Analyze and compare cleaning and janitorial companies graphic

Your Questionnaire Guide

What You Need to Know to Hire a Quality Commercial Cleaning & Janitorial Services Partner  

Cleaning is often viewed by many as one of the less important issues in a facility.  But a clean facility will help you project the appropriate image toward your employees, customers, vendors, and other partners in the marketplace. 

Studies have shown that in a clean, orderly environment employees have a better attitude toward their employers and are more productive. The best commercial cleaning companies have the knowledge and training to keep your workplace clean, hygienic, and safe. 

Utilize this questionnaire guide to assist in your commercial cleaning and janitorial services company vendor selection for a long-term relationship. The information compiled from your answers will create a profile that will enable you to determine which vendor will be the best fit for your company.

The first part covers background information on you and your company.  The second part will focus on important questions to ask potential vendors.

Part I: Questions to ask yourself 

What cleaning duties do I need performed?

    • Routine janitorial – vacuuming, dusting, bathrooms, trash/recycling

    • Specialty services – cleaning refrigerators, washing dishes

    • Seasonal services – window cleaning, carpet care, hard floor maintenance

    • What supplies do I need ordered – rest room paper products trash liners, etc…

Do I or any of my staff currently take care of any of these services?

What specific services do I want the vendor to provide?

What is the square footage of my facility/or the area(s) I need serviced?

How many bathrooms in my facility?

Do I have locker rooms or showers?

Do I have any special or delicate surfaces in my facility that would require certain cleaning products (i.e., natural stone)?

Do I have any other special considerations (security, regular office parties, corporate meetings, lots of food events, regular after hours use)?

How many people work in my building?

What is the amount of outside traffic through my facility per day (mostly applicable to medical facilities, financial institutions, or retail)?

 How often do I want the cleaning staff to clean?

 When do I want the cleaning staff to clean – on what days of week and during what time of day or night?

What is my cleaning budget?

What are my payment terms?

Who will be responsible for providing the cleaning and paper supplies (ordering, payment, etc.)?

What have I been most unsatisfied with in the past from former cleaners or cleaning company (budget, security, communication, quality of cleaning, consistency, etc.)?

Part II:  Important questions for prospective commercial cleaning and janitorial service vendors  

(You could also include these questions as part of a written, pre-interview screening process.)

How long have you been in business?   ______________
Look for a vendor who is established with a history of verifiable work.

Is your company bonded and insured?  ________
May I see a copy of your Certificate of Liability and Worker’s Comp insurance along with your bonding?

Who will have keys and access codes to my facility?

Do your employees have uniforms or ID badges?

How do you prescreen your employees?

Do you perform background checks on all employees before hiring?

How do you train your employees?

What methods do you use to measure quality assurance?  Is there a program or procedure in place?

What happens if I am unhappy with the cleaning or some other problems arise?  (Look for a complaint procedure and strong commitment to customer service and satisfaction, i.e., possible credit on account, ease of communication, quick response)

What kinds of facilities do you currently clean?

What kinds of facilities (or services) cause you the most problems?

What are your company’s priorities? (Look for a good organizational structure, attention to detail, ease of communication, customer service oriented, quality equipment, etc.)

Does your company have a cleaning process?  Ask potential vendors how they would clean a certain area such as a bathroom or executive office (look for a straightforward confident response containing specific activities and logical order – indicative of processes in place).

What do I and the people in my facility need to know about your cleaning processes and practices to avoid potential misunderstandings?

Ask the vendor to provide their version of specs for your facility.

    • Don’t assume that the vendor understands your facility or the people in it.  All customers are different and the requirements within each facility will vary.

    • Tell the vendor what you need, but also look for creativity and initiative on the part of the vendor such as potential cost-saving options.

Is the vendor flexible when designing the cleaning schedule?

    • Have a defined set of specs detailing what you want done and be sure the vendor bids the specs. You need to be able to compare apples to apples while at the same time considering the value of suggestions the contractor may have to offer.

    • If requested, allow the vendor to tour your facility more than once.  Taking a second look in many cases allows for a more thorough proposal and a much better understanding of the job at hand. It also shows a sincere approach to evaluating the details and the subsequent price for cleaning your facility.

You will also want to ask open-ended questions.  This will allow you to assess communication style and help you to determine if there might be a potential fit.  For example- “tell me something about how you see your company staffing our building”. Or “tell me about another building you clean that is similar to ours”.  Look to see if the vendor answers your questions directly. Does the vendor do too much talking?  Additionally, note whether the vendor asks pertinent questions and listens to you.  Is the vendor taking notes?

On the other hand, be wary of vendors who try to do all the talking.  In most cases excessive talking is a cover-up for nervousness, self-importance, and an inherent lack of consideration for your time.  But more important, if they are talking, they’re not listening, and if they aren’t listening now, will they listen later?

Once you have found qualified candidates you will want to check on references and referrals.

Check referrals, however, understand the nature of referrals. Cleaning Contractors will always give you referral information for the customers that love them.  Wouldn’t you?

Don’t assume that just because a reference check produces a glowing recommendation that the service vendor will be a good fit for your facility.  Ask for contact information of former customers and reasons for separation.  Requiring this is a good filtering process – some will choose to pass on the opportunity

May I have 3 long-term references?  Contact at least three references they currently work with or have worked for in the recent past. Ideally, these should be like your needs – home, business, or industry.
Questions to ask:

    1. How long have they been with you?

    2. Do they consistently provide quality service?

    3. What kind of issues have you had?

    4. How did they respond to the issues?

    5. Are they easily accessible?

    6. Do you see excessive employee turnover?

    7. Do you feel comfortable around their staff members?

Vendors that provide exactly what you ask for – will demonstrate that they are working hard for your business and that they are serious about obtaining the contract to clean your facility.  Look for the relationship that has the greatest potential to last for a long time.   

Choosing wisely can save time and money and, perhaps even more important, insure peace of mind.  It’s important to remember that your cleaning staff has regular access to your personal workspaces, board rooms, executive and other sensitive areas, as well as keys and security information for your building.  These are huge issues from a risk and liability perspective and should be taken very seriously during your evaluation phase.

There are many choices out there.  How can you make sure you’re making the right one?  Be patient, be prepared, and allow enough time for the entire process to unfold. If you rush through your selection process, you may very likely be at it again in a year or even sooner.

Be sure you hire a cleaning contractor that can pay attention to what you consider to be the most important aspects of your building and all the specific details and variables that come with the job.  Open communication is necessary in maintaining optimum health in both personal and professional relationships.  Understanding each other is critical:  clearly expressed expectations by you matched with customized specifications from the vendor offer a great starting point to a long-term, professional partnership.