A thorough and clear commercial cleaning policy not only sets expectations with clients, but it can also save you a lot of headaches down the line.
Imagine you arrive at a new client site for your first day working with them. You’ve brought all of your standard supplies and equipment, but in the cleaning contract, the client has requested specialty products for certain areas. When you get to the site, however, the client has no specialty products for you. They get upset at first until you calmly point out your standard commercial cleaning policy, which states the client must provide any specialty products.
In an ideal world, both parties would understand such information before cleaning starts, but that’s not always the case. That’s why it’s so important to have a commercial cleaning policy in place to make up for any details that might not appear in the cleaning contract.
But what makes a good commercial cleaning policy? How is it different from a contract? Who should read it, and when? What happens if you don’t have one?
While there are many different ways to write a commercial cleaning policy, what’s most important is that you have one. There are two primary reasons for having such a policy. The first is that it outlines for your clients exactly what they can expect from you as their commercial cleaner. The second is that, should a dispute arise, the cleaning policy will be one of the primary tools used to settle it.
To avoid the latter situation, many cleaners choose to attach their policies to the cleaning proposal so that all of the information is in one place. A lot of companies also make their policies available online for easy access anytime. And if you use janitorial management software, that’s another good place to make this information available to employees and clients.
Policies versus proposals
Unlike cleaning proposals, which outline specific jobs for each client, a commercial cleaning policy delves into your standard company practices, such as payment terms, who’s responsible for supplying what, policies around schedule changes and no-shows, and other standard practices that clients will want to know before work starts.
Another distinct difference is that while proposals are typically negotiated, changed, amended, and otherwise edited before being signed, a commercial cleaning policy is a standard for your business, very much like a Terms and Conditions section to any contract. The policy isn’t typically negotiated, though you may make minor tweaks in certain cases to obtain business. (A common concession is changing payment terms to better suit a client.) Instead, a client is presented with an acknowledgment form to indicate they’ve read and understood your policy.
Common topics to cover
Every commercial cleaning policy is a little different, but they should all cover roughly the same information. Some of the things you might consider addressing are:
- Office hours and holiday closings
- Payment terms (when payments are expected, coupons, late payments)
- Job site entry
- Reschedules and cancellations
- Any guarantees you provide
- Any non-compete policies
- Liability (for valuables, etc.)
- Any insurance or bonds you carry for everyone’s protection
- Any additional charges that a client may incur
Remember, these are common topics, but not a complete list. You can cover just about anything you think is important, but remember to keep the list focused on practices between your company and the client, not practices within your company. For example, don’t include:
- Hiring practices
- Wage practices
- Code of conduct
- Policies on moving, using, and storing equipment and supplies
- Travel policy (unless the client is paying for it)
- Specific jobs you don’t do (this should be covered in the cleaning proposal)
In short, keep your commercial cleaning policy as succinct as possible without overlooking important issues that could lead to increased liability down the line.
What’s at stake
While it’s not a legal requirement to have a commercial cleaning policy, neglecting this document can become problematic down the line. For example, a dispute may arise about a late notice cancellation. The client may try to refuse to pay a cancellation fee. Without a policy in place, you’ll be hardpressed to force them to pay, whereas a proper policy puts the law on your side.
In fact, failure to have a policy can leave you handling or paying for much more than you’d intended. That’s not because of any legal action, but because if you want to keep a client, you’ll go out of your way to make them happy. Without a policy, that flexibility opens up exponentially, and you’ll either end up biting off more than you can chew, or dropping a client that might otherwise have been a good source of income.
So while a commercial cleaning policy isn’t a requirement, it’s definitely a best practice for running any successful cleaning business.