Does Your Janitorial Business Prefer to Clean Property Managed or Owner Occupied Buildings? Part 1

Ok, I’ll go first. Which do we prefer?

Short answer – owner occupied.

There, you have it.

But, on a serious note, we could learn a few things by taking a few minutes to look at this question closer.

First, let’s re-state the question.

“Which is better to go after if you want to grow quickly and profitably -property managed or owner occupied buildings?”

Now, to get to an answer, let’s talk about each separately.

On one hand, there’s property managed buildings where, of course, a property manager is responsible for managing the building for the owners.

In this arrangement, the property manager’s goal is to keep the building fully occupied and running as smoothly as they can, to be blunt, for as little as they can!

Now, hold your horses, I know many of you can quickly give me examples of how this isn’t true – where the property manager actually hired a janitorial cleaning service that came in quite a bit higher than the rest of the bidders.

Fine. I’m not going to argue with you. I’m sure it happens once and a while.

But in my experience, it just doesn’t happen much, at least not enough, in my mind, to justify spending a lot of marketing time or money on them.

Are there exceptions to this rule.


In fact, we clean buildings for property managers, but the big thing is we landed them on our terms.

What terms?

Well, first, we have to be able to provide a level of cleaning we’re proud to attach our name to.

Notice, I didn’t say ‘perfect’ cleaning, the way I’d want it to be, in a perfect business world.

No, not perfect, but at least a level of cleaning that fits our cleaning methods and delivers a level of cleaning we’re not ashamed to ‘put our name on!’.

Second, the contact we’ll be working with from the property management company has to be a reasonable person… not an insane maniac!

I mean it.

And I’m going to assume, if you’ve been cleaning for any length of time…you know exactly what I mean.

Anymore, we simply refuse to work with someone who ‘goes off’ like a bomb any time, without warning, and for nearly any reason.

No amount of money is worth it! At least, it wasn’t to us.

Lord knows, I’ve learned this painful lesson more times than I care to admit and I’m now, more convinced than ever that no matter how much you try – you simply cannot make some people happy.

I, frankly, think they either don’t know how, or simply don’t want, to be happy!

It’s probably the stress… anyway, I’m getting off the topic….


We were talking about under what terms we might clean for a property manager.

We’ve already explained two of them – specifically, that we need to be able to deliver quality cleaning and have a reasonable person as our contact.

Two other terms we look for are related to PRICE:

- Our price has to make us a fair profit and

- Our price has to allow us to have enough time (nightly hours) to consistently deliver the level of cleaning we promised.

That’s it. Those are our 4 terms.

And, we’re not trying to be difficult about it, it’s just that if we’re going to grow we need every account to be profitable, stable and clean!

Now, if you can find a property manager to work with where you can meet these terms, you may have found a real winner.

In fact, the up-side is, if you do, that most property managers have several, or maybe even many, buildings for you to bid on cleaning for them.

And if the stars line up right, it potentially could be very good.

However, here’s just another word or two of caution:

First, be careful that you don’t confuse having lots of accounts – with being profitable!

Second, be careful of ‘putting all your eggs in one basket.’

If everything you do is tied to one, or a very few property managers, you don’t want to get squashed if the big elephant decides to suddenly “roll over”… on top of you!

Again, I’m not saying property managed buildings can’t work out. They can. But, to our way of thinking, just not often enough to make them our primary target.

Next time, we’ll discuss ‘owner occupied’ buildings.

Until next time..

Discover the Guru in YOU,

3 Responses to “Does Your Janitorial Business Prefer to Clean Property Managed or Owner Occupied Buildings? Part 1”

  1. Sheldon Slade says:

    Wow…I will say that backwards…WoW…that is soooo true. Sooner or later thing. Most want to increase standards. They know someone is always waiting behind you. They are not into relationship. It’s about the $.

  2. james perry says:


    I had a question about this subject. I tried to contact many property management company as I ‘m riding seeing new construction on retail shopping centers, or business plazas.. I called an always get “o we have a company already” but; the building is just in the beginning stages not about to open at for 1mth or 2mth.How do I go by targeting business’s to offer my services?


    james perry

  3. DLiebrecht says:

    Hi James, don’t despair – the response you received is not unusual. Many general contractors, project managers and/or site supervisors already have established connections with one or more commercial cleaning/janitorial businesses, who they use for construction cleaning projects. While your long term goal may be to become one of their ‘go to’ contractors (on the list they automatically call when they near completion of a job), your short term goal may be simply to get the opportunity to clean up one building – to show them an example of what kind of reliable, quality cleaning you provide.

    One suggestion is, rather than calling, to actually visit the job site early in the morning about 7 AM or so, and try to ‘catch’ the general contractor/project manager first thing, before things get busy. While it may not always work, when it does – personal visits can be a particularly effective marketing method when trying to get an opportunity to bid on and clean post-construction cleaning projects. Wishing you much success in your cleaning company, Matt, CleanGuru

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