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Growing a Commercial Cleaning Business

Finding, Training and Supervising Janitorial Staff

One of the most critical parts of running and scaling your commercial cleaning business is recruiting, training and supervising staff. As the owner you can only be in so many places at once and in order to grow you need trustworthy people to work for your business. Throughout my years in this industry I’ve seen some great success stories and some big mistakes when it comes to these important issues. So how can you become the next janitorial staffing success story?

Talent Identification

So what are some common ways to find reliable staff? Many business owners rely on employee screening services or a janitorial staffing agency. While helpful they tend to charge a commission that can eat into your profit. How about referrals from current employees or other relationships. This is a very effective way to find staff but you can’t exclusively rely on it – your people only know so many other people looking for a job, right? Don’t forget to leverage organizations to which you belong. Churches, schools and networking groups are prime hunting grounds for people that know people. Any of those groups should be very happy to help spread the word that your business is growing and looking for reliable staff. It is also nice to have a common connection with your employees – they’ll tend to stick with you since their JOB and REPUTATION is on the line.

Many business owners tend to forget the power of online job postings. Sites like Craigslist or Zip Recruiter are an easy way to source hundreds and hundreds of candidates. But because your potential reach is so far you need to be smart about managing the flood of responses you may well receive. Here’s a real-life example of a job post we did for my cleaning company along with helpful tips. This post received more than 50 responses.

  1. All relevant information is included for the candidate: town/area, pay, schedule, experience required
  2. Interested parties are asked to TEXT in order to set up an interview
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This job post was effective for two reasons. Because we included everything a candidate would need to know (#1) it reduced the number of questions we received back about the job, which saves us time. And, because we forced people to text their interest (#2) we were able to respond when we had time rather than scrambling every time the phone rang. Furthermore, we believe you can tell a lot about a potential employee based on their text. Is language ability going to be a problem for this job? Does your janitor candidate sound professional in his or her response? If you don’t get a great feeling from that initial text then you can ignore the candidate or put them on the back burner. From the 50+ responses we received to this job we met with 10 candidates and ended up hiring the top 3 for this job. We kept the other 7 resumes on file and ultimately hired 5 of those people for other new cleaning accounts we secured.

Training Your Staff

Once you’ve hired your new employees initial training is critical. You’ve already invested all that time to source them so now you need to fully integrate them into your company. Honestly we’d prefer people with limited to no experience – they’re always more willing to listen and learn than a person who has experience and thinks he or she knows what they’re doing. When possible we have new staff shadow a current employee for at least a week. It is important that we train our people to accomplish the tasks requested of them. Equally important is that they understand what we expect with regards to results. We use detailed checklists so it is impossible for an employee to forget a task or cleanable area. On the first clean we’ll have a current employee take them through each room and clean with them. Showing them what we expect, which chemicals and equipment to use and how to properly clean. Once each task or area is complete we will check it off and move on to the next one. At the end of the shift we make sure our staff knows to walk back through and do a quick spot check for anything they might have missed. This step is critical – a few minutes that night can save a whole lot of headache the next day with an angry client!

Supervising Your Staff

After a few nights of shadow cleaning our new janitorial staffing member will be trusted to clean on his or her own. Once complete our on-site supervisor will perform a walk-through and go behind the cleaning. Our supervisor is instructed to pretend they’re the customer and look for any missed tasks, areas that can be improved, etc. It is important to provide constructive criticism to new employees. Nobody is perfect but we don’t expect to have to correct them multiple times for the same issue. If an account is too small to justify an on-site supervisor the same thing can be accomplished. Just arrange to drop by the site at the end of the new cleaner’s shift and perform the same walk-through. Either way you’ll be able to spot any potential issues in real-time.

Once new staff is cleaning a site on their own – without direct supervision – we live and die by the phrase TRUST BUT VERIFY. This is critical to the ongoing success of your business. Your employees need to understand and believe that you are checking on them, holding them accountable and care about the happiness of the client beyond simply giving them a cleaning quote and collecting a check each month. Common pitfalls we’ve seen are not utilizing an employee clock-in clock-out tool (which saves you money) but rather relying on the ‘honor system’ or paper timesheets, not sending supervisors by for on-site inspections towards the ends of a cleaning shift and not staying in touch with the client. Assuming your client is happy is not a strategy for success! Trusting your staff to stay on-site for their entire shift is not good business! Employees who know they aren’t being watched or supervise tend to leave early, ‘forget’ certain tasks and ultimately CHEAT your business out of results and money. This reduces your profitability and increases your stress.

Running any business – especially a cleaning business – is hard work. Taking the proper steps to identify, train and supervise your staff will allow your company to grow quickly and efficiently.


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