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Subcontractors vs. Employees: Exploring the Pros and Cons for Cleaning Companies

Image of a subcontractor cleaning a business in Red Deer, Alberta
Published on
June 30, 2023
Rob Denison

For cleaning companies, the decision to hire subcontractors or employ in-house cleaning staff is an important consideration. Both options come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the key differences between subcontractors and employees is essential for cleaning companies to make an informed choice that aligns with their business goals and operational needs. In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of subcontractors and employees in the context of cleaning companies, assisting business owners in making the best decision for their organization.

The Pros and Cons of Using Subcontractors:


One of the main benefits of subcontractors is the flexibility they offer. Cleaning companies can hire subcontractors on an as-needed basis, allowing them to scale their workforce based on client demands and project requirements. Subcontractors provide the flexibility to adjust staffing levels during peak seasons or when additional cleaning tasks are required.

Reduced Overhead Costs:

Hiring subcontractors can potentially reduce overhead costs for cleaning companies. Subcontractors are typically responsible for their own taxes, insurance, and equipment, relieving the company of these financial obligations. Additionally, subcontractors are paid on a per-project or hourly basis, eliminating the need for ongoing salaries, benefits, and other employee-related expenses.Specialized Skills:Subcontractors can bring specialized skills and expertise to specific cleaning tasks. They may have extensive experience in specialized areas such as carpet cleaning, window washing, or industrial cleaning. Cleaning companies can leverage the knowledge and proficiency of subcontractors to offer a broader range of services and cater to diverse client needs.

However, there are potential drawbacks to consider when relying heavily on subcontractors:

Lack of Control:

Cleaning companies have limited control over the work schedule, methods, and quality of subcontractors. They must rely on subcontractors to uphold the company's standards and deliver consistent results, which can be challenging to enforce.

Client Relationships:

Subcontractors may work for multiple cleaning companies simultaneously, making it difficult to build long-term client relationships based on consistency and familiarity.Brand Reputation: Since subcontractors operate independently, their actions reflect on the cleaning company's reputation. If a subcontractor delivers subpar service, it may negatively impact the company's image and client satisfaction.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Employees:

Direct Control and Consistency:

Employing in-house cleaning staff provides greater control over work schedules, methods, and quality standards. Cleaning companies can train and supervise employees to ensure consistent service delivery aligned with their brand image and client expectations. This control allows for better quality assurance and fosters stronger relationships with clients.

Company Loyalty and Culture:

By hiring employees, cleaning companies can cultivate a strong team culture and foster loyalty within their workforce. Employees are more likely to align with the company's values, mission, and work ethic, enhancing overall cohesion and teamwork. Building a positive company culture can contribute to higher employee retention rates and better long-term client relationships

Long-Term Investment:

Hiring employees represents a long-term investment in the growth and stability of the cleaning company. Employees can undergo continuous training and development, allowing them to acquire a diverse set of cleaning skills and expand their expertise. With time and experience, employees become an invaluable asset, contributing to the company's success and client satisfaction.

However, employing in-house cleaning staff also comes with potential challenges:

Increased Costs:

Hiring employees entails various expenses, including salaries, benefits, insurance, payroll taxes, and equipment. Cleaning companies need to carefully manage their budget to account for these ongoing costs.

Limited Flexibility:

Unlike subcontractors, employees may not offer the same level of flexibility in adjusting staffing levels according to fluctuating client demands. Companies must carefully plan their workforce to meet the expected workload and manage staffing gaps during employee absences or leaves Legal and Administrative Responsibilities: Employing staff requires compliance with labor laws, including tax withholding, workers' compensation, and other legal obligations. Cleaning companies must also handle administrative tasks such as payroll management, employee benefits, and performance evaluations, adding administrative complexity to their operations.

Training and Development:

While investing in employee training can be advantageous, it also requires additional time and resources. Cleaning companies must provide comprehensive training programs to ensure employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver high-quality cleaning services consistently.

Staffing Challenges:

Hiring and retaining reliable and skilled employees can present challenges. Cleaning companies may face turnover, recruitment difficulties, and potential gaps in staffing, which can impact service continuity and client satisfaction.

Final thoughts:

Choosing between subcontractors and employees is a critical decision for cleaning companies. Subcontractors offer flexibility, reduced overhead costs, and access to specialized skills, while employees provide greater control, consistency, and the potential for long-term investment in the company's growth. Each option comes with its own set of advantages and challenges. Ultimately, cleaning companies must evaluate their specific needs, operational requirements, budget constraints, and long-term goals to determine whether subcontractors or employees best suit their business model. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, cleaning companies can make an informed choice that aligns with their objectives and ensures the delivery of exceptional cleaning services to their clients.

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