How to stand out in commercial cleaning in 2023

Episode 3
November 15, 2022

Don’t want subpar cleaning results and a lackluster culture to cost you customers, revenue, and staff? 

Shift to evidence-based cleaning. Measure, share, and improve continuously based on objective data. 

In this episode of Cleaning the Built World, Nathan Mah, Co-founder at Mero, sits down with industry veteran Mike Sawchuk, an operations and sales leader with over 30+ years of experience in the cleaning industry.

Mike shares his insights on how to pinpoint and solve the root causes of your cleaning problems, implement effective cleaning verification and validation, and hire the right people for the job. This episode is a must-listen for those not satisfied with the status quo. 


"Cleaners are just as important as doctors, nurses, firemen, and paramedics. They have a prevention role in society. They keep people safer and healthier and can actually help save lives. That’s my first pet peeve, that society does not understand the importance of cleaning. My second is that many cleaning operations are not cleaning with evidence-based data. They’re not cleaning, they’re polluting.” 

- Mike

Watch the full episode:

Three top takeaways:

Here are the three most important takeaways from the episode:

Takeaway 1: Identify your weakest link

To improve performance, Mike emphasizes a holistic approach. He emphasizes the importance of identifying your weakest link among 140 different areas that make up a cleaning operation, including products, procedures, protocols, policies, as well as people, and leadership. 

This means assessing not only the materials and equipment used in the cleaning process, but also the training and hiring practices of the staff, and the leadership and management of the operation.

Takeaway 2: Do both cleaning verification and validation

While verification checks that certain tasks were completed at a certain frequency, validation determines objectively that cleaning meets expectations and has removed soil and pathogens. 

Methods include smell and visual inspections, ATP meters, fluorescent imaging, black light, or even more advanced technologies such as backscatter scans or ultraviolet light.

Mike suggests that any method is better than nothing and the ideal one will depend on customer expectations, the desired level of cleanliness, and your available resources. 

The key is to record and track data, review it with cleaning staff, customers and leadership, and act on it to make improvements.

Takeaway 3: Hire based on attitudes and traits, not just qualifications or experience

In the face of rising labor costs, not all commercial cleaning companies are fairing the same. Some are leagues ahead in hiring and retaining employees. 

That’s because they focus on hiring for attitude and traits, rather than just skills or experience. Ask yourself: “Does this person have the ability to learn? Are they dependable? Do they have the desire to learn?” 

Mike provides the example of a school district in Upstate New York that couldn’t find custodians to join their unionized staff, but his friend in Texas who specializes in healthcare has never had a problem with turnover and even has a waitlist of people who want to join her company. 

In other words, retention is not a new problem. Invest in creating a positive and engaging culture that people want to join.

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