Updated: Jan 8
In service companies, your employees are your product. In particular with commercial cleaning, having great employees makes or breaks your client relationships. With great employees, your client achieves the ultimate in its cleaning experience---it never has to THINK about its cleaner. With subpar employees, you run the risk of losing a client in an ultra-competitive field.
Given that employees make or break a cleaning company, the obvious conclusion is, “just hire great employees!”. If only it were that simple. Commercial cleaning has a lot of inherent challenges that makes it very difficult to bat 1.000 on every employee. For one, it’s a very competitive field with the best cleaners finding easy work. Additionally, cleaning is a very hard job that can create burnout in employee. Finally, the competition in cleaning leads to smaller margins and unfortunately prevents companies from paying ideal wages for the job.
At OBS, we firmly believe that employees trump contractors and franchise arrangements. Given the challenges of recruiting, training and retaining in this field, we believe that structuring each candidate as an employee is the only way to position yourself as a legitimate cleaner.
We spend a lot of time recruiting future employees and really strive to find the best workers and keep them with us for years. One of our top employees has been with us for over 30 years with the same account! That type of continuity is ideal for us, our employee and our client.
From our experience in running many interviews, successes and failures, we’ve listed our top qualities that we look for in future cleaning specialists:
Full-Time Job: The vast majority of our employees work another job in addition to servicing our clients. We find that our best employees are those who are employed during the day and work with us during nights OR are retired from the workforce and want to generate additional spending money. For us, having another job shows us that these candidates take their careers seriously, understand work ethic and are reliable.
Service Experience: While our ideal candidate has many years of commercial cleaning experience, it’s not the top thing that we consider. We believe that we can train our employees how to clean and sometimes prefer a “blank canvas” so that we can teach new employees the right way to do things. If a candidate does not have direct cleaning experience, we want to see a history of success in the service field. The service industry teaches employees how to interact with customers and typically puts a premium on punctuality, charisma and performance-based results.
Reliable Transportation: While this may sound silly, we need our employees to have a safe and reliable way to get to our job sites. We can’t afford to leave the success of a nightly cleaning job to chance and need employees who can get to our clients on-time every single time.
Serious Demeanor: Our ideal employees are true professionals. They take pride in their work, listen to feedback and want our clients to have a hassle-free cleaning experience. Over the years, we can tell the difference between a candidate who takes his or her craft seriously and a candidate who is just looking for work. The latter candidate typically doesn’t last in this business.
These are just a handful of characteristics that we look for in our employees. Hiring commercial cleaning specialists is not an exact science and we’ve learned a lot through our failures in hiring. Hopefully, we continue to improve to deliver the best people to our clients!
Nick is an owner at Ohio Building Services, a Cincinnati-based commercial cleaning and janitorial company that provides offices, industrial facilities, and businesses with reliable cleaning services since 1978.