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“When Can You Get Started?”

September 12, 2022

Custodial Startup Truths and How to Avoid Running Out of Toilet Paper

When a prospective client reaches out to us, they are generally not pleased with their current cleaning company.  After patiently listening to our “why we think we would be a great partner for your custodial needs” spiel, most prospective customers promptly ask 2 questions:

  1. “How much will this cost?”
  2. “When can you get started?”

Click here if you would like information on the first question.  The purpose of this article is to focus on the second question.

“My current cleaning vendor quit! Now what?”

Here’s a common scenario:

Facility Manager: “Look Bob, we still don’t seem to be getting the results that we need.  So, we have decided to make a change. I know that our service agreement has a 30-day termination notice, and I am notifying you today that we will be contracting with a new janitorial company.”

Bob: “Okay, I will let my team know.  I just wish I would have had more notice.”

One week later, Bob leaves the Facility Manager a voice mail:

Bob: “Yeah, look after I told my team that they wouldn’t have jobs in 30 days, one-by-one they left faster than Gladys Knight and the Pips on that midnight train to Georgia.  Oh, also, I cleaned out my stuff over the weekend.  If you ever need anything call me.  Hope we can do business again in the future!”

After hearing Bob’s voice mail, the Facility Manager makes an urgent call to the newly contracted janitorial company:

Facility Manager: “Look, ACME just notified me that they aren’t coming back, and our plant manager just came to my office and told me that there’s no toilet paper in the main restroom….I need you here now!”

Custodial Startup Truths

Truth #1 – It Takes Time to Hire the “Right” Team

A common misconception is that a janitorial company is like a staffing agency. People tend to believe that we always have a large pool of people in our employment pipeline, and as such, can almost instantly pull together a team of people.  That is simply not the case.  Instead, we must consider the appropriate mix of male and female team members and of part-time and full-time people needed for each customer, and then begin our recruiting efforts.

Truth #2 – Janitorial Work is Not Complex, But Does Require a Good Plan

Performing janitorial work effectively and efficiently requires a sound work plan that provides very specific details about how and when the scope of work will be accomplished.  For example, a good work plan will include a cleaning sequence for each team member, checklists, and a variety of other items designed to create consistent results.

Truth #3 – Everyone Must Be Trained Properly

The tough thing about janitorial work is that most people think they know how to clean. However, most do not.  As such, it is important that each team member knows how to use equipment properly, what types of chemicals can be used on specific surfaces, how to sweep/mop/dust effectively and efficiently, and how to work safely.

SO……When Can You Get Started?

No sooner than 3 weeks, but most likely at least 4 weeks.  In other words, it takes about a month to find the right people, to get those people properly trained, and to establish a good work plan.

BUT……There’s No Toilet Paper in the Main Restroom!!!

Right….and you need to have a solution for that.  Below are some things that you can do to prepare for the transition period:

  1. First, ask your existing cleaning company to honor their commitment by providing service through the end of their agreement (30 days). Remind them of their obligation.
  2. Ask your newly selected cleaning company if they have a “floater” team member that can provide some minimal coverage in the event that your existing cleaning company fails to live up to their obligation.
  3. If you use a staffing agency, contact them to see if they can provide someone to cover essential items during the transition – emptying trash, cleaning restrooms and break areas….and keeping toilet paper in the main restroom!