Is your company a franchise?
Franchisees can get valuable training and assistance from their franchisor. On the other hand, franchise fees can often create serious overhead costs for the franchisee, and you get no benefit whatsoever from that situation. Some franchisors even require the contractor to buy their cleaning tools and supplies through them, often at inflated prices. Of course we can’t start naming companies that we think are “good and not-so-good” franchisors, but this is an important question to ask.

Does your company buy or sell contracts?
Some “janitorial services” don’t do any cleaning – they just bid on accounts and then sell them, even lease them, for a profit. This can be a real minefield, and there are, unfortunately, quite a few horror stories out there of cleaning contracts being bought and sold numerous times without the customer’s knowledge, with different companies and crews coming and going; and along with that, keys and alarm codes can come and go, too.

What steps do you take to screen your potential employees?
We recommend full background checks, of course. A quality background check usually includes checking for criminal history, bankruptcy and liens, credit, sex offender check, driving history, verification of social security number, personal references, and work history.

Does your company have any lawsuits pending against it?
Not a bad question to ask any company you’re considering doing business with!

Can you have proof of insurance and bond faxed or emailed to us directly from your providers?
Don’t accept documents that aren’t sent directly from providers. And then when you get the documents, make a quick phone call or do a Google and verify that the fax number or email account on the document really belongs to the provider. It’s just too easy for people to fake things these days, and you really don’t want to find someday that your cleaning service has been running without coverage. After you hire your new service, put it on your calendar to ask for fresh documents every 6 months.

How do you minimize floor stripping?
Floor stripping removes all waxes and finishes off the floor, usually for the purpose of applying new finish, and since it requires flooding the floor with stripper and water, doing it too often can harm your floors, and water can also get under baseboards and behind walls and create mold. Not only do you want to know the answer because it’s an important “cleaning” question, it’s also a good question to pose to salespeople – if they can rattle off an answer right away, it’s probably a good sign and can give you some indication as to their actual cleaning experience. If they can’t tell you right away, it might not be a bad sign, but tell your bidders that you’d like the answer included in their bids.

In our experience the best way to minimize stripping is to be sure that (after the floor has been stripped) enough coats of new finish are applied so the contractor has a good base to work with.

(1) Strip only if it’s obvious that the floor truly needs a “fresh start” – for instance, if someone applied numerous coats of finish onto a dirty floor, or if the finish has otherwise been ruined, scratched beyond repair, etc; and…

(2) If stripping is required, a minimum of 5-6 coats of high-quality finish should be applied, followed by a coat of binder (also known as a hardener), and then should be high-speed buffed or burnished. This gives the floor a good hard base of finish, and the janitorial services contractor should be able to use that base (often for years) without having to strip again.

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