Do You Have A 3 Hour Magnet?

Next time you sit down to figure out how many cleaning hours to bid a building at, budget for and assign to a cleaner – you may want to remember this story.

Let’s say our cleaning business picked up a new account -an office building, which we thought should take about 3.5 – 4 hrs. to clean.

Well, when we started the job, we would simply show some new cleaning person how to clean it in about 3.5 to 4 hrs.

So far, so good – right?

Well, the first week went fine. Our cleaning person spent at least the 4 hrs. we gave them, maybe even a little more, since they were new.

But then a surprise…

As we kept watching the time sheets, we started to notice something – the cleaning times began to drop.

Slowly at first; from 4 hrs. or more at the start, to 3.75 within as little as a week or so.

AND then down to maybe 3.5 hrs/visit after another week or two.

And finally, we saw the nightly cleaning times coming in as low as 3.25 . . .or even 3!

What in the world was going on?

Didn’t we train them well enough?

Were they taking shortcuts?

Was it laziness?

Did we just estimate the hours too high! It took a while, but we began to realize something.

Drum roll please…

Our part time people LIKED to work about 3 hours per night!

Call it human nature.

Call it whatever you want, but we saw it time and time again.

Many of our office cleaning associates would eventually (sometimes almost right away) gravitate to about 3 hrs. per night – like they were being pulled by a magnet!!

We asked our part-timers about it.

There were all kinds of reasons given from …

‘After working my day job, I get tired after about 3 hours of cleaning at night.’ to

‘I don’t want to be out too late’ to

I like to be home about 9 P.M.’

In the end, the reason why may not be as important as simply being aware that this 3 hr. magnet is there and affects how our people felt about the job , at least our part time, night operation.

So, what should we do?

I mean it didn’t make sense.

Well, we could fight it, and retrain folks over and over again until they put in the exact amount we assigned them.

Or …we could try something different.

We decided NOT to ALWAYS fight this natural tendency – frankly, many of the reasons why they wanted to get done in about 3 hrs. were understandable.

So, we decided to try to work around or with, this feeling, keep an eye on it, and sometimes even find ways to use it to our advantage.

What do I mean?

Well, what if we tried to create schedules that gave each cleaning person as close to 3 hrs. per night, as possible, which is what they seemed to want?

Call us crazy, but we tried it.

We began to take our total cleaning hours per night for a building and break it into as many of these desirable 3 hr. shifts as possible.

For example, a 6-hour job was now scheduled for 2 people working 3 hours each. And, how did it work?

Great! Not only did our people like the 3-hour shifts, we quickly discovered they were easier to hire for and keep filled than a shorter 2 hour or longer 5 hour shift.

Summary: Check to see if you have an 3-hour MAGNET in your cleaning business!

If so, make sure it’s working for you, not against you!

12 Responses to “Do You Have A 3 Hour Magnet?”

  1. Greg Caskey says:

    Great point Dan, I’ve noticed it myself. I don’t like being at any one job for more than 3 hours. I thought it odd myself but there it is.

  2. Cassandra Byers says:

    The 3hr. magnet is right on point Dan. I think 3 hours is perfect timing for night workers. (I’ve done it myself). On another note your book: “Discover the GURU in YOU” is a must read for anyone in the cleaning business. Congrats! mrsqueenclean, Houston, Tx

  3. Cassandra Byers says:

    Great advice! mrsqueenclean, Houston, Tx

  4. DLiebrecht says:

    Cassandra, thanks so much for the kind words! Dan

  5. DLiebrecht says:

    Cassandra, thanks for your very nice comments about the ’3 hr. magnet’ and our book! It was nice to get to talk to you by phone when you were visiting here in Ohio from your home state of Texas. Sorry I missed you when you stopped by the office, but our customer support person, Kristi, said she certainly enjoyed meeting/speaking with you. Take care, Dan

  6. Carlos says:

    Dan thanks for all info about cleaning; read and watched your messages, great info….. Carlos

  7. DLiebrecht says:

    Carlos, thanks for your kind note! So glad to hear you’ve found my emails and videos valuable. Wishing you much success in your cleaning business, Dan CleanGuru LLC

  8. ajs building services, lepc,llc says:

    This is very true. I usually staff people from 2.5-3 hrs. And will have 1 person for up to 7.5 as a fulltime lead. I my self put normally 12-14 a day, and never ask anyone to do anything they wouldn’t see me do first. Keeps morale up.

  9. james perry says:


    I live in Houston Tx, I have a small cleaning business mainly residential and one commercial account. I would like to get more into Commercial offc building cleaning, any advice on how to get my foot in the door.

  10. DLiebrecht says:

    Hi James, you may want to check out some of the resources available at CleanBid.net, but here are a few strategies we think are particularly important and you may want to keep in mind as you begin to grow you commercial cleaning, janitorial company:

    1. Decide on who you want to clean. Rather than a broad, shotgun approach, we suggest cleaning businesses target a certain type of building or customer (i.e. medical, office, retail etc)

    2. Once, you determine who you want to clean, we suggest building a list of companies that meet that criteria by using, for example, an online business list service.

    3. Next, we suggest identifying the decision maker. You can call each location to determine the name of the person or persons responsible for hiring the cleaning service at the buildings on your list. See S.M.A.R.T. call at CleanBid.net resources (videos/email).

    4. We recommend you create and follow a pre-scheduled list of marketing steps which you may include sending a series of powerful direct-response marketing pieces to the attention of the decision maker (the person in charge of hiring the cleaning service) at the businesses on your targeted list, following a preset schedule.

    5. Maybe most important of all, we believe creating a powerful message, including Measurable Guarantees of Performance, and proper formatting of the necessary elements of an effective marketing piece are some of the most important, yet challenging, parts of the process. We worked hard to make sure our marketing message was much more powerful than ‘We are bonded, licensed and insured.’

    As you can imagine, there is a great deal that goes into effectively implementing the steps and strategies above, but I hope you find the information provided above useful.

    Wishing you much success in your cleaning business, Matt, Clean Guru LLC

  11. Otis mosee says:

    I have believed for a long time that a 3 hour shift is favored by a large number of cleaning associates. A 4 hour shift seems to be a little too much, since many part-time associates have full time day jobs and 2=2.5 hour shifts don’t generate enough income. The problems here are obvious. If the job requires 4 hours to complete and associates rush to finish in 3 hours- everyone will eventually loose. One solution could be to pay a flat weekly or monthly rate with the understanding that job is performed satisfactorily. Also Dan, your book on the Guru is an excellent read. Otis

  12. CleanGuru says:

    Hi Otis, thanks for your note – and glad you enjoyed the book. Wishing you much, much success this year (and beyond) in your cleaning business! Dan

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