From dealing with school boards and compliance with building security regulations to special event demands and maintenance scheduling, schools fall into their own unique service category. The work flow is just plain different, says Mahanay.

“The key to school cleaning is understanding that schools are cleaned differently, and getting it right with the correct amount of labor and supervision as well as automated cleaning equipment that can help increase production,” he says.

The variance of activities of some schools, especially high schools that hold events that are open to the public, such as sporting events, plays and concerts, will impact cleaning frequencies and staffing levels throughout the year.

“You really have to be on top of being able to, from day-to-day, handle a completely different set of factors that can affect how dirty a building is. There are some real inconsistencies throughout the school year you have to be prepared for and be very connected with the facilities crew so you are on top of things,” Mahanay says.

Also, the messes made by preschool and grade school aged kids can be unlike any others BSCs have had to deal with.

“There’s nothing worse than a grade school boy’s bathroom,” Mahanay adds, laughing.

Security at many schools has tightened in recent years, in response to all-too-frequent school shootings. The cleaning crew is often responsible for locking up and checking the many entrances and windows to make sure they are secure. Not only are uniforms more important now, but so are IDs.

“We bought an ID machine and everyone has to wear their IDs in the schools,” Rosen says. “We’ve also stepped up background checks.”

The benefits of cleaning schools include contract stability, loyal customers, feeling more integrated into the community than other accounts may allow and cleaning at a more fair price than other market segments.

“If you’re doing a good job, and you can maintain your cost levels, there’s a good chance you can have many years of service with that school district,” Mahanay says.

Lisa Ridgely is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee. She is the former Deputy Editor of Contracting Profits.

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