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Should You Do ‘Sub Contract’ Work for a National Cleaning Management Outfit?

I got a call one day – it went something like this…

Yes, this is Steve with a management firm out here in California.

We’ve just picked up a big company and one of their support buildings is out there -near you in Ohio.

The cleaning is six times per week now, but I think you might be keep it looking good in five.

Anyway, the thing is we’re looking at $2,200, maybe $2,300 - interested?

Yeah, that’s the pitch…. basically, they’ve got $2,200 or $2,300 available for some cleaning – would you like it?

Well, of course, the answer should be – it DEPENDS.  That’s right, it depends on LITTLE things (sarcasm intended) like…

Where is the account?

What time can it be cleaned?

How big is the building?

What do they need done? (specs)

Can I see the building so I can figure out how long it should take to clean?

How’s THAT for starters?

So, to start to find out this information…

I say, ‘Well, Steve, I don’t know, can you tell me a little bit about who you are, the company, the building and the cleaning they’re looking for?’

He then quickly, and I mean quickly, whips through how he thinks they (and who are they? …well, the old cleaning company… yeah, the one’s who are getting replaced/fired because they weren’t putting in enough time to keep the place clean!) – yeah, he thinks, THEY were putting in about 4 hours or so Monday – Friday.

Oooops, wait a second, NOW he that he thinks about it, there may be two of them, -yep, now, he thinks there could be two cleaners each night, so we should probably plan on 40 hrs.

Huh? – What? Are you kidding me???

I say ‘You’re talking per week?”

He mumbles “uh, yeah.”,

I say, ‘But, I thought they cleaned it six times per week. He says, “Yeah, but like I said, I think you’ll be able to do it in…um… five.’

He continues..

‘Anyway, like I said, I haven’t really actually seen the building, but, I’ll see if I can get someone there to show you -but, like I said, we’re talking $2,200 maybe $2,300 or so…”

Excuse me… but ‘What in the world is he talking about? I can’t seem to get a straight answer.’

That’s right, I’m thinking, I wish Mr. Slick here, would quit throwing out numbers, like everything’s no big deal.

There’s a big difference in:

-whether one person or two is needed

-whether each put’s in four vs. five hours a night, and –whether they do it five or six times per week!

In fact, the answers to these questions will determine whether or not the “deal” will work.

But, instead, this guy just keep telling me over and over how “We’re looking at $2,200 or $2,300″, hoping the details won’t make any difference, and that I’ll be so excited and grateful, I’ll won’t ask any questions!

Are you kidding me?!

Bottom line – after finally getting the details – we respectfully passed.

Now, for once, he’s finally quiet. “Uh, ok”…

Yeah, it’s all fun and games as long – as you don’t ask any questions.

But you need to. You need to know what you’re getting into.

I’ve heard horror stories about cleaning contractors doing sub-contracted work for a large national cleaning companies, including not getting paid on time or at all etc..

I’m sure someone can just as easily point to where a subcontracted situation did work out well for the sub…

All I can say is – Tony and I didn’t like the sub jobs – they never seemed to have any profit in them when we looked into the details.

Again, maybe, MAYBE there are sub contract situations where the building tenants are happy, the facility looks good, the cleaner has enough time to clean properly, the national cleaning company gets their cut… and their still enough money left for small, subcontractor at the end to make a fair profit.

We’ve just not seem much of it.

Tony and I preferred to hold the cleaning contract directly with the building owner – we didn’t want or need a middleman involved.

It’s up to you how you handle offers of being a sub contractor for a large, national maintenance management outfit – but, whatever you do, please remember this…

Go in with your eyes wide open – and to do that, you’ll need to ask plenty of questions, and not stop asking them – until you get solid answers.

Discover the Guru in You,

Dan

17 Responses to “Should You Do ‘Sub Contract’ Work for a National Cleaning Management Outfit?”

  1. Ron Schmidt says:

    Dan,
    You hit the nail right on the head. That’s the reason I shy away from excepting offers to subcontract because I’m looking at making enough profit to make the job worth it, not just get by. I’ll gladly get out there and find the jobs myself and haven’t needed to try lately because owners are calling me. I have picked up several accounts recently because of a National Franchise business has been dropping the ball and I have picked it up and ran for a touch down! Score!

    I have learned a lot from being a part of CleanBid for the last few years and your exactly the person I want to be able to relate to when it comes to following what you do and did in your own janitorial endeavours.
    Always look forward to your stories, Thanks Dan!

  2. DLiebrecht says:

    Ron – thanks for the great note! Thrilled to hear you’ve been able to steer clear of low/no profit subcontract work offers as well as land several accounts where a national franchise outfit has ‘dropped the ball’. Well done! Glad to have you with us! Dan

  3. Brian J Davis says:

    A-men Dan, as I told you the other day when I talked to you on the phone that just happen to us and we worked 5 months and still have not been paid,that is a $5000.00 mistake I will not make again,and the thing is they think they did us a favor.

  4. DLiebrecht says:

    Thanks for the comment Brian! Dan, CleanGuru LLC

  5. Ronald Carr says:

    How much should a subcontractor get for cleaning a building six nights a week if you need more information let me know is it 50% 75% of the monthly fee

  6. CleanGuru says:

    Ron, we would encourage you to price any job, whether you are the contract holder or simply cleaning the facility as a subcontractor, based on 1) adequate hours to properly clean the facility per visit as well as an 2) hourly billing rate that reflects your own requirements for covering all costs as well as profit. Hope that helps. Best regards, Matt, CleanGuru LLC

  7. George says:

    Hi I’m starting my own cleaning business but I need help with getting contracts, I don’t have any yet can someone please help out. I am relying on this as my primary source of income so I want to start as soon as I can. Any help will be greatly appreciated it.

  8. CleanGuru says:

    Hi George, Thanks for your note. You’ve asked a good question, in fact, it’s one of the biggest hurdles new janitorial business face. Since your comment is on our video discussing if a cleaning company should take on ‘subcontract’ work from a national or regional maintenance management company, you are aware of our recommendations on that topic.

    However, I would also encourage you to check out some of the resources available at our website. In addition, 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 business:

    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

  9. Johnny Medina says:

    Please i need more information about general cleaner or post contruccion cleaner. I have a llc.please contact me.
    479 461 8606.

  10. Ron says:

    We have had a ton of success during the summer doing turnover cleans, but during the winter months we are very slow. We have went into quite a few businesses to include medical offices, banks, manufacturing facilities, etc etc etc but we haven’t got any calls from any of them. Is there a certain way we need to approach this in order to land the job? The prices we offer are very good, and we offer specials such as if they commit to us for 3 months they will get one free cleaning. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  11. CleanGuru says:

    Hi Ron, here are some marketing ideas/strategies we recommend:

    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 select 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. You may find the additional videos we have posted under resources at CleanGuru.com helpful.

    Best regards,
    Matt
    CleanGuru LLC

  12. Emelyn says:

    Hi,

    My family and I have our own janitorial business and just today our subcontractor emailed us to tell us she replaced us and gave two buildings we used to have to another company.Your post was on point, she didn’t pay us enough for both buildings and she demands too much. We’re still with her because we also do pressure wash services but she always pays almost every 3 months. We talked to her about it but unfortunately she ignores us. Once my company gets right back on its feet, we will hopefully never have to work with that company ever again.

    Ms Commercial LLC

  13. CleanGuru says:

    Emmelyn, hang in there – cleaning can be a ‘funny’ business. We all win some, we all lose some. But, it can give us an opportunity to stop and re-think our business – and where we want to take it. We live to ‘fight’ (work/grow our business) another day. Best regards, Dan, CleanGuru LLC

  14. I WISH TO GOT CONTACT WITH OR TALK WITH SOMONE ABOUT THIS WEB,IF U CAN TELL ME LITL INFO,THS NKS,HAVE NICE DAY

  15. CleanGuru says:

    Hi Semir, Thanks for your note and interest in CleanGuru! Please feel free to call us directly at 888-531-4878 M-F 9 AM-5 PM EST. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our programs. In addition, you can go to CleanGuru.com to check out all the free resources and membership programs we offer. We also have demos you may find helpful. Plus, if you’ve never been with us before, you can enjoy a 30 day trial membership for FREE. Best regards, Matt, CleanGuru Support

  16. Sam says:

    Hello,

    I just started a new cleaning franchise and haven’t been able to find any reliable employees for the past year, even with great pay… I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it seems like the main problem for most of the franchise owners across the nation.
    With that said, I am considering subcontracting our cleaning requests out to other companies and wanted as much info on the subject as possible, including commission pay.

    Thanks,
    Sam

  17. CleanGuru says:

    Hi Sam, you’ve asked a good question, but unfortunately, we won’t be able to be of much help since Dan and Tony did not subcontract any of their cleaning out to other cleaning companies other than periodic window washing. The only thing we might mention is, if you do decide to subcontract, to remember the importance of maintaining necessary levels of control, profitability and accountability. Sorry, we couldn’t be of more help. Wishing you much success in your cleaning business, Matt, CleanGuru Suppport

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