Drake's Blog


Determining the cleanable square footage for a janitorial bid

Ask Drake

Grand Master Janitor

With the truly, humbling success of CleanlyRun (aka CleanGuidePro), we’ve received a lot of questions (from companies all over the world) about a variety of topics in the janitorial industry. Allow me to share yet another one of them with you.

Hi Drake: I’m new to the cleaning business, and I have a couple of questions. Does “lot size” mean “square footage”?  And how can I find the square footage of a building without measuring, but rather searching the business information?

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Answer:  First, thanks for growing your new business with us! I’m glad you asked about these metrics, because it’s knowing the cleanable square footage that is key for your janitorial bid.

First, lot size is the size of the land, rather than the size of the building that sits on it. Total building square-footage is the actual size of the building, which may or may not be the same number as the total cleanable square footage.

You can get the total facility size in any number of ways: from your potential customer (e.g. pre-bid info pack), by counting ceiling tiles (2′ x 2′ or 2′ x 4′), or by using a measuring wheel or fancy laser meter.  However you derive this figure, it would be due diligence to double check it on the local property appraisers website.

However, your client may not need you to clean every square foot of their facility. For instance, a medical facility might restrict you from cleaning rooms that contain special equipment. So you can determine the cleanable square footage by scheduling a Pre-Bid Walkthrough.

I think of janitorial bidding as an art as well as a science, and it took me a long time to hone my bidding skills and determine what produced the most consistent and accurate results for my business. It always came back to starting off with the exact cleanable square footage for the job. In my experience, when I took on a job without knowing the exact area that I’d be cleaning, too much guesswork often caused me to lose money on the job. In some cases, I was essentially paying someone to clean their building.

So decades later, that’s why we designed our online bidding system, CleanlyRun Janitorial Bidware, based on the expectation that every effort has been made to get the proper figures for the cleanable square footage. For me, this is a basic requirement to bid a job.

And don’t be afraid to politely ask the client for a little more time for due diligence during the walkthrough. I’ve never had any prospect tell me no when I’ve asked to walk the building on my own in order to make some calculations, review some areas and/or take additional notes. It helps you tremendously and lets them know that you’re thorough.

CleanGuidePro Successful bidderDrake


Janitorial Fair Wages

Ask Drake

President and Co-founder of CleanGuidePro

With the truly, humbling success of CleanGuidePro, we’ve received a lot of questions (from companies all over the world) about a variety of topics in the janitorial industry. Allow me to share yet another one of them with you.

Question: I’m new in the business and have been doing all the work myself, along with my wife helping. I want to go after larger accounts that will require me to start hiring employees.

I feel that if I pay my cleaners $14-$15 an hour, they will all do a great job, thereby eliminating complaints. Also, I’ll let my potential customers know this and be able to charge more. What do you think?

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Answer: Sounds good in theory.  Pay them more, they’ll perform better and my customers will gladly pay me more!

Unfortunately, after 26 years in business, hiring 1,500+ employees, experimenting with wages and interacting with hundreds of customers, this approach simply does not work in practice. Your question has two parts. let’s take a closer look..

  • Q1: Pay entry level cleaners $14-$15 an hour, (when the prevailing wages are $8.05 -$9.00) and they’ll perform better.

    A1: Maybe, maybe not. My experience has been that the vast majority of “poor performers” will perform just as poorly at $12.00 an hour as they will at $9.00.  However,  a market–rate employee should quickly move up to higher wages as their performance warrants it.  (And performance can be improved with proper training, supervision and followup.)  In other words, higher wages are earned, not a given. So definitely reward your top performers in short order, but don’t assume that starting a new hire at “above market” rates will guarantee a high performance.

  • Q2: My customers will pay me more to get better service, “if” I pay my employees more.

    A2: Good luck with that. Listen for the deafening silence of the “crickets” when you approach your clients with that logic. Customers today “expect” great performance and outstanding value in their selected service providers. They want and deserve great service at a fair market price. Take great care of them, cherish and yes “love” them. You will make more money though extra project work, carpets, floors, supply sales, customer loyalty and invaluable references!

Trust me on this one. Pay the fair and prevailing wage, provide training, supervision and followup. Increase pay based on performance and charge your customer a fair market price, then take care of them and watch your profits and business increase!

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake


Janitorial Employees versus Subcontractors?

Who cleans your buildings? Your janitorial employees or subcontractors? Not sure what the difference is? Well, as a business owner you should know the difference and be committed to classify your cleaners correctly. It’s not difficult to determine and it would behoove you to do it right, thereby avoiding costly IRS penalties, fines and tax levies for unpaid payroll tax liabilities on misclassified workers.

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Over the course of 25 years in the janitorial business, this has been my experience…

An employee: If you have the right to control or direct not only what is to be done, but also how it is to be done, then your workers are most likely employees. Basically, if they answer to you, wear your uniform, use your equipment or vehicles, use your chemicals and you train them how to perform the tasks, they are definitely your employee. Therefore, you must deduct and pay the appropriate employee payroll tax liabilities of your state or jurisdiction.

There are numerous accounting software programs and payroll companies that can handle this for a nominal fee. They calculate the correct payroll tax deductions, write the payroll checks, file timely and accurate quarterly reports, such as 940’s, 941’s, UCT6’s, etc..


  1. They do it your way! You hire your own people, train, supervise, inspect and personally control the quality.
  2. You know exactly who’s in your buildings.
  3. You make a higher profit margin percentage than using subcontractors.

A Subcontractor: If you can direct or control only the result of the work done and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result — then your workers are probably independent subcontractors (whose wages are reported to the IRS via form 1099). An example of using a legitimate subcontractor would be to pay another janitorial service company – (that has their own license, liability and workers comp insurance) – a percentage of your total contract revenue to clean a building.

I’ve used subcontractors on select projects and I’ve also been been a subcontractor for some huge national companies (on statewide cleaning contracts). I’ve made a legitimate and legally classified profit in both scenarios. But 99% of the time, I use my own employees…


  1. When you’re awarded contracts in other cities or states and the logistics and distance of the location behooves – (I just like that word) – you to use a local cleaning company.
  2. You just set the guidelines and expected results. The subcontractor hires their own people, trains, supervises, inspects and personally controls the quality.
  3. You cut one monthly check to your subcontractor, minus your profit.

Keep in mind my friends, whether using your own employees or a subcontractor to fulfill your contract service requirements, classify them properly.  (There are plenty of IRS guidelines and accountants to help you.) Want to sleep well at night? Pay the tax man correctly!

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake


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.

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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


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


Janitorial Uniforms – Buying vs Renting

Ask Drake

President and Co-founder of CleanGuidePro

Dear Drake: I’ve had my janitorial business for three years now and have 18 employees. I provide company tee shirts with our name and logo on them. The problem is that it seems like I’m constantly buying tee shirts. When an employee quits, I rarely get the tee shirt back and if I do, it’s so faded and worn that it’s only good for a cleaning rag, not something I’d give to another employee.

What’s your opinion on buying janitorial uniforms versus renting from a uniform company?

Employee uniforms

Answer: Very good question! I’ve been there and have felt your pain, especially in the wallet. First off, let’s come to the consensus that uniforms of some kind are a must! They enhance your image and project professionalism. Over the years I’ve bought and rented (leased) uniforms at some point with varying degrees of success. I’m defining success in this area as being cost effective, easy to administer and keeping my staff looking sharp.

The pro with buying is that you only buy as needed. The con with buying is that shirts aren’t returned, cheap tee shirts fade and wear out quickly and you have very minimal reuse.

The pro with renting is that they give you procedures and a system to follow. You get forms for ordering – employee assignment sheets that your employees sign – stating how many shirts they received and the cost to the employee (taken from their last pay check) if not returned upon termination of their employment. The con with renting is that you’re locked into a contract (up to 3 years, with payments EVERY month) which can be much more expensive over the course of the contract than buying as needed.

Let me share what has served me well over the years. I use a buying system that utilizes the pros of buying and the pros of renting. A simple system (below) that is cost effective, easy to administer and keeps my staff looking professional!

  1. Establish your own Employee Uniform Policy and form. It will state the number, size and type of uniform shirt/shirts they receive. Also, your cost of each shirt and stating that they will turn in their uniform shirts a minimum of three days before their last check is cut or the cost will be deducted from there last check. No exceptions. They sign their acceptance of this policy. They keep a copy and you keep a copy in their employee file. Notice, I didn’t mention pants or shoes. I only provide a uniform polo shirt. Employees are required to purchase their pants and shoes at their own cost. We specify jeans or khakis depending on the location and closed toe shoes.
  2. Buy from a local, established embroidery store that sells tee shirts, polos, button down shirts, caps, custom logos, etc. You support the local economy and usually can purchase as few as two at a time. Don’t buy the plain 100% cotton tee shirts, they fade and wear out quickly. Buy nice, sturdy 100% polyester/synthetic blend polo shirts with company logo. They usually cost about $30 a piece, but these shirts are stain resistant and hold their form and color through hundreds of machine washes (employees are required to wash their own uniform shirts). No one wants to have $90 taken out of their last check over 3 shirts. You’ll get these shirts back 90% of the time. 85% are in good shape and can be reused again and again.
  3. Create a monthly, uniform ordering form. Have a goal of keeping extra shirts of each size in your warehouse stock. Simply order what you need once a month, once a quarter or as needed.

Remember, in business, have a cost effective system and keep it simple!


CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake


Janitorial Employee Time Keeping

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.

Dear Drake: We’ve been in the janitorial business a little over a year now and are ready to start hiring a few employees to help with our workload. Managing employee’s time is new to us. Any suggestions on how to track their weekly hours for payroll? Should we put in time clocks, have a “self write-in sheet” for them to write their own times down, or just pay them for a set amount of hours? .

Answer: Great question! First, let me get you thinking the right way. You don’t manage employees time, but rather you “manage” the “system” that manages your employees hourly timekeeping.

Having employees write their own time down or paying them for a set amount of time is a system allright, but it’s a system of the employees managing you! Learn from my early mistakes. I’ve stopped by to check buildings with write-in sheets at 8pm, with all employees gone and the times written down are 6pm in and 10pm out. I’ve also paid employees for 3 hrs a night, received customer complaints that things were getting missed, then find out the employee was only there for 1 hour each night!

Time-clocks are an OK system, but have drawbacks. Units are expensive, travel time to get time cards and manually entering in payroll data are all time consuming. Cliche yes, but “time is money” off your bottom line.

Here’s the hands down, best system to keep track of your employee hours for payroll. Telephone Clock-in Systems! This is online computer software that allows employees to clock in/out from their jobsite using caller id. It’s in real time and sends email or text alerts to you if someone is late, no shows, etc. You can see reports, print or email timesheets, export payroll and much more with the click of a button. It saves you time and money and it’s affordable to even the smallest of companies. That’s managing a system that works!

These systems are not put in place to control or manipulate “bad” people/employees at all. Employees should be cherished, appreciated, taken care of, paid well and yes, even loved! Systems are put in place to create a work environment that reduces chaos, creates structure and a sense of order. Systems foster harmony and peace in the workplace and i’snt that what it’s all about anyway my friend!

CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake


Janitorial Competition and Fair Market Pricing

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.

Dear Drake: I own a start-up janitorial business in a large U.S. city and I have to compete with large companies to win bids. How does CleanGuidePro Janitorial Bidware address this issue as well the concept of “fair market pricing”?

Answer: First of all, there is no real “set market” or “fair price” chart – i.e. Dallas vs. Chicago – to go by. That’s the wrong way to think anyway…

You need to think in terms of what’s the fair market costs associated with your area. For example, what are the minimum hourly wages, chemicals, state and local payroll tax rates that you have to pay. (By the way, our bidware does all this for you in Step 4 of the bid creation process, the Workloading and Pricing screen.

All size companies (especially the large national and regional ones) have to calculate/count their monthly costs to clean a building FIRST! Only then do you add a fair profit price (which is also suggested by the software).Remember, the bigger companies will always have higher costs than the smaller companies, because they have higher overhead, More mid level supervisors, higher liability insurance, etc…, therefore slimmer profit margins.

Don’t be intimidated by the bigger companies, but rather focus on constantly improving your own company! Keep in mind that the “big companies” were all a start-up once.


CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake


Increase Your Janitorial Customer Retention Dramatically

Do you want to know how to increase your janitorial customer retention dramatically? Silly question, right? Of course you do! But what exactly is “customer retention” and how do you achieve it?  In practice, customer retention is less about you keeping your existing cleaning accounts and more about having your customers not get rid of you.

CleanGuidePro Janitorial Bidware - A proudly cleaned floorTo acquire new customers, you spend a lot of time, effort and money to market and sell your services. Once you get a new customer, that’s just the beginning; Now you have to keep them!

Don’t think for a moment that just doing the basics and going through the motions will retain customers. A Janitorial Service Agreement is a business relationship that absolutely requires you to be attentive, nurturing, caring, loving – (yes, I said it, love your customer!) – and to occasionally bite your tongue. And just like any other relationship, it has to be nurtured and developed this month and next month and the month after that…

You actually need to move from “Customer Retention” to “Customer Loyalty” to thrive in this business. There’s a lot to be said on this subject (and I promise to to do so in future articles), but for now, let me start with my core “Customer Retention/Loyalty Tips” that have served me so well for over 25 years in this great janitorial industry.

  1. COMMUNICATE: Right up front, when you do a walk through before preparing a proposal, make sure that you communicate with your contact about exactly what they expect. Do they have a checklist or do they want you to create one? Then, when you get awarded the account, make sure that you have a signed Service Agreement, spelling out the details and terms of your service. Customers understand the necessity of this document. Be on the same page on day one!
  2. SIMPLY DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU’RE GOING TO DO: Keep your promises! If your proposal stated that all waxed floors will be polished once per week, then do it. If it noted that return vents and blinds are dusted monthly, then do it. I know one national franchise that promises (on their proposals) to take all the trash cans outside and wash them every month. Of course, it rarely gets done. That task wasn’t required, but since it was promised, it became expected and was subsequently viewed as a failure to perform. If I had a quarter for every new customer that told me, “the last cleaning company didn’t do what they promised”, well.. I’d have a lot of quarters.
  3. KEEP THEIR BUILDING CLEAN: The #1 way to keep your customer happy and loyal is to keep their building clean! The #1 way to keep their building clean is to do regularly scheduled checklist inspections for quality control! It’s good and actually necessary for your customer to like you, but that alone will not keep you there. You need to consistently keep their facility clean and even exceed their original expectations. Go the extra mile, it will be well worth it. Strive to be a top service provider!
  4. THEY NEED TO LIKE YOU: Hear me out on this one. I’m not talking about a joke telling, fishing buddy (although, being “professionally” personable and friendly goes a long way towards customer loyalty). Instead, when they like the way you and your company take care of their facility, they will also like you! Yes, cliché, but take care of your customers and they will take care of you.
  5. BE PROFITABLE: You want to “retain” profitable customers. If you’re losing money on an account or just breaking even, then you will stop caring about the things that will make your customer keep you. They’ll probably drop you and you won’t care. Do all you can to keep your costs down and quality up. But if, for example, you start cleaning a private school with 200 students and 6 months later they’ve increased to 300 (which will increase your labor hours up to 2 hours a day), then it’s time to sit down and talk about a fair price increase. Even the Good Book says, “the worker is deserving of their pay”. That’s good enough for me.
  6. TRAIN YOUR EMPLOYEES: To provide consistent quality cleaning on an ongoing basis, your crew needs to know what to do. You need to have some type of training on cleaning techniques, chemical use, customer relations, safety, protocol, procedures, production rates, etc. A trained and competent employee creates a loyal customer!
  7. USE CHECKLISTS TO MANAGE “THE SYSTEM”: A checklist of exactly what is done each day is not just a good idea, but an absolute must to succeed. e.g. Individual employee checklists, area checklists, specialty work checklists, end of night supervisor checklists, monthly inspection checklists, etc. That’s managing a system that works!
  8. EMPLOYEE UNIFORMS/BADGES/NAME TAGS: At each customer location, project an image of trust, structure and professionalism. After hour customer accounts should still have company t-shirts with your name and logo. And higher profile accounts need to project a more professional image. Specifically, polo shirts with logos and khakis, with employee lanyard or company identifying name badges need to be worn. The more your customer sees your employees, the sharper they need to look!
  9. WHATEVER IT TAKES!: Commit to being that person that finds solutions. Every problem and situation has a perfect solution. Some tougher than others. Are you willing to fulfill a customer’s last minute, 4pm request to wax or polish floors tonight because their corporate boss is visiting tomorrow? Will you miss a little sleep or work late to provide a solution? Expect the unexpected! When another cleaning company comes “a courting”, they will say “No thanks, we’re very happy with our current cleaning service”. That’s customer loyalty!
  10. HAVE A SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE!: If you have a mindset of “it’s good enough, they’ll never notice, everyone cuts corners”, I know 4 coats of wax would look awesome, but 3 is enough for tonight”, then you don’t get it. When I used to ask my Floor Techs how a job came out and they would say “good”, I would ask them “do you know who the enemy of excellence is”? It’s “good enough”. They quickly got the point! They then started sending me cell phone pics of every job, and yes it was excellent work! Average Spirit equals Average Business and that equals average customer retention. Excellent Spirit equals Excellent Business and that equals EXCELLENT CUSTOMER RETENTION!

Always remember to nurture your customer relationships. Make them feel cared about and appreciated. Your customer retention will increase dramatically and your customer loyalty will soar!


CleanGuidePro Successful Residential Cleaning bidderDrake



Your Target Janitorial Customers – Tips – Part 2

Drake Thomas (President/Co-founder of CleanGuidePro) here… In my last posted article, I shared are a few observations and tips (based on my 25 years in the janitorial industry) about ten typical types of janitorial customers that you may consider targeting. As promised, here’s another ten:

Janitorial Target Market

  1. HOSPITALS: Typical cleaning frequency: 3-7 days per week. Don’t let this one intimidate you. You don’t have to be a big national or regional company to get your foot in the door. You don’t need to take over the whole hospital housekeeping department to start. Take on a pressure washing job, offer stripping and waxing services to their always understaffed floor team, bid on some of their satellite clinics, offer fill in housekeepers on vacation, etc. Get with their facilities or housekeeping departments and let them know what services you have to offer. When you get work, do it perfectly and ask to bid on more. I started with one time per week floor polishing of the main cafeteria, which led to housekeepers, janitorial at their satellite clinics, trash/linen porters, full time floor techs, carpet cleaning and multiple hospitals.  Pros: Lots of lucrative work. Pays well and timely (3-5 wks). Cons: Can be late nights, holidays and weekends.Requires lots of coordinating and communication with housekeeping managers. You must have your own onsite working supervisor to make sure everything goes smoothly. Requires good cash flow, but every job requires that.
  2. CONSTRUCTION FINAL CLEAN: This is when a Construction Company contracts you to do a one time final clean of their project, in preparation for turn over to their client owner. This could be anything from a new home they built or small bank, to a huge school or even a hospital.Typical cleaning frequency on these projects could be a 1-3 days per week to 2-3 months depending on the size. Pros: Pays well. In just about every economy there’s some projects going on to bid on. Opportunities to be a Builders first choice for future projects when you do the job right and on time. Cons: They usually pay you on a monthly draw, meaning you may have to wait 4 weeks to receive a check. If a Contractor tells you, “you get paid when I get paid”, do NOT work for him/her. A reputable Contractor receives monthly bank draws to pay suppliers and vendors monthly.
  3. FITNESS CLUBS:  Typical cleaning frequency: 3-7 days per week. Pros: Good profit margins. Lots of gym chains popping up everywhere. Opportunity to sell them supplies, roll towels, toilet paper, etc. Carpet and floor work opportunities as well. Cons: Just late night hours or very early. Years ago, this was the “who knows when you’ll get paid customer”, but now with corporate chain ownership, they’re timely payers.
  4. HAIR SALONS: Typical cleaning frequency: 1-2 days per week. Pros: Salons on every corner. Cons: Not much, just hair, hair and more hair! Gets in your mops and can’t be washed out. Tip: Look for the chain of salons to bid on (as the owner of a small, single salon usually cleans the space his/herself).
  5. RETAIL STORES: This could be a small strip mall cell phone store to a large mall department store. Typical cleaning frequency: 3-7 days per week. Pros: Usually pays a bit more. Fast payers. Usually easy cleans. Opportunity to sell them supplies, roll towels, toilet paper, etc. Carpet and floor work will all be yours. Cons: Not much. Great accounts to have…
  6. MANUFACTURING PLANTS w/Production Area: Could be anything from a small manufacturing facility with a small front office (2-3000sq’) with a medium size production area (4k – 8k S.F.), to a huge front office and production area, like an auto manufacturing plant in Detroit. Typical cleaning frequency: 5-7 days per week. Pros: Very good accounts and timely payers.  Cons: Again, Not much. Great accounts to have. Just possible graveyard shift start times for larger facilities.
  7. MEDICAL OFFICE up to 10k: Typical cleaning frequency: 3-5 days per week. Pros: Lots of medical facilities this size and 98% of the time they outsource their cleaning. Timely payers and loyal to a good janitorial company. Extra work potential and easy to staff . Usually always will buy their supplies from you. Cons: Understandably, they can be very picky at times. Requires a high level of detail cleaning and sanitizing.
  8. MOVIE THEATER: Typical cleaning frequency: 7 days per week. Pros:Pays well and potential for lots of floor and carpet work. Cons: Can be difficult to staff, with start times usually 1-2am. Definitely, requires working site supervisor and some working team leaders. Frequent employee callouts on this one. Tip to overcome callouts: If you need a staff of 7 each night, you hire 9 (Trust me on this one!). That way, when the inevitable callouts come, your covered and if all 9 show up, you simply get finished earlier.
  9. HOTEL/RESORTS COMMON AREAS: This is usually where you provide staff on 4-8 hr shifts (7am-3pm, 3pm-11pm), to clean lobbies, public restrooms, banquet rooms, etc. They’ll usually have their own housekeepers to clean and service hotel rooms.They may even contract you to clean kitchens daily. Typical cleaning frequency: 7 days per week. Pros: Any hotel account, especially national chains are excellent accounts. Opportunities to take on many more hotels. Relatively easy to staff the day and evening shifts. Usually always want you to provide floor work and carpet work. Cons: Not really a con, but you need to have a professional looking crew at all times. Nice uniforms are a must. Your staff not only needs to clean well, but also have friendly social skills and manners as they will interact with hotel staff and hotel guests.
  10. GENERAL OFFICE BUILDINGS over 40,000 sq’: Typical cleaning frequency: 5 days per week. Typical Square Footage: 40,000 – 90,000 Sq. Feet. Pros: This is about the same as a General Office Buildings, up to 20,000 sq’. Easy to staff, usually early start time of 5:30pm. Extra work and supplies. Good pay and usually not difficult to clean. Cons: Everyone is trying to bid this one. Winning bids need to be very competitive. Tight budgets that require great site supervision and fast production rates.

Remember, as your experience and resources increase (and they will), so will your target customers!

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