Drake's Blog


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 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


Overcoming Anxiety in the Janitorial Business

How do you overcome anxiety in the janitorial business? A better question might be, how do you overcome anxiety in life in general? As the old saying goes, if you tell anyone you’ve met that you’ve heard about their problem, they will answer by saying, “Who told you?”.

Anxious Janitorial Businessman

It has been clinically proven that fears (real or imaginary problems) in the heart of a person cause anxiety or worry.

First, let’s focus on the “real” stressful things in business that you can control. In business terminology we’re talking about Risk Management. In any business, things can go wrong at any time any place. This fact alone can cause worry, but you can mitigate general anxiety just by practicing due diligence. Make sure you’re properly insured with liability insurance and workers comp. Stress safety with your employees via employee orientation, safety training and regular safety meetings. Maintain your vehicle and equipment on a set schedule. Pay your taxes promptly. Pay your employees fairly and treat them with honesty and integrity. Basically, if you do the right thing in business, your anxiety, stress and worry levels will all be decreased; Not totally eliminated, but dramatically reduced.

Okay, but what about the imaginary things you worry about? What if this happens? What if that happens? What if my best isn’t good enough? What if I fail? What if my health fails? What if _____ (fill in the blank)? I personally choose to replace my irrational, imaginary worries every day by renewing my mind with words of hope, life and peace! Isn’t it all about peace anyway, my friend? Peace is the antithesis of anxiety!

Let me share some of my favorite quotes to overcome anxiety with peace..

  • “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” -Benjamin Franklin
  • “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave person is not the one who does not feel afraid, but the one who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela
  • “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more”.- Mother Teresa
  • “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” -Mahatma Gandhi
  • “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”–Florence Nightingale
  • “Do not be anxious or worry about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” –Paul the Apostle
  • “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” -Jesus
  • “The message is clear: If you don’t like your situation in life, don’t fret or worry – do something about it. Worry less, act more!” –Zig Ziglar
  • “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address-Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”― Eleanor Roosevelt

So I encourage you to overcome any business anxiety with (a) practical business risk management tactics and (b) through words of peace. That’s what’s worked for me…


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-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