Cleaning Industry Report
This report gives a brief review of the U.S. cleaning franchise industry based on data from a sample of cleaning franchises’ Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDDs), published industry sources, and a conversation with one of the leading franchisors in the industry. Contents of the report include: a general overview of the industry, a look at sustainability practices within the industry, certifications available to those who provide cleaning services, and an overview of what is entailed in investing in a franchise within the industry.
Industry Overview & Outlook
The cleaning industry is very diverse with franchise companies within it making sure the buildings, or fabrics, they service are clean, sanitary and kept in good condition. Some franchises in this industry may also be involved in restoration following disasters or perform minor repairs. Specialization areas in the industry, of which a franchise may be involved in one or more, include:
- Maid services
- Janitorial services
- Carpet/ upholstery cleaning
- Dry cleaning/ fabric care
- Disaster restoration
- Junk removal
In addition to the diversity of the areas serviced, cleaning franchises operate across multiple sectors of commerce:
- Commercial: office buildings, business facilities, stadiums, event centers
- Educational: schools, colleges, universities
- Government: government agencies and offices
- Hospitality: hotels, restaurants
- Industrial: factories, warehouses
- Medical: hospitals, medical centers
- Retail: retail stores, shopping malls
- Residential: houses, apartments
Viewed as a relatively stable industry, combined annual revenues from the different areas of the industry are currently estimated at more than $80 billion with revenues for contract cleaning services expected to grow consistently over the next couple of years as the economy continues to rebound. According to Dennis Thompson, Vice President of Jan-Pro, a company that posted gains between 2008 and 2010 despite the challenging economic climate, “Companies that weathered the severe recession will have a decided advantage going forward.”
Contributing factors to the growth expectations primarily stem from money and time considerations on the part of consumers - for example, business owners seeking cost efficiency by outsourcing to companies providing janitorial services because maintaining an in-house cleaning crew can take valuable time and resources away from other business needs. Outsourcing cleaning services allows for more of these resources to remain supporting the core business rather than dedicating them to cleaning and maintenance issues. Additionally, factors in the growth of maid services can be traced to the rise in service demands from two-salary as well as single-parent households. Both of these living situations lead to less free time, and as a result, these households bring in cleaning service providers to assist with household cleaning responsibilities. An increase in the older population is also expected to fuel growth for cleaning services.
Green cleaning (also referred to as sustainable cleaning) is no longer a trend, but a way of business not only for its environmental benefits, but its health benefits as well. According to a 2010 survey of Housekeeping Solutions readers (Housekeeping & Facility Managers), over 75% of them are using Green products with over 50% of those who weren’t currently utilizing Green products planning to within a year.
Sustainability practices have reached all areas of the cleaning industry as illustrated by these examples:
- Chemists at Chem-Dry developed a proprietary cleaning process called The Natural®. The Natural® is one of 10 products that comprise Chem-Dry’s full Green product list.
- Several dry cleaners, including Martinizing Dry Cleaning, have begun using an environmentally friendly cleaning process called GreenEarth®, which uses silicone-based solvent, commonly found as part of many deodorants, soaps, and shampoos, instead of petroleum-based dry cleaning products. In addition, a number of dry cleaning businesses have turned to utilizing recyclable hangers and reusable garment bags as additional ways to lessen their environmental impact and improve work conditions.
- After conducting their own research into consumers’ attitudes towards green cleaning services, Maid Brigade created its exclusive Green Clean Certified® training and certification program. The program includes VapurClean® Advantage, a dry steam vapor cleaning method that uses no chemicals as part of the cleaning process.
- Carpet cleaners are using environmentally safe chemicals, and discharging the resulting wastewater according to the requirements of the local public works system ensuring wastewater doesn’t make its way into water bodies untreated.
- Many junk removal businesses are incorporating green methods into their processes through recycling and/or finding secondary uses for items as well as donating reusable items to charities.
In speaking about the cleaning industry in general, Thompson remarked, “The keys to strong growth will be in the advances in technologies that improve overall health and indoor air quality while sustaining green clean initiatives and customer pricing expectations. The primary contributing factor for [our] renewed growth has been the innovation of the most advanced technological disinfection program called EnviroShield™. [It] clearly is an initiative that has hugely impacted our overall sales performance.”
Attaining certification is a way cleaning businesses, franchised or not, can help begin the process of gaining the confidence of customers even before initial contact is made. “Customers are very savvy today, therefore you must offer a value that can be validated,” says Thompson, who revealed that Jan-Pro “completely revamped” their training program a few years ago to further improve the execution of their services. According to Thompson, “Every Jan-Pro owner/operator is certified before they clean any customer’s facility.”
Over the years, many standards and certification processes have evolved in the cleaning industry. The programs offering certification are numerous, covering areas from the cleaning agents used to the management staff of cleaning organizations. Below are a couple of examples of certification processes that are available to businesses within the cleaning industry.
The Certification Industry Management Standard (CIMS) is offered from the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (ISSA). The CIMS provides an outline of the basic characteristics typical of a successful, quality cleaning organization, and, according to ISSA, shows an organization is customer-driven demonstrating a structure “to deliver consistent, quality services that are designed to meet the customer's needs and expectations.” There are six practice areas taken into account:
- Quality systems
- Service delivery
- Human resources
- Health, safety, and environmental stewardship
- Management commitment
- Green Building (GB)
Another set of certification guidelines is administered by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Formed in 1972, the IICRC is an independent group focused on setting and promoting high standards and ethics and to advance communication and technical proficiency within the inspection, cleaning and restoration service industries. Through independent schools and instructors, the IICRC offers 22 certifications.
One franchise system that abides by the guidelines established by the IICRC is ServPro, whose franchises are certified in Fire and Water Cleanup and Restoration. ServPro also has continuing education classes available to franchise professionals and insurance clients at ServPro’s IICRC-approved training facility. As part of the criteria for certification, companies must demonstrate proof of insurance, maintain a written customer complaint policy with documented follow-up as well as provide ongoing education and training leading to certification for all their technicians. Once certified, companies must also abide by the IICRC Code of Ethics.