Keeping an office, shop floor, retail space or another work environment clean and presentable is not a simple matter. Floors, carpets, windows and restrooms need specialized care and equipment that can be hard for businesses to provide on their own. Ensuring that every one of these responsibilities is properly carried out can take too much attention away from the business of doing business.

Falling behind on these responsibilities is not an option. Employee productivity, health, and morale, not to mention a business image of professionalism, often depend on the ability of a business to maintain a clean environment.

In many cases, businesses hiring their own crew may wind up with higher costs to pay in the end. Cleaning crews that aren’t adequately trained and overseen may actually cause damage to carpeting or coated window glass. Lack of specialized knowledge may lead to neglect of important areas (salt buildup on stairways in winter is frequently neglected, for example). Mistakes may amount to rental contract violations.

The hiring of professional building maintenance crews is clearly important for businesses. Finding a competent crew can be more challenging than it may first appear, however. It takes some knowledge of the way cleaning responsibilities work to judge how professional and well-equipped a company is.

Employee scheduling

Professional commercial cleaning companies are aware that cleaning crews aren’t interchangeable. It takes time for workers to train for the specific preferences of different clients. While it may be cheaper to send in different workers each day, they are unlikely to be able to provide the level of service needed. Asking a cleaning business about their work crew scheduling policy is a good way to determine the level of professionalism that they offer.

Supervision

Complaints about professional cleaning services tend to center on a few specific areas:

  • Uneven cleaning quality from one day to the next.
  • Poor weekend cleaning when temporary crews come in.

Unprofessional behavior involving the use of office computers or the admission of children or pets by cleaning staff.

  • Neglect to secure the premises upon leaving.

A good commercial cleaning company always sends supervisory staff on every visit to ensure quality and professional behavior. It’s important to ensure that such supervision exists.

An insurance policy and easy claims procedure

Mistakes made by cleaning crews can lead to broken equipment or even theft. Professional cleaning companies come properly insured and have well-established procedures in place to handle claims in a painless way. It’s never a good idea to consider a cleaning company that isn’t properly licensed, bonded and insured.

The cleaning products in use

Good cleaning companies always make a point to talk about the cleaning equipment and products that they use. Not only does this help establish that clients do not need to take responsibility for these details, it gives them an opportunity to call attention to the level of quality that they bring to the job. A business that doesn’t call attention to its cleaning products usually doesn’t use environmentally friendly products. Use of these products is important to ensure an allergy-free environment for employees. Cheap, toxic products can cause health issues.

Specifics about cleaning specializations

A professional cleaning services company is always aware of the level of skill that goes into performing cleaning services in a modern setting. Different carpet types, furniture types and fabrics require different kinds of cleaning, and these cleaning services need to be qualified to offer them. It’s important to ask probing questions about cleaning specializations. If answers seem vague, it’s reasonable to believe that it isn’t a serious business.

Too much attention to cost-effectiveness doesn’t pay

Commercial office cleaning tends to cost around 10 cents a square-foot a month. Commercial spaces that require specialized cleaning can cost about 25% more. Small businesses rarely occupy any more than 10,000 square feet of space; working hard to find the lowest bidder for such contracts can help save perhaps $100 a month if that. It can make sense to go with a service that costs more, but that offers higher quality and better pay for its workers. It works out well in the long run.

Finally, it’s always important to obtain multiple references and to actually check up on them. It can be a surprisingly challenging task ensuring satisfactory cleaning in a commercial space, and happy customers are a reliable sign of competence.

Finlay Hamilton runs his own cleaning and gardening business, working with both commercial and residential clients.

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