Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sub-contracting Pitfalls & Warnings

What is Subcontracting in the Janitorial field?

It is the situation where a company pretends or gives the impression that they have offices and staff in every city, in every state in the US.  They then sell a customer on a low price for servicing multiple locations or 1 major facility.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most of these companies have sales people who represent them and that is the total of their staffing.

Once they sign a service agreement with a customer they then get on Google and the phone calling all the listed cleaning contractors they can find and offer them the work less 35 to 45% off the top as their handling fee. ( This is a violation of IRS rules governing subcontractors in the tax code which states that subcontractor should quote each job and not be told what the amount is)  This is why we at L & K Office Cleaning avoid subcontracting.  It's not fair to the customer or the contractor.

Why am I discussing this today?  I am going to do something I rarely do and talk about cleaning prices on the Internet and I am going to use a recent phone call from a firm in TX asking me to subcontract some work for them here in WI.

The salesperson or operations task manager from the ABC Cleaning Company called me late last week and said he had 5 stores that needed to be serviced 2x a week, that it would only take 1 person 20 minutes each cleaning, it had to be done during the day and it paid $124 a month per store.
I asked him for the addresses of each store and he seemed reluctant to give them to me and was shocked that I didn't want to immediately grab a mop and head out to start cleaning.  He obviously did not do any research on me.  He said that the stores were 'mostly tile' and all the service called for was a sweep and mop and maybe vacuum where needed.  He sent me the list, they are some kind of money store.

To give you the quick math on this: $124 a month x 12 months = $1,488 annually divided by 104 service calls is $14.31 per cleaning.

How I look at these types of job offers:
1. I took the list and drove around on the weekend to see the sites and get the round trip mileage. ( 110 miles round trip from my office in a route starting with the furthest location and working back in) 

2. Visiting each site, some were carpeted and some were tile and all had walk off mats, not one of them could be cleaned any faster than 40 minutes, keeping in mind that they would have to work around any customers standing in lines in the lobbies. This is Wisconsin and we get this thing called snow up here, 1 hour per cleaning in the winter, no way of doing it any faster.  All stores come in from street level and will be loaded with salt, slush etc...

3. Store personnel gave conflicting ideas on what cleaners were supposed to do, some thought floors, bathrooms and windows, others thought just floors.  This is a clear sign of poor communication between the contractor and owners.  This will give the subcontractor major issues and problems with both the local customer and contract holder.

Continuing with the rare math breakdown:
If we were to service all 5 stores our gross income would be $71.55 per day.  Now before I pay the cleaner I will have to pay $22 for gas out of that $71.55 ( .20 per mile--way under the federal rate)
I now have $49.55 left to work with.
An employee, working during the day costs me around $17.50 per hour and they would need to be out for a total of 5 hours on a clear day with light traffic in the summer and 6  to 7 in the winter
So, for the sake of this demonstration, lets use 5 1/2 hours per service day, I would pay out $96.25 to service 5 stores paying me $49.55

Since we are not a charity I called the manager back and told him we weren't interested and he said that's OK, we found someone to do them.

Put yourself in the shoes of the store managers in those 5 locations, what kind of quality service are they going to get?  Is the subcontractor that is coming into their store insured? bonded? trained? or off of craigslist? 

This is why we always tell our customers and potential customers to ask questions when sales people call on them.  What might appear to be a good deal may in reality be a nightmare waiting to happen.
If anyone would like to see a copy of the correspondence between me and this company just send an email to Ken@lk-clean.com and tell me why.  I will be happy to forward it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I have an app for that

I don't write many memo's anymore, not like I used to when working for the Mega Service firms. Usually a few a year regarding upcoming training programs, new equipment, updated chemicals it's really all I ever do anymore.

Today however, I found myself writing a new memo to the entire staff based on some surprise inspections I pulled over the last few nights.

I love arriving in a building at night, announced and definitely unexpected. But I digress, back to the memo, here it is in recap form:

To the staff of L & K Cleaning:

After visiting all of the buildings over the last few nights for quality control inspections I would like to thank everyone for their fine efforts and the results you have all achieved.

That being said, I am forced now to remind everyone about our cell phone policy.

You were hired to clean buildings, we have spent the time and money on training you, providing you with the latest in equipment and chemicals in which to perform your tasks. We also provide you with paid safety and health training classes 2x a year, in return, we expect you to be cleaning for the 3 to 5 hours per night that you are in your assigned building.

I was dismayed by the number of people I found using their phones while on the job and want to reiterate our cell phone policy.

You may not use your phone while on the job unless it is to contact your supervisor or team captain and in an actual emergency.

You should not be chatting, twittering, texting or playing angry birds while at work and on the clock. If you are found violating this rule you will receive a brand new L & K App called Angry Mule.

Shortly after receiving this app you will then be able to tweet about what a jack-ass your FORMER boss is.

Friday, August 20, 2010

An Interesting study on workplaces

Women's desks, even though they may appear cleaner are really not according to this University of Arizona study comparing men's workstations with women's work stations.


But our female customers don't need to be concerned!

We at L & K Office Cleaning use products like PortionPac Red Germicidal cleaner on all exposed surfaces with each cleaning.

Read about our other programs to keep you safe and healthy at work here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Spring will be here, soon

It may not look like it outside right now and it certainly doesn't feel like it but Spring is just around the corner. If you are not on our carpet maintenance plan then now is the time think about scheduling your spring or early summer carpet cleaning.

Also, if you are not on our regular floor care plan, then also take the time now to schedule your strip and wax and get your floors back in shape.

If you are not on one of our package plans, maybe you should be? Those customers are already scheduled and some of them are already started!

Don't forget to check out our 10th Anniversary specials page on our website too! Deals and discounts to help celebrate 10 great years in business.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Winter Safety

Winter time in Wisconsin sure is pretty when it starts but by January 5th almost everyone is tired of it.
This is our annual Winter Safety Message.
While everyone is conscious about lawsuits stemming from slips and falls on ice, you also need to be aware of the potential damage ice melt and salt can do to the interior furnishings of your building. Excessive ice removers can damage your flooring and carpeting so be cautious on how much is applied outside.
The other annual tip is electrical safety.
Leaving the holiday decorations plugged in and running all night is not advisable, costs more money and is fire hazard.
So is the number of personal space heaters that are left running under desks, these can really raise your electric bill.
Hope everyone has a safe winter!