Why Is ‘Janitor’ a Dirty Word?

by Compass Cleaning Solutions • October 28, 2016
Janitor working
Aside from the obvious pun, seriously, why are janitorial service staff or commercial cleaning technicians treated as if they are somehow unworthy of respect? I think to some degree our industry has perpetuated this perception through our own conduct and we have not effectively shown the buying public the other side and allowed the public to draw this conclusion. In addition there are other factors at work here which we should address.

Performance is everything

Poor performance reinforces the perception that we are not professional. As clients you expect the facilities you occupy to be clean and sanitary. When those performance expectations are not met, well, you are left to wonder about the skill and competency of the technicians cleaning your building.

Sometimes however, it’s those pesky expectations that cause the problem. When expectations are not clearly agreed upon in the beginning by both the client and the janitorial service company problems can, and usually do, occur.

When you first enter into an agreement with your commercial cleaning company, it is absolutely essential for a good working relationship to establish clear expectations (what we call scope of work) regarding what will be done, when it will be done and how often. It should always be in writing and should always be the baseline from which to work.

The nature of janitorial work implies a lower skill

“Hey I clean my own house, how hard can it be?” On the face of it this is a logical question, until you start doing it for other people. Serving others is one of the most difficult jobs you can have. Just ask any waitperson or teller or store clerk who has to maintain composure and perform in the face of high and sometimes unreasonable public expectations.

During these difficult economic times many clients have thought that taking the cleaning in-house and paying their staff is a great idea. Here is what they discover. Those employees are not trained to clean using a system and procedures, they do not have training in regard to which products to use (probably using household cleaners instead of commercial grade and rarely have MSD sheets for those products which is required by law), and quickly discover that they prefer doing what they were hired to do instead of cleaning toilets. They realize that when you are cleaning for others that thing that you might let slide at home is not going to cut it in the work place. Your office associates want it done every night. And then they have the audacity to complain about it. How dare them.

The work may not be technically difficult or complex but it is work that needs to be done and they are willing to do it, for you. There is an old adage about walking a mile in another man’s shoes. It applies here.

The commercial cleaning company you hire does more than you think

Every time a client comes into your place of business and sees a clean lobby, shiny floors and sparkling windows and doors it leaves an impression. It leaves your client feeling good about your business and the goods or services you provide. The cleaning company is responsible for that. When the bathrooms and kitchen areas are properly sanitized or disinfected and fewer employees are out of work sick, the janitorial cleaning crew is responsible for that. When you use the restrooms in your office and there are towels in the dispenser and toilet paper and hand soap to use, the cleaning technicians monitored and filled those dispensers.

Your commercial cleaning company may not be perfect, who is, but they do deserve some credit and respect for the work they do that others do not. So maybe ‘janitor’ is not such a dirty word after all.