Top Five Transition Problems That Occur When Hiring a New Janitorial Service (and How to Avoid Them)

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Posted by David Ridgway on 02/21/2019

Learning curve aheadYou’ve finally done it—you’ve hired a new janitorial service! As you and the new company celebrate, you’re both excited and hopeful that your building will reach a whole new level of cleanliness and comfort. There’s a flurry of activity when the time comes for them to start: you meet with the account manager or cleaner, you do a walk-through with them, you give keys, alarm codes, and special instructions.

Anticipation is high. Your life is about to improve.

Unfortunately, the excitement often ends earlier than anyone would like.  There are typically some transition problems that happen as the new cleaning crew learns the nuances of cleaning your building as they establish an efficient routine.

Not all of this is avoidable, but we’ll help you with what is to make your transition as smooth as possible.

Problem 1: Misaligned expectations. During the sales process, the salesman made you some great promises about how your building would be cleaned—it’s why you chose them over other companies! You were excited to see them deliver, but now it seems that the service in your building has not met your expectations.

Solution: Communication and understanding. The person managing your account should explain that they intend to keep the promises they made, but that may take a few days or weeks to meet your expectations. It often takes a few days (or even a few weeks) for the new janitorial company to perform at the promised level. This happens for a couple of different reasons.


The first reason is simple: on the first night, performing the basic cleaning in the building takes a lot of time. In fact, for the first several nights, cleaning can take two to three times longer than it will after the new crew has experience in your building.

The second reason is that most janitorial companies perform “basic” cleaning every visit but do “detail” cleaning in stages. For example, a janitor that cleans a building five nights a week might deep clean the bathrooms every Monday and detail-dust the office areas every Thursday. This means that if your office areas are starting off noticeably dusty when the new janitor starts, several days might go by before you see a change. Fortunately, once your whole office is being properly maintained, you won’t so easily notice the time that passes between detail cleanings.


Overlooked trash canProblem 2: Overlooked trash cans. The cleaning crew misses trash cans that are hidden behind furniture or doors or inside a cabinet, when rooms have more trash than expected, or even just because the they haven’t established a good routine yet.

Solution: A thorough walk-through. On your walk-through with the person managing your account, make sure to point out easy-to-miss trash cans. The account manager will then have detailed notes when training the cleaning crew and when performing a follow-up inspection after the initial clean.


Problem 3: Alarm mishaps. A new cleaner enters the wrong code to your building’s alarm system or misses some crucial steps in arming or disarming it. This sets off the alarm, requiring you to drive out to the building to determine the problem. Nobody’s happy about it.

Solution: A thorough walk-through. Give very specific information to the account manager, including not just the alarm code but also what to enter into the keypad before or after the code. The best thing to do—if possible—is to have them arm and disarm the system in your presence so that everyone is comfortable with the process.


What kind of key doesn't open any lock? The wrong one!Problem 4: Key mishaps. The janitor shows up for the first cleaning and the key he or she has received doesn’t work, or there are additional doors they didn’t get a key for.

Solution: A thorough walk-through and trial run. When the account manager gets keys from you, they should try them to make sure they unlock all the necessary doors. This will solve most key mishaps. They should also ask you the following:

  • Are there any rooms that we’re supposed to clean that will be locked and require a different key?
  • When was the last time you had the locks changed?


Problem 5: Missed areas. Areas or entire rooms are skipped on the first clean.

Highlighted map of your building

Solution: A thorough walkthrough (are you seeing a pattern?) and a highlighted map of your building. Areas can be skipped for several reasons, but the most common one I know of is that the cleaning crew isn’t familiar your building and doesn’t know the layout. I know of a cleaner who did A+ work on the first floor of a building but didn’t know that there was a small office upstairs that also needed cleaning!

This might also happen if your building is extra dirty; the cleaning crew might get so focused on the detail cleaning that they lose focus on the overall routine.

The account manager should ask you for a map of your building with all the cleanable areas highlighted and numbered.


A quality janitorial company will take the initiative to help avoid these problems, but it will require a bit of your time. But just like with hiring a good janitorial company, putting in a little more work early on by communicating thoroughly with your janitorial company will ultimately save you time and give you greater satisfaction!


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