Grand Master Janitor, 30+ years
With the truly, humbling success of CleanlyRun(formerly CleanGuidePro), we’ve received a lot of questions (from companies all over the world) about a variety of topics in the janitorial industry. Today I’d like to share one about Janitorial Fair Wages.
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?
Answer: Sounds good in theory. Pay them more, they’ll perform better and my customers will gladly pay me more!
Unfortunately, after three decades 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…
- Part 1: Pay entry level cleaners $14-$15 an hour, (when the prevailing wages are $8.05 -$9.00) and they’ll perform better.
- My Take: 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.
- Part 2: My customers will pay me more to get better service, “if” I pay my employees more.
- My Take: 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!
Who needs janitorial employee training? Let me give you three groups that benefit greatly from it… Your company, your employees and your customers!
“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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!