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Carpet cleaning and illegal immigrant workers

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  • Carpet cleaning and illegal immigrant workers


    I have been in the cleaning business for 20 years now, I am 38 yrs old, worked with my with family and still running a cleaning business till this day but things are not only different now but for every business as well.

    However the biggest problem and has been a problem is all and I mean all of my competitors where I live (San Luis Obispo, California) are hiring illegal immigrants for low low wages and under bidding everything. It sucks, bids are so low that we have to bid back like we did in 1987 because all of the competitors are using illegal immigrants for wages below $5.00 an hour. The problem is, 60% of the janitorial cleaning business are all doing it, hiring illegal immigrants and getting the work because the bids are so cheap relating to the low labor.

    For example, if I bid on a new 27,000 square foot building for 5 nights a week, at 4,000 square feet an hour per person to clean which totals 6.7 hours to clean per night, our bid would run between $2500.00 to $2900.00 per month. Yet with competitors hiring the illegal immigrants, their bids are about $950.00 to $1300.00 a month. Imagine making $41.00 per visit a night in a 27,000 sq ft office that takes 6.5 hours to clean, how do you make any money doing this?

    Now I can’t explain all the details but this is just a sample. Bids are so low that with every bid we bid on people always make several requests for quotes as this lowers the average in our area and when this becomes common, people rumor around what the average is to them to others what to expect. Meaning if 8/10 are illegal immigrant companies and 2/10 are 100% legal, the average is greatly going to impact those cleaning companies who are trying to do everything legal. Even so, most people don’t care and if they know their cleaning service has illegal immigrants, they keep it a secret.

    With illegal immigrants in the cleaning industry nationwide it has become unenforceable because US Customs of Enforcement is so over booked that these companies who are hiring them basically can’t get caught, even if you report them in. Some have gotten busted but it takes reporting the same company over again and again till they get suspicious and get arrested.

    The main point here is, the cleaning industry has gotten so messed up with these illegal immigrants, it is not the profitable business it once used to be. I’ve had to start a second different type of business because there is so many US companies hiring the illegals as starting a cleaning business now than 20 years ago, it is a whole lot different now than back then. You will be out numbered if you start today trying to compete with these US companies harboring illegals, you will lose because the price factor is the major concern what people want. So bad that other people faced doing the same them and hire cheaper labor like a daisy chain. The other thing is companies don’t really care if their cleaning service is paying their employees nothing, so you should mention this the next time you go out and make a bid; tell the client that the numbers don’t match if they tell you their current bid or bid they choose, tell them their numbers are way off because of business insurance, bonding, wages and taxes, they need to be notified that they have possibly hired undocumented workers. That is the first finding about the illegal immigrants in the cleaning business when he numbers are off on the bid.

    Today we are hit also with inflation set back by high gasoline prices, as cleaning products have climbed through the roof, people are cutting back even more. So janitorial shopping is a major blow today than it used to be. Cheap is what people want and advertising gained more than 100% over the last 20 years. In order to make a profit if you like to low bid, you have to have a large number of accounts as your profit will be based on volume rather than having a few accounts, you need a lot clients to do better. Being cheap requires more responsibility and more heartache if you want to go with hiring illegal immigrants and placing low bids everywhere you go. Is it worth it?

    The cleaning business is not a get rich business; it is good for people who want to make more money than the average job. People who want to work part-time or go to college and work part-time in the evenings. If you’re thinking about taking on the task of getting 100 clients per night, know what you’re up against. I have been in this business too long and it is not the same as it was 20 years ago. There are people who will pay more for better services but don’t expect that, if you want to make more by charging more with fewer clients. Sometimes that may work but clients can drop your services faster than gas prices sparking up as competitors can walk in your client’s office and hand them a flyer just like that (and lose your business).

    I also written and called CMC magazine to write issues about illegal immigrants in the cleaning industry but they also are dealing with this issue as they receive advertising money from these companies who hire undocumented workers. It is ashame that we are faced with this problem as our US Congress was supposed to pass a bill summer of 2006 which never happened. The problem will continue to get worse where this cleaning industry will be completely run by Hispanics by 2026. Wait and see, we will not see US workers or US owners in this industry years to come aymore because we are not fixing the problem today. It doesn't seem fair when you compared other service fees like a local plumber at $190.00 an hour or a Ford mechanic at $99.00 an hour or an electrican at $120.00 an hour or a contractor at $60.00 to $80.00 an hour and other non skilled examples compared to a janitorial business charging maybe $12.00 to $20.00 an hour when you have to spend more on other services you may need requiring you to make more money.

    If you are dealing with this issue and understand the frustration. Here’s what you can do, find the company who hires the illegal immigrants and track down all their clients if you can. Have someone call those companies with reporting suspicious illegal immigrants with their cleaning company (even if they say they don’t hire illegal immigrants, let them know you have spotted them and you will report them in). Then go out and put flyers on their company vehicles who are hiring the illegals (put in writing that their cleaning service is being reported to the US Customs Enforcement for hiring undocumented workers). Also you may want to write on the flyer that their bosses are using their services for low labor (let them know they are being used for labor from US companies). Then go out late at night and put out flyers in the areas where there is suspicious companies working on their clients door steps. Notify them their cleaning services are illegal immigrants and if not sure, than say suspicious illegal immigrant workers. Then find the competitors website address also and posts on forum sites and consumer forum sites about their business. You also can go on and make a simple video if you want to make a lot more attention about this company who is affecting your business because of illegal immigrants. Then meet with your local news paper and speak to the editor about illegal immigrants in the cleaning industry in your area. Try not to use your company name so you can get the newspaper to write the story (also do not report the companies unless you know for sure or you can say suspicious because of the figures on some bids don’t match the labor rates, insurance, taxes and etc to the editor so they can see the issue more clearly). Then if your concerned with the City and County level in your area, meet with the town mayor and report any janitorial sub-contractors with the City buildings of suspicious companies harboring illegal immigrants in the City. Then head out to the County and report the same thing. Then make an personal appointment with your State Assemblyman and State Senator of your business by complaining about US agencies contracting suspicious illegal immigrants. After that, make an appointment with you Congress person and discuss the issue further and request Congress to pass the legislation but also to complain on the US Customs Enforcement. Then if you have a video camera, register yourself at your local public access with your cable company so you can produce your own stuff on Public Access television. If you want to make a 30 minute documentary on illegal immigrants and the cleaning industry, try to leave out your name, business and face, so you can personally speak about the matter so it will not interfere with your own clients if you have any. Your goal is to fight this issue if you want your business to survive. Then try to post on the Letters to the Editor, using a different name about illegal immigrants and the cleaning industry in your area. If you really want to make more attention, you can also make a bunch of small flyer warnings to people about suspicious illegal immigrant working in this area on their car windshields. Do not use your name nor company but just try to make an awareness in the area you are trying to get their attention. You can do this once a month if you want to notify 200 to 1000 cars a month so the word is being repeated. You will be surprised that this will do something. Especially if the competitor is finding their company name allover the internet on suspicion illegal immigrants. If you can get this company to ease away the bids in your area or scare them, you might by able to get your business back or their business they took from you.

    I can tell you, you can hurt a business like this if these companies are affecting your business; you have a right to complain and to report it.

    Last edited by jims; October 17, 2006, 03:06 PM.