Janitorial Employee-Supervisor Conflict

Ask Drake

President and Co-founder of CleanGuidePro

With the truly, humbling success of CleanGuidePro, we’ve received great questions by companies all over the world about varying topics in the janitorial industry. Allow me share one of them with you.

Hey Drake: As our janitorial business has grown, we’ve promoted two of our better cleaners to Supervisor positions. Soon afterwards, I had Supervisors telling me to fire certain employees and hire better people. I’ve also had employees calling me and saying that their Supervisor is bad, lazy and plays favorites among other things. What’s the best way to solve conflict between your supervisors and employees?

Supervisor-Employee conflict

Answer: First, let me congratulate you on your growing business! Your question is one that every successful business owner faces at some point in their growth.

Let me make it simple and clear. Your job as the owner is not to be a referee between supervisors and employees, making judgment calls based on some “gut feeling” as to who is right and who is wrong in each and every situation. Rather, your job to establish employee guidelines and criteria in employee handbooks, noting specific job descriptions for each position (from entry level cleaners to supervisory personnel) with clearly spelled out duties and responsibilities. Basically, everyone show know what their duties are and what the consequences are for failing to follow procedure.

Here’s how it works… Every employee should read your company handbook and sign off that they understand the consequences off “no call, no show”, “being late”, “poor quality work”, etc. Each cleaner should be trained and receive a checklist, detailing exactly what duties to perform on their shift. Likewise, each Supervisor should receive training and a checklist detailing exactly what duties they perform on their shift and (in particular) during the “end of night checklist”. This way when conflict arises (and it will!) you can look at which company procedures were violated and make a correct, unbiased decision!

Business 101 “rightly” teaches us that written systems and procedures, with clearly defined job descriptions with a touch of “common sense and love”, eliminates most of our business problems!


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

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

Your Target Janitorial Customers – Tips – Part 1

Who’s your target janitorial customer? What type of businesses do you spend your valuable time and marketing dollars to attract?  Is it the hair salon that’s cleaned for an hour once a week or the government contract (with 25 facilities) that’s cleaned six to seven days a week?  Is it every business with a trash can?

Not sure?  Well, you should be and you should only focus on the “right” target customers that will best support your business growth and your peace of mind. And it’s really not hard to determine…  Simply ask yourself, “Is is it profitable, manageable and sustainable to my company at the present time in my business growth, based on my experience and resources”?

I’m Drake Thomas, Co-founder of CleanlyRun (formerly CleanGuidePro), and I’ve been doing this forthree decades… Allow me to share a few observations about the different types of janitorial customers that you may consider targeting.  Because this is a large list, I’ll start with 10 of the most common types below (and next week I’ll address 10 more).


Janitorial Target Market

  1. ONE DAY A WEEKERS: Asking to have a building cleaned only once a week is a common customer request. And if you’re cleaning by yourself in the early stages of your business, that’s fine… But trying to find reliable employees to only work one day per week is challenging at best. There’s very little profit and you still have to clean a week’s worth of mess in one day. I simply would advise against it in most cases.
  2. RESTAURANTS: Typical cleaning frequency: 7 days per week. Pros: Can be very lucrative with the possibility of getting a chain to clean. Cons: Late start times, usually after midnight until 6-7am. Hard to staff the hours required on a daily basis. Notoriously slow payers.
  3. FLOOR CARE ONLY: This is when a customer contracts you to provide floor scrubbing, stripping, polishing, waxing, carpet cleaning only, on some type of a regularly scheduled maintenance program. Usually a type of retail store like an auto part chain, pawn chain, hair salon, grocery store, etc. Pros: High profit margins, repeat business and lots of work everywhere. Cons: Requires training, skills and speed from your employees. Lots of upfront costs with equipment and chemicals.
  4. BANKS: Typical cleaning frequency: 3-5 days per week. Pros: Lots of banks around and you don’t usually get just one, but dozens of locations. Potential for lots of extra specialty work, i.e. floor care, carpets, etc. Cons: Requires individual employees or a team to do multiple locations on a route requiring you to provide a vehicle or gas and travel time allowances.
  5. LAW FIRMS: Typical cleaning frequency: 3-5 days per week. Pros: Usually pays a bit more. Fast payers. Usually easier cleans. Cons: Not much, maybe having to work around a late working attorney.
  6. CAR DEALERSHIPS: Typical cleaning frequency: 5-7 days per week. Pros: Lots of dealerships everywhere, with lots of extra work potential. Cons: Late start times, 7 days a week. Requires fast production rates to be profitable.
  7. CHURCHES & RELIGIOUS FACILITIES: Typical cleaning frequency: 3-5 days per week. Pros: Lots of churches around. Usually very pleasant atmospheres. Timely payers and loyal. Extra work potential and easy to staff. Usually always will buy their supplies from you. Cons: None to mention.
  8. DAYCARE CENTERS: Typical cleaning frequency: 3-5 days per week. Pros: Lots of daycare facilities around. Pays well and potential for lots of floor and carpet work due to strict cleaning standards. Cons: Understandably they can be very picky at times. Requires a high level of detail cleaning and sanitizing.
  9. PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Typical cleaning frequency: 5 days per week. Pros: Easier to staff, as start times are earlier around 4pm. Usually always want you to provide floor work, carpet work and the supplies. Cons: Difficult cleans. Usually totally trashed each day, which leads to frequent employee frustration and turnover.
  10. GENERAL OFFICE BUILDINGS: Typical cleaning frequency: 5 days per week. Typical Square Footage: 10,000 – 20,000 Sq. Feet. Pros: This is the bread and butter account for many small to mid-size companies. Easy to staff, usually early start time of 5:30pm. Extra work and supplies. Good pay and usually not difficult to clean. Cons: Not much if you keep their building clean and keep the lines of communication open with your customer.

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

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Janitorial Supply Sales Top Tips!

If you’re not selling janitorial supplies to your new and existing, janitorial cleaning accounts, you’re definitely leaving money on the table!

Janitorial Paper SuppliesWhen we use the term “Janitorial Supply Sales”, we’re referring to consumable janitorial products that you can sell to your customer. These are NOT the products that you pay for and provide to clean the building with, like glass cleaner, bowl cleaner, furniture polish, etc. We’re talking about the janitorial products your customer “consumes”, like toilet paper, roll towels, multi-fold towels, trash can liners, air fresheners, some chemicals and soaps.

Did you know that 35-40% of all janitorial companies sell supplies to their customers? Every customer you have will need and purchase these consumable products somewhere, so if you can provide them and make a profit, why not let it be from you?

Let me just touch on some of my top, time tested, Supply Sales Tips that have served me well in over 30 years in the janitorial industry:

  1. Why buy from you? Your customer usually gets their supplies from going to a big box retailer (like Sam’s Club, Costco, etc.), going to a janitorial supply store, a visiting salesperson or (most expensively) online purchases. The #1 reason to buy from you is convenience and time saving. If they have a salesperson coming to them, they may look more at price, but you’re still making it more convenient and saving them time by going through you and they have a single point of contact to streamline the process. Also, you stock the items for them.
  2. Where do you buy? Get your best cost price on these items by shopping around. There are many janitorial supply stores around and all will gladly give you price quotes. Tell them you are getting pricing quotes to resell to your customers. Ask them for suggestions to keep your cost down by using generic brands. Ask them for better pricing if (for example) you purchase 3 or more cases at a time. Ask for terms like 30 day pay to free up your cash flow. Asking won’t necessarily get you a yes answer, but not asking will definitely get you a no.
  3. How do you price items? Price it to make a profit! Don’t try to be the cheapest price all the time! Be the best value by offering peace of mind through convenience, time savings, hassle avoidance and reliability. Even if you buy a case of multi fold towels at a big box store for $19.95 and your customer could go get it themselves for the same price, you still resell it for $24.95. They pay for the time savings! I personally, usually go for a “minimum” of 20% percent profit or a minimum $5.00 per case markup. I usually go with whatever gives me the best total profit dollars. For example, a 20% profit on an item that cost me $15.00 would be a total profit of $3.00, so in this situation, I would go with the $5.00 markup and sell the case for $20.00. Remember, these are just recommendations on pricing. If you’re a seasoned veteran when it comes selling your customers supplies, or if you’ve found great low costs on items, you may be able to have much larger profit or a larger $ per case markup. Don’t be afraid to make a profit, you’re customers are getting the added service value of your time (i.e. standing in line to purchase, your gas for travel, your time cost shopping around, restocking, and so on).
  4. Establish your costs and pricing:  Keep track of your costs from different vendors and set your pricing for future reference and sales to new and existing customers! Our CleanlyRun Janitorial Bidding Software has a section for this (i.e. optional Supply Sales) that keeps records of your items, categories, descriptions, product #’s and pricing so you can easily give your customer a supply pricing proposal!

Grow your business and Increase your bottom line Profits with Janitorial Supply Sales!

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 Bidding Software That Works!

Long story short:

After 25 years of hard work, determination, faith and years of trial and error developing a systematic bidding method for my own cleaning business, I ended up building (with an unbelievable team of programmers) the janitorial bidding software that I was searching for.. A proven systematic approach that has generated millions in sales. A system that works!

Long story long:

My name is Drake Thomas, I’ve been in the cleaning business over 24 years. I started out at age 19, supplementing the income from my full time job by cleaning my sister Linda’s house once a week (for $40 cash). It took me about two hours to clean, so I averaged about $20 an hour. I made 4 times the minimum wage rate at the time and she got a clean house for a week! That’s a win/win in my book!

I saw that there was good money in cleaning, but it wasn’t my dream job at the time; I had other life plans to pursue. Linda was already a very successful computer programmer, having graduated Valedictorian in high school and cum laude in college, and she urged me to get a degree as well. So, over the next five years, I worked in sales and went to college part time, receiving an AA degree in CIS, Computer Information Systems. The degree was good, I learned a lot about computers, but I never pursued that career path. But, I did meet my lovely wife Kristin there and we just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary!

Just before I graduated college, an opportunity arose to take over a tiny floor care company (stripping, waxing and polishing floors). The owners, an older couple, were moving out of town in two months and would lose the handful of accounts that they had. I made them an offer of $5,780, (the total value of all their equipment if purchased new). The deal was that I would give them a deposit of $2,500 – (a credit union signature loan) – and work with them at night (for free) during a two month training period. The balance would be paid off in 6 monthly installments from my business profits. They happily agreed. So for a while, I worked a day job, attended college part time, and then stripped floors at night (sometimes until 5am). Then I got up at 7am to do it again. At the end of the two month training period, I quit my day job. I figured if I could sell for “them”, I could sell for myself. Initially, I only offered floor care, but I pretty quickly started bidding – and winning bids – for complete janitorial services.

This calculated risk paid off, but isn’t life full of risks? The fruit is at the end of the branches. During my career, I’ve read literally hundreds of books on business management, motivation, goal setting, systems, sales/marketing techniques, cash flow, customer retention, budgets, planning, cost cutting and the list goes on. But my number one book concerning business is the book of Proverbs. It has taught me more about business than any other by far. Things like “mere talk leads to poverty” (take action!), “all hard work returns a profit” (don’t be lazy!), and “seek wisdom more than choice gold or fine silver” (knowledge is power!).

Over the years, I’ve won hundreds and hundreds of bids for monthly janitorial service, floor waxing, carpet cleaning, pressure washing, specialty work and supply sales for Banks, Car Dealerships, Churches, Corporate Offices, Day Cares, Dentist Offices, Doctor’s offices, Hair Salons, Hospitals, Ice Cream Parlors, Law Firms, Medical Facilities, Pawn Shops, Property Management, Restaurants, Retail Stores, Schools, Veterinarians, and just about everything in between. What’s the secret you ask?… There is no secret! Just a quarter century of hard work, determination, faith and years of trial and error developing a systematic bidding method for my own cleaning business. A proven approach that has generated millions in sales. A system that works!

This bidding system is available to you now! Welcome to CleanGuidePro Janitorial Bidware, cleanlyrun.com! If you’re looking for the right janitorial bidding software to help you win more bids, you’ve found it. You can accurately bid on commercial and residential, monthly cleaning accounts, 13 specialty work tasks like floor stripping, carpet cleaning, pressure washing, tile &and grout cleaning, day porters, etc, commercial and residential construction cleanup, and much more!

Over three years of development has gone into the creation and development of this software. We just released in February of this year and hundreds of janitorial companies have already signed up, given us awesome feedback and most important, are winning bids! Not only is it designed to bid the way that I’ve bid and won hundreds and hundreds of times, but the behind the scenes team of software programmers have integrated the latest business rules technology to capture every nuance of successful bidding. This team is headed up by – you guessed it – none other than my sister Linda. Her thirty years of expertise and experience working on a multitude of Fortune 500 IT projects have made CleanGuidePro come to life. I half kiddingly tell people that I’m a Grand Master Janitor, but Linda is truly a Grand Master Programmer! Call it fate, destiny, or a match made in Heaven, but don’t call it coincidence. My love and gratitude to her.


Sign up today for our no obligation, free 30 day trial and start winning those bids! Check it out for yourself at cleanlyrun.com !


CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

Decrease Costs / Increase Your Bottom Line – Top Tips!

When you decrease your costs, you increase your bottom line! The definition of “bottom line” in business is, “The last line of a financial statement, used for showing net profit or loss.” O.K., sounds simple enough to understand what the bottom line is, but how do you increase it? The top two, hopefully, obvious ways are cutting costs and increasing revenues.

The purpose of this blog is to focus on only the cost cutting aspects of increasing your bottom line. I know cutting costs and saving money doesn’t sound as exciting as increasing revenues and hitting sales goals, but let me help you with that by giving you something to think about that should excite you about cutting costs and saving!

If you currently average 25% net profit on your janitorial accounts, let’s say for example that you make $500 net profit on a $2000 per month account. If you cut costs by $500 throughout your company, it adds $500 to your bottom line, just the same as getting a new $2000 per month account. With that in mind, every $1 you save is equal to $4 in revenue and every additional $1 in costs you incur requires $4 of revenue to produce. (Read that last sentence a couple of times to let it sink in!) In other words, that sparkling, bottled water delivered to the water cooler in your office each week might only cost you $65 a month, but you have to do $260 in sales to pay for it. I’m not saying don’t have water in your office, just something to chew on.

Of course, you absolutely need to be continually looking for ways to increase sales revenues, but running your operations smart and efficiently is the #1 way to decrease your costs and increase your bottom line within your existing customer base! There are many more, but let me just touch on some of my Top Free, time tested, Cost Cutting Tips that have served me well in 25 years in this great janitorial industry!

  1. Decrease Facilities : Sure, everyone wants a nice office including me, but make sure it’s a need to have and not just a nice want to have. Your customers rarely, if ever will come to your office and employees only come to your office to fill out applications and get paychecks. Employees can have checks delivered to job sites and can even fill out applications at the job site. Keep in mind a $3000 a month office requires $10-$12,000 in monthly sales to pay for it. When you can’t park your work vans in front of the house anymore and your monthly revenue permits, it’s probably time to look for a small office warehouse. Most cities have industrial parks that offer low cost, low frill spaces for very low rent.
  2. Decrease Labor Costs: You reduce labor costs by increasing production rates, thereby decreasing payroll costs. This is done by workloading the labor in your building correctly from the start, using and fine tuning your cleaning methods, i.e., Team Cleaning, Zone Cleaning or a combination of the two. This will increase your hourly production rates and decrease your payroll labor costs without cutting your employees hourly rates. If you just start cutting hourly rates to save money, you destroy morale and you can bet quality and customer satisfaction will be casualties as well. Remember the workman is worthy of his /her pay!

    By the way, the crux of my CleanGuidePro Janitorial Bidding Software is its popular Workloading and Pricing screen. You can’t decrease your costs unless you can see your costs, and that’s what this innovative screen enables you to do!

  3. Decrease Inventory: Have a “just in time” inventory. Full warehouses look nice, but floor wax, bowl cleaner, toilet paper, multi fold towels, etc., just sitting in the warehouse costs money from day one (or on day 30 if you have vendor terms). I tried to never have more inventory in the warehouse than I could use or sell in 30 days. Don’t run out, but don’t overstock!
  4. Decrease Delivery Costs:Deliveries to job sites are necessary, but costs money. Fuel and labor costs add up quickly! All deliveries should be coordinated to accomplish multiple deliveries and tasks. For example, coordinate multiple supply deliveries to job sites on the same day if possible. You can even have your traveling floor crew drop off supply orders, paychecks, etc., at various sites along their route. $20 of traveling labor costs saved 5 days a week is $430 a month saved!
  5. Decrease Chemical Costs: Buy chemicals in dilutable, concentrate form to keep costs down. Chemical mixing stations are great also. Products like bowl cleaner and stainless steel cleaner are usually sold “ready to use” (RTU), and cost a bit more, so shop around for good pricing.
  6. Decrease Insurance Costs :You need Insurance! General business liability and auto insurance is a must have. As you grow, your insurance needs grow. Business, auto, work comp, etc. Multiple car discounts, discounted work comp rates through payroll companies, discounts for bundling business and auto, etc. You can save lots of money here! A 2% work comp discount on a $50,000 a month payroll is $1000 a month saved! Shop around and ask for better rates.
  7. Decrease Sales People: I had to learn the hard way that salespeople cost money on day one. To pay someone $500 a week / $2165 a month to go cold calling and chasing leads requires them to sell $8-$10,000 a month just to break even. There’s nothing wrong at all being a salesperson and I consider it a top profession. In fact, I consider myself one and pretty good at it, if I don’t say so myself. It’s just that for janitorial sales the most cost effective, hands down, no close second is a targeted, direct mail marketing program. It’s cheap, very effective and will have customers calling your office every month to place bids.
  8. Decrease Cell Phones: I’m not sure why, but In the beginning I thought it was my responsibility to provide every manager with a cell phone. When (for a short time) I had salespeople, they got one too. I guess I figured if they’re talking business on a cell phone, I should pay for it. At some point, a long time ago, a light bulb went off in my head and I realized that just about everyone has and needs a cell phone and the few minutes they used them talking my business wasn’t saving them any money, but it sure was costing me a lot. Seeing personal, international call charges on my cell phone bill might have been the light bulb moment!

Remember, running your operations smart and efficiently is the #1 way to decrease your costs and increase your bottom line within your existing customer base!

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