6 Important Questions You Should Ask Your Cleaners


If you’re a business owner or property manager, it’s important to thoroughly vet your janitorial company for many reasons. The cleaning staff is in your space every day, with access to every office, showroom or boardroom. Their work directly affects the health and wellness of your employees and patrons, and of course, they are one of the more expensive line items in your financials. For these reasons, you want to make sure you’re asking the right questions when evaluating your cleaning company. It’s hard to know what to ask if you don’t know the industry.

There are the obvious questions such as “How long have you been in business?”, “Who are your clients?”, “Are you insured?” etc. that you should always ask. However, we’ve identified six industry-specific questions that will help you gauge whether a cleaning company has the necessary processes and procedures in place to truly deliver the first class service you expect.

1. What programs does their sustainability staff have in place to ensure the company is meeting or exceeding requirements?

Your provider’s sustainability staff should be tasked with certifying and maintaining proper third-party credentials. This includes managing certifications and training for staff, and liaising with those organizations to regularly review and audit the company’s processes, products and equipment. The staff should also be a resource to enhance and support your own sustainability needs. Managing all of this properly takes time, so you first want to make sure the company has staff dedicated to this. If they do not, this should raise a flag.

At a minimum, you should expect your provider to be GS-42 certified. The Green Seal Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning GS-42 is a third-party certification that ensures certain environmental requirements for cleaning service providers are being met, and that the provider has a green cleaning program to protect human health and the environment.

Finally, what does the company do above and beyond these certifications? Do they have any team members that are LEED Accredited Professionals? Having this expertise on their staff can prove valuable to organizations seeking to become LEED certified, or to maintain their LEED status. The right cleaning company should be able to contribute up to 18 points to your LEED status. Additionally, if your business has reporting needs related to GRESB, Energy Star, Well Building or Investor Reports, your cleaning company should be able to provide the proper data to support those needs.

2. Is the cleaner’s work being independently inspected by someone else?

First, you want to find out if and when inspections are being conducted at all, and if so, by whom. Often, the very people who are cleaning your space are the ones inspecting their own work. This translates into no true inspections being conducted, at best, but in some industries this is considered a conflict of interest.

Your cleaning company should have a separate team of people routinely inspecting their work. Ideally this would be a dedicated Quality Control department that has thorough processes and procedures in place to document and report their findings (ideally using a digital application such as CleanTelligent), and to ensure the results are reviewed with the staff and additional training happens as needed to improve performance.

3. What procedures are automated within their organization to streamline business processes?

Let’s face it, the janitorial industry is not known for being cutting-edge. Many companies still use antiquated paper processes for just about everything. Not only is this time consuming, but it’s highly error prone and inefficient. In the end it is costlier than the expense of moving toward automation.

Some examples of areas that should be automated are:

Time and Attendance Tracking

Janitorial companies have a large number of hourly staff. Tools such as Kronos allow staff to clock in and out through an automated system, reducing paper errors and significantly reducing the hours required for this enormous HR task.

Inspection Tracking

Companies that do not have an online inspection tracking tool may not be very serious about their internal Quality Control. Robust tracking systems, such as market leader CleanTelligent, are specifically designed for conducting janitorial inspections. These tools allow for consistency across inspections, photo upload for subsequent review, and robust reporting capabilities that allow you to slice and dice the data to track trends and make intelligent decisions based on real information.

Asset Tracking

Cleaning companies own a plethora of cleaning equipment, anything from vacuums to snow plows. A good asset management system is critical to ensuring the equipment is operating at optimal performance. Asset tracking can be very difficult without the proper tools in place. Poor asset management can lead to inefficient work performance and a lot of additional expense for unnecessary repairs and replacements. Asset tracking should be automated, easily tracked and reported.

4. How are the company’s employees screened to ensure the safety and security of your tenant base, and how do they engage their employees to reduce turnover?

Your cleaners are essentially an extension of your staff. Like your staff, they have full access to your space and are in it every single day. When you make hiring decisions for your company, you’re likely thoroughly vetting the candidates before offering them a job. The same should be true of your cleaning company. You should expect that your cleaning staff have undergone background checks, reference checks, and that the company has used proper means, such as eVerify, to ensure they are legally allowed to be working.

Additionally, the janitorial industry is known for its high turnover rate. The reality is the job isn’t glamorous and retaining employees can be a challenge. Your cleaning company should have practices in place that aid employee retention. Some of these may include creating upward mobility opportunities within the organization, offering training programs that empower the staff to learn and grow, and offering excellent benefits packages.

5. What types of routine engagement does the cleaning company have with its clients and what information do they regularly provide?

You should expect your cleaning company to have a regular management level presence in your building or space. If they cannot guarantee this, it is likely because their managers are in charge of dozens of buildings and do not have the bandwidth to be at yours regularly. This results in a disconnect between you and the cleaning company. Messages don’t get relayed and managers become out of touch, causing you to spend way too much time dealing with cleaning issues yourself.

You will also want to see that the cleaning company provides some sort of quarterly or semi-annual reporting and feedback. This should include topics such as cleaning recommendations, inspection results, customer satisfaction and feedback, sustainability reports, and work ticket analysis.This feedback will help drive planning and strategy, and improve efficiencies.

6. Is the company CIMS certified?

Last but not least, you always want to make sure your cleaning company is CIMS (Cleaning Industry Management Standard) certified. CIMS is a cleaning industry standard set by ISSA, the leading trade association for the cleaning industry. Certified organizations demonstrate they are structured to deliver “consistent, quality services that are designed to meet the customer’s needs and expectations. It sets forth processes, procedures and supporting documentation proven to be characteristic of customer-driven organizations.”

BMS understands the importance of each of these questions. This is why we have developed the internal processes and procedures necessary to deliver first class service, while at the same time ensuring clean and eco-healthy environments, proven through our many credentials and certifications.

Contact us today to learn more about our janitorial and other services.

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