ALL POSTSCleaning Franchises


Starting a business or buying a really bad job?

Jani-King (#8).  Jan-Pro (#11).  Stratus Building Solutions (#13).  Vanguard Cleaning Systems(#30).  ServiceMaster (#30).  Bonus Building Care (#32).  And Anago Cleaning Systems (#49).

Entrepreneur magazine has named 7 commercial cleaning franchises in the top 50 positions of its 2010 Franchise 500 rankings.  (Coverall, which hasn’t participated since 2007, would have made 8).  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.  Here are some of our recent posts discussing the complaints, allegations and controversies around janitorial franchises.

FTC Guide:

FTC Guide to Buying a Janitorial Services Franchise

Jan-Pro Posts:

JAN-PRO: Janitorial Franchise Warning

JAN-PRO Franchise Complaints


JANI-KING Franchise Complaints



  • If a person can’t handle all those other things….can they really own their own business? Come on! That’s the whole selling point – Own your company and live your dreams. UNIT FRANCHISE = Employee….plain and simple

    You don’t need to throw all your marketing hogwash at ME….microfiber, equipment, buying groups, training, etc… work too hard defending your “system”.

  • Pete: The system works, why do you think “traditional companies” are spending time, money, profit and everything else they are throwing at the “franchise companies”. Though “traditional companies” still control nearly 90% of the overall market in the U.S. There shares are much smaller outside of the U.S. and each year for the last 10 years, their market share “lost” to the “franchising companies” is growing.

    Facts are Facts: Why do you think that so many “traditional companies” have started Owner/Operator “off shoots” of their own “traditional businesses”. ie… OpenWorks, Varsity and others.

  • Pete: I understand you’re in the “traditional world” and that’s fine. Until two years ago, I thought the “same way” you did. Liked it. Still do.

    Don’t like some of the “garbage” that is happening, stated that before. But you can’t throw the “baby out with the bath water”.

  • 1st Amendment

    To jerry who said that he is an insider with jan-pro.

    In 2001 the GAO a Goverment agency found that 3,500 people had been ripped-off by coverall and janiking. Now if we add all the years that janiking, jan-pro, coverall, and cleannet have been in existence then we would probably have an astronomical number of people who have been ripped-off by Cleaning Franchisors. It’s a scam, a Racket that will continue unless they are stoped.

  • According to Jerry, the system “works” By that he means that the thieving janitorial franchisors and masters make enough to pay off their outrageous legal settlements and still have enough left from the suckers they left too broke or broken to sue.

    For example, Coverall’s 2009 FDD lists 16 franchisee lawsuits against Coverall that had been concluded (in addition to several still ongoing). COVERALL ended up PAYING in EVERY ONE of the sixteen lawsuits. Here are the amounts paid by Coverall:

    1) $20,000
    2) $37,500
    3) $14,500
    4) $12,500
    5) $20,000
    6) $300,000
    7) $17,000
    8 ) $13,000
    9) $30,000
    10) $7,000
    11) $3,575
    12) $13,000
    13) $450,000
    14) $45,000
    15) $30,000
    16) $55,000

    That’s over $1 Million in settlements plus their attorney’s fees. Maybe that’s a drop in the bucket and just makes them more eager to make it up on the next suckers.

    So the good news is that Coverall can be consistently exposed and brought to justice in a court of law or arbitration. The bad news is, these settlements surely did not cover all the losses, time, aggravation, & attorneys fees suffered by these franchise owners.

    They had to pay in EVERY case. That’s what makes scam-deniers like Jerry so despicable. They choose to deny the truth about this scam because it’s in their financial self-interest to do so. And that’s despicable.

  • SEIU: Why don’t you simply answer the Question of the Day: WHATS NEXT!. You can’t seem to answer a simple question from a SIMPLE MAN! You seem to make a point that the “suits” mean something in this GREAT COUNTRY you can sue anyone really at anytime. OK, they made a mistake by “settling” those above listed suits. DONT THINK THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE SAME MISTAKES AGAIN. Let’s ask “aiwah” how he’s feeling about now?

    SEIU still hasn’t admitted his “vested” interest in this case. Still hasn’t admited that SEIU (no not this one, the other one) is paying for all of the “class action” lawsuits that “Liz and her merry band of attorneys” are pursuing against the franchisors.

    SEIU still hasn’t admitted that he doesnt CARE about the current 30K plus owner/operators and their investment.

    SEIU still hasn’t admitted that they are going to lose and “if” they win, there’s no financial gain for the “class action” plantiffs.

  • 16 lawsuits. 16 payouts from Coverall.

    Can’t blab that away, Jerr-bear. Facts is facts.

    Suing janitorial franchises is goooo-oood business! :)

  • SEIU: No blabbing, just FACTS. Maybe you shoud read more.

    Yes, for you (in your mind). How about “aiwah” and his now unhappy band of disgruntled franchisees. How happy do you think they are?

    Come on, just one glimpse of honesty on your part would help with yours and 1st amendments “street cred”.

  • 1st Amendment

    To jerry the jan-pro insider who went back on his word.

    So far this week two more people have called me. They told me how a cleaning franchisor ripped them off. They were ripped-off for large amounts of money. I think that for one person it was there life savings. These are tragedies that are being comited constantly and they need to be stoped.

    These franchisors are being exposed, the internet is getting filled with complaints everyday.

    Justice will eventualy prevail.

  • 1st amendment: Great, happy that only two more people have called you. I’m sure you “pimped your attorney to them”. Were they White, Black, Red, Yellow, did they vote Democrat in the last election? I mean what profiling did you do on them.

    Only one’s getting exposed are you and SEIU. For YEARS you’ve had things “your way”. Never had to answer any questions (you don’t actually answer), Never had anyone counter anything that you said, Never had anyone speak on behalf of the thirty thousand, Never had anyone expose the fact that you are being PAID FOR by a third party such as SEIU (no not that one, the other one)

    You are getting weaker as the days and weeks go by. Your TEAM of “Liz and her not so merry band of attorneys” NEEDS a CLEAR CUT victory or soon, SEIU will pull the plug on her money funnel. Where would that leave you and the other “co-plantiffs”. Do you really think “Liz and her slighlty deranged band of unhappy attorneys” will still pursue the action on YOUR behalf?

  • 1st Amendment

    If you have been ripped-off by jan-pro or any other fake cleaning franchisor you can file complaints with the following agencies.

    1. Federal Trade commission http://www.Ftc.Gov

    2. Attorney General

    3. Another government agency that goes after Fraud http://www.stopfraud.Gov

    4. There is also ongoing class actions against these cleaning franchisors. If you would like more information on this you can get my contact information by going to you will find my number and e-mail address there

  • 1st amendment: What’s the matter, running out of people to perform Racial Profiling on? Your attorneys called you didn’t they, told you if you didn’t get them some “fresh meat” that they were going to have to pull the plug on your case!!

    Here’s the truth, they were going to pull it anyway. SEIU lied, he pulled the funding, it was just like the “JUSTICE FOR JANITORS” campaign. They are like a teenager making love to a woman. IN, OUT, SMOKE a Cigarette and watch cartoons.

    Did you take your wife out for dinner yet? You know you need to soon, she’s going to be mad, she’s may even leave you. But at least you’ll have SEIU and his HERO comments to keep you all warm and fuzzy at night.

  • Why do people not read FDDs?

  • Jerry

    DFW: Great Question. Here’s another one, Why don’t people, who claim that they want to become business owners, invest more time and effort upfront, before signing documents that they don’t want to follow?

    Answer: They want to BLAME everyone else for their sorrows in life, which on the average are created by THEM!

  • 1st Amendment

    …the Fdds are a csam. Why do they make the fdd so hard to understand. Why do the cleaning franchisors make it so dificult so that they can ripp- you off. To bad they can’t make an honest contract. They have to trick you to get your money. Why do they lie to you and tell you that you will make $25.00 dollars an hour and tell you that you will be able to grow your business. They do this to get your money.

    Its a Ponzi Scam. These people need to go to jail just like bernie madoff.

  • david

    any feeback above stratus cleaning solutions i am thinking to star working with them

  • I will say this it’s not worth it. You don’t own the accounts you are a subcontractor and if the customer complains it’s your fault and they take the account. I had an account and I bent over backwards for this guy and he still wasn’t happy vanguard took the account even though they acknowledge that I did all I could to appease the customer

  • 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

  • Chris Bensen

    Please note all of the the complants of the franchees and the companys thay buy from.If you want to start a cleaning company save your money and start on on your own.You can get lots of info and take classes from BOMA and ISSA and several other good cleaning people.If you own a building hire a non franchise cleaning company that does the work and not sub,s it out.

  • Theresa Florence

    Yeah, I got swindled also. I’m just going to get a day job and join one of those class action suits. I had two accounts taken from me in the last two weeks. The company made up stories and gave them to another franchisee. I guess they didn’t know that I am friendly with the owners and the owners told me what went down. The administrator told the owners I didn’t want to clean their buildngs anymore, so he was assigning a new cleaner. He told me that there were complaints about the floors and the bathrooms, when there weren’t. Once I have my day job, I’m just going to send high school kids in to clean so he loses all the accounts so he can’t give them to anyone else. Passive resistance is the way to go here. I’d love to get some of my money back. I’m also absolutely disgusted at how people who clean get treated by the rest of the world. What an eye opener! It makes really good material for a book about just how inbred these scam artists are. Many of these people assume I’m not college educated and I can’t read or write. My administrator throws popcorn on the floor so they have to vacuum in the building he is in. If you can just pick up the pieces and use swiffer products and chlorox wipes, you’ll save tons of time cleaning–so look for shortcuts if the cleaning schedule is unrealistic. In summary, hang in there, think of getting even, get a day job if possible, send flyers out to businesses and compete with the jerks, and, once you have a day job or accounts of your own, lose the ones you have with your franchise or try to get in on a class action suit.

  • Chris Bensen

    Save your money and start your own cleaning company.Jani-king and stratus are two of the worst.Thay tell you thay will get you accounts for so much but thay under bid them and you can not afford to clean the building for what thay bid it for.Then thay take it from you.Read what Theresa writen .Do your homework on these people.Most will not support you once thay get your money.

  • Well I I start to work for this company on target maintenance and work directly for the owner’s brother aron lawton , he claimed that he bought a franchise from his brother and hired me as a subcontractor , well its been 6 months and I haven’t get pay once , on top of that he asked me if I could lend him some equipment which I did and they still haven’t returned it to me .
    What can I do ?

  • I, just ran to this website, I’m a canadian JP franchise. When we read about fast growing franchise, it’s only related on yearly new franchises development, but the real question is:
    My understanding, according to JP’s internal infos, is that half are reselling in the first three years! Why?… Finance is THE big issue, especially if it’s a fulltime business!
    $10,000 annual franchise platform is supposed to equivalent 10h/work weekly. The standard wage practice wouldn ‘t be so bad if Master Franchises would’nt play with estimation time for jobs. If I consider an approx. $22 CND wage (contract bid monthly amount/estimed time), minus franchisee fees (18%-19%_ more for extras), it leaves am approx. $18 CND, minus expenses, franchise buying cost amortization and ”income charges if so”. By experience, if you take into consideration most contracts are under time estimed ( they want to be really competitive) by a 30min to 1h per visit, then it’s not $18 no more. Icing on cake, due to some provincial laws, minimum wage at commercial bulding for employees entrepreneur are $15, 63 plus charges, which brings salary to approx. $17 50, so, it’s clearly impossible to legaly hiring staff. So much you can do by yourself, and no way to expand in these conditions(beside the fact they’ll charge an extra -%- if you’re over your based franchise platform), you’re screwed. It take about 6 months to a franchisee to discover this mess and it’s then to late.
    p.s. Litterature says a franchisee has 5 days of formation, I had 3-4 hours in their office and 10h doing floor waxing with an other franchisee at one of it’s new account for free with a nice certificate saying I’m an expert!. Big Buzz!


    Former Coverall Franchisee (2000 to 2002). I also got sucked in by this hype. I did the best job I could, using good chemicals ( NOT dollar store products), always had a good report from my accounts, etc..

    Well after about 1 year, I was cutting corners, using cheaper chemicals and basically getting burned out and never getting ahead. Good luck trying to hire anybody. I did manage to have 2 friends I knew that helped me, but, it was hard to pay them. I was basically using my truck payment to pay them. Then my wife was paying for my truck.

    If it wasn’t for my wife at that time working full time, we would have been evicted and 1 repossessed Dodge Ram.

    I was getting offered more accounts, but I thought I was going to make more money. Ya right- more fees and more headaches and problems. By the 2nd year I was really getting burned out.

    Besides paying for fees, finance charges,and paying for accounts. You only get paid 1x a month. So make sure your very low pay check will last a whole month.

    One time I had to go to my moms and get windex because an account was out and I had no money and 1 week to wait for my low check. Is this how a business owner of a franchise is supposed to live???


  • Brian

    I’m a independently owned cleaning service in Nashville TN and I can tell anyone planning to purchase a cleaning franchise to prepare to get scammed. I bid against them all the time, and they bid 40% under market price to get accounts, I can’t believe you guys could make any real money, or even hire employees with bids like that. Plus, when I go in behind a franchise to start a new account, the customer tells me they would never consider a franchise again. To me that means the last franchise has poisoned the well for the rest of the franchises no matter how good you maybe. Plus, you never really owned your own business right?
    Our biggest weapon against a franchise now is to tell the customer to put the words lawsuit and complaints behind the name of any franchise name in the Google bar and watch ten pages come up of crap. Anago, Jan Pro, Jani King, it doesn’t matter. These franchise companies are in the franchise selling business not the cleaning business. The sales persons who get accounts bid so low because they know they are not going to be the ones cleaning at that crazy low price, plus they take fees out of that price I think. The franchisers are bidding at 1970’s prices just to get the client! You will be buying a job my friends not a business, beware, and remember you can do this yourself. By the time these guys are done with you, I think you will wish you had. Read what these people are saying and think about all the people who are too embarrassed to admit they made this mistake. I have people call my service here in Nashville and ask for advice, and who have told me they were considering a franchise, but I tell them what I’m telling you, and give them tips to get them started in the right direction. There is plenty of material on the internet to help you start, and making a sale is much much easier than you think my friends.

  • Jackman

    @Chris Bensen & Brian – totally agree.

    Folks, if you want to start a cleaning business, DO NOT go through a franchise, you Don’t need them. What the two people I agree with wrote is spot on. There is a wealth of information online and other sources that one can utilise to start up a business. It doesn’t take a lot of money, no where NEAR what a franchise will cost you…don’t let ’em fool ya.

    I’ve personally done both, independent,franchise and back to independent. I only went with a franchise to (hopefully) “ramp -up quickly”- due to a relocation and a job that was supposed to follow, but didn’t. I went with Coverall and it didn’t start out bad. The “Field Rep(Representative)”- who is your liaison to the “District Office”(DO) was an “industry guy”(had worked in janitorial/service ) and was well versed, but more importantly – honest, and clued me into some “tactics” employed and also about the “sales team”, who couldn’t give a rip about the franchise owner(FO), only the commissions.

    Briefly(well, will try!) this is how it worked when I was in(to my recent knowledge still does):
    You purchase your initial package ,say a $3000 level of business(which,mind you,costs generally 3Xs that-like $9000+) .
    You get “training”(a joke) ,usually 2 weeks,mainly classroom/videos.
    They have a specific amount of time to fill your ‘package’- to get you to your level of purchased business. You might get just 1 account for the full amount(rare) ,or several accounts over the course of weeks(possibly months).
    You’re told you can “choose” accounts, yet to reject initial business is generally frowned upon- and you sense it. So you eat a chit sandwich or two hoping the ‘quality’ of accounts gets better. Believe me, they are “bottom feeders”, again- sales doesn’t care, they don’t clean them and once the new client signs the contract they’ll never see them again. So, you bee-bop along ,servicing “your”(they aren’t ,really) accounts ,then one day ,you get a dreaded cancellation letter from your D.O. -an account bites the dust.
    But lo! Your Rep calls a few days later and they have another account you might be interested in. And here’s how they make even MORE money(beyond the royalty fee each month) – the “Finder Fee” . You pay for new business you “take on” from them , anywhere from 2.75 to 3.5(Coverall now) . THAT’S NOT a % ….THAT’S a Multiplier! Say the new account is $300 a month, multiply it by (Coverall’s) 3.5 and YOU PAY $1,050 for the “privilege” of owning(again,you never do) that new account. You get to work it 4 months FOR FREE(talking NET,after all other fee deductions).

    Oh yes, they tell you you can get you own account with their contracts, and I’ve seen a few FOs(Coverall’s) on other threads trumpeting that in the franchise’s defence, but it begs a question.
    If you can get your own business(accounts), what the hell do you need them for?!? I slowly ,as time permitted, did just that and ‘weened’ myself from them. Anyone else in a cleaning franchise- you can too. Getting insurance and a “shingle” is not a big deal, and you’ll feel a greater sense of ownership/accomplishment.
    Your welcome;)

  • I am in the same situation with openwork.

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