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Is Your Cleaning Company Missing the Mark?

Sometimes it is obvious that a cleaning company is not living up to expectations, while other times, it can be a bit nebulous. In this article, we hope to provide information to help you and your cleaning company establish meaningful expectations. Additionally, we will give some tips on how to proceed if your cleaning vendor is not meeting expectations.


Ask 10 people the question – "what is clean?" and you'll likely get 10 different answers. It's a bit like asking, "what is beautiful?" It all depends on who you ask. Hence, the problem with "clean." Clean is hard to define, and the definition of clean varies from person to person. If tasked with keeping your facilities looking and feeling clean, you are likely (painfully) aware of this problem.

As such, defining expectations based on cleanliness alone can lead to frustration for you and your cleaning vendor. Instead, a well-crafted scope of work is a better means for setting expectations. This document details tasks to be completed in each type of space (e.g., offices, restrooms, break areas) and provides the frequency of tasks (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly).

Once the scope of work is confirmed, you and your vendor can perform routine inspections to ensure that tasks are completed as defined.


If cleanliness is subjective, what should you use to determine if your cleaning company is meeting expectations? Below are three metrics to consider:

  1. Number of Complaints – One of the primary goals of any janitorial program is to eliminate distractions by reducing the number of complaints. Complaints ranged from "there's no toilet paper in the ladies' room" to "my trash hasn't been emptied in three days." Keep a log (email Inbox works well) of issues received. If the complaint is verbal, simply send yourself a message to add to the log.

  2. Response Time – Establish a means for submitting service issues to your cleaning vendor. If your vendor doesn't have a service portal, email serves well in this regard. Keep a log of response times and note the completion of the service issue.

  3. Inspection Scores – As mentioned above, inspections are essential to a cleaning program. Ask your vendor to submit inspection reports to you when completed.

These metrics are mostly objective, simple to administer, and helpful in creating accountability in your cleaning program.


While setting expectations and measuring performance can increase the likelihood of success, they do not guarantee it. When your vendor is missing the mark, following these steps may help you get your program back in shape:

  • Meet with your vendor – Discuss the issues and probe for causes. Use specifics: "Why is there so much turnover on my cleaning team?" "You used to respond in three hours; now it's two days -Why is this?" Probe for causes.

  • Reaffirm your expectations – Remind your vendor of your expectations and set a schedule for improvement. Give them ample time to fix the problems.

  • Prepare to Change – If problems persist, prepare yourself for a change. Develop a list of possible replacement vendors and meet with each one. Next, prepare a well-defined request for proposed services. Lastly, let your staff know that you are changing vendors so that they are aware of the change.


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