In a volatile economy, businesses look for ways to curb costs. Many, still in post-pandemic recovery mode, are under extreme pressure as they manage against the threat of a recession and ongoing economic uncertainty.

Eliminating contracted partners and transferring responsibilities in-house is a common solution that may seem like a smart business solution on the surface. What many managers discover the hard way is that cutting costs can become a costly mistake.

This is particularly true in the case of services like facilities management. For many companies, facility services represent a relatively small 2-5% budget line-item cost. This deceptively small expense is one that many companies believe can be trimmed by bringing the responsibilities in house.

The challenge is that behind this seemingly prudent budget-cutting decision lurks a multi-million-dollar operational risk that financial, operational and facility leaders may not recognize.

At its core, facilities management protects the company, its people and its assets. A facilities management and commercial cleaning partner can play an essential role in mitigating a client’s operational risk. In fact, aligning with a reputable partner, such as a cleaning franchise provider, can introduce a level of trained skill, attention to detail and commitment to service that it’s extremely difficult to achieve in-house.

To better understand how a franchise partner may be a better solution than insourcing, it’s important to first consider the inherent challenges of bringing commercial cleaning duties in-house.


Regulatory Risk

Failed regulatory audits can lead to millions of dollars in fines. In-house teams often lack the expertise to develop facility maintenance processes to address building preparation for regulatory audits. These limitations mean in-house cleaners may miss important tasks or procedures that place an operation at risk of fines and shutdowns.

Conversely, franchise businesses that provide facility maintenance services have access to a wealth of resources, including robust training programs, that help establish comprehensive protocols for each of a customer’s operating sites, even if every building has unique demands and nuances. A dedicated commercial cleaning franchise business specializes in understanding regulatory guidelines and keeps tabs on changes in a way that many in-house crews are not equipped to do.


Productivity Limitations

For any business, employee illnesses, injuries and attrition impact operational productivity. Facilities management, which can be easily overlooked, especially if management perceives the role as strictly janitorial, is truly an essential function. Even a day or two of absence can create significant gaps that pose a threat to a business’ overall productivity.

Backfilling for an employee’s temporary illness or injury-related leave is more complicated than many other positions. Skills are less transferable and specific knowledge is necessary to execute many facilities management tasks, even seemingly simple duties like mixing cleaning chemicals properly to avoid damaging surfaces or creating toxic fumes. Multiple layers of loss are at stake, including human health and safety, costly destruction of property and down time if workspaces are rendered unusable.

With a janitorial franchise partner in place, that contractual agreement means facility management duties will be completed regardless of illness or other circumstances. It’s a franchise owner’s responsibility to have contingencies in place for a wide range of scenarios so each customer’s business continues without interruption. That level of reliability and continuity is virtually impossible to achieve with an in-house team.


Personnel Challenges

Also worth noting, facilities management positions tend to have a high rate of turnover. Janitorial service, in particular, is a complex job to manage as there is rarely recognition for a job well done. On the other hand, everyone notices even a minor oversight. Frequent hiring, ongoing training, workers comp claims and damage to facilities all threaten a company’s productivity, and ultimately, its bottom line.

This is precisely what one large food and entertainment chain found after trying to manage facility services in-house. They did not anticipate the level of employee oversight and management needed to hire, fire, train, motivate and oversee the employee base. After hiring workers, the company quickly realized that the operation needed supervisors, process manuals and formal training. Not long after initiating the experiment, the business reverted to its previous outsourcing model and reengaged an OpenWorks franchise partner to effectively oversee its facility service needs.

As this company discovered, personnel matters represent an area where engaging a franchise partner can be especially beneficial. Unlike in-house facilities maintenance workers, who tend to have limited career growth opportunities or aspirations, facility managers are also franchise owners. They are highly motivated entrepreneurs who recognize their customers’ success and satisfaction is essential to attaining their own business goals.

Franchising: A Practical Solution

In today’s business world, it is more important than ever for businesses to focus attention and resources on core operations. Outsourcing facility services simply makes sense, and that means opportunity for existing and aspiring franchise business owners.

Facility management is a massive job all on its own. Partnering with a commercial cleaning franchise company allows ambitious, enterprising individuals with an interest in facilities management and cleaning services to become part of a solution for businesses in their community. A partner like OpenWorks offers added benefits, like ongoing training, comprehensive business support, and access to valuable data that provides a unified view of your customer operations.

OpenWorks, a national leader in facilities management, serves customers from coast to coast who have discovered the advantages of enlisting the support of a knowledgeable expert, rather than attempting to cut costs (and corners) by bringing the job in-house.

Facility management is far from a cost to be eliminated in a time of economic uncertainty. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s a profit protector that should not be overlooked.



Andrew Johnson is Senior Vice President of Marketing at OpenWorks, where he is responsible for customer and franchise growth activities and communications. His 25-plus years of experience spans industries including facilities management, transportation, distribution, SAAS and enterprise software.