Janitorial Personnel: Employee, Sub-Contractor or Franchisee?

Published: 12th July 2006
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Janitorial Personnel: Employee, Sub-Contractor or Franchisee?

Regardless of what company you hire to clean your building, you need to know WHO they give the keys to. That is to say, who are they paying to do the work.

Bear in mind, that the smooth talking salesperson will NOT be cleaning your building. You hired them to find the best possible person to do the work. But, how do you know that the person they choose is 'the best', and not simply the 'most available'?

Below are some of my Pro's and Con's regarding the three legal groups of janitors that may be in your building. (Illegal immigrants are not listed, because a wise business owner would never allow them into their facility.)

The first group is the most common one. It is called the Employee Group. This group has an established Employee-Employer relationship with the company you hired to service your facility. The Pro's of this group are quite limited. Outside of the legal protection that you receive against their injury or legal claims, there is little advantage to hiring them. Typically, the Employee Group is the lowest paid group of the three. They also have the highest turnover and the highest occurrence of theft and damage of property.

The second group is the Sub-Contractor Group. This group is often times another janitorial company, which has a standing contract with the company that you hired. They are called upon to service your account, in the name of the other company. The only reason a company would become a 'Sub' is to keep their employees busy. Sub-Contractors are used by large national companies to service areas in which they are not established. If you have several locations, you might hire one company, which would in turn 'sub-out' several various locations to other smaller companies. This large company has made itself a broker or middleman between you and the actual company doing the work, thus earning them a nice commission. Expect to pay more to the 'middleman' for finding and paying the Sub-Contractors that clean your building.

The final group is the most successful group, that being the Franchisee model. Many companies like McDonald's, Subway and others have grown their businesses by using this model. Large national companies like Jani-King and Coverall, as well as regional companies like Alliance Maintenance, have done the same in the janitorial industry. The Franchise Model establishes a legal relationship between the Franchisor (the company) and the Franchisee (the worker), thus offering you the same protect the company has in place. Furthermore, the Franchisee is compensated on a larger percentage of what you pay the Franchisor, since they are part owner of the company. Most importantly, the Franchisee is paid on the production of the account, and not by the hour. This means that they take a higher sense of pride in their work. In addition, the Franchisee typical stays in an account much longer than a Sub-Contractor or Employee does. Again, this is due to the higher rate of compensation they receive, and their status as 'owner'.

Given a choice, the Franchisee model is the best route to go for security, affordability and long-term cleaning success.

Tim Brownlee


D. Brownlee serves as the Territorial Area Developer for a large janitorial in Oklahoma, He personally manages in excess of $1.5 million of accounts, supervises more than 100 janitors.

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