Expert Roundup: Operations Tips for Cleaning Companies

Cleaning companies, whether they be house cleaning, commercial cleaners, window washing, carpet cleaning, or even chimney sweeps, operate in a very competitive space. Customers shop for price, good service, and reliability, so the way a company operates can have a big effect on its profitability.

We asked some industry experts for their operations tips for cleaning companies and received a diverse range of replies, from management tips, marketing, hiring, and more. Here’s what they had to say.

1. John Ward, Account Executive at Mold Busters

Expert advice for cleaning companiesHere are some tips that have helped my mold remediation company (Mold Busters) grow from a local startup to a successful international business.

One of the biggest things that gives Mold Busters its competitive edge is customer service. Over and over our clients tell us how amazing our customer service is – from answering phone calls immediately to providing reports within minutes of completing an inspection, to allowing customers to book online.

Internally, we’ve also streamlined operations by using software such as FreshBooks for accounting, CallRail for call tracking and Telegram for internal communications. All of this combined allows us to provide the fastest service to our clients — this is something they appreciate greatly.

In our experience, cleaning companies and contractors are notorious for not answering phone calls and not showing up for appointments. This leaves a huge opportunity for any cleaning company willing to put effort into developing unparalleled customer service. (It worked for us!)

John Ward began his career in the mold inspection and removal industry nearly 15 years ago when he joined Mold Busters as a mold remediation technician. John is now the Account Executive at Mold Busters, specializing in indoor air quality issues of the most delicate nature. Over the years, he has completed hundreds of mold remediation jobs and thousands of air quality tests for homeowners and businesses across Ontario and Quebec.

2. Blanche Stuart, Owner of Bull Dog Management

The most important aspect of repeat clients is not cutting corners after you’ve acquired them. Many cleaning companies fail to either train their crew properly, don’t have unannounced spot checks on their staff, or make promises during the initial client conversation, but the staff doesn’t execute the promises. If a client expects four hours with one person, and three people show up and do it in one hour…it’s unsettling, as the client isn’t prepared for a barrage of people to enter.

A company owner needs to keep his or her boots on the ground and be proactive with everyone representing you and your company.

Clear Communication is Key

If your staff is bilingual it’s advantageous to English speaking clients, as well as Spanish. However, there’s nothing more frustrating than interacting with a person who can’t comprehend what your needs are, or states there’s not enough time, or it will cost more. Be above board with your staff, clients, and expectations for each. And if there is a language barrier….give your staff an incentive to learn.

In NYC the standard is two years before you should rethink about hiring a new cleaning company. The company will try to win you over early on, but slack off as the relationship grows. Which defeats the purpose of growing a long-term business.

Hire staff that is genuinely interested in selfless service, instead of just a quick buck, and that have innate organizational skills, as well as being one step ahead of the client to know how important a “special touch” is. A client will certainly notice. Everyone likes to feel special. In turn, it brings more comfort and happiness to someone’s home. Being in a client’s home is personal work. You are seeing into their private life. That needs to be not only respected but honored.

Blanche Stuart is the Owner of Bull Dog Management. Being trained in Estate Management in New York City, Blanche acquired not only high business acumen but impeccable standards, and strong work ethics. In 2013 their services began in Los Angeles where she felt the East Coast New York City mentality, and “bulldog” attitude to get things done, was desperately needed and severely lacking. She has 15 years of personal experience with residential cleaning and a dedicated team that has expanded to Commercial cleaning.

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3. Elizabeth McLean, General Counsel for GoodHire

To give your customers peace of mind, and to increase safety and help prevent employee theft, it’s always best to take a proactive approach to hiring by conducting pre-employment background checks. A National Criminal Databases Search can be used to uncover any felony or misdemeanor criminal convictions, any pending criminal cases, and any history of incarceration as an adult.

Pre-employment drug screening or periodic drug screening can help promote a healthy work environment as well as reduce incidents of theft by employees who may try to finance illicit addictions.

Elizabeth McLean is an attorney and FCRA compliance analyst for GoodHire, an employment screening company. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law and holds an Advanced FCRA certification from the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.

4.Greg Shepard, Owner of Dallas Maids

The biggest asset of a maid service is its people. Consequently, finding competent cleaners is the most common gripe I hear from other cleaning service owners. We don’t have this issue. It starts with the hiring process. To the best of my knowledge, Dallas Maids hiring process is the most selective of any house cleaning service in Dallas. It is an understatement what is written on our About Us page: “PEOPLE POWER: Only 2% of applicants pass our stringent interview process”… It’s closer to 1%.

Here is our secret:

Step 1

Continually runs ads even if not hiring. If we find a perfect person, we will make room for them. And when we need someone, we run ads everywhere: Online, newspaper, TV, social media, everywhere. You need quantity to find quality.

Step 2

Phone interview. Our HR person tries to find any reason NOT to hire the candidate. She asks a series of break deal questions, with the most common breakers at the top. We want to get off the phone so we do not waste the candidate’s time.

Step 3

For the 4% that make it past the phone interview, we tell them why we like them then ask them to call the next day to set up a time for an office interview. Why? Because if they don’t call the next day, they would have been no-shows. No need to waste a time slot if they would have been no-shows.

Step 4

The office interview is a chance to get a better feel for the candidate. Dallas Maids operation manual provides structure and tips on how to read the candidates non-verbal communication. Simply, we look for two things:

1) Are they a hard worker?

2) Do they have a good heart?

You cannot have one without the other. If the candidate passes then they are offered a day to audition.

Step 5

Audition. Before hiring, we want to see how they work and if they would be a good fit. First, do they have the talent? No need to waste time training if there is no potential. Second, are they good people. Will they bring positive energy to the Dallas Maids family?

Step 6

Hired! Maybe 1% gets this far. They undergo training and performance evaluations. Immediately after training then after 3 months, they have a chance to earn a raise based on their performance evaluation.

Step 7

Bonuses based on performance. Our customers provide feedback. Employees’ bonuses, raises, choice jobs, and more is based on how happy they make our customers. Consequently, the top performers get paid well above the industry average. We keep our best people!

We also have big family outings, employee of the month recognitions, awards, and caring office staff that bend backward to take care of our cleaners. It’s the least we can do for the most important asset of Dallas Maids; our people! And it works. Dallas Maids is the most award-winning house cleaning service in Dallas, Texas. The formula is simple: Take care of our people and they will take care of our customers.

Greg Shepard, a graduate of Baylor University, moved to Dallas in 1999 to pursue a career at IBM and later joining the tech team at Bank of America. In 2004 Greg left the high-tech world to start Dallas Maids, LLC.

5. Pharice Brown, President of 1st Green Clean, Author

Cleaning does not have to kill you, but to do a thorough job will require you to dedicate time to make sure it is right. Ok, let us keep it real, no one likes cleaning; well no one with other things to do. It needs to be done; so why not do it right?

Now, there is a difference between cleaning a house and keeping a house. You can sweep, mop, vacuum and do the dishes, but to keep a house means you go the extra mile. I mean detail. It may sound out-of-place to hear the word detail when referring to a house. We normally hear it used in reference to a car and you can detail a house too. “Keeping” is detailing for a home.

When you keep a house everything is cleaned — everything. Lamps, lampshades, clocks, picture frames and other items on top of furniture, lift for a more thorough cleaning, and clean underneath to remove all dust. There really is no wrong way to clean — unless you do not clean every surface and take the time to move things. Do not be afraid you can always put them back – you never you know you, may find a place you like better.

Pharice Brown is the President of 1st Green Clean and Author of You’re a Bad Wife Because YOU CAN’T CLEAN THE HOUSE?

6. Jane Wilson, Manager of Fantastic Cleaners

Cleaning is a very competitive field, there are new companies emerging every day, and if you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you have to be better organized and provide your clients with better benefits and the sense of security. If you have these two things covered, then you’re on the right track. There are seven important structures you need to build for your business, and these seven structures need to follow standardized processes all the time, in order to save time and be more efficient and organized.

The seven structures of a cleaning business are cleaning, supervision, reporting, marketing, customer service, accounting, and management. It’s also good to have a detailed filing system for all the cases, write down as many details about every job you do, it will be useful to analyze them later and improve your work.

Jane Wilson is a business manager, a mum, and a blogger, who manages the Melbourne branch of Fantastic Cleaners as the head of marketing and social. She also has a personal blog, called Modern Housewives, where she posts articles on different topics like home improvement, cool DIY and gardening projects, tips on raising children and a lot more.

7. Glen Greely, President of Cleaning Group, Inc.

  • Try to target customers in a specific geographic area. The closer the customers are physically located allows you to easily move crews place-to-place, cuts down on travel time, mileage, fuel costs, and vehicle wear-and-tear. Managing costs is key to profitability.
  • Ask your customers to refer your company to their neighbors.
  • Offer incentives to potential new customers in an area where you are already working.
  • Supervise your workers and check the quality of work frequently to ensure the work is being done to the customer’s standards.
  • Never think that because a customer is not calling that they are completely satisfied. Use follow up visits to verify satisfaction, identify issues, upsell and educate about additional services you offer.
Glen Greeley is the President of Cleaning Group, Inc. in Long Island, New York.

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