Drake's Blog

By

Janitorial Employee Turnover

What’s your Janitorial employee turnover rate? Simply put, an employee turnover rate is a measurement of how many employees leave a company (for whatever reason) in a given time period versus how many new ones are hired. For example, if a company has 30 employees and 15 quit (and are replaced) in a year you have a 50% janitorial employee turnover rate.

Turnover rates are usually measured annually and vary widely by industry. For perspective, below are a few industry average turnover rates (as of 2017):

  • Public Utilities (water, gas, electric): About 8% per year.
  • Banking and Finance: About 19% per year.
  • Hospitality: About 38 % per year.
  • Fast Food Restaurants: About 150% per year.
  • Janitorial Industry: About 175% per year!

    CleanlyRun blog post image - Janitorial Employee Turnover

As a rule of thumb, career positions (potentially long-term/lifetime jobs) have a low-ish turnover. Jobs where people tend to work temporarily until “something better” comes along, naturally have a much higher turnover rate. Our Janitorial industry turnover falls in the latter category where it even edges out the Fast Food industry.

So what’s a janitorial business owner to do?

There are innumerable internet articles with “experts” touting how you can reduce turnover rates in every industry imaginable. More training, more pay, more incentives”, more benefits, more communication, more time off, more recognition, more empathy… The list goes on and on. Don’t misunderstand, these things are not only important and good for reducing turnover, they’re morally – (yes morally) – the right things to do for your employees to the best of your abilities and company’s resources. After all, employees are your greatest asset.

But as a 30-year janitorial industry veteran, I’ve I learned that the most successful method for dealing with our industry’s historically high turnover rate is not to focus on it… Instead, I concentrate on providing consistent quality service to my customers. And it turns out that by being laser-focused on this goal, a host of other issues – including employee turnover – get handled in the process.

Here’s how I make sure that my customer’s facility needs are met in this high turnover industry:

  1. I take care of my employees: It’s true what is said by Zig Ziglar, “people don’t care how much you know, but rather how much you care about them”. Treat them right, pay them right and cherish them as a very valuable asset! People stay with you longer if they feel appreciated.
  2. I never stop looking for new employees, even for accounts that are fully staffed: I have office staff that works full time to place job ads, set up interviews, meet with our supervisors daily for openings, coordinate building budgets, perform employee evaluations and listen to employee feedback and concerns. Even for accounts that are fully staffed, I continue to recruit and interview potential employees for the inevitable turnover. You simply cannot afford to be understaffed and let your customer satisfaction suffer.
  3. I get rid of the bad apples: I never like to let people go, but sometimes it has to be done. Bad attitudes, poor work ethics, being out of uniform, running constantly late, habitual last-minute call-outs, conflicts, etc., are all a cancer that left untreated, infects the morale of other hardworking staff and causes them to leave. Get rid of the bad and the good will stay longer. People like and respect discipline and order in the workplace!

Trust me on this one… The most important way to deal with janitorial employee turnover is by making sure that you are continually recruiting new staff to step in. In this labor intensive industry, continuous hiring is vital.


CleanGuidePro Successful bidderDrake

By

Janitorial employee theft accusations

In the cleaning business, accusations of janitorial theft are rare, but occasionally, you will get this customer call: “We came in this morning, and widgets were missing from someone’s desk. We’re not trying to accuse anyone, but… only the cleaning people were here last night… so it had to be them.”

Your business has been accused of theft! This is a very serious charge. In fact, it’s #8 (DO NOT STEAL) on the top 10 “DO NOT DO” list, just two below #6 (DO NOT MURDER).

Yikes! How do you handle this situation?


CleanlyRun blog post image

Years ago, a wise man told me, “Drake, do the right thing, and the right thing will happen.”

When your company receives an accusation, the right way to handle it is to empathize with and listen to your customer, get all the facts, get your staff’s input, ask your customer how they would like you to proceed, and then make a decision. The wrong way is to get haughty, angry or blow up at your customer. All that will accomplish is a lost customer, a lost/diminished reputation, lost revenue and possibly criminal charges — even if your business was falsely accused.

I didn’t say doing the right thing is easy, or even comes naturally — but if you want to keep this customer, you have to remain calm and do right by them. Remember, it’s the foolish person that says everything that’s on their mind. Trust me on this one. I’ve played the fool with my mouth more than once, and the wrong thing happened every time.

With that said, and in the hopes of helping someone who may be new to the janitorial industry, I’ll share a few real-life examples of how I’ve responded to accusations of employee theft during my three decades in business.

  1. Falsely accused of janitorial theft, and vindicated: This is the most common scenario. A customer calls to report that something is missing, and it has to be the cleaning people. You investigate, but soon get a call back noting that the missing item has turned up.

    Actual scenario: A client rep telephoned that she left her purse in her desk, and her wallet was missing. She was positive that it was in her purse, so it had to be taken by my staff. I listened more than I spoke, said I would talk with the staff that had been on duty, and told her I’d get right back to her. My employees that night were an elderly husband-and-wife team that I trusted completely. They vehemently denied even going through her desk, much less taking her wallet. A few days later, I received an apology call when the lady’s wallet was found in her car. The couple was relieved that they’d been vindicated, but they didn’t want to work at that site anymore. I didn’t blame them and assigned them to a different client. I also didn’t try to make my customer feel bad or (openly) get upset. Twenty years later, we still have this account, and it is one of the largest and most loyal accounts that we have.

  2.  Falsely accused of janitorial theft, and couldn’t prove otherwise: This is a tricky one. You don’t think it was your staff, but right or wrong, the cleaner is always the first suspect.

    Actual scenario: The client, a private school, calls to say that about 10 movies are missing from their daycare classes. Can we check to see if our staff took them, or knows what happened to them?  Keep in mind, there are hundreds of kid there, each with backpacks that could easily have the movies in them, but I digress. My staff denied taking them, and I believed them. I said the same to my customer and offered to pay to replace the movies, just to be above reproach.

  3. Simply informed of janitorial theft: This situation is more likely at larger facilities with hundreds of employees. The customer doesn’t call with a direct accusation, just a notification of a situation.

    Actual scenario: The facility manager at a building with more than 1,000 employees calls to let us know that there has been a “trend” developing. Disney trinkets have come up missing from employees’ cubicles.  This building has many employees of its own that work there late into the night after our staff has gone, and there are 24/7 security and cameras everywhere. I don’t think the culprit was one our folks, but alerting our whole staff that all eyes and cameras are on them is a good deterrent. Without accusing anyone, we informed our staff and supervisors there to keep their eyes open. By the way, this client is still a beloved customer, and we have a great relationship with them.

  4. Accused and proven janitorial theft: This has only happened twice to my cleaning company in 28 years. Call it luck, great hiring, or the grace of God –we have been blessed with few occurrences. (I’m going with the grace thing.) I was raised not to air your dirty laundry in public, and I’m a firm believer and practitioner of that philosophy. But because actual theft is so rare and I believe this story will help someone, I’ll share.

    Actual scenario: A customer calls, saying that we need to come in and take a look at a video. We meet and watch a video of a new staff member taking $6 off a desk. (It was a teenager that had been recently hired to pull trash.) I was truly shocked, saddened and disappointed to see this. I listened to our client and asked how they would like me to handle it. Of course, the client wanted the employee off of their campus and wanted the money replaced. They did not want to press charges. The employee was terminated from our company immediately. Our client was gracious in not firing us. They said that we were the best service they’d ever had and didn’t blame us personally for one bad apple. I still felt responsible, but grace does abound.

Some perspective… I take pride in running a company based on integrity, honesty and doing the right thing, always aiming to be above reproach and never giving the appearance of wrongdoing. For starters, my staff is highly screened, background-checked, and instructed not to even take a piece of candy off of someone’s desk (even if it has a “Free Take One” sign on it). And I’m pleased to note that over the years my awesome team has turned in lost wallets, cash, cell phones, diamond rings, credit cards, checks, laptops, iPads, jewelry, and the list goes on and on. Out of thousands of employees spanning three decades, the number of janitorial theft accusations has been minuscule, to say the least. I’ve very proud of these good folks!


CleanGuidePro Successful bidderDrake

By

Janitorial Company Newsletters

How necessary are Janitorial Company Newsletters to the success of your business? In your own mind, you can make a case for or against just about anything and be satisfied with your decision. “It’s time consuming, it costs money, probably no one will read it anyway, blah blah blah.” Then be content with your decision, right or wrong. Let me challenge you to make a right decision concerning all things, but specifically Company Newsletters.


CleanGuidePro blog post image

As the Good Book tells us to spread the “good news” and admonishes us to focus on, “whatever is good, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, to think and report on such things.” In the same spirit, a “Good Newsletter” that recognizes and praises employees for outstanding performance, perfect attendance, anniversaries or birthdays, just to name a few, is invaluable to your company as a whole!

In the janitorial business, especially, where only one or two employees are assigned to a single building with little or no contact with other employees, newsletters are a great way to keep them feeling part of the team. Let me give you my Top Company Newsletter sections, (in no particular order), that have shown the love to my many employees and customers over the years!

  1. Customer Spotlight: We send our newsletters to our customers as well. We highlight one of our customer’s facility managers in each of our monthly newsletters. We put their pic and a brief Bio of them. We tout their good qualities and what a pleasure it is to team up with them. Everyone loves to see their name and pic in print and it strengthens our business relationship. Win-win!
  2. Helpful Customer Tip: Things such as, “Did you know that using Roll Towels vs Multifold Towels, Jumbo Roll Tissue vs Household Toilet Tissue can save you 20% in annual supply cost?” They (accurately) view your company as a valued partner in keeping their costs in control, plus you’re seen as an expert in the industry.
  3. Employee Milestones: New employees, 6 month, 1 year, 2 year, 5 year anniversary, birthdays, etc.., whatever to put their name in print. As I said earlier, everyone loves to see their name in print, for whatever reason.
  4. Employee Praise: If you, one of your supervisors or a customer reports an exceptional job done well, performance, or anything good about your employees, tell it/give a shout out in your newsletter.
  5. News Updates: “We were just awarded the contract for ABC or XYZ companies”, “We just implemented such n such software to better serve our customers and employees”, etc. Shows your employees and customers that your company is highly in demand and the real deal!
  6. Safety Tip: Reminders to put out wet floor signs at all times, never push down on trash cans with your hands or how to deal with a bloody spill at a medical job site all convey that you as a company are concerned with your employees safety and well being.
  7. Crossword Puzzle: You can find these all over the internet to copy and paste. Try to use questions and answers that are cleaning related. Such as, what floor cleaner is best to use on waxed floors..? Answer: Neutral Cleaner. I was actually surprised, but people love crossword puzzles!
  8. Offer Services to your Customers: Let them know that you offer janitorial supplies, residential carpet cleaning services, tile/grout cleaning, etc.. You will get extra work.
  9. Training: Offer reminder monthly training tips, such as restroom training, vacuuming, detail vacuuming or dusting tips. Keep emphasizing the basics!
  10. Message from President: Offer an encouraging word to your biggest asset, your employees. Give an uplifting message that inspires from you or a quote from someone that inspires like Zig Ziglar, that said “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care, about them”.. Inspire and empower your employees!

Spread the Good News my friends. Month after month. You won’t be sorry, I guarantee it!


CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

By

Janitorial Employee Training – Top Tips!

Who needs janitorial employee training? Let me give you three groups that benefit greatly from it… Your company, your employees and your customers!

Janitorial Instructor

“Hey, come on..” you say. “Who needs training to sweep, mop floors and empty trash?  Besides, on the job training is good enough, right?”  Well yes, if you want your company to be “good enough”, with average employee turnover, average customer retention and average to below average company growth. But, if you want an exceptional company, with exceptional employee retention, exceptional customer retention and exceptional company growth you will definitely need to have a formal Employee Training Program.

Yes, training employees costs money, but that’s the wrong way to look at it. Training is actually an investment in your company that always provides a return on investment from day one.  After 25 years in the janitorial business, I’ve learned that for every dollar I’ve invested in training, I’ve seen a minimum of three to ten fold  return to my bottom line!

I can’t emphasize strongly enough that your customers need to see consistent cleaning results from your company every single day in order to keep cutting you a check each month. Training your employees, supervisors and managers from day one in the proper techniques, procedures, policies and systems will keep those checks coming in!

As I’ve developed and tweaked my Employee Training Program over the years, I’ve found that covering the following (high level) topics have produced consistently well trained employees:

  1. New Employee Handbook, Company Policy: (Part 1 of Orientation Class): This is a classroom training session where new employees are given their employee handbooks, uniforms, clock-in instructions, etc.. The handbooks are reviewed and they sign a form that they have received, understand and will comply by them.
  2. New Employee Safety Training Manual: (Part 2 of Orientation Class): This is a classroom training session where employees are trained in regards to safety and hazards on the job? Employees are given a safety test, results are verified and corrected until everyone understands the correct answer and a copy is placed in each employee’s file.
  3. New Employee Basic Cleaning 101 Training Manual: (Part 3 of Orientation Class): This is a classroom training session where all the basic cleaning tasks are explained and reviewed. Things such as, dusting, detail work, trashing, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, restroom, direct supervisor and customer interaction.
  4. Restroom Cleaning Training Manual: (Part 4 of Orientation Class): This is a classroom training session, where step by step restroom cleaning procedures are demonstrated and emphasized. Restroom cleanliness is one of the top areas of your customers will judge your performance. Keep them clean!
  5. Supervisor Training Manual: This is a classroom training session, where multiple topics are covered. Your site supervisors need to be trained to be leaders, trainers, problem solvers and mentors. This training will cover everything from basic cleaning and stain removal to budgets, work loading, specialty work, supply ordering, employee evaluations, customer relations and much more.
  6. Floor Care Training: This is classroom and on the job training sessions, primarily for your “Floor Techs”, where floor care cleaning techniques (primarily waxed floors) and procedures are explained, reviewed, demonstrated and learned. Things such as floor stripping, scrubbing, auto scrubbing and buffing/burnishing.
  7. Carpet Care Training: This is classroom and on the job training sessions, primarily for your “Carpet Techs”, where carpet care cleaning techniques and procedures are explained, reviewed, demonstrated and learned. Things such as spot cleaning, fiber identification, portable units, truck-mount units and general carpet cleaning maintenance techniques are explained.
  8. Specialty Work Training: This is classroom and on the job training sessions, primarily for your “Floor Techs and Carpet Techs”, where specialty cleaning techniques and procedures are explained, reviewed, demonstrated and learned. Things such as tile and grout cleaning, pressure washing, upholstery cleaning and exterior window squeegee cleaning to name a few.

 

I’ll go into more detail on each of these training topics in future posts. But however you structure your employee training, you’ll never regret making this winning investment in your business!

 

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

By

Janitorial Employee-Supervisor Conflict

Ask Drake

President and Co-founder of CleanGuidePro

With the truly, humbling success of CleanGuidePro, we’ve received great questions by companies all over the world about varying topics in the janitorial industry. Allow me share one of them with you.

Hey Drake: As our janitorial business has grown, we’ve promoted two of our better cleaners to Supervisor positions. Soon afterwards, I had Supervisors telling me to fire certain employees and hire better people. I’ve also had employees calling me and saying that their Supervisor is bad, lazy and plays favorites among other things. What’s the best way to solve conflict between your supervisors and employees?

Supervisor-Employee conflict

Answer: First, let me congratulate you on your growing business! Your question is one that every successful business owner faces at some point in their growth.

Let me make it simple and clear. Your job as the owner is not to be a referee between supervisors and employees, making judgment calls based on some “gut feeling” as to who is right and who is wrong in each and every situation. Rather, your job to establish employee guidelines and criteria in employee handbooks, noting specific job descriptions for each position (from entry level cleaners to supervisory personnel) with clearly spelled out duties and responsibilities. Basically, everyone show know what their duties are and what the consequences are for failing to follow procedure.

Here’s how it works… Every employee should read your company handbook and sign off that they understand the consequences off “no call, no show”, “being late”, “poor quality work”, etc. Each cleaner should be trained and receive a checklist, detailing exactly what duties to perform on their shift. Likewise, each Supervisor should receive training and a checklist detailing exactly what duties they perform on their shift and (in particular) during the “end of night checklist”. This way when conflict arises (and it will!) you can look at which company procedures were violated and make a correct, unbiased decision!

Business 101 “rightly” teaches us that written systems and procedures, with clearly defined job descriptions with a touch of “common sense and love”, eliminates most of our business problems!

 

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake

By

Janitorial Site Supervisor Incentives That Work!

If you want to stay in the janitorial industry for very long – and you should because it can be extremely rewarding, both personally and financially – you’ll have to do the math.

Goal + Incentive = Happy Customer

There’s a lot to be said about the first part of the equation – your Goal – and I’ll talk about that in detail at another time. For now, suffice it to say that your goal is to maintain a high level of cleanliness for your customer at a profit. But as we all know, that objective is hard to consistently execute within a narrow profit margin.

That’s where the essential but overlooked second part of the equation comes in, an Incentive for your Site Supervisor. You might ask, “Why should I have to motivate someone to do their job? Isn’t a decent paycheck incentive enough?” Well, after 25 long years of dealing with hundreds of job sites and thousands of employees, I’ve got a short answer for you – NO.

I’m not saying that people are bad or lazy or ungrateful. But when I’m asking folks for above average and excellent work on a consistent basis, the carrot approach has more than paid for itself in my operations. (Just ask my happy customers.)

Any incentive program should be a Win/Win for both you and your supervisors. It should have numerically measurable results and your team should consider its targets to be reasonable and attainable.

Plus the incentive should be adequately enticing. Over the years, I found that nothing works better than a monthly, cash bonus. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it does have to be green. “Attaboys” and name recognition in the newsletter are nice – and we issue plenty of these at my company – but those don’t cover the cable bill.

So, for those site supervisors that oversee cleaning crews of three or more people, I offer 3 simple bonuses.

  1. Cleaning Quality Bonus ( $25): Achieved via inspections. A written, quality inspection score of 90-100 earns a bonus of $25.
  2. Customer Satisfaction Bonus ( $25): Achieved via a customer satisfaction survey. A score of 90-100 earns a bonus of $25.
  3. Labor Under Budget Bonus ($2.50 per hour): Between 5 hours under budget and 20 hours under budget, a supervisor earns $2.50 for each labor hour saved (for a maximum payout of $50). Note: Attempting to save more than 20 labor hours per month at a job site will cut into quality.

As you can see, this isn’t an expensive incentive plan, maxing out at $100 per month, per supervisor. But my supervisors love it and the results are undeniable! I just wish that someone had told me early in my career, like I’m telling you now, how effective a simple little program like this can be. In addition to facilitating labor savings, my supervisors have embraced two key metrics – inspections and company surveys – as their score sheets. We’ve all gained quality and productivity and profits that we wouldn’t have attained without a motivation program.

Bottom line: A good janitorial site supervisor incentive program does not cost – it pays!

Get it? Got it? Good! I’d love to hear about any incentive plans that have worked for you or any that you’re considering…