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What You Should Know Before Hiring A Commercial Janitorial Cleaning Contractor

Table of Contents

Since this is an extensive article, I have inserted a table of contents for quicker navigation to specific sections, click on the part you would like to navigate to or start from the introduction and read the whole article.

  1. Introduction
  2. Hiring the Cheapest Commercial Janitorial Cleaning Service
  3. Liability, Workers Compensation, Unemployment Insurance
  4. Building Walk-Through
  5. Examine Your Bid Packet or Proposal Closely when Reviewing It
  6. Supplies and Equipment
  7. Ask Questions


Girl leaning on a broom

You have probably have been thinking, or getting ready to hire a commercial janitorial service, either for your office building or office. But, take a few precautions when you are searching for that new cleaning company.

I will show you, in this article, how to avoid the most common mistakes many owners and managers make when deciding on their next commercial cleaning contractor.

Hi, my name is David Trammell, and I'm the owner of Klean-Rite Building Solutions. I've been in the cleaning industry for a little over twenty years, I've done a lot of commercial cleaning, and supervised a lot of commercial cleaning. I've hired, and I've fired cleaners. I have entirely done it all including the estimating process.

Estimating is one of the most challenging areas of the cleaning industry I have had to deal with regarding profit and loss, not only for my company but also for the client. Finding that right niche where you are staying within the clients budget for cleaning services and profit for the company is a big challenge.

When you are searching for a cleaning contractor, please don't settle for the cheapest. Otherwise, you might be searching again in a few months because unfortunately, you found that the most affordable cleaning contractor isn't completing the tasks promised.

And this is why I put together this article as a guide for those with that grueling task of calling cleaning companies and gathering estimates.

Hopefully, I will be giving you information that will help in your search for your new cleaning contractor.

Few people know that the cleaning industry is one of the few unregulated sectors of businesses.

Because the commercial cleaning industry is unregulated, getting an actual professional commercial janitorial service can be a big gamble.

So, to protect yourself, your business, your property and your employees, here are a few things you should know before letting a new janitorial cleaning service into your business.

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Hiring the Cheapest Commercial Janitorial Cleaning Service

Mans hand holding a pencil

Before you consider hiring a cleaning company

that offers the lowest price, which at first seems like a good idea because it will save you money. And after all, who doesn't want to cut their business expense budget, am I right?

One thing you need to realize is there is a possibility that a few commercial janitorial service companies in the community who will pay their cleaning personal under the table or cash to keep their overhead low.

Man trying to pass cash to another man

It's not illegal to pay the cleaning people or contractors this way, it's, in my opinion, not the best business practice. All businesses are required to report all wages to the IRS, including those paid in cash.

Where the illegal part comes in is if the cleaning company does not report these earnings to the IRS. Some cleaning company employers will pay this way and leave it up to the person they are paying to report the earnings. But usually, most of the time, the revenues go unreported because everyone thinks there is no paper trail.

Companies, either cleaning companies or other has to keep accurate payroll records whether they pay in cash or by check.

When cleaning companies pay their cleaners under the table, this gives them a cost advantage over professional cleaning companies. They have eliminated overhead such as workman comp insurance and employment taxes etc. The cleaning person will have to carry the tax burden, usually paid by the employer. Employment taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare and unemployment taxes would be the burden of the cleaning person. They could also be responsible for their own Worker's Compensation Insurance, Liability Insurance, bond and sometimes the equipment.

So here's the problem with this situation. I would imagine that a good 90 percent of these cleaners are not even aware that they are responsible for the expenses mentioned, because they may not realize, in the eyes of the IRS, they are employees.

But, why should this concern you?

In my opinion, commercial janitorial service companies who partake in these kinds of business practices, and who hire their workers illegally and pay them illegally, have questionable business practices, and any reputable business owner or manager would want to steer clear of them.

So this is why some cleaning companies can come in with the cheapest estimate over a professionally managed cleaning company, they have eliminated a lot of their overhead by paying their cleaners cash or under the table. Is it fair? No, not really. That is why I'm bringing this to your attention, so you are aware of what is going on.

Some of these cleaning companies might get by with this kind of business practice for years without being audited by the IRS. But the day of reckoning does come eventually. Also, don’t forget, they violate unemployment and workers comp laws by paying their cleaners in this manner.

Some will apply to a cleaning company and request cash instead of a paycheck or direct deposit. Some cleaning companies will have no problem with this and will do it to get a warm body on the floor. Our cleaning company turns down these kinds of requests; it always throws up a red flag that something in their background might not be right. We go through thorough background checks on each person we hire. Also since we use E-Verify and file an I-9 for each new hire, we can be sure that they are in legal status for hiring.


When I started Klean-Rite Building Solutions, I wanted to build the most ethical commercial cleaning business possible, through hiring and conducting the day-to-day business with our clients and potential clients.

Our employees issued with an ID badge that they always wear when entering a clients building, company shirts with the company information printed on the front, you will know who is in your building or office.

Man holding an ID card

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Liability, Workers Compensation, Unemployment Insurance

Insurance Policy

Always ask the cleaning contractors you are thinking about hiring for proof of Liability Insurance

Ask questions about their insurance coverage. Make sure they have adequate coverage that would cover any damages to your facility. You need to be sure that they have sufficient liability insurance, bonding, and worker's compensation coverage.

With worker's compensation coverage is for the employee's medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation services that result in workplace injury or illness. Make sure the cleaning contractor you are hiring has this coverage also for your protection.

Most companies, whether cleaning or other types of businesses pay both federal and state unemployment FUTA tax. If an employee has faultlessly lost his or her job and meet other eligibility criteria, they can receive benefits from unemployment insurance.

The cleaning contractors' insurance company can fax, email, or mail a copy of the certificate of insurance to you. If the cleaning contractor is reputable, he or she will be happy to provide proof of insurance to you.

Never hire a cleaning contractor that cannot provide you with this information about their insurance.

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Building Walk-Through

Man and woman walking through an office building

Always have a face-to-face interview and walk-through with the cleaning company representative

No cleaning company can give you an accurate proposal for your cleaning service needs without a walk-through of your facility.

The cleaning company representative needs to gather information by taking notes, measuring and asking questions. The representative also needs to see the different types of surfaces they might be cleaning and their condition.

If your facility has marble or granite floors and countertops, ask the cleaning company representative how they would clean these types of surfaces. Pick his or her brain about their knowledge. It could lead to costly property damage by not knowing how to clean these surfaces properly.

If you don't already have a list of cleaning specifications for your facility that are broken down into daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks, the cleaning contractor should offer to generate a customized list for your location. Most cleaning companies should include this list in with their proposal.

Also, a professional cleaning company representative would not make comments about the current cleaning company, (if you have one) or wipe their hand across surfaces while performing the walk-through. These kinds of actions are very unprofessional and should be a red flag for you.

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Examine Your Bid Packet or Proposal Closely when Reviewing It

People looking over paperwork

Make sure the cleaning proposal covers all of your concerns discussed with the cleaning company representative

Your project should be appropriately formatted and professionally written.

Check for any misspelled words. The attention to detail in the project or bid packet could very well be a reflection of their service. So, this could be the determining factor when selecting a commercial cleaning company.

Any professional company representative will include references in with the bid packet or proposal. Call the references and check them out.

A few fundamental questions to ask are:

  • Is this company reliable?
  • How long have they been cleaning your office or facility?
  • Are you satisfied with the quality of service provided?

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Supplies and Equipment

Cleaning Supplies

You need to know what kind of supplies and equipment the cleaning company will use in your facility or office

As far as vacuums go, some companies use upright vacuums; some use backpack vacuums, some use a combination of both. For increased productivity, backpack vacuums are the industry standard. And backpack vacuums have Hepa filtration which helps keep the dust down and particles from becoming airborne.

A lot of upright vacuums have Hepa filtration. Also, it's just in large areas; upright vacuums can be more time consuming and less productive.

Klean-Rite uses the combination of both vacuums. Backpack vacuums are used in the broad areas of the facility and for the small regions, we use the upright vacuums.

Ask about cleaning chemicals. What kind of chemicals do they use? Do they use conventional cleaning chemicals which can be harmful to the janitorial workers and building employees or do they use environmentally friendly products that will work as well as traditional cleaners?

Ask if they provide MSDS sheets.

MSDS Sheet

What are MSDS sheets?

MSDS stands for material safety data sheets and documents the potential hazards and how to work safely with a chemical product.

As a starting point for a complete health and safety program, MSDS sheets on all chemicals used in your facility are part of standard operating procedures. If the company representative you are dealing with does not know what MSDS sheets are, consider this a big red flag.

Our employees and customers come first with safety issues. Safety education classes are provided to our employees as part of their training as a new hire and continued throughout their tenure with us.

Work Safely

Ask if they use feather dusters, static dusters or microfiber cloths for dusting. Microfiber cloths are better for dusting horizontal surfaces since they pick up dust and soil rather than moving it around or making it airborne the way feather dusters and static dusters do.

A Stack of Microfiber Towels

For dusting high areas, we use a microfiber hand duster which attracts dust rather than making the dust airborne.

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Ask Questions

Womans head with question marks above

Ask a lot of questions about their cleaning services

In closing, ask a lot of questions, don't be shy about that, pick the cleaning company representative brain to see if they are as good as they claim to be.

Listed below are a few subjects to ask questions about:

  • Liability insurance, worker's compensation insurance
  • Company's years in business
  • Company's policy manual
  • Company's safety manual
  • Hiring procedures
  • Are your cleaning personnel trained, and who performs the training?
  • What kind of supervision and follow-up do you provide?
  • Do you have a tremendous employee turnover rate?
  • Your current customers, tell me about them
  • Are your employees in uniform with ID badges?
  • Tell me about the equipment will you be using at my facility
  • Will you be leaving us a communications log?
  • How do you handle key assignment and alarm codes?
  • What is your process for complaints?
  • Will I be signing a contract or agreement?
  • How do you handle stolen items?

David Trammell is the owner of Klean-Rite Building Solutions. Started commercial cleaning part-time for other cleaning companies in 1990 and continued in many different roles when going full-time until leaving and starting Klean-Rite in 2013.

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