Keeping storefronts and offices clean has always been sound business, but today, it’s more important than ever. Customers and employees now expect the places they shop and work at to be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis, requiring a professional touch that some small business owners may not have the time nor interest in doing themselves.
If you’re considering a cleaning service for your small business, consult this guide to understand how they’re priced, whether you’re getting the most for your money, and how you and your employees can work with them to keep your business safe and clean.
Hiring a commercial cleaning service can be expensive. According to the business buying guide PriceItThere.com, the average cost is $0.07 to $0.15 cents per square foot.
Whatever estimate a commercial cleaning service gives you, you may be able to spend less by doing the following:
Keep as many employees as possible working from home.
Along with lessening the risk of spreading the virus, having fewer employees in the office may help drop your cleaning costs.
Cody Millsap is the vice president of franchise development with Stratus Building Solutions, a green commercial cleaning service that is headquartered in North Hollywood, California. He says that “density” often comes into play when determining a price for a client.
“When you have 50 people using a break room for lunch versus 15, there is going to be a significant difference in the amount of clean up that is required,” Millsap says.
Ask your staff to do simple custodial tasks.
Instead of having a cleaning service sweep the floors and empty the trash, you can pay for them to focus on "deep cleaning," such as sanitizing surfaces and spraying the air to keep away viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
Consider how consistent you want to be with cleaning.
The more often you use a service, the less you tend to pay per cleaning. Much of that has to do with the time it takes to clean.
“The more often we are there, the easier and faster we can clean the facility,” Millsap says. “It’s easier to stay clean than it is to get clean.”
Of course, the coronavirus can quickly reemerge in even the cleanest workspaces. For that matter alone, it makes sense to hire a service on a fairly frequent basis.
Return on Investment
It’s easy to see a cleaning service as part of the cost of doing business and not as anything that will generate income for you. You might even think it's not worth the effort of finding the best commercial cleaning service.
But hiring a cleaning service can provide a return on investment. Beyond providing a cleaner and safer workplace, there are some arguments that you will get something for the money spent.
Less money spent on custodial products
“A typical restaurant usually is spending as much if not more on [industrial janitorial supplier] Jan-san products such as hand soap, disinfectants, paper products, air fresheners, brushes, gloves, bowl cleaners, chrome polish, etc.,” says Pat Swisher, the CEO of Enviro-Master, a nationwide franchised company that offers industrial and commercial cleaning and sanitizing services and is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.
If you have a cleaning service, your business will need to purchase fewer cleaning products, which saves money.
Potentially less employee turnover
If you’ve been relying on employees to clean toilets and take on other unglamorous but essential cleaning tasks, you could soon have low morale. Hiring a cleaning service can help with having happier employees who stay around longer.
“Most clients in the restaurant and convenience store industry are usually fighting with high employee turnover, so this is an area we can take over and reduce the amount of labor and training being expended to maintain restrooms,” Swisher says.
Pre-pandemic, a dirty business would repel customers while a clean one might go unnoticed. These days, a clean business attracts customers.
“We like to think we are a revenue generator for our customers, showing their customers that it is safe to shop, eat or attend classes in facilities we service,” Swisher says.
How to Work With a Commercial Cleaning Service During COVID-19
If you know for sure that it's time to hire a commercial cleaning service (or are convinced you need to find a new one), there's a process you should follow. It's a little like hiring an employee.
Talk to your commercial cleaning service about how it handles COVID-19. You don’t want to assume that just because COVID-19 is in the news every day that every commercial cleaner you come across will be able to effectively combat the virus. Some questions you may want to ask include:
- What does the commercial cleaning specifically do to combat the virus?
- Are they using electric or electrostatic sprayers to disperse disinfectant chemicals throughout the office?
- Do they have a UVC sanitizing wand? (That’s a tool that emits a chemical-free, odorless UV-C light to destroy viruses, mold, bacteria and dust mites.)
- Do they have high filtration vacuum systems?
Discuss how the service cleans if the coronavirus is present.
“Cleaning can mean different things to different people,” says Kenneth Rondello, a clinical associate professor in public health and emergency management in the College of Nursing and Public Health at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.
“If there is an area where there has been a known COVID-19 case, such as the office of an employee who has tested positive for the virus, a more extensive and thorough disinfection protocol must be adopted,” Rondello says. “Clinically, we refer to this higher-level disinfection as decontamination. It involves greater attention to detail, stronger disinfection agents and even the use of UV light as a final layer of protection to kill any remaining pathogenic organisms following chemical destruction.”
Confirm that frequently touched areas are being cleaned.
“Elevator buttons, door handles, light switches and stair railings are good examples,” Rondello says. “While surface contamination is a less significant contributor to COVID-19 transmission than inhaled respiratory droplets, it is nonetheless a very important infection risk.”
We like to think we are a revenue generator for our customers, showing their customers that it is safe to shop, eat or attend classes in facilities we service.
—Pat Swisher, CEO, Enviro-Maste
Think about logistics.
Hiring a commercial cleaning service is often a straightforward process, but there can be some complicating factors.
Any competent commercial cleaning service should have their own insurance in case something goes wrong. Speak with them to ensure that they are fully bonded and insured.
Discuss the hours your cleaning service should come. It may not be feasible to have the cleaning service around during your working hours. You may want to provide a key to have them come by when your business is closed.
Will your cleaning service be in an area you feel is sensitive? For instance, Millsap says that sometimes cleaners will need to sign nondisclosure agreements when cleaning medical facilities due to HIPPA requirements.
Whether you want a service to sign forms or visit after hours is up to your own comfort level.
Get in the habit of telling your commercial cleaning service what you need from them—and if they aren’t meeting your expectations. Some businesses aren’t good at communicating with their cleaning service, and that can lead to problems.
“We can’t fix a problem if we don’t know what it is,” Millsap says.
Finding the right commercial cleaning service can be a process, but it’s important to not only the comfort but the safety of your employees and customers.
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