Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
November 2012 Contractor Success

Clean It Or Outsource It?

Contractors want to satisfy their clients' requests and, unaware of the option to subcontract, some take on projects beyond their scope of expertise.

November 12, 2012

Should you clean it yourself or subcontract it out?

Your decision hinges on a balance of comfort and control versus savings from third-party efficiencies and economies of scale.

In the past, competent arguments could be made in support of either approach.Rubbermaid Healthcare Mopping

However, improving economic conditions and government regulations are tipping the scale of the argument in support of outsourcing cleaning to third-party specialists.

In times of economic downturn, companies will assign cleaning tasks to employees trained in the company’s core competency to avoid layoffs.

As conditions improve and competition for labor heats up, human resources (HR) departments are stressed to fill positions with people that advance the business plan.

Transferring the HR soft costs and the staffing challenges of “no shows,” training and turnover to a qualified third-party results in savings without reducing the number of man-hours devoted to janitorial requirements.

State and federal taxes and workers’ compensation are the responsibility of the contractor, freeing up time and capital on the part of a facility and its management.

By subcontracting certain tasks or outsourcing an entire operation, facilities management teams can concentrate on more challenging tasks than those presented by cleaning.

With a cleaning contractor, they won’t be burdened with the responsibilities associated with employees calling out sick or those on vacation, nor will they have to deal with unemployment costs.

Outsourcing allows you to leave the quality control to the contractor instead of your office manager or other valuable employees.

Train To Save Money And Deliver Results

The cost of retraining a janitor is the most expensive aspect of the commercial cleaning business.

Recruiting, screening, stressing safety and delivering training in mock settings and on the job are labor-intensive.Rubbermaid Healthcare Mopping 2

Management spends an average of 108 hours per employee in this process due to the low-skilled nature of the JanSan industry.

Despite the time and attention given, the average custodian will leave a position over mere pennies due to generally low wages and the high cost of fuel.

While no company likes such a burden, some are more adept at managing the fallout of employee turnover.

Jim DeGrado, owner of Cardinal Building Maintenance Inc., has been mitigating the issue of turnover for 30-plus years.

His average client falls under the industrial category of medical and high security, meaning high turnover would present a major issue regarding both health and safety.

Because safety training is a constant priority and part of the culture he built, his company has partnered with many Fortune 500 companies in search of high-quality cleaning solutions.

DeGrado’s staff of 800 is specially trained in a 15,000-square-foot training center with mock exam rooms, offices, restrooms, locker rooms and lunchrooms at their corporate headquarters.

The average turnover rate in the JanSan industry is 220 percent; due to the investment in training and education, DeGrado was able to lower his turnover rate to less than 30 percent. 

DeGrado, noting the consistent results achieved by training on best practices, says, “The Joint Commission, the industry leader in the accreditation and certification of hospitals and healthcare facilities, is visiting one of our 200 medical customers at some point or another during the year. Our buildings are ‘tour ready’ at all times.”

Quality Results Begin With Proper Planning

A reputable cleaning company will provide a competitive and comprehensive proposal for a facility outlining janitorial needs that will best serve the work environment.

Any proposal should be detailed in scope and be meticulous about expenditures, spelling out productivity rates, wages and chemical and equipment costs.

True expertise comes in when an organization can transparently say where the dollars are coming from and why.

There is no need to hide any of the numbers if you’re dealing with a company that has depth and integrity.

In speaking of his customer centric approach that fosters lasting business relationships, DeGrado notes, “They don’t stay with you unless you consistently deliver quality all of the time. We are committed to exceeding the expectations of our customers.”

Rubbermaid Healthcare VacuumingA guided tour of a facility with history on past specifications is a solid start that will ensure a subcontractor and facilities manager are on the same page in terms of desired cleaning outcomes.

Be wary of artificially low bids from companies that do not do their homework; trouble will surely follow if your building is underbid and the quality does not meet expectations.

Experienced contractors will bid based on a scope of work, frequencies, floor surfaces and environments — not solely on square footage.

It takes a keen operations team to accurately quote a cleaning service bid, so you should never blindly bid an account or accept a company’s numbers without personally double checking them.

Companies need to focus on their core competencies; their emphasis should be on what they do best, as it drives efficiencies and higher profits.

Outsourcing certain tasks or the entire cleaning operation to companies with a core competency in removing unwanted matter from the built environment transfers the costs of recruiting, labor management and government compliance to specialists.

However, regardless of outlays, facilities need to be thoroughly cleaned in a proper, consistent manner.

“When you have references for 17-plus years, it’s because what is important to you is important to them,” adds DeGrado.

Contractors with a strong referral list of satisfied customers have proven not only their ability to execute cleaning tasks, but also the desire to do whatever is needed to ensure optimum cleanliness in demanding work environments.



Contractors Are There To Help

Government regulations relating to health, security and legality provide a daunting challenge to businesses in both good times and bad.

When hiring employees, the screening process of a contractor should be no less than ensuring a valid social security number, employment eligibility verification with an I-9 form and a seven-year criminal background check.

Dangerous or confidential environments could require additional vetting, including fingerprinting and drug testing.

A reputable janitorial contractor will have been requiring this level of vetting long before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security came into play.

Companies associated with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have higher safety standards and increased cleaning requirements, amplifying the need for qualified contractors.

Outsourcing allows for the transfer of many risk and liability issues to specialists who have made a career out of the intricacies of their commercial cleaning niche.