Cleaner Subcontractor Responsibilities (Plus Skills)
Updated 12 September 2023
If you're considering a job as a cleaner subcontractor or want to own a cleaning subcontractor business, it's important to understand the key duties of individuals in these roles. Being a cleaner subcontractor involves travelling to sites to perform cleaning and maintenance duties for clients. Learning about the core responsibilities of the role can help you decide if it's a good fit for you. In this article, we define what a cleaner subcontractor is, outline cleaner subcontractor responsibilities, describe their typical roles, discuss the skills that individuals in these roles use and provide information about their typical work environments..
What is a cleaner subcontractor?
A cleaner subcontractor is someone who works on a contract basis to provide cleaning services to clients. Often, cleaning subcontractors work for contractors who hire them to clean spaces like offices, warehouses or retail facilities. While some companies have an internal janitorial or cleaning team, others may prefer or require the services that a contracted cleaner can offer.
For example, a retail store may hire a cleaning company to perform a deep cleaning of the store once a week rather than employing cleaning staff. The cleaning company may then hire subcontractors to conduct the cleaning services.
Cleaner subcontractor responsibilities
Cleaner subcontractor responsibilities are the typical duties that individuals in this profession perform. The duties of a cleaner subcontractor may vary based on the size of the contracting company, whether the subcontractor works through another agency and the needs of the client who contracts the service. For example, cleaner contractors may work independently. An individual may own cleaning equipment and contract themselves to a business or client to perform cleaning services. In other cases, a cleaning company may have a team of subcontractors that it hires out to businesses. Here are some typical responsibilities of cleaner subcontractors:
One of the primary responsibilities of cleaning subcontractors is to provide cleaning services for their clients. The specific cleaning tasks they perform depend on the needs of the client and what the cleaner is willing to do. For example, a cleaner may visit an office after hours to vacuum carpets, empty waste bins and remove dust from shelving. Cleaners who work in industrial facilities may perform more specialised services. These experts may know how to clean and care for industrial equipment or sterilise workspaces.
Customer service duties
Cleaning subcontractors provide services for clients, so it's important for them to know how to work well with others. Customer service responsibilities include meeting with clients to learn about their needs, answering their questions about cleaning services and communicating with them as needed. Depending on what type of subcontractor you are, you may also find your own customers. This may involve networking with others and contacting potential clients.
Business management duties
Subcontractors may also have responsibilities related to business management and administration. The extent of these duties may vary based on your subcontractor type. For example, if you work independently, then you may take full responsibility for your work as an independent small business owner. If you predominantly work through a subcontracting agency, you may have fewer administrative responsibilities. Typical business management responsibilities may include keeping records, managing paperwork, maintaining business licences, caring for cleaning supplies and equipment and handling any necessary insurance plans.
Cleaner subcontractor roles
Cleaner subcontractors can fulfil a variety of roles within the cleaning industry. Some subcontractors may specialise in providing services for a specific type of facility, while others may offer their services to a variety of clients. Here are some examples of roles for cleaner subcontractors:
Commercial contractors work for retail businesses and office spaces. For example, a commercial cleaner subcontractor may visit a grocery store after hours to provide cleaning services. They may perform tasks like buffing floors, clearing waste bins, cleaning windows and wiping off surfaces. Others may work in office settings where they clean carpets and windows, clear bins and clean bathrooms.
A residential cleaner visits the homes of their customers to perform general cleaning services. The services they provide may vary based on the needs of their clients. Some general cleaning tasks they perform may include cleaning floors and windows, tidying living spaces, straightening up bedrooms and wiping down kitchens and bathrooms. Cleaner subcontractors may also assist with laundry if needed.
Industrial cleaner subcontractors often have specialised skills that allow them to provide services for industrial facilities. These facilities often include manufacturing sites, warehouses, medical clinics and laboratories. In these facilities, cleaner subcontractors may perform more specific duties, like sanitising rooms in a medical facility where patients visit or medical experts work with hazardous medical samples. Those who work in manufacturing plants may follow specific protocols to work with heavy machinery while ensuring their own safety during the cleaning process.
Some cleaner subcontractors may work for government offices and other spaces that the government owns. For example, the state may hire cleaner subcontractors to clean school buildings after hours. In other cases, these cleaners may provide services for government buildings and office spaces. Government agencies may even hire cleaner subcontractors to provide cleaning services for military bases or offices, which may involve the subcontractor acquiring special permission to access these areas.
Skills for cleaner subcontractors
Cleaning subcontractors often have a combination of soft and hard skills that help them fulfil their duties. Those who own a cleaning company or work as independent contractors often have additional skills related to business management and administration. Here are some important skills for cleaner subcontractors:
Cleaner subcontractors use good communication skills to understand client needs and fulfil them. For example, a cleaner subcontractor may meet with a client to learn about the cleaning services they require. Some clients may have highly specific cleaning requirements, like requiring a cleaner who knows how to care for factory or manufacturing equipment. Understanding the needs and expectations of the clients helps subcontractors perform their duties effectively. Cleaners also communicate with clients if they encounter obstacles when performing their duties.
Negotiation skills allow cleaner subcontractors to work with clients to form contracts that grant fair compensation for their work. Subcontractors who work independently may use negotiation skills to ensure they receive the right payment for their efforts. For example, if a client hires a contractor to perform additional responsibilities outside of their initial contract, the cleaner may request to renegotiate the terms of their agreement. This ensures they gain additional compensation for the additional responsibilities they accept.
Related: How to Develop Negotiation Skills
Cleaner subcontractors often handle the administrative responsibilities of being small business owners or independent contractors. Administrative skills include managing paperwork, maintaining licences and organising schedules to ensure you complete all essential business tasks. For example, if you run a subcontractor agency or work independently, it's important for you to maintain records of the business and its operations. Maintaining documentation regarding current and past contracts, business licences and receipts for business-related purchases can ensure you have the paperwork to verify your operations.
Good time management skills are important for cleaner subcontractors. Those who work with multiple clients manage their schedules so they arrive promptly to perform their duties at the correct time. Effective time management involves planning your time well and ensuring you have enough time to manage your responsibilities. Knowing how long cleaning tasks take can help you manage your time well. You might consider how time factors into your compensation as a cleaner. Think about whether you charge clients on a timed schedule and plan your work accordingly.
Knowledge of cleaning practises
Following the right procedures while providing cleaning services is an important skill. This is especially true if you provide cleaning services for specialty clients. For example, if you offer cleaning for a healthcare facility or laboratory, you may follow specific protocols for health and safety. These protocols may involve using certain products that prevent contamination or dangerous reactions with other chemicals that may exist within the facility. In other cases, you may use specialised equipment to clean certain spaces, like using a floor buffer to clean hard floor surfaces.
Attention to detail
Cleaners use attention to detail to ensure they're thorough in their work. Attention to detail allows them to clean all areas of a facility and meet the expectations of their clients. Cleaners may work with chemicals that require precision, such as when measuring and mixing different cleaning products. Using these products correctly ensures the health and safety of the cleaner and those who use the facility.
Cleaner subcontractor work environments
The work environment for cleaner subcontractors can vary based on their setting of employment. Many contractors divide their time between working on-site at the facilities they clean and working in office-based settings where they conduct administrative work. Cleaner subcontractors frequently travel to the facilities they clean. They're also likely to work non-standard hours, such as evenings and weekends. This allows them to perform cleaning duties after hours when the facility's typical employees are away.
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