And What to Do About It
Here’s a little secret your cleaning services company may not tell you: you’re a declining investment.
Most janitorial services agreements offer a set monthly price for a defined set of services. It is common in the building/cleaning services industry for contractors to quote a monthly rate at a level to “win” business. However, after the ink is dry on the agreement, and the actual work begins, contractors discover that they have underestimated the amount of time needed to complete the tasks, or they estimated wages such that it is difficult for them to find quality staff. When this occurs, their profit takes a hit. To counteract this, many cleaning services companies will begin to cut corners on the work or switch to lower-earning staff. Either of these things will lead to a service fade.
Here are six signs your cleaning services vendor is no longer making you a priority, and you might be on the verge of a service fade.
- Your Staff is Complaining More than Usual
You expect your cleaning crew to make your job easier. A few calls or emails are expected here and there but, overall, you shouldn’t be bothered by mundane cleaning issues. If you’re hearing these types of comments: “We keep running out of toilet paper in the women’s restroom,” or “My office hasn’t been dusted in months,” it may be a sign your cleaning company is no longer dedicated to your account.
- You Hear From Your Contractor Less and Less
Remember when those inspection reports were hand-delivered? No more. Now you’re lucky to get an email attachment. Ask yourself when was the last time you received proactive communication from your cleaning services provider?
- They Take Their Sweet Time Responding to Your Service Issues
Sometimes things get missed. It happens. But when you call them about three overflowing trash cans that were missed, you should expect your contractor to respond quickly. When you don’t receive prompt responses to phone calls and emails, it may indicate that your contractor is stretched too thin, or they have simply lost interest in your account.
- You Notice New Faces on the Crew All the Time
Turnover in the cleaning services industry is high—nearly 200%. Some turnover on your cleaning team should be expected. However, if the people that are cleaning your facility are constantly changing, this might point to larger human relations issues with the contractor such as relaxed hiring practices or lower than expected wages. Also be exceptionally wary if the entire crew changes without you being notified.
- They have worn or broken equipment.
Is your cleaning crew using worn out or broken equipment? Does the vacuum cleaner cord have electrical tape holding it together? Your cleaning crew should feel comfortable asking for repairs or new equipment from their corporate office. If their equipment is old and worn out, this is a sign that the contractor is no longer investing in your account.
- Your primary contact changes often.
Probably the greatest sign of problems with a cleaning services company is constant turnover in their manager-level positions. If your point of contact is constantly changing, trouble may be ahead. Turnover in these positions is an indicator that the culture of your janitorial contractor is unhealthy.
What To Do
Here’s a game plan if you’re seeing these issues:
- Meet with the vendor, discuss the issues, and probe for causes. Use specifics: Why is there so much turnover on my cleaning team? You used to respond in three hours now it’s two days. Why is this?
- Define your expectations. Maybe the expectations for service were not properly discussed on the front end of the agreement. Your vendor may honestly not know what’s important to you. Give them ample time to fix the problems.
- Be prepared to bail. Most janitorial contracts have 30-day out clause for service deficiencies. If you don’t see improvement, be prepared to move on to another vendor.
- Have an RFP ready. Once your vendor is on notice, go ahead and draft an RFP. If they don’t improve then you’re ready to begin the process of selecting a new vendor. If everything works out, then you have a draft ready for when the contract ends.