Janitorial / Commercial Cleaning Franchise Issues

Cleaning franchise:  a low-cost business opportunity or a really, really bad job?

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  If you’re considering a cleaning franchise – any cleaning franchise – do your homework and read the many complaints that seem to be common to most of these companies – even the household names.

Entrepreneur magazine continues to promote the controversial janitorial / commercial cleaning franchises in its Entrepreneur 500.

Entrepreneur regularly includes Stratus Building Solutions, Cleannet, System4, Vanguard Cleaning Systems. ServiceMaster Clean, Anago Cleaning Systems and BuildingStars among its highest ranked franchises.

With low cost of entry, (often) guaranteed cleaning accounts and some of the most aggressive franchise advertising in the industry, janitorial franchises will surely continue to recruit many new franchise investors despite (and maybe because of) these tough economic times.

Are you starting a business or buying a job? The Commercial Cleaning segment of franchising has long been a target of criticism as promoting buy-a-job scams that especially target unsophisticated, minority and/or immigrant buyers. In fact, the FTC and Maryland Attorney General issued a guide to commercial cleaning franchises.

A judge in Massachusetts ruled that janitorial franchisor Coverall exerts such control over its franchisees that they should be legally considered employees, not business owners.

Here are some of our recent posts discussing the complaints, allegations and controversies around janitorial and commercial cleaning franchises. Your comments and insights are invited at the bottom of each post.

If your franchise isn’t listed here, or for general complaints, go here:

Commercial Cleaning Franchise Complaints 


Janitorial / Commercial Cleaning Franchise Information

FTC Guide to Buying a Janitorial Services Franchise

FTC’s Janitorial Franchise Buyer’s Guide

FTC Guide to Buying a Janitorial Services Franchise

Commercial Cleaning Franchises: 10 Reasons to NOT Buy One

Janitorial & Cleaning Franchise Scams 


All Pro Cleaning Systems

ALL PRO CLEANING SYSTEMS: Another Janitorial Franchise Lawsuit  September 26, 2010



Bonus Building Care

BONUS BUILDING CARE Franchise Scam Complaints

BONUS BUILDING CARE Defendants Named in Franchise Racketeering Lawsuit

BONUS BUILDING CARE Franchise Called a Janitorial Pyramid Scam



BUILDINGSTARS Franchise Complaints



CHEM-DRY Franchise Complaints


Champion Clean

CHAMPION CLEAN Using Bogus Franchise Statistics  July 29, 2009


Cleannet USA

CLEANNET USA Franchise Complaints

CLEANNET USA Franchise is a Scam, Attorney Claims



COVERALL Franchise Complaints

Heits Building Services


JANI-KING Franchise:

JANI-KING Franchise Complaints

Jan-Pro Posts:

JAN-PRO Franchise Complaints

JAN-PRO: Janitorial Franchise Warning  October 14, 2009

JAN-PRO Threatens  December 27, 2011

JAN-PRO Responds to Jan-Pro Threat  December 27, 2011

JAN-PRO: Is JAN-PRO Franchise a Scam?  December 29, 2011

The Janitorial Agency Franchise

THE JANITORIAL AGENCY Franchise Lawsuit Alleges Fraud, Racketeering

THE JANITORIAL AGENCY Franchise Lawsuit Alleges Fraud, Racketeering

THE JANITORIAL AGENCY Employees Named in Racketeering Lawsuit

THE JANITORIAL AGENCY Allegedly Claims Another Victim

THE JANITORIAL AGENCY Scam or No Scam?  November 11, 2011



MAIDPRO Franchise Complaints


The Maids

THE MAIDS Franchise Complaints

THE MAIDS Franchise Marketing: Misleading or Uninformed?

Mint Condition

MINT CONDITION Franchise Complaints

MINT CONDITION Franchise: Is CEO Jack Saumby Making Illegal Earnings Claims?

MINT CONDITION Franchise Misrepresenting Turnover Rate?



Octoclean Janitorial Services Franchise


Stratus Building Solutions Franchise


System4 Commercial Cleaning Franchise


Vanguard Cleaning Systems Franchise


Chris Daskalakis Concepts – Mr. Oil Saver, Nika Business, 




18 thoughts on “Janitorial / Commercial Cleaning Franchise Issues

  • stratus building solutions operations managers try to set franchisee in trouble in front of customers so they can make you lose the account and sell the account several times to other franchisee creating more money for them.
    we just found that in georgia so we are expecting to act before them, in order to avoid to lose all our savings.

  • I worked with Stratus, the thing to know is that the clients are never really yours. They always belong to Stratus. You are only renting the client. Stratus has customers on a 1 year, auto renewal contract. So if the customer is not happy, the easy solution is to tell them you will change the cleaner. You are out and the next person comes in and Stratus gets to make money. The Master Franchisor in my market never cared if a franchisee wanted to quit, he would just say, “I would like you to stay, but if you want to leave it is your decision.” He knew he could make money by re-selling their accounts.

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  • Reasoned Source

    @Viewers: I decided to post comments on this thread, because they only have a little to do with Stratus, in fact, the only thing they have to do with Stratus is the fact the “Poodles” are threatening court action against me for defamation, slander and libel. I don’t know, I’m just a simple person, with a simple thought, “Doesn’t it have to be untrue in order for it to be one of those” and my next thought, “Doesn’t this have to be a private person, someone out of the public forum, I don’t know, I think that Pete/DJ/Marissa/David/Marvin/Bob/Bill/Carmen have been on tv enough, linkedin enough, posted comments enough, posted articles enough, be on facebook, twitter and other internet media enough to qualify as semi-public at worst”.

    Now for the reason of my real posting, I am part of an industry wide group (commercial cleaning, not franchisng) and this past week, the topic of discussion just so happened to be “commercial cleaning franchising, will it survive?”.

    I listened to some very respected industry vets give their valued opinions for at least 30 to 45 minutes, finally, I decided that since I happen to be the only one of this group currently in this sitting, I really needed to speak for a moment. My opening statement was, “You are phrasing the question wrong, it should be WILL IT SURVIVE, but SHOULD IT SURVIVE”.

    When you understand the commercial cleaning industry, when you do the research, when you research the individuals whether it be by osmosis or books or written articles etc, you have an understanding of how this aspect of the industry came about….What was the reasoning behind it and how it got from 1959 till now.

    It was groundbreaking, but it wasn’t Jim Cavanaugh that actually came up with the “vested interest” aspect of the commercial cleaning industry. He is credit of course with the development of the “unit franchise concept” which is simply an extension, though devious, still an extension of the licensing agreements first generated using the ServiceMaster concept of Master Territories and license agreements for On-location, C/S, Winc etc…

    I cannot honestly state that Jim Cavanaugh was actually devious at heart, at the beginning, but he quickly learned that the money was too great, the “churning aspect” must happen in order for Masters to really get a reasonable return on their investment and the facts that at the end of the day, unit franchises were expendable.

    So now, let’s move forward, we had the following evolutions in our industry.

    a) In-House Employee’s always peformed the cleaning
    b) Contract Services Began with Mom and Pops
    c) ServiceMaster was the first one with a “vested interest” concept
    d) Jim Cavanaugh, Jacque Lapointe were the first with “unit franchise” concept
    e) Building One was the first real “Co-op” Structure in our Industry
    f) Strategic Partnerships join large State, Regional Contractors for purposes of Regional and National Contract Opportunities.

    What’s next, what will make Unit Franchising Obsolete? I have gotten a recent “itch” that I think I need to scratch. I’ve gotten real tired of working FOR someone else and I’ve gotten real tired of the non-sense associated with companies like Stratus, Jani-King, Jan-Pro, Coverall and others. All those companies have done, in some form or fashion is slap fresh and/or different color lipstick on the same old pig….Doesn’t change it from being a PIG, just a little prettier. I have been in this industry for too long and seen it go through too many changes, I’ve seen too many people get hurt by these franchisng companies both on a Master Level and Unit Franchise Level to simply stand by and do nothing.

    It isn’t that I am “god’s gift” to the commercial cleaning industry by far, but I am smart enough, have enough ambition, have plenty of connections and with Linkedin just getting to/past the start up point in its evolution, I think I can get enough industry savy veterans, combined with enough “young blood”, combined with enough personal and investment money, to have an operation of at least 100 million dollars per year within three (3) years of launch.

    All the lawsuits made on behalf of unit franchises has only taken us so far.
    All the lawsuits/splits made on behalf of current/former masters can’t take us to the end.
    A new brand, a new thought process, a new/improved system is what is needed to put an end to the unit franchise concept as we currently know it.

    Stay tuned, more updates sooner vs. later.

  • david diaz

    Dose anyone know the status of the class action lawsuit againts JanPro?

  • Speaking from experience they are only concerned with one thing…making money from their franchisees. Many of the people that came into the offices barely spoke English and had no idea what they were signing up for. The so called “guaranteed contracts” they sell their owners are so low ball that the franchise owner will not make any money. They bid jobs at a rate that always wins the business because Coverall has no overhead for the service contract…they are only worried about getting enough contracts in the door to fulfill their obligation of the franchise packages they sell. And for the pleasure of working for free, going into dept, and being ripped off, the franchise owner pays Coverall up front to the average tune of $20,000 and 10% of all the invoices.

    Do not be fooled by this company, it is a rip off.

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    Racketeering allegations against Stratus are explained in the complaint petition.

    I have posted the actual complaint petition against Stratus Building Solutions, its Master franchisees and executives here:

    STRATUS BUILDING SOLUTIONS Racketeering (RICO) Complaint Document

    The post itself contains an overview and list of the 134 or so named Defendants.

    Comments invited.

  • I feel like those who participate in cleaning professions like cleaning offices and such are not as appreciated as they deserve to be. But i have heard of all these law suits, i wonder how its all going.

  • tee jones

    I bought a contract and I say Con tract from vanguard cleaning in Cincinnati ohio….

    warning this company is in ethical and totally incompetent.

    From the start there all smiles but after they get your money they turn into pillow talkers with other certain indivual uses his power within the company to try and sleep with desperate women franchise owners in order to get contracts.

    i received my first contract only to find out from another franchise owner that after 2 days if cleaning it that it was gonna be takin away from me in a matter of days in which it was.i never received any help from vanguard in any type of way.

    they treat you like there your boss and the grossly under bid the contracts.

    dont buy a franchise with vanguard cleaning based out of Cincinnati ohio.

  • It’s a shame that certain companies in our industry take advantage of others by promising the success and independence of running their own business, but then undermine their efforts to succeed. It will be interesting to see the outcomes of some of these lawsuits. There are many quality cleaning service companies trying to do things the right way.

  • OpenWorks are a fraud issue you contracts and then several months down the road they snatch them away from you. Their accountant department is very bad on keeping up with volume.

  • I see a new trend where Jani King, Anago, and Stratus are trying to take over the advertising in commercial cleaning services Nashville, TN to the point where if you try to give a bid now and you don’t own a franchise, the potential client doesn’t want service period. They have taken their cleaning in house. The franchises have caused a complete loss of faith by businesses in the cleaning industry in general. These commercial franchisers are vampires feeding off people’s dreams. Why nothing gets done to stop them is the real question we should be asking. They pick on minorities, lie, mislead, and account churn all while facing no real consequences. Why not keep doing it? I wish every so called judge, attorney, and government official could walk 6 months in one of these franchisee’s shoes! Then, maybe these companies would be forced to refund everyone’s money. Again, it’s not if racketeering, fraud, and other things are happening, it’s why is it be ignored nation wide?

  • Yes, a cleaning franchise is a low-cost business opportunity, there is no need to start a hoodz cleaning business from the scratch, you can buy a cleaning franchise and run simply a business.

  • Michael

    The franchises still play the same game, under bid contracts to get them, stick a franchisee in that account, wait for the complaints to roll in, and then begin their game of re-sell that customer to as many franchisees as possible. That is, until the customer is fed up, or the franchisees are ready to give up.

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