To benchmark is essential to reaching your business objectives. Without it, you won’t know if you are achieving your goals.

When I was a kid we used to bike all over the place. Sometimes we would have competitions, one of which was to see who could jump the farthest. We would take an old board and lay it against the curb. Then we would start on a hill opposite and ride as hard as we could toward the makeshift ramp. We’d hit the ramp and fly through the air and hope to land the jump. I’m sure we felt we went farther than we actually did but, we would mark distances with a rock or stick. Each of us trying to beat our own record and everyone else’s. Even as kids we were driven to improve and outperform the competition. 

From kindergarten on we all were measured in school based on our proficiency and ability in a variety of subjects. Tests, quizzes, papers, and projects all designed to gauge our level against the standard (in theory anyway!). When you took a test the teacher would compare your performance against an established standard and grade you accordingly.

Essentially, we were benchmarking or being benchmarked before we knew what benchmarking was!


Manage projects, stay in touch with clients, and more with Janitorial Manager. Contact us for a free demo right now and see how it works!

What is a benchmark?

A benchmark is a measurement. Specifically, a measurement in comparison to a starting point (where you are) and a desired outcome or industry standard (where you want to be). It’s an objective way of measuring performance and removes the emotions and guesswork. Simply, a benchmark is just raw numbers. Successful cleaning companies use benchmarking to reduce cleaning costs, improve service standards, and ultimately, increase revenue. 

The best benchmarks focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) in your business, such as service quality, supply consumption, employee turnover, or customer satisfaction. A solid understanding of the function or process you wish to evaluate is critical to finding the right benchmark. You can’t choose at random. It requires some deliberation. You are trying to pull out the right performance data for benchmarking. 

What is a good KPI?

Specific – it should be clear what is being measured

Measurable – it should be measurable against set standards

Achievable – you should target a realistic/achievable goal

Relevant – it should offer insight into overall safety performance

Timely – it should follow a set time-frame

First, the key to benchmarking is to make sure you have good data for comparison. When you have figured out what you’re going to measure and what you are going to compare, you can set the appropriate benchmark and allow the benchmark to help guide your performance. Remember to set your benchmark high. You are not interested in average performance. 

If you aim low enough, you’ll hit it every time!

How do you benchmark?

  1. Understand what needs to be benchmarked. Figure out the requirements for benchmarking.
  2. Determine the key processes and all the related activities. Then, determine what the relevant benchmark is for improving performance.
  3. Study the industry and learn the “best in class” performance data.  
  4. Analyze your performance data and determine gaps between your data and the best in class standard. 
  5. Identify the causes behind the performance gaps and how you can improve them.
  6. Implement tools for measurement, updating, and tracking.
  7. Get your team on board. Offer incentives for when they achieve benchmarks. 

Benchmarks For Your Cleaning Business


Does it look and feel clean? When someone walks into a space, do they experience a sense of cleanliness? Or, do they generally feel gross just being there? The appearance of a location is a subjective measure, but a powerful one just the same.

  • Quality Audits – create location-specific inspection templates and perform regularly scheduled audits.
  • Customer Survey – create and deploy customer satisfaction surveys to gauge attitudes toward your services. Provide a means for unsolicited feedback and always respond quickly.

Customer Satisfaction

Next, what do your customers think about the quality of your service? Do you know? It’s critically important, as I’m sure you realize. Customers that are happy with your service are far more likely to overlook an occasional issue. Unhappy customers, on the other hand, will be on the phone with your competition at the first sign of trouble. You have to keep your finger on the pulse!

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, is the customer happy with the cleaning and the cleaning staff’s responsiveness to input or complaints?  Which areas need improvement? Which areas shine?
  • What are the results of customer surveys for satisfaction?
  • How often are customer complaints received?
  • How often are customer compliments received?
  • How quickly and effectively does the team respond to special requests received from the customer?


Are you in the black? How about each of your accounts? Are they all profitable? In order to know, you have to constantly analyze and track the numbers for each account. 

Budget vs Actual:
  • Cost per square foot
  • Labor as percentage of revenue
  • Supply cost as a percentage of revenue
  • Equipment cost
  • Accounts Receivable Turnover


Are your employees following safety protocols? Mixing the wrong chemicals can be deadly! Slippery floors and faulty or misused equipment can all lead to injuries. The improper use of PPE and insufficient sanitizing can lead to illness. 

  • Special pandemic safety and disinfectant measures – see CDC guidance
  • Number of days without injury
  • Frequency of callouts due to illness
  • Number of near misses


Is your team effective? Are they happy? Do they work well together? Getting the right people is key, but you can’t hire and forget. Your team dynamic is always changing. A wide variety of life events and interpersonal variables can impact that dynamic and affect employee performance. Tracking this performance can aid in identifying and addressing underlying issues.

  • Employee productivity- measure square feet cleaned per hour divided by the number of direct labor hours it takes to clean them.
  • Absenteeism of employees- how often do employees call out? 
  • Training of employees– how effective is new employee training on procedures and do they adhere to policies and procedures?
  • Monitoring employee retention – good employees are hard to find and keep. What is the average length of employment? 


Benchmark your way to success

Tracking critical KPIs and acting on the data is critical to reaching your business objectives. If you don’t measure, you won’t know if you are improving or achieving your objectives. Even worse, for all you know, you could be moving backward! 

It takes time to benchmark well. You have a thousand other things on your plate when you’re running your business. Dedicating hours to crunching numbers can easily seem unimportant or just a bother, but it can’t be emphasized enough that effective benchmarking is essential to the success of your company.

The good news is that there are tools available to make the job easier. You can capture real-time data in the field and run the reports when you get back to the office. Then, you can track employee attendance and performance, cleaning times, no shows, supply consumption, inspections, scheduling, customer requests, and work orders.

Janitorial Manager software can be the tool that helps you achieve your benchmarking goals. Contact us for a free demo right now and see how it works!