I have had many people ask me the question, “What is commercial cleaning?” These people generally want to get into the business but do not know where to start or what to do. I was lucky enough to have a father who owned a commercial cleaning business for most of my life. This afforded me the opportunity to learn from a professional early on in life. I was able to watch my dad handle carpet, floor and window jobs, as well as manage employees, handle payroll and run sales and marketing programs. It was a great education in office commercial cleaning. So then, what is commercial cleaning? Let’s get educated.
The Basics: Commercial cleaning can be defined as the act of trading dirt and debris removal in offices for money. It really is a pretty simple business model. People by their very nature generate dirt. The dirt generated by these people in professional office spaces has to be cleaned on a regular basis in order to maintain the office space. Professionals who work in these offices do not want to clean themselves, so they outsource this to professional cleaners. This is the market where office cleaners live. We provide the service that nobody else wants to do, and are paid well to do so. Commercial Cleaning may mean different things to different offices. Office types that our business operates in are Medical facilities, Law offices, Accounting Firms, Insurance companies etc. Given the wide variety of office types we work in, our job has to be tailored to the specific needs of the customer.
The Work: The work is not terribly difficult, but your success will depend wholly on your ability to keep a keen eye out for details. Janitorial services rely on the absence of dirt to achieve success. Of course, this is a recipe for failure since it is almost impossible to remove 100% of the dirt from an office space every time. A keen eye for details and a basic knowledge of what people look for in a “good” clean will help you focus your efforts on the highest return areas of the building. For instance, most people do not complain about the carpeted space in a dark corner under their desk, but if you miss a piece of debris out in the middle of the floor, it can spell disaster. So what is commercial cleaning in terms of the actual duties of the job? You will have to clean bathrooms, dust, empty trash cans, wipe down windows, vacuum carpets and mop hard floor surfaces. These are the basics. You can certainly go above and beyond in office commercial cleaning whereby you do high dusting, wipe down light fixtures or spot clean carpet stains. This will all come with time, but do not make the mistake of giving away services outside of scope for free. Customers are quick to take advantage of office cleaners.
The Time: If you own your own cleaning business, you will be able to make your own hours, more or less. Your time will still be confined by the hours of the office that you clean, since you can not work while the employees are there in most cases. However, when you have the keys and the alarm code to a building, you can do the work at any time of day outside of normal business hours. This allows you to take advantage of slow times during your day to get the work done. It is very flexible and very rewarding to run an office cleaning company. You will however generally have to work on weekends and evenings, so if this prospect does not sound appealing to you, I would look elsewhere for employment opportunities.
The Special Jobs: Accessorial janitorial jobs are where office-cleaning companies can make a lot of money. When you do work already for a customer, they are much more likely to provide you with further business opportunities if you know how to sell them. Most people however miss out on this opportunity to increase their revenue per customer. Cross selling opportunities for office cleaning companies include carpet extraction, tile refinishing, window cleaning, and high dusting. These jobs do require special equipment, however it can many times be rented if you don’t own it at the time of the sale. These jobs however because they are more specialized in nature command a much higher price than your normal hourly charge. This is a good thing!
The Money: If you are asking what is commercial cleaning, you are probably considering starting a business of your own. If you want to start a business, I assume that you are interested in earning money. If so, good, if not, well I recommend you start considering it. I find that bidding janitorial work at approximately $30-$40 per hour works well in most once per week offices of medium to small size. As the size of the office increases, or the frequency of the service (for instance 5 days per week versus 1) the price per hour figure will have to go down in order to stay competitive. This will not however reduce your hourly rate since economies of scale will come into play and provide you with cost savings on materials, equipment and labor, if you are smart. The cleaning business is not a super high paying industry from an hourly rate perspective. However, it is an industry where cleaning business owners can create strong efficiencies across the board to reduce their costs and increase their profit margins. This is where the men and the boys are separated, and where winners become winners and losers go out of business.
In Review: So to review, “what is commercial cleaning?” Commercial cleaning is trading dirt and debris removal in professional office spaces in return for money. You have to be efficient to succeed. You will also have to learn how to cross sell your customer base in order to generate extra income. Do not be discouraged by people telling you that you can not do it. If I can do it, you can do it.
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