Breaking The Janitor Stereotype

Cleaning: CP

On occasion I like to get on my soapbox and remind (usually singing to the choir) that continuing education and professionalism in the custodial industry is paramount if we are to break the old stereotypes of “Janitor Joe” as a mop slinging, cigarette-smoking slouch who is not only ignorant but rude as well.

I cringe every time I consult with a company that claims they cannot afford uniforms and see workers in cut offs, tank tops, flip flops and BO (check the dictionary if you do not know this highly technical term). It is obvious they have not been trained or perhaps they were untrainable and the company simply hired the cheapest staff they could find.

I can remember times in central Florida when I ran my cleaning service that if the applicant was breathing (fog a mirror) we made every attempt at training and converting them to become professional custodians. We did require black/dark slacks or skirts (based on gender) and provided a colored shirt or top as well as aprons and a clear color ID. We usually had not gotten through the training process before they had left for 10 cents more per hour or someone who would allow them to dress as they pleased so long as they showed up. I finally learned to pay the best in the area and provide a few perks/benefits that my competition did not provide. These efforts along with better screening resulted in lowered turnover, fewer complaints and more money to my bottom line over a period of time.

From the hundreds of workers we went through we anxiously looked for any who had leadership potential and put them on track to become leads or supervisors. These were the ones we encouraged to continue their education in this dynamic industry.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net