One thing we run into often in the commercial building maintenance business is “low-ball” bids, primarily when working with commercial janitorial services. There are many ways that a janitorial company can make themselves appear ridiculously cheap; the unfortunate thing is that none of these tactics are suitable for the client. The truth can always be found by comparing your bid and your state’s minimum wage requirements to the national standards for commercial cleaning found on the ISSA website (www.ISSA.com). This website will help you figure the approximate net profit your janitorial company is making on your building, and you can always count on the fact that if your contract nets 1% your janitorial company is making that profit up somehow.
- The most common way that a “shady” janitorial company can appear cheaper than they are is to take the proposed nightly cleaning schedule and cut it in half, what does this mean to the client? It says that your 6¢ per square foot bid just became 12¢ because they are only doing half of the work each night. Why is this such a horrible thing you ask? Because those duties were required nightly for a reason that daily buildup will often cause even a new building to look dirty and diminished quickly.
- What other tricks are used by “shady” janitorial companies to cheat you out of your hard-earned dollars? The answer is many, just some of which being lax or nonexistent management, illegal or unethical employment, unacceptable bonding, and insurance coverage, paying their employees' flat rates that equate to less than minimum wage, or simply not doing the things you pay them to do.
- What can I do about this, you ask? Well first off if you are located in southwestern Idaho you could invite Pro Power Clean into your building to do a free maintenance service evaluation, but for those of you not lucky enough to be within our reach, I would recommend you walk your building armed with a digital camera and your current janitorial contract. Walk around and inspect areas that are off your normal path, your janitorial company understands high traffic areas and will often cover these areas better because you are more likely to notice deficiencies directly in your path. Don’t be afraid to use your hands, sometimes running your hands over a surface will tell you much more than a digital picture. Take pictures and notes on everything, and then compare these notes to the duties that you are paying for.
- What happens if I find out that my janitorial company is not doing the things I’m paying them for? This is simple, find a more reputable company! Unless you have nothing else to do besides police your building’s janitorial condition, the “shady” company will always win. If you’re catching them and forcing them to credit your deficiencies even 50% of the time, they are still winning out, and the truth is if they did exactly what they told you they would do for the price they presented they probably would be losing money (which they are not likely to do!). The best way to find a quality commercial janitorial company is to ask for recommendations from other local businesses that you trust. Once you’ve identified a few janitorial companies you think would fit the bill, walk some of their current client’s buildings and see if the work that is being done is up to the standards you would like in your own building.
This article was written by Andrew J. Allsbury of Pro Power Clean.