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Cleaning the Hallways

Why Cleaning Services?

When you’re ready to start shopping for janitorial service, look for a firm that will design a cleaning program and schedule to meet your needs. There are scores of janitorial firms competing for business, so you have the luxury of taking in proposals and choosing the one that offers the best package at the most reasonable cost. It is advised however, that you narrow down your search to between 3 and 5 suitors.

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN BUYING

  • How long has the janitorial company been in business?

  • What is their service territory?

  • Do they offer both day and night service? 24/7 availability? Emergency service?

  • Are they licensed, bonded and insured? Will they provide a copy of their insurance certificate?

  • Do they use their own employees to do the work?

  • Do they use sub-contractors and if so for what?

  • Can they provide a client list and references?

  • What kind of guarantee do they offer?

  • Can they give you an estimate over the phone?

  • Are their on-site estimates free?

  • Do they estimate based on square footage?

  • Do they estimate on tasks completed?

  • What kind of term contracts do they offer?

  • Do they offer packages with special rates?

  • How large is their work force? Will a dedicated janitorial person or team be assigned to your company?

  • How are their personnel screened and selected? Do they receive training?

  • Do they offer hands-on supervision on large projects? How about regularly scheduled inspections of the work performed?

  • What kind of billing schedule do they follow?

FACTORS THAT IMPACT COST

  • Some commercial janitorial firms offer services beyond the usual cleanup and floor care. If you’re also in the market for dust control for your “sealed-room” lab, maintenance for your landscaped grounds, or even copy/mail services, look for a firm that also offers such services. You’ll save money on a package deal.

  • If they offer supply products, get a proposal. Most firms look at overall profitability and buying supplies will keep down your service cost overall. You will also save time and money on ordering and stocking since most firms will do this for you.

  • If you’re willing to sign an annual contract, you’ll likely get a discounted rate. Make sure there’s a termination clause so you can opt out if you’re dissatisfied with the quality of the work. More and more firms are starting to eliminate annual contracts and going month to month. Unless your facility is large do not be surprised if they do not offer this option.

  • If you’re facility is small, you may want to talk to your neighbor to see if you can negotiate a deal together with a janitorial firm.

 

Cleaning

BUYER BEWARE

  • Because some clients have several locations, some janitorial companies use subcontractors to fulfill their agreements. Subcontracting work is fine for large corporations such as banks, but for a small business such as yours, you want to have a one-to-one relationship with the people providing service to you. Keep this in mind also if you are negotiating with a broker.

  • Make sure that any sub-contractors used are an actual company that does janitorial services and not a “mom & pop” type outfit. Some state laws do not consider individual persons that are paid on a 1099 form as a legal sub-contractor. This means you could end up being responsible for income taxes not withheld for these individuals. (See “How the IRS determines worker status” in this article.) It also means they probably do not have workers compensation insurance.

  • Most janitorial companies refuse “no-key” accounts, with good reason. Arriving at a job site to find no one there is frustrating for the cleaner and can be costly for you. If you feel you can’t trust a janitorial company with a set of keys, get a referral from another business owner so you can use a company you trust. Further incentive: no-key accounts will cost you more in basic services.

  • Fidelity bonds are only good upon an arrest and conviction, so make sure the janitorial firm has liability insurance. Always request a certificate of insurance and in some situations you may want to be listed as “additionally insured” on the janitorial firms insurance.

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