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How to Choose a Commercial Cleaning Company: 6 Important Questions to Ask to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Contractor


Selecting a commercial cleaner is a big commitment.  It can be daunting. On the surface many providers look equal.  But they aren’t.  This is why hiring the wrong one can turn into a nightmare.

If you’re a business owner or property manager, how do you avoid this nightmare?  There are many reasons thoroughly vetting your janitorial company is worth the time and effort.

  • SECURITY: The cleaning staff is in your space every day, with access to every office, conference room and potentially sensitive areas.
  • EMPLOYEE HEALTH: The quality of cleaning directly affects the health and wellness of your employees and visitors.
  • COST: The janitorial contract is one of the more expensive line items in your financials. Make sure you are getting value for your money.

It’s hard to know what to look for in a janitorial company if you don’t know the industry.  

There are the obvious questions: “How long have you been in business?”, “Who are your clients?”, “Are you insured?”.  And you should ask these.  However, you need to go beyond this.  You need to understand whether a company has the processes and procedures in place to truly deliver the first class service you expect.



Does the company have sustainability programs to ensure they are meeting standards?

Every cleaning company says it is sustainable.  Most even have a dedicated sustainability web page.  But what’s really behind it?

A true sustainability program takes work. First you want to make sure the company has dedicated sustainability staff. If they do not, this should raise a flag.


Your provider’s sustainability staff should be be responsible for certifying and maintaining proper third-party credentials for sustainability. This includes managing the certifications and staff training, and liaising with those organizations to review and audit the company’s processes, products and equipment regularly.

Green Seal Certification

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.  Additionally, it ensures the provider has a green cleaning program to protect human health and the environment.

The staff should also be a resource to enhance and support your own internal sustainability goals.


Finally, what does the company do beyond maintaining the proper 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 maintaining their LEED status.

The right cleaning company might 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.



Is the cleaner’s work being independently inspected by others?

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, and in some industries this is considered a conflict of interest.

This is why you need to ask if and when inspections are being conducted, and if so, by whom.  Ask for documentation of their quality process.

Quality Control Program Inspection

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 automated processes and procedures in place to track and report their findings.  The process should ensure the results are reviewed with staff and additional training happens to improve performance.



How is the company becoming more efficient through process automation?

The reality is 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:

Automated time and attendance

Time and Attendance Tracking

Janitorial companies have a large number of hourly staff. Time tracking and payroll processing by paper is extremely inefficient.

Tools such as Kronos Time and Attendance, and others, 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

In commercial buildings, janitors are cleaning multiple floors, restrooms, offices and common areas. Monitoring quality by “eye balling it” or even on paper is highly ineffective.

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.  This allows you to slice and dice the data to track trends and make intelligent decisions based on real information.

Asset Tracking

Asset tracking in the cleaning industry can be very difficult without the proper tools in place. Poor asset management can lead to inefficient work performance. It also leads to many additional expense for unnecessary repairs and replacements.

Cleaning companies own a plethora of cleaning equipment, anything from vacuums to snow plows. Asset tracking should be automated, easily tracked and reported. A good asset management system is critical to ensuring the equipment is operating at optimal performance.



How are the company’s employees screened?

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.

In your own company, you thoroughly vet 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
  • Verification of legal status by means such as eVerify

E-verify background check

How does the company engage its employees to reduce turnover?

Let’s face it.  The job of a cleaner isn’t glamorous.  Retaining employees can be a challenge. This is why the janitorial industry is known for its high turnover rate.

Your cleaning company should have practices in place that aid employee retention, such as:

  • Creating upward mobility opportunities within the organization
  • Offering training programs that empower the staff to learn and grow
  • Offering excellent benefits packages



How does the cleaning company routinely engage its clients, if at all?

Lack of client engagement results in a disconnect between you and your 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 should expect your cleaning company to have a well laid out communications program, as well as 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.  This means they may not have the bandwidth to visit yours regularly.

What information does the company regularly provide to clients?

A good cleaning company should be able to provide quarterly or semi-annual reporting.  Some important reporting topics are:

  • Cleaning recommendations
  • Inspection results
  • Customer satisfaction and feedback
  • Sustainability reports
  • Work ticket analysis.

This feedback will help drive planning and strategy, and improve efficiencies.



Is the company CIMS certified?

CIMS CertifiedLast, 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 internal processes and procedures necessary to deliver first class service. At the same time we ensure clean and eco-healthy environments, proven through our credentials and certifications.

Contact us today to learn more about what to look for when evaluating your cleaning contract.

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