image of after hours skylineIt’s 5:00 PM and most people are getting geared up to go home from work. Not us, we are just getting ready to start, right? Most office & commercial cleaning takes place after hours. It takes a special kind of person to work late into the evening. Especially if that person has worked a full day already.

I have the greatest respect for commercial cleaners, I hate the stereotype we are often given in movies and TV. Going into a building after hours is an enormous responsibility that’s not to be taken lightly. Let’s look at some of the things that can go wrong.

How about we start with alarms. If you’re in the cleaning business you and your staff will be responsible for the alarm system in each building you clean. Most buildings have alarm systems and your clients will expect that you’re fully capable of working them.

Obviously, you need the code, but what if the alarm goes off? You also need the secret word and how to answer the phone when the security company calls. I have a confession to make- sometimes when you do something for so long, you get lazy. That’s what happened a few weeks ago when we started a group of new buildings.

I was showing my employee how to access the building and I went in the wrong door. Instead of having 30 seconds to turn the alarm off, it went off immediately.

Mistake one:  I rushed to the control panel and entered the code, then I went straight to the phone knowing the security company would call. They did, and I could not answer the phone because I was not shown how. I was in the wrong area to answer it.

Mistake two:  I asked my employee to wait outside for the police, they never came. Instead, they called the owner of the business at home and he drove 40 minutes to come and check things out. I had failed to get an emergency contact for that building!

Mistake three:  I was SO embarrassed to make such rookie mistake.

This client was a group of four buildings, there were so many details I simply dropped the ball, my bad, no one to blame. Fortunately, the buildings were very dirty and we scoured them top to bottom.

The client was very happy. Of course, this all could have been avoided if I carefully filled out the new client start sheet that we use. But I was very rushed and overextended that day when I picked up the keys.

I took shortcuts and paid the price. Let’s look at a few other things that can happen after hours.

It’s not uncommon for the police to stop if they see someone entering or leaving a building and it’s very late. Your staff should have uniforms and ID badges to display at all times.

They should also be reminded to never let anyone in the building, even if the person works there. Your employees need to be able to reach you or someone if there is a problem. Vacuums can break, things can go wrong.

Hopefully, your employees can solve some of their own problems, but there will be occasions when they need to reach you. Safety is also a top concern after hours. Your employees should always be aware of their surroundings and be alert to anything suspicious.

We have also found leaking pipes, smoke alarms have gone off, windows have been found open or broken etc. Your employees need to let someone know about anything unusual they find.

The bottom line is this – if you’re going to be in the cleaning business you will have responsibilities after hours when most people are done with work. As your business grows you can delegate and share some of these responsibilities with others.

Stay organized and always keep a list of emergency contacts for your clients, because you never know what can happen.