Are Your Commercial Cleaning Costs Too High? Optimizing Your Pandemic Cleaning Program Without Sacrificing Quality

October 8, 2020

DCS is currently talking to senior property managers about their cleaning plans and COVID-19 scenarios for 2021. We are surprised by the current high prices people are paying for cleaning in substantially empty buildings. There are several reasons for this. 

  • uncertainty around the next wave of COVID-19 and re-occupancy timing 
  • additional touchpoint cleaning and sanitization 
  • new equipment, technology and processes to deal with the pandemic 
  • a commitment by property management to contract cleaners to assure resources are available when needed

This is borne out by a number of recent building inspections by DCS, where significantly empty buildings were spotless, with barely a speck of dust. These buildings had a full complement of cleaning staff, with cleaners spending significant time cleaning untouched, unoccupied, already-clean surfaces. This has been chalked up to “pandemic premiums” currently being applied across multiple industry sectors. In many cases, the current level of cleaning costs is difficult to justify.   

With commercial occupancy rates still (typically) well below 30%, reduced amenities and cordoned off building areas, the cleanable area and soiling levels in commercial buildings have decreased substantially. So how are your base building labour and any additional day staff being effectively utilized? The reality is, they probably are not.

With data-driven cleaning, COVID-19 specific KPIs, and traffic-driven work loading models, we believe current costs can be reduced significantly, without compromising quality, all the while building a flexible go-forward plan with your service provider which reflects the uncertain environment.

There are ways to optimize your cleaning costs while effectively cleaning to mitigate the risk of catching the virus through surface contact:

  • develop a comprehensive baseline of cleaning protocols, specifications, and frequencies
  • define your real cleaning and sanitization needs through a realistic risk assessment of the current traffic flows and occupancy of individual buildings
  • look at the benefits and viability of various service and contract options, including daytime cleaning, centralized trash, robotics, cost plus and fixed price contracts etc.
  • design a workflow and labour load to match the building utilization. Build in flexibility for changing pandemic phases needs 
  • renegotiate your current contract and/or consider testing the market if you are unhappy with existing service levels or can’t come to an agreement on new pricing

Look for practical, science-based and verified business processes. Consider using third-party experts who can cut through the fog of information and develop and execute a process and a plan that will work. In the pandemic environment it is essential to audit sanitization levels (ATP and/or Pathfinder testing) for due diligence and positive messaging to building users. 

Considering that cleaning is approximately 15% of CAM costs (common area maintenance) your ROI can be calculated in a few months, not years. On a recent BOMA pandemic cleaning committee call, the consensus was commercial cleaning costs are poised to rise significantly in 2021. Now is the time to reset your base costs based on a realistic assessment of your cleaning requirements.

We take the worry out of cleaning. For a free consultation or more information, visit or contact us today.