Outsource floor cleaning – yes or no? Recommendations for action for store management in food retailing

As the owner or manager of a grocery store, you have to take care of a lot of things – from orders, receiving goods and personnel planning to cash register accounting. If you have a soft spot for cleaning, you’re a rather rare breed. But cleanliness and hygiene on the sales floor, behind the counter and in the warehouse are part of the job. It’s a thankless topic, but extremely important. Because if everything is spotlessly clean, it is taken for granted. However, if the surfaces appear dingy or dirty areas are not cleaned immediately, customers immediately perceive this as negative.

As a store manager or independent merchant, you may be faced with the decision: should I outsource the cleaning service or should your own store employees take over this task? There are arguments for both options. You just have to be clear about the pros and cons of outsourcing.

However, it is a mistake to think that if you hire a cleaning service provider, you can “forget” about the whole issue. In both variants – whether outsourced or organized in-house – the responsibility and organization remains with the responsible store management.

Success factor number 1: Someone must feel responsible

Negative experiences can be made with both variants: in the case of outsourcing, this can be when the cleaning service provider withdraws after the signature has been made and no longer cares that his cleaning staff is properly instructed and permanently supervised. Or new cleaners are constantly coming into the store and in the worst case scenario, store employees have to take on the role of property manager and help the new staff get up to speed. If, on the other hand, you are dealing with a property manager who really cares, who can be relied on and who knows what is being done on site and in what way, then the basic conditions for a high level of cleaning have been created.

If you decide to carry out the cleaning yourself, a key success factor is that an employee is dedicated to the issue and feels responsible for it. In the best case scenario, there is a market employee who says of themselves, “Floor cleaning is ‘mine’. I take care of it and am responsible for making the market look good.”

Success factor number

Decision in favour of an in-house solution: What needs to be considered?

Taking the issue of cleaning into your own hands is entirely possible for an experienced store manager. In terms of cost, it may well pay for itself. In return, however, you have to organise the staff yourself and, for example, hire part-time employees. If one of the employees is absent or wants to take a holiday, you have to organise a replacement yourself. The advantage is: I have everything in my own hands. The disadvantage is: I have to organize everything myself; starting with the tools of the trade up to the necessary expertise. In concrete terms: you have to take care of all organisational matters related to cleaning yourself or delegate them to employees.

The following three main fields should be on your radar:

  1. Chemistry, i.e. the purchase and the professional and proper use of cleaning agents
  2. Mechanics: What machines and utensils are needed and may need to be purchased?
  3. Personnel: Who is available and qualified and who is responsible?
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The chemistry: those who use sustainable cleaning agents protect the environment and their employees

Before you or any of your employees decide to buy a cleaning product, take a look at the back of the canister. If warning signs such as “water endangering” or even “poisonous” are visible, this cleaning agent has no place in the food retail trade!

Find out everything you need to know about cleaning products for floors in grocery stores in this blog post:
Which cleaning agent is the right one for porcelain stoneware floors in food retailing?

haid-tec cleaning agents

The mechanics: even for a small city market, the purchase of a cleaning machine is worthwhile.

Those who take the cleaning of the store into their own hands or entrust the task to their employees, must of course also take care of the purchase of machines and utensils themselves. As a chain store, scrubber dryers can usually be purchased quite cheaply from the company’s headquarters. When deciding on a machine, consider the size of the retail space, how big the water tank is, and how long the battery life is. The purchase of a disc scrubber-dryer is already worthwhile for the smallest areas. Because the quality is definitely better than when the floor is cleaned by hand with a mop – changing water takes time. And with the machine, the dirty water is sucked off directly and the floor dries faster and is therefore not as slippery for as long.

Careful handling of the machine is important

The suction lip should be cleaned daily and turned or replaced as necessary. Furthermore, it should be ensured that the dirty water tank of the machine is emptied and rinsed out after use. Afterwards, the lid should be left open at least a little way to allow the dirty water tank to air out and dry out. If no oxygen gets into the dirty water tank, putrefactive bacteria begin to grow, which smell particularly bad. The fresh water tank of the machine should also not be constantly filled – especially if the cleaning agent is added directly to the fresh water. The detergent degrades over time and loses its effectiveness. In addition, the decomposition products of the cleaning agents are a good breeding ground for bacterial and algae growth. The biofilm, consisting of a mixture of degraded detergents, bacteria and algae, forms slimy residues that can clog the filters and hoses of the cleaning machine and are in no way conducive to a good cleaning result.

Success factor number

The staff: Don't forget to praise them!

Ensuring that the salesroom is always spotlessly clean is an essential prerequisite for making customers feel comfortable while they shop and keep them coming back. Therefore, cleaning the surfaces and floors is a responsible task. Jede neue Kraft sollte selbstverständlich darin eingewiesen werden, wie die Feinsteinzeugfliesen optimal gereinigt werden. When, how often, with what means and how to operate the machine correctly: all this must be discussed with the responsible forces. We have already experienced that the pads were placed the wrong way round on the drive plates or that the machine had been sitting in the corner for a long time because something was broken. It is part of the store management’s responsibility to make it their business to ensure that the store is on its best behavior. Praise for a job well done can never hurt, and it can help motivate the staff.

Outsourcing cleaning services: What does the store management have to pay attention to?

There is no right or wrong when it comes to outsourcing. There can be a lot to be said for giving the cleaning service out of house. Whether it is because your own employees are fully occupied with their tasks or because you do not want to take care of a substitute yourself when a cleaner is absent due to vacation or illness.

Depending on the corporate philosophy, some tend to outsource, others prefer to take care of things themselves. Hiring a cleaning service provider puts the cleaning in the hands of outside professionals, but there is still a lot that needs to be taken care of “around the clock” and should be known.

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Tip 1: Create service specifications

If you cooperate with a cleaning service provider, you should determine exactly which premises should be cleaned at which intervals with which cleaning agents, i.e. a detailed service specification must be drawn up or an existing service specification should be adapted to the conditions in the market. Here, for example, it is necessary to specify how often social areas or the warehouse are cleaned, when cleaning is carried out under the shop fittings and, of course, which cleaning agents and utensils are used for cleaning the sales area. With the haid-tec cleaning concept, you have a safe guide to action for porcelain stoneware floors at your fingertips. You should hand this over to your service provider and ensure that it is implemented consistently.

Tip 2: Check the cleaning result regularly

Some stores work with scorecards for internal quality assurance to evaluate items such as cleanliness and orderliness. This is a recommended tool to ensure that nothing is forgotten and to check regularly that standards are being met. An important point to know: if the store management is dissatisfied with the cleaning results, contact the store manager, not the external cleaners directly. This is because the store management does not have the authority to issue instructions to them.

Something else to consider: an outside cleaning crew usually arrives outside of business hours, either early in the morning or in the evening after closing. If a customer has a mishap during store opening hours, an employee has to take action or, if necessary, you as the store manager yourself. Therefore, it is useful if it is also known internally how the scrubber-dryer works and what means are used for what.


There is no RIGHT or WRONG. No matter which variant you choose – external or internal – there should be no compromises in the quality of the cleaning result. Only then will your customers enjoy coming to your store to shop.

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