Revised and updated November 1, 2019.
According to IBISWorld, the janitorial and cleaning services industry was worth $61 billion in 2019, a third of which was commercial cleaning. Savvy entrepreneurs who want to “clean up” with a solid business model have a great range of choices with these 15 best commercial cleaning (janitorial) franchises of 2020.
Many of the companies franchising in this market offer both “unit franchises” and “master franchises.” A master franchisee is the one who sells the owner-operator unit franchises and takes the lead on lining up clients and negotiating service contracts. The unit franchisee is the one who actually delivers the cleaning services, without having to worry about the sales aspect.
Eco-friendly or “green” cleaning is a strong trend in this industry, as is “cleaning for health” with its focus on eliminating germs. Different companies lean more towards one than the other and some focus on both.
Growth in recent years for this industry has been driven by falling office rental vacancy rates and a rise in the overall number of businesses thanks to the longest post-recession economic recovery in history. Here are the top 15 commercial cleaning (janitorial) franchises of 2020:
JAN-PRO provides a range of commercial cleaning services, including its proprietary EnviroShield commercial disinfectant system similar to what is used in hospitals. Its backpack vacuums exceed HEPA filtration standards. Cleaners also use color-coded microfiber cleaning cloths to eliminate the transfer of germs from one area to another. The chain focuses on serving light commercial businesses with footprints of less than 50,000 square feet. It was recently acquired by Incline Equity Partners from the previous owner, Webster Capital.
Founded by Jacques Lapointe in Providence, Rhode Island in 1991 and franchising since 1992, JAN-PRO offers both master and single-unit franchises. The number of locations grew steadily from 7,084 in 2011 to 8,790 in 2018, but recently dropped to the current total of 8,534, none of which are company-owned and 1,525 of which are located outside the US.
Coverall is a “health-based cleaning system” that wins a lot of medical facility contracts along with all kinds of other commercial clients because of its focus on achieving germ-free healthy environments. It claims to employ eco-friendly cleaning, thought it doesn’t back that up with any certifications. Different from most of the companies on this list, it offers only unit franchises (not master franchises).
Founded in 1985 and franchising since then, the number of locations has declined in recent years from 9,457 in 2009 to the current total of 8,238, none of which are company-owned and 1,370 of which are located outside the US.
3. ServiceMaster Clean
ServiceMaster Clean has put a ton of time and effort into developing its cleaning standards based on guidance for healthcare systems from OSHA, CDC, AORN, HIPAA, EPA, and other regulatory organizations. Franchisees can apply for in-house financing through the franchisor’s subsidiary, the ServiceMaster Clean Acceptance Company (SMAC). The company only sells unit franchises, not master franchises.
Founded by former minor league baseball player Marion E. Wade in Chicago, Illinois in 1929 and franchising since 1952, the number of locations held steady for several years but recently dropped from 5,033 in 2017 to the current total of 4,929, 10 of which are company-owned and 1,815 of which are located outside the US.
4. Vanguard Cleaning Systems
Vanguard Cleaning Systems distinguishes itself from the competition with its five service standards: 1) A dedicated account liaison for each customer, 2) Informed and motivated to exceed expectations, 3) Advanced cleaning technologies, 4) Diverse and specialized capabilities, and 5) A disciplined approach. The company offers both unit and master franchises.
Founded in 1984 and franchising since then, the number of locations grew steadily from 1,519 in 2009 to 3,327 in 2018, but just declined to the current total of 3,239, none of which are company-owned and 323 of which are located outside the US.
5. Stratus Building Solutions
Stratus Building Solutions offers all kinds of commercial businesses its signature Stratus Green Clean, an eco-friendly approach using its own proprietary line of biodegradable, non-toxic, and Green Seal Certified (GS-37) Stratus Green Clean chemicals free from VOCs, known carcinogens, and fragrances.
Founded by Dennis Jarrett and Pete Frese in 2004 and franchising since 2006, the company offers both master and single-unit franchises. The number of locations has expanded in the past several years from 1,155 in 2015 to the current total of 1,787 (an increase of 238 from its previous total of 1,549), none of which are company-owned and 50 of which are located outside the US.
6. CleanNet USA
CleanNet USA offers a full range of janitorial services, as well as exterior building and grounds maintenance. In additional to conventional cleaning, the chain offers a Clean Green Program that is eco-friendly for LEED certification and uses Green Seal products. The company is currently facing a lawsuit from a franchisee who says since the company sets each janitor’s schedule and pay, they aren’t really franchisees at all but employees, although the company does deduct franchise fees and royalties from pay.
Founded by Mark Salek in 1988 and franchising since then, the number of locations has fallen in recent years from a high of 5,274 in 2011 to the current total of 1,746 (a decline of 292 from the previous year’s total of 2,038), none of which are company-owned and 48 of which are located outside the US.
7. Anago Cleaning Systems
Anago Cleaning Systems provides an in-depth orientation program, state-of-the-art equipment, and green chemicals for a wide range of commercial businesses and facilities. The chain backs its Total Satisfaction Guarantee with a “2-hour response” visit the day after any clean to address any issues not covered. The chain’s Green Cleaning Initiative is always on the lookout for new and greener cleaning products along with its HEPA filter vacuums and reusable microfiber cloths. Company headquarters were recently moved from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Pompano Beach.
Founded by David Povlitz in 1989 and franchising since 1991, the company offers both master and single-unit franchises. The number of locations has been steadily climbing in recent years to the current total of 1,559, none of which are company-owned and 56 of which are located outside the US.
8. Buildingstars International
Buildingstars International is different from other companies on this list that tend to clean any type of commercial business. Instead, it focuses solely on office buildings to reduce the amount of variation in what cleaners have to deal with (no restaurants, centers, retail stores, or health clubs).
The company also offers franchisees a way to “ease” into the business. The Technician Franchise lets a franchisee start cleaning part-time to retain the security of current employment. When ready, they can transition to full-time Onsite Manager with their own crew of cleaners. With enough experience they can then move into the Corporate program focused on larger buildings and accounts.
Founded in 1994 and franchising since 2000 with both master and unit franchises, the number of locations grew steadily from 276 in 2009 to 883 in 2018, but fell for the first time to the current total of 805 (a decrease of 78), six of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the US.
9. Mint Condition
Mint Condition has both unit and master franchise options. It positions its commercial cleaning services as “cleaning for health” with Green Seal certified cleaning products. Cleaners receive full training that includes classroom instruction, hands-on training, and on-the-job training.
Founded by Jack Saumby and his wife Marcy in Charlotte, South Carolina in 1996 and franchising since then, the company offers both unit and master franchises. The number of locations has grown steadily in recent years from 134 in 2009 to the current total of 376 (an increase of 32 from the previous year’s total of 344), none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the US.
10. Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services
Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services positions itself as a faith-based business providing janitorial and floor care services to commercial clients that exceed customer expectations. Its eco-friendly commitment includes Green Seal certified cleaning products, high-filtration vacuums, and reusable/washable microfiber cloths and mops. This is a unit franchise opportunity as there does not appear to be a master franchise option.
Founded by Todd Hopkins as an independent research project in his MBA program at Butler University in 1992 and franchising since 1996, the number of locations has climbed in recent years from 110 in 2009 to the current total of 144 (an increase of 10 from the previous year’s total), none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the US.
Hoodz has a more specialized focus than most companies on this list. It specifically services commercial kitchens with cleaning, code compliance, and fire prevention solutions for restaurants, institutions, and other food service operations. It ensures cleaning that complies with all local, state, and federal regulations as well as exceeding standards related to NFPA 96, ANSI IKECA C10, insurance companies, fire inspectors, and health inspectors. The chain is owned by the Belfor Franchise Group, a company that includes two other franchises: DUCTZ (HVAC cleaning) and 1-800 Water Damage (restoration and carpet cleaning).
Founded in 2008 and franchising since 2009, the number of locations quickly expanded to a peak of 160 in 2012 but has since declined to the current total of 137, of which 10 are company-owned and two are located outside the US.
360clean developed its JaniMed cleaning system to ensure a space is truly clean and doesn’t just look clean. After all, you can’t see germs. It uses hospital-grade disinfectants on high-touch surfaces, HEPA vacuums, and microfiber cloths. It does also use Green Seal certified products, but only “where applicable,” indicating its germ-free focus is prioritized over being eco-friendly.
Founded by Barry Bodiford and his wife Allison in 2005 and franchising since 2008 with both master and unit franchises (and in-house financing for the latter), the chain has expanded over the past nine years from only 13 locations in 2009 to the current total of 76, all of which are franchised in the US and none of which are company-owned.
13. City Wide Maintenance
City Wide Maintenance is another health-focused commercial cleaning chain that also offers a full range of other building maintenance solutions for both the interior (20 different focused services) and exterior (eight different focused services) of a building. This appears to be a unit franchise opportunity as master franchises are not mentioned.
Founded in 1961 and franchising since 2001, the number of locations has grown slowly but steadily over the past nine years from 23 in 2009 to the current total of 57, one of which is the company-owned flagship location in Kansas City that also serves as the franchisee training site. All are located in the US.
14. System4 Facility Services Management
System4 Facility Services Management started out as a standard commercial cleaning chain, but reinvented itself in 2012 as a full-service facility management company. This reorganization also saw its core model change from unit franchising to master franchising, under which there are independent “affiliates” to provide the services but who do not pay franchise royalties and may work for other companies as well. This is why the company’s number of locations dropped from 1,302 in 2011 to only 27 in 2012 because it now only counts the number of master franchisees.
Founded by Phil Kubec and Edward Hammer in Cleveland, Ohio in 2003 and franchising since then, the number of locations has expanded in recent years from 27 in 2012 to the current total of 55, none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the US.
15. Image One Facility Solutions
Image One Facility Solutions services all types of commercial clients with commercial cleaning, carpet cleaning, post-move cleaning, daily janitorial services, hard surface floor care, post-construction cleaning, green cleaning, window washing, and vacancy cleaning. Its proprietary IntelliClean system leaves no detail unnoticed. The chain sells unit franchises of different types depending on how much business the franchisee wants to handle.
Founded by Tim Conn and Mike Schuchman in 2010 and franchising since 2011, there are currently 12 locations (same as the previous year), none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the US.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.