There’s tremendous opportunity in the commercial cleaning industry – some projections peg it at $175 billion in annual US revenues by the year 2020.
There are, however, enormous challenges, too. Cleaning companies lose, on average, 55% of their business base each and every year, largely due to low customer satisfaction. While some of that may be due to pricing or inadequate relationship management, employee-driven factors – poor performance and low quality of cleaning – are key drivers of customer defections.
One important factor is the annual high rate of employee turnover, ranging anywhere from 200% to as much as 400%. This deprives customers of the familiar faces, employee experience, and consistency they value, and costs employers an average of $3,300 per employee replacement.
As a result, commercial cleaning firms are investing in employees in a big way, to improve retention and quality of service. Here are four employee-related janitorial services trends that any firm can profit from:
Trend #1: Training turns commercial cleaning employees from workers into competitive assets
There is a persistent but inaccurate impression that because cleaning requires no special education, new employees can be expected to simply show up and do satisfactory work. In fact, the lack of training in janitorial and cleaning companies produces dissatisfaction for customers and employees alike.
Poorly trained workers are slower, less thorough and more likely to make errors or have accidents. They experience less job satisfaction, more stress, and are more likely to leave sooner than better-trained and equipped counterparts. (Note: The quality of cleaning products and equipment is also key to the quality of an employee’s work, and the ease with which they can do it.)
Managers require training, too – on how to train, motivate and monitor employees. Every reduction in errors or improvement in accuracy improves efficiency, customer retention and, ultimately, profitability. Also, when you have a reliably efficient, consistent cleaning crew, you can more confidently create highly-competitive bids, bringing in more business.
The increased recognition of the business-building value of effective training has led to a wealth of training options, from pre-packaged courses for employee on-boarding, to specialized “green cleaning” instruction, to continuing education offerings for managers.
Trend #2: Employee incentives perk up retention rates in janitorial services
Education gets you started down the right path, but it takes motivation to keep your employees going, especially in an era when it’s relatively easy to switch jobs. Pay is, as ever, the biggest source of employee motivation, but hardly the only one. Cleaning contractors should be offering employee benefits that range from practical life-enhancements to on-the-job morale boosting. Paid time off, health insurance, individual employee recognition awards and even old-fashioned company picnics are all on the “employee perks” menu now.
Trend #3: New IoT tech gives cleaning teams “superpowers”
The term “janitorial services” may not instantly suggest “innovative technology,” but these days it really should. Phone-based apps allow a manager to monitor use levels, equipment locations and employee progress in large facilities. Smart bathrooms feature paper dispensers that notify you when supplies run low. Floor-cleaning robots relieve employees of mundane, time-consuming labor, freeing them up for higher-value tasks. Today’s ultra-connected tech is transforming the way commercial cleaning services work, with the potential to make employees much more efficient and effective.
Trend #4: A “healthy, green clean” appeals to both employees and customers
Multiple surveys show that customers prefer to do business with companies that care about sustainability – and employees, especially the up-and-coming generations, prefer to work for them, too.
That’s why green cleaning programs are taking off, as companies employ eco-friendly products and methods, and examine their supply chains and partner networks for like-minded organizations. As mentioned briefly above, there are even training programs dedicated to green cleaning. These help workers learn why and how to use this still new category of cleaning supplies and processes, with an eye toward improving healthiness alongside cleanliness.
What will be the next big employee trend in the commercial cleaning industry?
Given the on-going strength in the job market, cleaning companies will have to continue investing in employees. Expect to see big advances – and continuing change – in all four areas listed above.
Qlicket.com: What is the total cost of replacing a typical hourly employee?
4-M.com: How Janitorial Turnover Impact your Business
Green Clean Institute: Janitorial new hire orientation
ISSA: Cleaning Management Institute
Clean Link: What BSCs must do to solve retention woes
Clean Link: The importance of employee recognition
Clean Link: Providing perks to retain employees
Clean Link: Statistics on the commercial cleaning industry
Wilburn Company: Top 3 commercial cleaning trends in 2019
Clean Link: Improve janitorial bids by focusing on efficiency
ISSA: IoT restrooms are smart business