This year I celebrated 20 years of being in business with the commercial cleaning company I founded in 1993. Because of the incredible success I’ve had in this industry, I started a coaching business a few years ago; to share the lessons I’ve learned (with seasoned cleaning company owners) all across the U.S.
I get lots of email and questions on social media about various aspects of building and running a successful cleaning service business. One type of question I receive frequently is about construction cleanup work. The questions around getting this type of work (pricing, specifications, and doing it profitably) get asked more than marketing, bidding or performance of any other type of job cleaning job.
As a cleaning business owner, you probably want to get new cleaning accounts and clients for your business. You may also want to improve your cleaning business’s performance in the areas of profitability, smooth running operations and a stable, high performing staff of cleaners. What’s been true for me over the years is that aggressively seeking out and doing construction cleanup work places me in position that works directly opposite of the three goals I just outlined:
Profitability: While the pricing initially makes construction clean-up seem like a great profit margin booster, I’ve found that a large portion of the profit gets eaten up in delays, lost opportunity costs, administrative headaches and the like.
Smooth running operations: Because each construction job is uniquely different, it’s almost impossible to put into place the kinds of systems and processes which make performing a 5 nights per week job so easily able to standardize.
Consistently high quality performance by staff: Because of the volume of people frequently required (all at the same time) it’s been difficult for me to be sure I can have enough well trained people on hand, right when the project requires them.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I will on occasion agree to do construction cleanup work. I will gladly do it when it involves an existing client who is adding on, remodeling, moving or opening and additional facility or venue. These are instances when doing this kind of commercial cleaning can be well paying, add a nice boost to the monthly revenues, give me a chance to really help a client and look like a hero in the process.
There are also times when doing construction clean-up for a new client can make sense; primarily when you will be taking on the daily cleaning after the final clean is completed.
What I’m going to highlight in this article though, is why I don’t recommend that cleaning business owners spend time and money making this a specialty that they seek out or an area that they concentrate on as a way of growing their business. So, here are the five reasons why I’d discourage any of my coaching clients from focusing on construction cleaning:
1. Demands lots of administrative and management time
2. Timing of projects is subject to frequent changes
3. Requires lots of duplication (staff & equipment)
4. Possibility of re-dos
5. Difficulties and uncertainty around getting paid
Frankly, any one of the above reason would make me seriously question whether a particular type of commercial cleaning was one I wanted to pursue. When taken all together, for me, they pose so many problem areas and potentially (frequently realized) for trouble that I’ve decided construction cleanup isn’t worth the trouble.
Instead, I’ve focused on adding 5-7 day per week clients who will require (more or less) the same set of repeat services on a long-term basis. A solid company, who needs janitorial services several times a week provides me with the opportunity to standardize the services they get. Once we do that, our ability to provide steady work for good employees, consistently high quality service to our customers, plus automated billing, scheduled supervision and routine internal quality control processes; we’ve created a win-win-win combination. It’s a win for our staff, our clients and our company!
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