When you need extra help, janitorial contractors are a great option, but how do you know you’re contracting the best?

As with any business, the cleaning industry has its busy seasons and urgent moments when your regular staff just isn’t enough to get the job done. Maybe you’ve taken on some additional one-off contracts, or maybe it’s as simple as someone calling out sick when there’s a big job to do. Fortunately, there are plenty of janitorial contractors out there who will be happy to take on the extra workload.

Of course, you don’t want to hire just any janitorial contractor. You want to make sure you bring someone on who can get the work done, who has a track record of success and trust, and most of all, someone you’ll want to bring back when those urgent moments crop up again. To find that person (or those people), there are a few steps you’ll want to keep in mind.

Janitorial Contractors

1. Employee versus contractor

This first step is the most important. When you say you want to hire janitorial contractors, what you might mean is that you want to hire temporary janitorial employees. The distinction can be confusing, but there are a few key identifiers to keep in mind.

If you hire someone based on a fee-for-service contract, and they work out of their own office, have their own equipment, determine their own methods for completing a job, work their own hours, have other clients, carry their own insurance, and invoice you for payment (which isn’t taxed)—these people are likely considered janitorial contractors by the Department of Labor.

If, on the other hand, you hire someone based on an employment agreement, and they work out of your office, use your equipment, receive instructions and guidelines from your business, work set hours, and are paid through payroll—these people are employees.

Those are very general definitions, but more often than not, when you’re looking for help to backfill for, say, a sick employee, you’re probably going to hire a temporary employee, not a contractor. It’s important to know the difference because if you misclassify an employee as a contractor, it can end up costing you in penalties and fines.

2. Where to find them

Quality janitorial contractors are usually easier to find as temporary employees from staffing agencies. This is your best bet because not only does the staffing agency usually handle the payroll and workers’ compensation insurance, but the good agencies also vet candidates before sending them to you, which is something of an endorsement already. Staffing agencies don’t want to send you the wrong people because then they’ll look bad themselves.

If you don’t want to pay agency fees, you can also find people by posting a job on Indeed.com or cleaning-industry-specific job boards. Especially if you’re looking for an independent contractor, this is the best way to go.

3. Conduct a standard interview

It’s tempting to bypass the interview process for urgency’s sake, but making this mistake can end up in a regrettable hire. Screen janitorial contractors the way you would anyone else, including questions about work history, work ethic, and skill-based questions. It might take you an extra fifteen minutes per candidate, but the result will be worth the time spent.

4. Perform thorough background checks

Like with the interviews, don’t skimp on background and reference checks. In fact, with janitorial contractors more than permanent employees, you want to conduct these screens because they will only be with you a short time, which means reduced accountability.

Credit checks are more optional unless the person will be dealing with money, but criminal checks are a must. Remember, the people you send in to do the job reflect you and your business. It’s your job to pick the right people to do that.

5. Written test

Another good idea is to administer a written test. It doesn’t need to be long, but something to test their basic understanding of commercial cleaning, like products and methods, can save you a lot of headache down the road. You could also incorporate this into the interview as a verbal test.

6. You get what you pay for

Rate doesn’t necessarily dictate quality, but if janitorial contractors offer rates that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Scrutinize these candidates the most to make sure they can handle the job you need them to do. It costs more to hire an incompetent employee for cheap than it does to pay a little extra for the ones who know what they’re doing.

7. Read online reviews

If you’re hiring true janitorial contractors, they ought to have some feedback on Yelp! or other online review sites. Take a look at what previous clients and customers have to say. It can make all the difference when this person puts on your company’s uniform and works under your name, even for just a day.