When to Use Temporary Agency Cleaners – Advice for the Cleaning Business Owner
This article discusses the advantages of utilizing temporary agency staff by cleaning companies for short-term or specialized projects and explores the ways in which you can get the best performance from agency workers.
Many managers of small cleaning companies are reluctant to use agency staff and prefer to find casual staff they employ directly or self-employed cleaners whom they can call upon for day work from time to time. The reasons for this is usually either a matter of hourly rate with agency staff costing more per hour, or perhaps also negative past experience or horror stories they may have heard from colleagues about agency workers. However, there are situations in which it may be advantageous to the small cleaning business owner to engage an agency to provide temporary staff, and these advantages are often unseen or overlooked completely.
An example of this would be the situation where a cleaning company is contacted by a construction firm, at short notice, to carryout the initial builders clean to a large commercial building. Such projects are normally labor-intensive, short-term and quite often the cleaning is staggered over a number of weeks or requires a fluctuating workforce determined by the main contractor as the project progresses rather than set-in-stone in advance of the commence date. A large number of small cleaning companies steer clear of such projects, as their workforce requires the consistent hours of work that permanent contracts provide, or they cannot deal with the varying requirements of builders as they approach handover. However there is money to be made in being able to service the needs of builders by having a flexible workforce as construction cleans can be very profitable indeed. The same goes for one-off warehouse deep cleans, annual deep cleans to schools, post-refurbishment cleans to hotels, bars and restaurants and a vast number of other infrequent or one-off cleaning projects.
A cleaning company with a flexible workforce is one that can take advantage of such profitable projects and develop a reputation in the construction and industrial field for being the cleaning company who can cope with the demands of their respective trades.
This is the where the number one advantage of using an agency comes into play. You now have access to a flexible workforce; a workforce that could consist of 12 cleaners one week and only 1 the next. Should your client make last minute changes to the cleaning plan then you can respond accordingly by increasing or cutting the workforce, and the best part of it is that you won’t be letting anyone down by taking away their work or struggling to fill gaps at the last minute with casual staff having already found work for the week elsewhere.
The other advantage of engaging an agency to supply you with temporary staff is having fast access to skilled, qualified individuals. On a builders clean for example, you may require a window cleaner who has the appropriate certification to operate a scissor lift or cherry picker. Take advantage of the vast range of skilled individuals on an agency’s books.
It is important to recognize that it is your responsibility to get the best out of the temporary workers you bring in. Never assume that agency staff will have the necessary knowledge or skills to ‘just get on with it’, and remember that even experienced cleaners may be trained in cleaning techniques that differ from your way of working. Motivation is important, and feeling as though they are part of the team is key to this as is positive feedback. Take time to explain the ins and outs of the project, including your relationship with the client, why you have been contracted in / the aim of the project, the timeframe, techniques, equipment, materials and chemicals and what you expect to achieve. One of the biggest sources of motivation is making someone feel that they have contributed to achieving an end result. Supervision is vital, although be cautious not to ‘hover over’ or harass your workers. Give them the freedom to work independently after being shown how to do something and check to see if they are OK at fairly frequent intervals. Ask them how they feel they are getting on, and if they would like any help with anything they are unsure of. Agency temps come from all walks of life and you can find yourself in the company of highly skilled individuals who come with a wealth of experience in so many different areas.