In-house Vs Outsourced cleaning


Hello all,

I currently am a french student studying a purchasing degree and I have a project regarding in-house Vs outsourced cleaning...

From that subject I think I should cover and answer the following questions:

 Why outsource cleaning? What are the benefits?

Examples if possible in hotel cleaning where an outsourced solution has been used and why?

What is the ‘world class’ cleaning model for hotel cleaning?

Any other examples where outsourced cleaning has been a success (different industries ie healthcare)?

Any financial models which have been used to prove that outsourced cleaning is a better more cost effective solution?

 Anything that proves that a company should outsource- I suppose somewhere we should cover risks?

I think the two main advantages of outsourcing cleaning are cost cutting and increased efficiency.

My parents own a hotel in France and I am aware of how painful and time consuming dealing and managing its own cleaners can be.

Are there any of you that have experienced the process from in house to outsource cleaning?

If yes, I'd really appreciate if you could share your experience and thoughts about it.

Thanks very much.

Best Regards,



  • In reply to tthetford:

    tthetford is right.  I have to agree with what most of the people here are saying, outsourced is not always the best way to go.  Contractors are usually more reliable and have lower prices and higher quality.  Just my opinion and two cents.


    Best office cleaning blog around:

  • In reply to Lauren Zwiebel:

    please don't take this the wrong way, but what does using a carpet extractor have to do with the question asked?  

    Why would you say in house cleaning is a better option and are you saying that it is the only good solution?

  • In reply to Chris Terrell:


    Perhaps the gentleman was trying to say was that "if" you are providing "in-house" custodial services that having adequate and suitable equipment allows you to perform cleaning tasks at-will.   Clearly for any cleaning operation, the level of mechanization is a key component to overall costs and efficiency of custodial staff.  The days of the mop-and-bucket approach are fading fast in many areas in favor of floor scrubbers...for example.

    When you look at the "better" question of contract vs. in-house you are likely to get a different perspective from a facilities or in-house custodial manager and their staff than you may get from the business or budget manager.  The core question is: cleaning standard for standard and man-hours for man-hour the "ability" to do an adequate job is a function of clear cleaning and performance standards and how/if those standards are met and how much each man-hour costs a customer.  Although in-house personnel "my" be able to perform at a prescribed level, there is often a reluctance to manage (hold accountable) staff to perform at the same level that a contractor would be held to by contract.   Additionally, contract staff generally are paid at a level significantly below in-house staff with fewer benefits (by 25%).....leaving considerable room for vendor profit and a customer’s savings.  So the question then becomes:  "better value"

    Once you get past the emotion and question of a custodial program providing "family wage jobs" as well as the personal relationships and focus on "pure defined service delivery", custodial services can be reduced to a "commodity" that can generally be purchased (standard for standard) more cost effectively on the open contract market.  

    I believe the current economic climate is creating considerable organizational and in-house program fear as they see services around them be contracted out.   The astute manager will see the train coming and jump on board bringing their staffing, costs, and cleaning standards in line with what is available outside their program...instead of letting the train run over them.  The whistle is blowing......and the crossing is getting is just a matter of time before the two collide.



  • In reply to Chris Terrell:

    Chris, It is simple!

    The comment made for carpet extractor is post by someone who sale carpet extractor.

    In my opinion, from what I ear arround, outsource is better. A previous prospect from a year and half ago called me back. They went inhouse and now they want out. The problem seem to be performance, staff drag their ass and talk with everyone they see. Cost of buying and maintaining equipment doesnt semm to worth it for them, therefore costing more on the long run. Also some prospect keep telling me that inhouse staff have too many access to file and paper, because there is nobody to keep an eye on them.

  • In the In-house the employees tends to take responsibility and have more of an initiative to do better and they show ownership of there areas and have more pride the employees are more comfortable with stability and with contract services provider the facility leadership can and will be changed constantly.

  • In reply to Jacques Bernier:

    Not sure where you work or worked but outsourcing is not clearly the way to go It is not the fault of the workers having access to files but it is the record keepers fault for violating hippa rules and regulations I find that and in-house staff will do more than a staff member under a contractor I have worked both sides and In- house is the way to go you must be a contractor

  • In reply to Keith Webb:

    While I will agree with you (Keith Webb) that in house employee may take a great responsibility towards their jobs, I must add that in my experience so does contractor employees.  There are also plenty of workers that do not take responsibility and get complacent in their jobs on both side of the fence.  There is no absolute on who has better workers.  

    Attracting those kinds of workers really depends on two driving factors.  Wages and management style.

    Low wage jobs are always rampant with under-motivated "problem" employees.  True there are many great ones, but they either move up into supervision, or they move on to better jobs because they can.  Now if the wages are higher you have one of two scenarios. 

    A. it is in house where wages have slowly worked their way up over time

    B. It is a Union job.  

    The first one will be full of very motivated employees that will take great pride in their work.  Sure there are duds, but the ratio is better than the low wage positions.  Contractors typically don't have that option unless it is a union job.  People just don't want to pay enough to make that sort of environment a reality unless Union labor forces them to.

    Now if it is a Union job.   Well. . . . it is luck of the draw what it will be like.  You may have great employees, or you may have terrible employees that you can't get rid of.  That depends on a lot of factors.

    The honest and simple reality about contract vs. in-house is that it should be decided on a case by case basis.  No two facilities, work forces, pay rates, and management styles are alike.  That is why there is a market for industry consultants who understand all of these people.  These kinds of people help companies make that choice.  So if you're considering converting from one to the other, then I would recommended paying a consultant to analyze you situation and to make a recommendation.  But make sure whomever you higher can help you through the process no matter which way you go.  It will save you a lot more money that if you try to do it yourself.  Unless you have a commercial janitorial industry expert on staff.  

  • In reply to Chris Terrell:

    Comment to Chris Terrell and Kieth Webb:

    Having managed housekeeping services in healthcare and contract custodial services in both healthcare and public education, I have seen the argument and service  delivery go both ways.  Although pay rates can be  a motivating factor, there are just as many times the compensation is high but motivation and productivity is low either from inadequate equipment,  pure phisical ability to feelings of entitlement, and union job protection.  So, with either in-house staff or contract service scenerio, the true determining factors are the clear detailing of expectations of the staff or service provider, properly tracking and documentation of performance with additional training or staffing changes where needed, and overall tracking of day to day management of the staff performance and the overall cleaning process.  Either  in-house or contract "can" be successful depending on the organization goals and ojectives as well as managment of the staff and process.

    How the service or in-house staff is managed is also a factor of the organizational culture, how the organization views the housekeeping/custodial staff/service, and how willing they are to provide the management leadership to not only manage staff productivity but also organizational expectations and standards.  You can have a great capable staff but without the management leadership and organizational support of the custodial mission within the organization culture (like in healthcare), they will likely flounder and fail to meet those expectations. 

    I agree that outside consultants with specific industry knowledge (Healthcare, Pub. Ed., Gen. Off., Industrial, other.....) have seen both sides of the coin and can make ballanced reccomendations on how to maximize productivity within an organization culture and objectives, provide management guidance and training,  and where neccessary make a changes neccessary to staffing, management, and orgaizational expectations.....sometimes all three need to changed.

    The economic realities today for most organizations is to minimize in-house staff and costs.  This trend tends to lead in the outsourcing direction....all other things being equal.  So you cant say that one is better than the other until you have a clear picture of the organizational variables....and that may take an outside consultant to define objectively.



  • In reply to ArthurF:

    If you can maintain your brand integrity while outsourcing, go for it. If the only reason you're doing it is to save a few bucks, consider the opportunity cost of business you might not get or lose simply because your brand is no longer conveyed through the quality of service.

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         The debate continues still today between contracted and in house services.  Both have their merits, but as both a department manager and a contractor over the years, I have learned it's about the final agreement and terms that makes the difference.

         For about the last seven or eight years we have maintained a substantial amount of square footage for a major hospital organization in Alabama.  They have two hospitals and approximately 30 out buildings including two medical malls.  One evening the hospital's Director of Environmental Services paid a surprise visit to me at one of the medical malls.  We toured the major facility and his mood became more and more serious, causing me concern.  He noticed, as we proceeded, how many of my evening staff were employed with his in house staff during the day.  Same people, same duties.  We hire current hospital employees when possible because they're familiar with the J.C.A.H.O. requirements and all the other various details about working with a healthcare facility.

         I thought he had a problem with our using his employees and he did, but it wasn't the problem I expected.  At the end of the tour, I walked him to his car.  He abruptly stopped, turned to me and said "every floor in that entire mall looks better than any floor in either of my hospitals."  He turned, got in his car and left.

         About a week later, and still unsure if we were in trouble or not, the Director called and asked me to lunch.  At lunch he asked me how I could generate better results, on a smaller budget, than his managers could with more money and the same people.  I explained how my people weren't on the clock and how they were paid per project after completion paperwork was signed off.  Strip and wax a floor, get it signed off and get paid.  If the floor didn't look incredibly good, it wouldn't get approved and compensation could be delayed.

         Long story, short... three months later the same Director offers "I now spend less money and have a higher level of service."

         Anyhow, like I said... it's all about the agreement and terms that make the difference.

    Thomas Anthony

    Facility Support Services - A cleaning bid


  • In reply to Donald Redman:

    One thing you learn first day in a decent MBA program-OUTSOURCE non core competencies.


    I doubt very much you have audited costs...retail v. outsource bulk buying,total employee costs including outsourcing you do this.


    Finally I doubt above person has done a careful insurance review.If his/her people aren't properly trained the carrier may not cover.If not OSHA trained other exposure.The in house operation costs a LOT more if real factors and legal exposure are counted in but false savings is endemnic in US-why there is so much litigation.