Janitors are often thought of  as faceless people who come in the night and magically leave the building clean by the next morning. But in reality, with 24/7 facilities and daytime cleaning, janitors are more visible than people think.

For example, while waiting for my flight home during a recent trip, I spied two janitors window washing. (That’s right, it took two people for this task: one to wash the window, the other to squeegee while the first one watched). Based on the way they were lackadaisically strolling through the terminal and throwing up suds, it seemed like a great job. It wasn’t hard work and you could laugh with a buddy while you did it. To top it off, they seemed OK with making a mess on the walls and carpet with splashing soap and water.

Besides this unenthusiastic cleaning, I was dumbfounded by the state of their equipment. Instead of a window washing bucket and janitor cart, they were using an old floor stripper pail sitting on an airport luggage cart. I was sitting near them, so I could see they were using water; but from afar, I’m sure that “corrosive” label on the bucket caused concern for a few onlookers.
The only plus was that this company thought a uniform would convey a good appearance. Ironically, thanks to the logo on the shirt, I knew exactly who these janitors worked for.

Janitors, at all times, should present a professional image: equipment in good repair; workers with a positive attitude and acting like they care about their job; clean and well-groomed attire. 

When janitors don’t look good, it won’t matter how well they clean; people will assume the building is dirty. If these janitors treated windows this nonchalantly, how well were the restrooms cleaned? I was glad to board my plane and not have to find out.

Companies spend years refining their images to earn respect from customers. Don’t let frontline janitors throw that all away. Remind them that janitorial is a profession, and should be treated like one. You never know who might be watching: in this case it was an editor of an industry trade publication. Tomorrow, it might be your next client.