It’s 8am and your phone is ringing.

A long-time client has just arrived at their office to find that the board room didn’t get cleaned last night, and apparently, that’s the last straw.

You’re shocked, because as far as you knew, they were a happy customer until now.

Sound familiar?


We know first hand how hard it is to identify issues with a cleaning client before they arise. More often than not, a client will keep their frustrations to themselves until it’s too late — there’s no chance of repairing the relationship.

Or, until another contractor comes along and makes them an offer.

When we ran a commercial cleaning company, we learned that problems on-site didn’t always get communicated to our management team. Which meant that we had no way to proactively inform the client of the issue.

So when a cleaner didn’t show up, or they arrived to find the board room locked, the client knew before we did.

And unfortunately, it’s a common problem in the cleaning industry.

The good news? Having a solution to this problem can set you apart from your competition.

In this post, we’ll explore why engaging your cleaners as a part of your quality program will improve your customer retention.

The Iceberg of Ignorance

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The Iceberg of Ignorance is a theory that dates back to the 1960’s.

It illustrates the challenge of communicating the problems that are known by front-line staff up to the individuals that run the business.

This theory is particularly relevant to the janitorial industry because of the large percentage of employees who work remotely.

The key insight is this: if you’re the person in charge of running and growing the business, you are aware of less than 5% of the problems your team is experiencing.

Scary, right?!

If you’re aware of less than 5% of the problems in your business, can you really expect to avoid losing customers?

Minimizing Problems with Cleaning Companies Tip #1 - Your Cleaners are the key

Let’s look at the iceberg diagram it a bit closer.

This theory holds true for almost every instance where there is a problem at a location you clean.

For example, if a cleaner breaks something, they are the first to know.

If they’re late for a shift or don’t show up at all, they know before you do.

If supplies are needed, or they didn’t clean a section of the building for some unforeseen reason… they know about it before you do.

The fact is, that in the janitorial industry, a large number of managers won’t ever know about these things! In the worst-case scenario, you find out about it when it’s too late to fix — through a customer complaint.

This is what drove us to build a tool that would allow us to support them as quickly as possible, no matter how many cleaners and locations we were managing at a time.

Getting cleaners engaged and support for a program like this was easy once they knew that we were doing it to help them be successful, not to discipline them.

Minimizing Problems with Cleaning Companies Tip #2  - Use communication to improve auality

Cleaners can add more value to your organization beyond just cleaning. They are an important part of every cleaning company’s quality program. The key to the success of any quality program is better communication

Now, for years it has either been too expensive or wasn’t even possible to be on the same page as your cleaners. Having access to information that was collected by your cleaners would have meant expensive processes, software, and hardware.

But this is no longer true.

The smartphones in their pockets today are sophisticated computers that allow you to communicate in ways that only years ago weren’t possible. They are one of the primary connections to the internet for low-income families, so you have no excuse not to communicate with them!

As an example, Swept’s mobile app allows you to communicate in over 100 languages. Messages, problem reports, and cleaning instructions are all automatically translated into every cleaner’s language of preference.

Minimizing Problems with Cleaning Companies Tip #3 - It’s the little things

One powerful change that mobile communication has helped with is the way cleaners communicate.

We often had conversations with our cleaners when things went wrong. The root cause of the mistake was often due to the little things that came up they felt were not important enough to tell us about.

Often these are the little issues that slip through the cracks but snowball into big problems later.



In these cases, cleaners may have needed support with an issue but didn’t have an easy way to report it, or didn’t want to call and wake us up in the middle of the night.

To show cleaners that supporting them with any issues was important we built in a reminder at the end of every shift, that prompts the cleaners as they are signing out of a location on the app to report problems.

If a problem is reported, managers get a notification instantly. It’s a big win-win-win for your quality program, as it allows you to find out about issues as soon as they are reported.

Your customers will love it because they rarely know when problems come up because a solution is found so quickly.

If you’re looking for better and more cost-effective ways to engage cleaners into your quality program, consider choosing a tool that was built with them in mind!

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