I’ve found, seen and experienced in my life that nothing is impossible as I’ve put my faith and trust in the One who makes all things possible.
  9. IT IS MY JOB! When an employee comes to me and says “they asked me to clean out the break room refrigerator last night. Is that my job or on our checklist”? My answer is always the same, “yes, if it’s cleaning related it’s our job”. “If it’s not on our checklist and a significant labor expense to me, like dusting daily when we have a customer service agreement for dusting 1x per month, then we simply talk with the customer, add it to our agreement and increase the monthly price accordingly if need be.
  10. HAVE A SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE! If you have a mindset of “it’s good enough, they’ll never notice, everyone cuts corners”, I know 4 coats of wax would look awesome, but 3 is enough for tonight”, then you don’t get it. When I used to ask my Floor Techs how a job came out and they would say “good”, I would ask them “do you know who the enemy of excellence is”? They would say “who” and I would say “good enough”. They quickly got the point! They then starting sending me cell phone pics of every job, and yes they were excellent work! Average Spirit, Average Business. Excellent Spirit, Excellent Business!

In business as in life, attitude is everything!

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake