What to Do When Things Fall Apart at Your Cleaning Business

Every janitorial team faces challenges — and the occasional crisis. It’s not a question of if, but when. Today, we’re looking at how to deal with three common problems that can send a cleaning business into full-out panic mode.

   Photo by  Oliver Hale

Photo by Oliver Hale

The problem: A big client is unhappy and threatens to leave.

That’s where Thats Clean found themselves back in 2012. You might have read owner Tony Witana’s story before: he thought everything was going smoothly, but then his biggest client called and said they were looking into other cleaning services. They weren’t happy with the cleaning quality or communication. So Tony’s team turned to OrangeQC, and everything changed.

But why?

It’s not about fancy technology or a cool app. It’s about transparency.

Tony could really see how the cleaning was going at his clients’ facilities, and he could show his client how he was tracking things. Thats Clean didn’t just fix the problem. They proved they had fixed it.

We recently got back in touch with Tony to see how OrangeQC is working for his team now, six years after they first signed on. He says complaints are down and transparency is high.

“Inspection reports are geotagged and show exactly how the sites are represented — there is no hiding anything,” Tony says. “It has given us increased consistency of service delivery as no one can hide from the inspection reports — they don’t get LOST in a file somewhere!”

If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t panic. Identify the problem and how it can be solved. Then, make sure you communicate the changes you’re making with your client or organization.

The problem: Your team doesn’t communicate well.

Communication problems can take many forms. We’ve heard it all over the years:

  • Completed inspection forms that no one ever looks at.
  • Supervisors who sit down at a desk and fill out inspection forms . . . without ever walking into a facility.
  • Clients who think supervisors aren’t actually walking into the facility, even though they are.
  • Cleaners who don’t realize they’re making the same mistake in every room.
  • Inspectors who penalize cleaners for things they’re not responsible for.
  • Emails about problems that get sent to the wrong person — who never makes sure the right person finds out about the issue.

There are so many moving parts for janitorial teams, it’s no wonder communication problems crop up frequently.

The key is making sure that everyone has access to the right information at the right time. That’s why a mobile-based inspection app is a great solution. Your team can access it at your facilities, and any problems can be flagged so they’re dealt with quickly.

OrangeQC’s janitorial work order and ticket system is designed around this idea. With tickets, client requests and complaints don’t get lost in someone’s inbox. Everyone can see the ticket, who’s responsible, and what the status is. It’s easy to stay on the same page.

If you use OrangeQC, you may want to consider having your clients use the platform as well. That way they can always check on the status of a ticket and know when it’s been resolved. (Of course, you can always set up a dedicated email address that automatically creates a ticket within our system, too.)

The problem: Your staff keeps quitting.

Employee turnover is a huge issue in the janitorial industry. According to the 2017 ISSA/BSCAI Building Service Contractor Benchmarking Study, “41 percent of respondents reported a 50 percent or higher annual employee turnover rate.”

Of course, some turnover is natural, and even desirable. But when half your employees are leaving every year, you’re investing way too many resources on hiring, onboarding, and training people who aren’t sticking around long enough to justify the expense.

Employee retention is a complicated issue, but two key pieces often go overlooked:

  • Recognizing good work
  • Correcting poor work

Of course, these are two sides of the same coin. If you have an accurate idea of how your employees are performing, you’ll manage them much more effectively. You’ll be able to praise good performance (for positive reinforcement) and catch problems early (to prevent bad cleaning habits).

Let your cleaners know how they’re scoring. Confirm when they’re doing a good job. And make sure the motivation is there by rewarding excellent performance.

We heard one great idea from Renee Kavanagh, the Environmental Services Coordinator of Mary Rutan Hospital in Ohio. They use OrangeQC to identify problem spots (for example, baseboards), then host fun competitions where employees who have high scores for that line item get entered into a drawing for a gift card. (Read more about how OrangeQC works for Mary Rutan Hospital.)


We hope these tips help your cleaning business stay on track when the going gets tough. Here at OrangeQC, we truly believe that tracking quality and acting on the results is the key to keeping your business growing for years to come.

Not using OrangeQC yet? Request a demo. We’ll walk you through our easy-to-use janitorial software and app to show how it can help your team be ready for anything.