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Commercial Cleaning Franchise Complaints

theshaft27090 Commercial Cleaning Franchise Complaints
The commercial cleaning gold rush is on, but are franchisees getting the gold mine… or the shaft?

Commercial cleaning is being hyped as the hot, recession-defiant franchise opportunity

The February, 2010 Entrepreneur Magazine states “of the 10 fastest-growing franchises measured by Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500, six were commercial cleaning companies.  That’s downright recession-defiant.”  In fact, nine of Entrepreneur’s 100 fastest-growing franchises were commercial cleaning companies.

Janitorial franchises have a low cost of entry (Unit level franchises are generally less than $10,000) and don’t require an academic or a professional background, making them attractive to vast numbers of desperate, unemployed or under-employed opportunity seekers.  Many allege that some of these companies specifically target recent immigrants or non-English speaking groups.

The complaints behind the hype?

The complaints we’re reading about janitorial and commercial cleaning franchises are remarkably similar from company to company:  Franchisees not receiving accounts as promised, franchisees receiving underbid, unprofitable accounts, franchisees having accounts unfairly taken from them and given to other franchisees (to meet the franchisor’s and master franchisee’s obligations), and franchisees being charged excessive fees.

Nearly 10% of Entrepreneur’s “fastest-growing franchises” list are commercial cleaning franchises: #1 Jan-Pro Franchising Int’l Inc., #3 Stratus Building Solutions, #5  Anago Cleaning Systems, #7  CleanNet USA Inc., #8  Bonus Building Care, #10  Vanguard Cleaning Systems, #16 System4, #66 BuildingStars Inc., #91 Mint Condition Franchising Inc.

Janitorial franchises also hyped in the Entrepreneur 500 list include: Jani-King, ServiceMaster Clean, OpenWorks, OctoClean, Office Pride Commercial Cleaning, City Wide Maintenance, Janitize America, and OMEX. (Coverall is conspicuously absent from Entrepreneur’s lists.)

Other commercial cleaning franchises on BearCom Building Services, Champion Clean, E.P.I.C. Systems Inc., On Target Maintenance, Pro One Janitorial Inc., Service One Janitorial

Please share your experiences and observations – good and bad – with commercial cleaning franchises by leaving a comment below, or on one of the relevant posts.


Commercial Cleaning Franchise Posts & Discussions:

JANI-KING Franchise Complaints

JAN-PRO Franchise Complaints


COVERALL Franchise Complaints

OCTOCLEAN Janitorial Services Franchise

JAN-PRO: Janitorial Franchise Warning

CHAMPION CLEAN Using Bogus Franchise Statistics


Commercial Cleaning Franchises: 10 Reasons to NOT Buy One

FTC Guide to Buying a Janitorial Services Franchise

FTC’s Janitorial Franchise Buyer’s Guide


41 thoughts on “Commercial Cleaning Franchise Complaints

  • come on man

    jan pro is bullshit

  • Stratus Building Solutions, Especially the one is Pittsburgh is a big scam. Please do not go to Stratus. I bought a franchise and now they plan on taking the one and only account off of me. That leaves me with zero income. The way the contract is written is that they are able to take off of you any accounts they say. They tell you they have complaints about the cleaning you have been doing. They tell you “We warned you now the account is taken from you. We need to protect our intrest too.” The contract favors them. I lost $13,700 Also even tho you think you own a franchise you really do not. They get you accounts that belong to them. so you can not sell your franchise. The only way you can sell it is to go door to door and get your own accounts. You could have started you own cleaning and keep all the cleaning money yourself. Please listen to me. The contract does not protect you at all. The contract benefits them. Please help me stop Stratus of pittsburg and Stratus corporate from swindleing any one. The solution to me is to go clean places on your own. By the way, if you do get your own places to clean while you are with stratus, you still have to pay percentage.

  • You are not alone buddy. I think most all cleaning Franchise are rip offs.

  • I definatly feel chris on this one, the one thing I cant stress enough for anyone thinking about doing this for a living is do your homework. franchises take anywhere from 13% to 30% from your gross, leaving you to squeek by on your net. if you are looking at a company and they want more than 15% total with all their taxes and fees and BS then walk away. mine takes the 13% and 20% on special services, though for that cash what I am suppose to get would be a good deal, untill you find out that they get that money even on accounts you got 100% on your own. any company that wont let you outsource your supplies you don’t want anything to do with them either. and most will underbid accounts simply because it is a cut throat buisness, the average consumer of your services in the commercial aspect will look at everything before they pick a company, so ask yourself; is my company really different from the others or does it just blend in? what will make your potential customers pick you over “billy bobs sweep n`mop” if you promise the same, seem very similar and billy bob charges less, then they will most likely go with billy bob. remember your potential clients really have no true idea of the costs and time involved in running a cleaning cleaning service. so make yourself truely unique, and what ever you do, don’t deal with a franchise that lied to you about anything, just imagine what lies they may be telling your customers and you never want lies told to your customers… they want the truth at all times even if you are sure they will end their contract with you, telling them the truth in a straight forward manner is always the best way to keep an account.
    (sorry about my spelling, never was good at it. anyway thank you for reading I hope I didn’t ramble too much)

  • Selling A Dream

    First off, I have been in the commercial cleaning industry for a while and seen owners make alot of money. With these new smaller “Franchise Company’s” the days of making money in this industry is almost impossible. They will promise you the world, but once you sign the will show there true colors.

    Most the Franchise Owners never been in this industry, but have experience in ripping people off. They are good with numbers and SELLING DREAMS. You are actually paying 10’s of thousands of dollars to make between $8-$10hr. You can’t even hire people without taking a loss. They will take any account bidded half the price, Promise the customer exceptional service(at your expense and time) then charge you 4-5x the monthly gross + Royalty + Management Fees+ Paying Workmans Comp(Even if you clean it yourself) + Insurance + Supplies and Gas. It is possible to be working for less than minimum wage w/ no tips.

    They will have a list of tons of things to be done thats impossible to do in the amount of time for the money. Then pleasing customers(After there expectations are so high) is almost imposible and make a profit at the same time. Any Commercial Cleaning Business owner should make between $17-$35 hr Minimum. They are bidding at $15-$20 an hour BIDDING I SPECIFY. Divide that by 70% (what it costs you to pay all the fees and run a business Taxes, Etc) You are actually making less than minimum wage. The only accounts that are profitable are the once a week and twice a month accounts.

    They will also VOLUNTEER you to do free extra service work. I tried to ask to get out of my contract because the MASTER FRANCHISER was not delivering the kind of service that he promised and sold me. If you buy into this and expect to make money, You will be working day and night for minimum wage. Its better to Subcontract from another Contractor than to buy into a franchisee SCAM.

    They get all there customers from telemarketing (which is the best way) but that means that they are willing to change and change often for a lowball bid. They will find ways around taking accounts from you and you will loose money on those and there is nothing you can do because it is writting in these Master Franchisor Benifited Contracts.

    Moral to the story is that something has to be done with there contracts because people are getting fooled into think that they are business owners, when in reality they want to treat you like an employee. You have all the downfalls of being an business owner *High Stress*Taxes*Supplies*Franchisee Fees*Insurance*Bonding*Royalty Fees*Management Fees* ETC* and Downfalls to being a Employee *They tell you how to run your business*Low PAY*Treat you like an employee* The customers expect the world from you on your low pay*If you do not perform to the highest expectations that where promised but not what was bid for you lose all the money you invested into it. So the Franchise got you by the ***** and the customer got you by the ***** Trust me its a lose lose.

    I am a current ANGRY FRANCHISEE/EMPLOYEE in the Phoenix area expressing my freedom of speach or writting. I wont say the company name because they probably got something in the clause that i will lose all my money if I tell the truth about there Crooked System. There is a small amount of franchisee’s that will succeed from luck of getting the right accounts, but the majority will not make any REAL MONEY. To me its not worth the headache if you are not getting paid good. Then alot of customers wont give you keys, so you have to be there at a certain time and work around there employees like you are one of there own employees(sounds like fun right) and a whole bunch of 7 day a week accounts that pay the worst Profit of about $6 hr.

    I know most wont read this whole thing, but I am giving my FAIR WARNING about this Cleaning Franchise Scam. They make there money off of your franchisee fees not off of these UNDERBID ACCOUNTS.

  • anonymous

    first of all you can make alot of money with STRATUS. If you have NO buisness sense, business skills, or a closed mind you can easily fail. Just like any busineess if you dont put out your best youll only get what you put in! If you think your going to make 100.00 an hour all the time your better off investing in lottery tickets! I personally know a guy who invested 1000.00 with STRATUS and after 3 yrs of hard work he is now making 15600.00 a month (after all fees) he has 4 part time employees and pays out about 5000.00 mo. Hes clearing over 10000.00 a month and working 6 hours a night!
    how is this possible!
    1. Do your best, go that exrea mile to please your customer
    2. this is your business, treat it as so.
    3.hire people who clean as good or better than you!
    4. ask for more accounts!
    5. keep in contact with the office and find out what you can do to take on more business!
    Yes you can get jobs on your own!
    STRATUS will take 20%…. Why?
    1. STRATUS is charged 10% for your insurance
    2. They will handle ALL of your billing, any nessasary operations, office work, and any collections on your behalf! well worth the 20%!


    you have several people in the sales dept. working to get you accounts!
    you are backed by over 30 yrs of experience and leadership!
    you have a portfolio of refrences at you fingertips!

    If you are motivated and open minded you can make 500.00 a month or 10000.00 a month… Its up to you… Not Stratus.

  • rich stephenson

    Vanguard cleaning rip off. Well you pay 10,000 for 2 vacs a buffer and cleaning tools. Bait Then you get a few contracts. You start making some money.They give you a few more.Then they swamp you with work.You have to hire people to help.But they bid the contracts so cheap you can’t keep up with paying for extra help.The reason is this.They don’t make there money on the 15% you are charged for each contract.They make it when they come around and get the customer to change to another vanguard cleaner.They drop the cleaning price for for the customer a little.It all starts over a complaint .You might never know what it was.The SCAM You buy the contracts.You pay them off as you do them .Most are a year But the big ones are longer.Figure a $1400 three times to own it..And if you lose it .Well you pay for it still.Till its paid for the new vanguard cling people are also paying now for the $1400 contract,till they get there complaint and so on
    Like a ponse scam

  • 1st Amendment

    Rich Stephenson All of these fake cleaning franchisors keep ripping of so many people. We all need to file complaints with the attorney General and the Federal Trade Commision.

  • stratus is all bull shiet !! its a fucking fraud!!!

  • They all are scams…..the ONLY people making real money are the people selling the franchises. Beware….they may be charging you an insurance fee. But make sure you are totally covered under their policy (i.e. your named on the paperwork).

  • Javier Santos

    STRATUS is A Big Scam! Don’t let them ruin your dreams they take advantage of good people to fill up their pockets.

  • Stratus Building Solutions Franchise has received a grade of “F” from the Better Business Bureau of Orange County

    Stratus Building Solutions Franchise complaint 1:
    “Posted 3/11/2011 Summary – Consumer alleges services were not rendered as agreed.

    Complaint Description Consumer alleges services were not rendered as agreed. Consumer paid your company $1000.00 down for a franchise business opportunity on 7/19/10. She completed the classes needed to get certified on janitorial services on 8/24/10. Once the classes were completed she was going to start getting job sites were she had to provide janitorial services, using her own equipment and would receive a check for services rendered minus a 25% fee from your company. To date consumer has not received job sites. Every time she calls to get assistance she is given the run around. She requested to get her money back for the down payment on the franchise however you refused. Consumer wants a refund of her monies.”

    Stratus Building Solutions Franchise complaint 2:
    “Posted 4/15/2011 Summary – Consumer alleges services were misrepresented and no refund has been issued

    Complaint Description Consumer alleges services were misrepresented and no refund has been issued. Consumer purchaser a franchise from your company on 7/14/09 and paid $22000.00. He was promised to have his own business, his own building to provide the janitorial service that will pay $120000.00 a year. To date he has made $17000.00 in one year. He is not running his own company, instead he is introduce to clients as if he was working for your company. He had to pay 25% fee from each check for insurance, processing fees etc. When consumer complains to your company and ask for a refund of the money he invested you refuse. Consumer wants a refund of the $22000.00 he paid because the franchise was not as represented.”

    Stratus Building Solutions Franchise complaint 3:
    “Posted 4/21/2011 Summary – Consumer states company failed to provide proper services.

    Complaint Description Consumer states company failed to provide proper services. Consumer paid $14,500 to the company. The company stated they would assist her in getting contracts with franchises, to clean their facilities. A list of potential leads would be provided to her. The lists they provided are not valid. When she requested a refund, she only received the runaround.”

  • 1st Amendment

    Stratus was exposed on National Television for ripping of alot of people. You can see the it by going to this link. These peoples life savings were riped off. A man on the video described them as a “Cave of Rats”

  • Stratus Building Solutions Franchise in Philadelphia is a big SCAM, Please don’t made same mistake I did and do not Buy franchise from them, they take advantage of good people, You are actually paying 10′s of thousands of dollars to make between $8-$10hr. You can’t even hire people without taking a loss, the ONLY people making real money are the people selling the franchises.

  • anonymous

    What bothers me the most is that with all the cleaning companies out there, they all repeat the same deceptive, abusive, misleading and unethical practices. They prey on the average american who wants to legally make money and work hard doing it. Often people have invested their life savings into the hope of making a better way for their families. It is unbelievable how the state and federal government aren’t doing anything after years of complaints and law suits to protect people from these modern day ponzi schemes. I invested my money into Stratus Building Solutions to later find out that im not a owner of my own business but merely a employee, i paid $11000 to work a job. The gross revenues arent guranteed, they underbid contracts just to build their portfolio. Some of the jobs break down to be less than minimum wage. A business is meant to grow, not keep you stuck in one place where you have to do all the work to get by. If you speak against their actions they totally cut you off, no contact, even when they still owe you money.

  • All janitorial franchises are scams. All what you have said is true.I am talking about City wide maint. They don’t only manage janitorial business. They manage more than twenty businesses to manage. So They have no time to give to customers. The customers keep on calling for issues related to their managment and they don’t have time to contact them.
    I advice all to start your own janitorial business not a franchise. Businesses are fooled by big names. Big Companies like citywide are just selling their names

  • Chris Bensen

    City Wide uses all sub,s and thay do not do any of the work .They are managers and owners of the accounts thay sell but thay do not have control of the employees of there sub,s.No backround checks No drug tests and no control of the people as thay are not the one,s paying them.So if you are using them how do you know who is in your building at night.And how do you know if the sub,s have Ins .Thay do not have the control over the people at all because if thay did thay would be employees and not sub,s.Check the IRS rules on this and you can see.Most of the city wide franchisees just sell and could not do the work.Very little experience in floors,carpet,water damage,disaster restoration and do not have a clue about OSHA documentation.One franchise has a guy as a manager that before he worked at city wide he worked at Best BUY.There is a guy with about no experience and if the sub does not show up who does the work.Also how can he train people to do the work in the building when he has never done it himself.Maybe just watched a few times.Know what you are getting before you hire a janitoral company.Most franchises under bid and do not have the experience to do the job right for very long.Thay most allways start to cut corners after thay have had the contract for a few weeks.Or there sub,s do.

  • The Law Office of Jonathan E. Fortman, LLC has filed a lawsuit in Missouri on behalf of franchisees of Stratus Building Solutions. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages on behalf of the franchisees for fraud and breach of contract. The lawsuit is asking the Court to certify the case as a class action. The investigation is ongoing, if you, or anyone you know, has had a franchise terminated by Stratus or any of its master franchisors, if you believe the company gave you false or misleading information to get you to pay money and sign the franchise agreement, or if the company has failed to live up to its obligations under the franchise agreement, we would like to talk to you. You can contact us anytime by calling the number below. There is NO CHARGE to you to discuss this matter and your call will be kept in confidence. Please call us as soon as possible.

    Law Office of Jonathan E. Fortman, LLC

  • 1st Amendment

    Coverall LOST ! Franchisor Hit HARD !

    Cleaners WIN !

    Franchisor Hit HARD For Pretending Employees Are Franchisees.

    The Supreme court Smacks Coverall with huge bill forlabeling its employees as franchisees.

    Here is the link to the article article…re_franchisees

  • lilli robinson

    how is citywide are they scammers

  • Pingback: Janitorial / Commercial Cleaning Franchise Issues : Unhappy Franchisee

  • HORRIBLE! AWFUL! These people clean at our offices, if you want to call it cleaning. Did not vacuum for months, did not dust for weeks, and did not take clearly marked trash out. They do not supply their own cleaning supplies; you must do that for them. They barely show up when scheduled. They do not restock bathroom supplies (toilet paper/paper towels.) THEY ARE AWFUL!

    Yes they might be cheaper than any other cleaning company, but you might as well just clean yourselves. The old adage “You get what you pay for.” is completely true. DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY….spend the extra $$ for some other company.

  • Im looking to franchise with a Cleaning Company. I was looking into ( OpenWorks franchise) Do anyone know of any “GOOD” cleaning company? I live in Baltimore MD I’m going to start my own cleaning business in the next month or so and I really don’t want to wait around for the clientele ….

  • sammy

    From all City Wide is the worst. They underbid and at the same time they didn’t tell you how much the original bid is.You just believe them. If they bid 500/month they will tell you they bid 400/month and will take additional 30% form your paycheck. then you get less than 300/month from a 500/month account.When you calculate it it is below the minimum wage.

    I don’t know why independent contractors do not report to FTC about this rip offs.

  • Ciara Roots

    I agree with all those who say all cleaning franchises are a ripoff. I have seen people go totally broke getting into these cleaning scams. It is a losing proposition. Don’t fall for the slick sales pitch these slimy salespeople deliver so well. If it was so great, they’d be doing it themselves. Ask them why they are sitting behind a desk instead of going out all night pushing a mop and broom for next to no pay.

  • Frank Schwarz

    I purchased and Office Pride franchise in 2009. Office Pride markets to people of faith, but when I began to ask questions about the value I received for the $50.00 in fees I paid them in the first 1 1/2 years things went bad pretty quick. Do not buy into the “Christian Values” marketing because it is just slick marketing in the name of Christ. Two of the top executives and a few others left the organization in 2012 because (in my opinion) their integrity was more important than their jobs.

  • James Williams

    I have owned a stratus franchise for the past 4 years as a part time job. After the first 2 years I was able to quit my full time job and now make a comfortable living working at night and a few weekends a month. We meaning my wife and I don’t understand all these issues we see on here. We know 4 other franchise owners and they are all satisfied with the service and payment by our Master. We own in the SWFL region and would highly recommend them. We have increased our package 3 times and have gotten the new accounts withing days of signing the new paperwork. We deal with Jeff and George.

  • I spoke to the local Buildingstars Guy in White Plains, NY (Westchester County, directly north of the Bronx, NYC) and after emails, he refused to give me the franchise contract so I could read it prior to going to his office to get the hard sell ! So, finally, I told him in an email that until I got that document and either sample or actual customer contracts there would be no meeting. So far, no documents . . .

    What I really want to do is this Dry Ice Blasting service but I want a partner who is a good closer. I have a one ton van and the blasting equipment is available for rent. How many moldy bath tub grout lines can be done per day at $150 per ? 10-15-20 ? And then there is fire damage removal and dirty restaurant kitchens not to mention paint removal and pet urine removal. It’s endless !
    I think I am looking at $1,000 to maybe $10,000 PER DAY ! Or more ?

    Why bother with emptying office waste baskets and vacuuming carpet and buffing floors ?

    I suck at sales, so I’m looking for a closer to partner with !

  • RUN!

  • I am a current franchise owner in Phoenix. I bought my franchise about a year ago from Buildingstars. I have been very Happy with the business I’ve received in the last year. The manager of the branch is fair and he stands up for his franchise owners and makes sure that everyone is happy. He will not allow us to do a bad cleaning job, though. If we don’t do a good job more than once we lose the account. My wife and I have not lost a single account in the last year because we care about the way We do the job. I really like this company. At first, we started with just a couple accounts part-time. Now we both average about $15 an hour. When we get to a higher level we can hire employees and our money will go up. It just depends on how fast we can grow our business.

  • ZACK

    Any body has any feed Back on Open works?

  • I do this type of work on a part time basis. People have asked me have I considered starting my own cleaning business or starting up with a franchise company. And I know I wouldn’t do it. Just from what I’m seen and what I know from the people I’ve worked for in the past. You have to be aware of what you are getting yourself into and make sure to always read the fine print before signing.

  • Anago Cleaning Systems in Nashville, TN operates on the same business model as does the rest of the national commercial cleaning franchises. The franchisee and customer are ultimately the victims of the lies, under bidding, and account shuffling. I think the cleaning franchise business model is killing the entire commercial cleaning industry. This is why you see so many lawsuits being lost by these companies for unethical practices. They all have unhappy franchisees, Jan Pro, Jani King, Coverall, Bonus, Stratus, Vanguard, Mint Condition, and the rest of them. I don’t know why they are getting away with it after all this time, and all the complaints, and lawsuits. At least there are a few websites to complain on, and vent to one another. This will eventually come full circle on them.

  • I am a business that has used cleaning services for the past several years. We had in house before that. As far as cleaning services go Coverall and System 4 were the worst to deal with. I knew the sales rep and he is a good guy so started at Coverall as he was the rep. Horrible service. In fact the rep. left before I did. The he went to System 4 so we followed. Yikes, just as bad. In fact he is no longer with them.
    As a business owner it is very difficult to find a company that keeps responsible people, and you are letting them into your business and you just have to hope they are all bonded.

  • Being in this industry for 4 years as an independant cleaning company has been rewarding and being in the industry for over 10 years has tought me to not go with a franchise system. I have talked with several franchise owners and most have not been happy with there results and the amount of money they actually make. I have gone from my first year in business making $80,000 to my second year at $250,000. Now we are steady for the last 2 years at $250,00 and this year we are going at expanding to hit a million in revenue. I have bought out one small company that could not make it before they lost everything. Return on investing in a franchise takes 3 – 5 years. Thats if your part of the 5% that make it. Through my success I have developed a system that can guide you to success. Learning the basics before getting full force in business is a key to building, I started without alot of knowledge but i kept going learning as I went. If you would like to learn to build a successful business I can help. Contact Info [redacted]

  • Judy Murphy

    I bought my franchise from Buildingstars in Phoenix. I’m pretty happy with them and I really like the people who work there. I work mostly nights because I have a part time job during the day, but I’m making enough now so I can leave my day job. Whenever they sell an account near my house, they call and ask if I want the job. They tell me how many days I have to work, how many hours it should take, and what I’ll be paid. I average about $16+ an hour. I’ve been doing this for almost two years, and my paycheck is deposited into my account every month. When I told them I wanted to qauit my day job, they said they’d give me extra business to make up for the differrence. Also, they have no limit on how big I can grow my business. As long as I’m doing a good job, I will always get offered more jobs. I’m thinking about going to the next llevel so I can hire other people to work for me.

  • Stratus Building Solutions in Utah is a huge scam, high rotation of employees, very focus in the Latino Community, not translation contract and agreements in Spanish language and taking advantages of the people who don’t speak English, illegally retaining their monthly checks . This franchise is a family business with lack of professional background, Grandma, daughter, son in law, brothers, etc, are covering each other their lack of experience, training, education and skills to manage this small business. If you are thinking to invest in a commercial franchise look in different direction and do not make the mistake to stop by them.

  • Hi, everyone I was a franchisee of open works america and still am in a way. . This franchise is a scamm BEWARE, do your research and bid on jobs for yourself , you do not need a franchise to start your own cleaing company, my experience with OPEN WORKS AMERICA they bid low and cheat the franchisee out I f square footage, they do not tell you the administration fees do not go tawards the loan balance, the black list you if you complain about accounts, they cannot obtain new accounts just broken onens. And when you w ant to sell they will ignore you and not return your calls, the head quarters people are childish, unprofessional, and the owner is middle eastern stay away. Beware, if you need to get your money back get as many franchisees as you can to sue the owners. You are n It subject to the contract if you quit the franchise. So contact as many franchisees as you can to sue stick together. snd hire a experienceed attorney for this . Ok BEWARE OF OPEN WORKS FRANCHISE STAY FAR AWAY. SPREAD THE WORD.


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