Reputation Management In The Janitor Service Industry

Technology today gives everyone a forum where they can express their opinions of products and services. This is also important in the janitor service industry. In this business we're always under a microscope so to speak. The service is only as good as the last time it was provided. Each day brings along new challenges to keep the facilities we service in pristine condition. If problems arise that are not fixed in an expeditious fashion a damaged reputation can and will result. There are a lot of things that can give a company a bad reputation. Below are a few I feel are most important.

Poor service can be the result of several things like insufficient time, turnover, inadequate training and lack of supervision to name a few, but it's usually a consistent pattern of poor service that causes a loss of contract and a tarnished reputation. Customers understand that issues will arise from time to time, but when they have to allocate a portion of their day to resolving cleaning issues there's a problem. If the same problems persist for a period of time they lose confidence in the service contractor's ability to do the job which results in the loss of the contract. At CMS our Regional Managers consistently perform quality control checks to assure the customer's expectations are being met. They are proactive in resolving issues often before the customer notices. This is key to keeping complaints to a minimum.

Communication is a key element in building and fostering a healthy business relationship. Only through consistent communication will the service contractor know where they stand in terms of performance. This task is usually assigned to the company's account managers. At CMS our managers conduct regular scheduled and unscheduled inspections to assess the condition of the facilities we service. The customer often participates in the walk through. This gives them an open forum to discuss the service and expectations. It allows our managers to personally interact and respond to any issues before they become a serious problem that could negatively impact our reputation.

Cleaning is very labor intensive which requires hiring employees to perform the work. A company's employees can lead to success or failure so putting the right people in place is critical. At CMS every employee must pass a criminal background check and often times drug testing if requested by the customer. If we are recruiting for a school the applicant is also screened for child abuse history. This is all in addition to a face to face interview for every applicant. If an employee is not performing to expectations it is important that it is addressed sooner than later to avoid customer complaints. If after a performance action plan the poor work continues the appropriate steps must be taken to replace the employee to avoid losing the account. There are also other reasons an employee may need to be removed. At CMS if an employee is accused of stealing from the customer or engaging in any unprofessional conduct CMS will conduct a thorough in-house investigation during which time the employee may be suspended until the investigation has been completed. If the employee fails to cooperate they may be suspended indefinitely. Poor employee management can severely damage a companies reputation and should be taken very seriously.

The web affords our customers an open forum to critique the service they receive everyday. Unfortunately most people only go online to express their thoughts if they're unhappy or have had a bad experience. CMS is proactive in managing the various facets of a our business that could negatively affect our reputation and ultimately result in lost customers. The janitor service industry is a small world so a damaged reputation can be a difficult obstacle to overcome. Maintaining a positive image is something that must be worked at every single day.

3 T's to Employee Success

In the janitor service industry there is no question that people are the most valuable asset to achieving success. Cleaning is very labor intensive whether it involves sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, or dusting and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. Sure there is automatic equipment and restroom machines available for some situations, but people are still needed to operate this equipment. Since people are so important to running a successful cleaning business it only makes sense that they should be treated accordingly. The three most important things that an employee needs to assure success are time, tools and training.

Time is the single largest cost of any cleaning job, however it is also the variable that is often cut in order to keep prices down and to remain competitive with other companies. When this happens employees are forced to do more work in less time which often leads to subpar service and customer complaints. CMS has conducted cleaning time studies in various settings including office buildings, schools, industrial plants and auto dealers. Each setting is very different thus requiring employees to work at different speeds. In each setting an employee can only work so fast. If they don't have enough time to do their work properly it's going to be evident sooner than later. Furthermore, an employee that is rushed and pressured to work too fast will be stressed and eventually quit. Consistent turnover often leads to poor service and unhappy customers.

Tools are the equipment and supplies that employees need to work effectively. They are an extension of the employee that helps them to be successful. A mechanic that must rely on a tool box full of broken wrenches won't be able to properly fix the vehicle they are working on. Not only must the tools be in good working order, but employees must be provided with the correct tools for the job. This rings true in the janitor service business. An employee that needs to empty 200 trash bags in a dumpster 150 yards from the  building needs a special tilt cart. If this equipment is not provided 2 things will happen. First, the employee will take much longer to empty the trash. This can be a problem if the time wasn't budgeted. Second, they may get frustrated and end up quitting. If the proper equipment isn't provided turnover may result leading to unhappy customers and lost business.

Training of employees is critical for a successful cleaning program. Employees must become familiar with proper techniques and instructed on the use of equipment. Failure to train accordingly can result in lowered production rates, damaged equipment and poor service. It can even result in employee accidents and worker's compensation claims all of which are bad for employees and business in general. It is also important for managers and employees to stay abreast of new trends and equipment in the industry. A business that fails to look ahead will get left behind by companies that embrace the latest methods and technology. A well trained employee is happier, more productive and safer than an untrained employee. Training should be a priority for every successful business, but is often overlooked.

At CMS we understand the importance of providing our employees with the time, tools and training to be successful. If they're successful so are we as a company.

Quality Control. Why It's So Important.

It's no secret that every business needs new sales to survive, but many fail to realize the importance of what must happen after the sale. Effective account management and quality control is critical to the success of every cleaning business and here's why. Once a business becomes large enough account managers are needed to foster the newly formed relationships with customers. These personnel are responsible for quality control which includes managing employees, meeting with customers on a regular basis and performing inspections to assess the condition of the facilities.

Although cleaning is not generally considered strenuous it is manual labor so employees are needed to perform the work. Other industries can rely on equipment and machinery to do the work of people, but not so much in the cleaning industry. Sure, there is automatic equipment that can boost production rates, but this equipment must still be operated by actual employees which leads me to my point. Effective employee management is imperative for success. Employees are the people that represent your business who will ultimately affect your reputation by the work they perform. Their work must be scrutinized to assure they are delivering what was promised. On another note, managers must be conscious of how much time the employees are working to assure they are not consistently going over the budgeted time that was quoted to do the job. Sometimes there are circumstances where extra time is needed, but if it is not kept in check it can seriously cut into profits. This is also why it's important to quote each job properly. If employees don't have adequate time to do the work service issues and turnover will result and the account may be lost.

Providing the customer with "face time" is another element of quality control and key to effective account management. Even if there may not be any serious issues with service, the customer always appreciates seeing the account manager whether it is for a scheduled meeting or an unannounced inspection. They need to know they're important and that their business is valued after the sale. A customer that feels like a little fish in big pond may end up going elsewhere if their needs are not being met. It's not always about the product or service offered or even the price. In business relationships matter. Failure to recognize the importance of building strong relationships with customers will undoubtedly result in lost business and a tarnished reputation.

The most obvious feature of quality control in the janitor service industry is a site inspection. These inspections are typically performed by the account manager to assess the condition of the facility and the work performed by the employees. Checklists are often used to grade specific areas using a point system. Reports can be given to the employees and/or customer contact outlining areas where improvement is needed. It's always better to tell the customer when there are deficiencies than vice versa because at that point it may be too late. The customer usually appreciates the contractor's honesty and proactive approach to resolving issues. Customers know service won't be perfect with any janitor service company so they will often grade on how responsive they are when problems do arise.

At Central Maintenance we strive to meet the needs of every customer every day, but that couldn't happen without our account managers and an effective quality control program. In an industry where the service we provide is largely performed after business hours it's important that our customers know we're here for them when they need us. Quality service leads to happy customers and a good reputation which often leads to more customers. Check out our Central Quality Assurance program on our website at

Diversity Breeds Success

Do you ever wonder why some companies are so successful and other are not? In a global market full of competition every company that offers a product or service is looking for an edge to gain that next customer. Gone are the days of being confined to the "box". Today, company growth is defined by technological know how and diversification, the ability to offer products or services that appeal to a wide range of customers. In the commercial janitorial service industry having the knowledge to service different types of facilities can be the difference between just making your payroll and accelerated growth.

Let's face it change is hard. Going outside of your comfort zone is unnatural and no one wants to do it, but it's necessary in order to grow. My dad always says "if it ain't broke don't fix it". In business I tend to disagree because this is how business owners and ultimately companies become complacent which leads to stagnation. A stagnate company will get eaten alive by its competition.

In our industry it's imperative to be up to date on cutting edge technology that will increase production rates, reduce labor and supply costs and exceed customer expectations. The use of automatic floor equipment and restroom machines are a couple of examples of technology that help make cleaning easier. Sure this equipment can be expensive, but it can pay for itself in a fairly short period of time depending on the size of the account and can certainly help reduce employee turnover.

Diversification also applies to marketing to different types of facilities. There are a multitude of facilities to which a commercial cleaning company can offer services such as office buildings, schools, auto dealers, restaurants, retail, medical facilities, banks etc. A company that has most of its "eggs" (revenues) in only a few baskets (customers) is sure to experience a substantial loss at some point when a basket breaks. In business it's inevitable, you will lose accounts, however by diversifying you will limit the loss. An example of this is a janitorial company that relies solely on cleaning offices to survive. If this company loses a few accounts it may be in serious jeopardy of not making it. By marketing and securing customers in different markets this company may survive in an economy where competition is stiff and there isn't a lot of new office construction taking place.

Being diverse is one reason for the success of Central Maintenance. Learning new technologies and how to service different types of facilities has allowed us to broaden our marketing reach which has enabled consistent company growth. We're always looking for ways to stay ahead of the competition while delivering exceptional service to our customers. Visit our website at for more information on our services and what we can do for your facility.