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Evaluating Customer Retention in Commercial Cleaning

Person standing next to the words "Customer Retention".

Key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics can help track overall team performance and show you where areas of opportunity lie.  

Using metrics effectively can help your janitorial business run more efficiently. However, it is hard to reap the full benefits of metrics without understanding where they come from.  

Used correctly, collecting data and using it to make decisions can positively impact every part of your business, including client retention. Once you’ve set your company goals and identified critical success factors, setting KPIs is the next step.  

Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

KPIs are designed to show the overall health of a business at a single glance. Although KPI numbers can stand on their own, they also show the overall success of the business’ combined critical success factors. KPIs can be calculated as either a culmination of the CSFs or as separate metrics. 

Clocks on the floor.

Suggested KPIs for BSCs: 

  • Work order response time 

  • Inspection scores 

  • Number of planned maintenance work orders vs. Unplanned work orders 

  • Customer survey results  

  • Customer outreach

Although there may be a strong correlation between the CSFs listed above and customer retention, the CSFs do not show how long a customer has stayed with your company. In this case, we would calculate that KPI metric separately.

To determine the length of a customer’s lifetime, subtract the earliest contract date from today’s date. Next, average all of your customers’ lifetimes together. Then, find out how your average customer lifetime compares with the jan/san industry’s 4 year average.

Collect and Record Accurate Data

After you determine what KPIs to track, you need to figure out how and where to track the data.

Four people's hands holding electronic devices.

As we’ve written before, a comprehensive commercial cleaning software solution can make this a lot easier. But when considering a software solution, make sure the data entry is naturally incorporated into your real-time workflow.

For example, if you promise your customers a specific work order turnaround time, immediate data entry by your employees is imperative. An excessive lag between completing the work and closing the ticket can corrupt your data.

On the surface, a lag may not sound like much of a problem. However, it can create profound ripple effect in areas such as the following:

  • Employee Allocation: If you have eight employees taking an extra hour to update their work, that could signal to management that you need an additional person to handle the workload.

  • Writing new Customer Contracts: With corrupted data, it would be hard to set competitive work order response times. If you adjust your data on a gut feeling, you could find it difficult to meet that standard. If you promise work order response times that are too slow, the potential customer could choose to go with someone else.

  • Customer Promises: If you promise a fast work order response time, an extra hour in your data could make it harder to prove that your company is meeting the conditions of your contract.

The good news is that once a problem is noticed, it can be resolved with training. As you train your employees, explain how their performance affects the company and their potential for bonuses. As your team adjusts, so will your data. After all, data-driven decisions are only as good as the data itself.

Make Necessary Changes 

Just knowing the numbers won’t help your organization improve. The key to KPI management is setting goals and dividing them into manageable targets your team can focus on. If your team can’t achieve those goals on a regular basis, it will be tough to reach your overall goals.  

Stressed man looking at computer screen.

If weekly results turn into a trend, talk to your team about why. Identify what is working and what is not so your team can make improvements. If there are factors outside of your teams’ control, like economic conditions, it is important to discuss these as well. Manage this discussion carefully; it is an exploratory conversation, not a time for excuses. 


Based on this conversation, you may need to adjust your goals. SMART goals are designed to stretch, not break, you and your team. After adjusting or resetting your goals, write an action plan to help keep you on track.

Implementing KPIs and other metrics may feel like a big task, especially if they have not been part of your commercial cleaning business before. Remember the old saying, “If you can measure it, you can improve it.” Although this process may not be instantaneous, it may have a great impact on your productivity and client retention, and thus the future of your commercial cleaning business. 


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