The decision to outsource business and operations tasks is typically motivated by a desire to focus on core business functions. Each organization must first decide which functions are core to their business, and which tasks would be best performed by an outsourced vendor. This decision is unique to every organization.
It is also not uncommon to develop a hybrid outsourcing approach to certain services. For example, a company might employ an attorney to handle certain items, but outsource more specialized legal services. Likewise, IT functions are also typically handled in this way. Daily functions are generally handled by an internal team, and more complex issues, like networking and software installation, are handled by specialized technicians.
Many companies and organizations are moving to an outsourced janitorial solution. While there are some instances where a hybrid approach is appropriate (e.g. K-12 schools), most companies completely outsource these duties. As you are considering an outsourced custodial solution, there are three important questions to consider:
· How does the cost of outsourcing compare to my current cost of using in-house staff?
· Will the quality of the service increase or decrease upon outsourcing?
· Can I depend on, or trust an outsourced vendor in our facility?
Read on as we cover these important considerations – cost, quality, and dependability.
“We looked at outsourcing our janitorial services before and found that it was much cheaper to do it in-house.” We hear this statement repeatedly from companies who are using in-house staff to perform custodial duties. While it is possible that the cost is lower using in-house staff, it is highly unlikely when ALL costs are considered. Below are the basic elements of an outsourced or in-house solution:
• Payroll burden: taxes and benefits. Note: the payroll burden for an outsourced vendor is typically 18% compared to as much as 25% for in-house employees.
• Cleaning supplies: chemicals, mop heads, cloths, etc.
• Equipment cost and maintenance: new purchase, repairs, and replacement
• Other direct expenses: staff uniforms, cost of drug and background screens
However, most companies who claim to save money using an in-house team do not consider the following costs:
• Vacancy costs: People working in these positions rarely provide a 2-week notice, normally quitting without notice. As such, companies must consider the cost of overtime or cost of temporary labor to complete the tasks of the departed worker.
• Recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training costs: Turnover in custodial positions can be rather high for a variety of reasons. As such, companies must consider the frequent cost of new job advertising, application screening, interviewing candidates, onboarding new hires, and training new team members.
• Reduced productivity costs: Outsourced workers in almost every profession work more efficiently than in-house workers. Competent janitorial companies use cleaning techniques and equipment that are designed to improve efficiencies. In other words, companies must consider tasks that take an in-house team member 6 hours per day to complete, might only take 5 hours per day to complete for an outsourced team member. This cost can be significant if you have multiple team members.
• NOTE: Reducing the number of custodial staff members may also have a positive influence of the cost of worker’s compensation coverage.
Another cost that is difficult to quantify is the cost of lost productivity from all the individuals who are tasked with managing the staffing and oversight of the janitorial program. Doesn’t it make sense to have human resources, facilities maintenance, and management working primarily on core business functions?
In summary, when ALL costs are considered, it is difficult to understand how an in-house solution would be less costly than an outsourced solution. While cost is almost always the most important consideration in this discussion of outsourcing, we must consider the remaining questions.
Each company must ask themselves, “Am I satisfied with the cleanliness of my facility?” If the answer to that question is, “yes, very much so,” then the only real consideration for outsourcing is cost. However, most companies that give thought to an outsourced solution have some quality concerns. Poor or inconsistent janitorial quality leads to much of the additional costs detailed above and can influence staff morale and health.
Usually an outsourced vendor will raise the quality of cleanliness in a facility. Competent, respected janitorial companies typically have the right tools, training, and processes to keep facilities clean and sanitized on a consistent basis over the life of their service agreement.
A word of caution: It is very important to carefully select your outsourced vendor. Basing your outsourced decision solely on the basis of cost might be a recipe for frustration and decreased quality.
Trust and Dependability
“I worry that things will start going missing if we use a janitorial company. I trust our team.” Or, “what happens if your janitorial team leaves the water on overnight and floods our building?” These are actual comments and questions. We hear these concerns more often than you might expect. As such, the notions of trust and dependability are certainly worthy of discussion when considering any outsourced solution.
Reputable janitorial services companies understand the importance of establishing trust and dependability with their clients. Questions that you might ask to gauge the degree to which you can trust an outsourced vendor include:
• Do you conduct pre-employment background checks?
• What types of things would disqualify someone from working for your company?
• What are your pre-employment and ongoing drug testing policies?
• What are your levels of insurance coverage including general liability, worker’s comp, and umbrella?
• Do you have a fidelity bond and what is the limit?
• Will you provide your most recent OSHA 300 log?
Another word of caution: Again, it is very important to carefully select your outsourced vendor. Dependable, trustworthy janitorial companies are more than willing to share with you how they intend to hold their staff accountable, and measures that they have in place to protect your team, their team, and your property.
The vast majority of companies and organizations would achieve cost savings by outsourcing their janitorial tasks. However, it is important to find a competent, reputable vendor who understands your quality and dependability concerns and can work with you to overcome those concerns.