Top 5 Cleaning Complaints and How to Solve Them

Steve Hanson

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Do you ever pick up the phone only to find an angry customer on the other end? Perhaps a trash can didn't get emptied the night before, or the dusting isn't up to par. Customer complaints are inevitable for a cleaning company, but there are a number of things that you can do to minimize the frequency. Here are some of the common complaints received by commercial cleaning companies and tips on how to solve the problem.

1. Supplies Empty. If roll towels are being used, you can replace smaller rolls of 350’ with rolls of 800’ with stub roll access. Most 350’ roll dispensers will handle 800’ rolls without replacing the current dispenser. The same can be true for center-pull towels. If using a smaller roll, replace with a larger roll. If you have to replace dispensers, do so. It's a small price to pay in order to keep the customer happy.

If replacing dispensers is not an option, ensure your employees are properly trained on how to stock dispensers. When stocking hand towel dispensers (multi-fold, single-fold, c-fold towels), train employees to fill the dispensers two-thirds full. Filling dispensers to the brim puts a lot of weight on the bottom towels, causing them to tear apart when pulling them out. If the dispenser tends to run out your can either put in a second dispenser or leave a stack on the counter.

If you run out of toilet paper you can leave an extra roll on the back of the toilet or change the dispenser to a twin roll or jumbo roll dispensers.

2. Dirty Restrooms. Restroom training programs that lay out each step for cleaning a restroom is essential. With so many steps, it can be easy for a new employee to forget an important procedure that is likely to cause a complaint. One way to make it easier for employees is to give them color-coded microfiber cloths. For instance, blue cloths for cleaning mirrors and polished stainless steel, red cloths for toilets and urinals, and yellow cloths for countertops, sinks, dispensers, partitions, and walls.

One common restroom complaint has nothing to do cleaning procedures, but should be taken care of by the janitorial staff. Oftentimes odors come from the floor drain because it has dried out. Simply pouring water down the drain on a weekly basis can eliminate the odors.

Inadequate dusting is a very common complaint. If workers rush through their work to get the job done, dusting tends to be the task that gets neglected first because it's much less noticeable than not emptying a trash can, for instance.

The most effective tool to use for dusting is a microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths pick up the dust rather than moving it around or making it airborne, like feather dusters, which means the dust won't re-settle onto surfaces. Use a green microfiber cloth for dusting. Be sure to point out commonly missed areas to employees - build-up around calculators, stacking baskets, pictures, sides of desks, and chair legs. Make sure supervisors pay special attention to these areas when walking through the building.

3. Trash Not Emptied. When training new employees, point out hidden trash cans. There should always be a specific path to follow so a trash can is not inadvertently missed. Typically employees should go counter-clockwise around the room, zig-zagging back and forth down aisles and through the hallways. A good way to double check the work is to check the cans while vacuuming to ensure they've been emptied.

4. Lack of Vacuuming. Train employees to move through the office counter-clockwise to ensure all areas are vacuumed. Mats should be vacuumed, and then rolled up so the area underneath can be vacuumed.

Cleaning personnel should be using the correct vacuum for the job. For instance, if a wide track vacuum cleaner is being used to vacuum tight areas like underneath desks, then it's likely that bits of paper and paper clips are going to be missed. The right vacuum should be used for the space that's being vacuumed. For large, open areas use wide track vacuums. Back pack vacuums are great for regular office vacuuming and detail work.

Consistent training of all employees using detailed training programs is of key importance in order to avoid customer complaints. When employees use the same procedures every day, they are much less likely to make mistakes. It is also important to do follow-up training. This will ensure that all employees are using the right cleaning system for the location and are reminded of the proper step-by-step procedures to use.

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community for owners and managers of cleaning companies who want to build a more profitable and successful cleaning business. Sign up for Trash Talk: Tip of the Week at and receive a Free Gift!


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