Mastering Timesheets & Payroll for Commercial Cleaning Businesses
In the fast-paced world of commercial cleaning, operational efficiency is king. And yet, amidst all the hustle and bustle, some critical business processes often take a backseat – timesheets and payroll are chief among them. These are the unsung heroes of business management, the elements that help ensure everyone is paid accurately and on time – which I believe is one of the underpinnings of a happy and productive workforce.
Timesheet and payroll management may not seem glamorous, but it’s absolutely crucial to the smooth running of a commercial cleaning business. Mismanaged timesheets can lead to inaccurate payroll, frustrating employees, and potentially leading to legal issues. Conversely, an efficient and accurate system can lead to cost savings, increased employee satisfaction, and more time for you to focus on growing your business.
So let’s dive deep into the realm of timesheets and payroll, tailored specifically for commercial cleaning businesses. We’ll explore best practices, and common challenges, and provide practical solutions to help you master these crucial aspects of your business. This guide is designed to provide you with the knowledge you need to streamline your processes, ensuring they are efficient, compliant, and contributing positively to your bottom line.
Whether you’re new to managing a commercial cleaning business or are looking for ways to optimize your existing processes, this article will serve as a valuable resource. It’s time to bring timesheets and payroll to the forefront, giving them the attention they deserve.
Get ready to transform the way you handle timesheets and payroll, and take a significant step towards running a more efficient, compliant, and profitable commercial cleaning business. We promise you – this is time and effort well spent. So, let’s turn the page and begin the journey to mastering timesheets and payroll in your commercial cleaning business.
Understanding Timesheets in a Commercial Cleaning Business
Timesheets, at their core, are a simple concept – a method of recording the amount of a worker’s time spent on each job. But in the world of commercial cleaning, with its unique challenges of shift patterns, overtime, and diverse work sites, understanding and effectively managing timesheets can become a complex task.
The Role of Timesheets
The first step to mastering timesheets is understanding their importance. Timesheets are essential for several reasons:
- They ensure that employees are paid accurately for their time worked.
- They provide a record of labor costs associated with each cleaning job.
- They aid in planning and scheduling future work.
- Accurate Timesheets also aid in the Quoting process by giving us actual records of how long cleaning takes.
In essence, timesheets not only ensure fair compensation for your employees but also help monitor and control costs, and facilitate strategic planning for your commercial cleaning business.
Best Practices for Managing Timesheets
Managing timesheets efficiently in a commercial cleaning business involves some key best practices:
- Transparent Policies: Ensure you have clear, communicated policies about time recording, including how to fill out timesheets, when they should be submitted, and how errors are corrected. Sometimes our cleaners can think we are mind readers and presume that they’ll simply be paid regardless of whether their work hours a reportedly correct or not.
- Regular Reviews: Regularly review the timesheet entries to verify their accuracy, identify any anomalies, and resolve them promptly. Whether this is sending a supervisor down to site to verify a team member’s attendance or simply asking a client for Alarm Records. Verifying your timesheets is critical, to ensure cleaners are not falsely reporting their timesheets.
- Training: Make sure all your employees understand how to fill out their timesheets correctly and why it’s essential for them and the business. As you’ll learn below, ensuring they are legible and accurate is part of both your obligations and theirs.
Common Timesheets Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
In the hustle of running a commercial cleaning business, several common mistakes can occur:
- Inaccurate Time Reporting: This could be due to honest mistakes, rounding to the closest 15 minutes, or maybe even the closest hour or intentional time theft. Implementing an electronic time-tracking system can help increase accuracy.
- Self-Reported Timesheets: When we use Paper-based Self Reported Timesheets, like the ones linked to below it’s common to see that the paper-based timesheets often reported by our Cleaners are either rounded or the times are exactly as per the schedule, regardless of the actual times your cleaners may have spent onsite. Whether you are recording your Timesheets Manually or Digitally, it’s important to have a Proof of Attendance Record as well, to ensure your timesheets reflect what actually happens in the field, rather than what your staff want you to know.
- Missed Deadlines: Ensure you have clear, communicated deadlines for timesheet submission and implement reminders to help your staff meet these deadlines. To simplify your timesheet collection, have one channel for receiving them and ensure you send them a reminder, particularly if they are self-reported.
- Poor Record Keeping: It’s crucial to keep accurate records for compliance reasons and in case of disputes. The Fairwork Ombudsman does require you to store employee Timesheets for 7 years. The move to digital Timesheet Collection may streamline and simplify this storage and record keeping as well.
Time and wage Records have to be:
- readily accessible by a Fairwork Work Inspector,
- And in English
Again, digital solutions can automate this process and reduce the risk of human error, as well as give you a simple solution for finding historical data quickly if needed, by simply running Timesheet Reports for the period in question.
Understanding timesheets in your commercial cleaning business is the first step towards ensuring you have efficient and effective payroll processes. In the next chapter, we will explore the basics of payroll and delve into the specifics for commercial cleaning businesses. With a solid understanding of timesheets and payroll, you’ll be well-equipped to optimize these crucial areas of your business. Stay tuned!
Basics of Payroll for Commercial Cleaning Businesses
After capturing and verifying the hours worked through effective timesheet management, the next critical step is processing payroll. Payroll refers to the process of calculating and distributing wages and taxes. It’s a crucial part of your business operations, ensuring your employees are paid correctly and on time.
Understanding Payroll Basics
Here are some fundamental elements of payroll that every commercial cleaning business owner should understand:
Wages: This is the amount paid to your employees for the work they perform, usually calculated on an hourly or salaried basis.
Overtime: Any hours worked beyond standard work hours that may be eligible for a higher pay rate, as dictated by local labour laws.
Taxes: As an employer, you’re required to withhold certain taxes from your employees’ wages and pay these to the government.
Benefits: This may include paid time off, health insurance, superannuation contributions, or any other benefits your company offers.
Payroll Responsibilities for Commercial Cleaning Businesses
As a business owner, you have specific responsibilities when it comes to payroll:
Firstly, it’s critical that you identify or decide on how you are going to engage your cleaners.
Are you going to engage employees to complete the cleaning or sub-contractors?
The lines can be blurry when it comes to determining even if a sub-contractor may actually be an Employee, and in case of doubts, you should consult a legal professional to ensure that you’re in compliance with all applicable laws.
Understanding the difference between an employee and a subcontractor is essential for Australian businesses. It affects a range of obligations, including tax, superannuation, and various entitlements. Misclassifying an employee as a subcontractor (or vice versa) can have serious legal and financial consequences.
Characteristics of Employees
Employees are typically integrated into a business. Key characteristics include:
- They perform work under the direction and control of their employer on an ongoing basis.
- They have set hours of work.
- They are paid based on the time worked, a piece rate, or a commission.
- They are entitled to benefits like annual leave, sick leave, and superannuation contributions.
- They are covered by the employer’s insurance.
- The employer is responsible for the tax payments on their behalf (via PAYG withholding).
Characteristics of Sub-Contractors
On the other hand, subcontractors run their own businesses and provide services to other businesses. Key characteristics include:
- They have a high level of control over how work is done.
- They can delegate or subcontract the work.
- They are paid for a result achieved based on the quote they provided.
- They provide their own tools and equipment.
- They are responsible for their own insurance cover.
- They take care of their own tax payments.
The Multi-Factor Test
When the nature of the relationship is unclear, the Australian courts and the Fair Work Ombudsman recommend using the “multi-factor” test. This test looks at a range of factors including (but not limited to):
- Degree of control over how work is performed
- Hours of work
- Expectation of work
- Method of payment
- Provision of tools and equipment
- Right to delegate or subcontract
- How the work arrangement was set up
- Whether the work is an integral part of the business
The more factors that align with an employment relationship, the more likely the person is an employee. Conversely, the more factors that align with a business relationship, the more likely the person is a subcontractor.
Remember, no one factor determines whether a person is an employee or subcontractor. The courts will look at the totality of the relationship between the parties.
Determining whether a worker is an employee or a subcontractor can be complex, and the implications are significant. If you’re unsure, consider seeking legal advice. The Fair Work Ombudsman and the Australian Tax Office provide resources and advice to help businesses understand their obligations.
In the world of commercial cleaning, time is money. The more efficient your timesheet process, the less time you and your staff need to spend on administrative tasks, and the more time can be spent on actual cleaning services. Plus, a streamlined timesheet process helps reduce errors that can lead to payroll mistakes and employee dissatisfaction and also reduce your payroll costs.
The Importance of Accurate Timesheets
Accurate timesheets are the backbone of accurate payroll.
Errors in timesheets can lead to both overpayment and underpayment, both of which can cause significant issues.
Overpayment is a direct drain on your profits and can occur simply by using self-reported timesheets where the hours are rounded or simply reported exactly as per the scheduled hours.
While underpayment can lead to disgruntled employees and even legal trouble. Simply paying your cleaners the scheduled hours is also putting your business at risk. No cleaner day in and day out can work and complete a job to the hour. Sometimes they’ll go overtime onsite, dirty bathrooms, messy kitchens, anything can derail their clean.
While paying them as per the scheduled hours may feel like the simple solution it puts the business at risk if staff are consistently going over their time onsite.
Many commercial cleaning business owners, unfortunately, put the onus on the cleaner to ensure they get the work done within the scheduled time. This is simply unfair and it’s important in today’s age, that you implement solutions that streamline the process within your business operations while ensuring your team is remunerated correctly for the hard work they do.
The Role of Technology in Timesheet Management
Technology can play a pivotal role in improving the accuracy and efficiency of your timesheet processes. Here are a few ways it can help:
- Digital Timesheets: Digital timesheets eliminate the need for manual data entry, which can be both time-consuming and prone to errors. Many digital timesheet solutions also offer mobile compatibility, so employees can Check-In & Out directly on a Mobile App. At freshOps, our Mobile App for Cleaners is built specifically for Commercial Cleaning Companies.
- Automated Reminders: Forgetful employees are a common cause of incomplete or late timesheets. Automated reminders can help ensure that everyone submits their timesheets on time. Or, simply look for solutions that instantly report Timesheets through their Integrated Time and Attendance Recording.
- Error Checking: Many digital timesheet solutions will automatically flag entries that seem out of the ordinary, like unusually long shifts or shifts that don’t align with the employee’s scheduled hours. With Shift Approvals built into their workflows, your operations team can easily approve timesheets and make amendments before the Timesheets reach your Payroll Team.
- Attendance: Proof of attendance is an integral part of a faultless Timesheet Management Solution. Proof of Attendance normally comes in the form of GPS or Geofence Technology. However, you may find that once a Time and Attendance Solution is implemented, even more accurate solutions may be required. Such as freshOps Advanced Attendance Technology.
Case Study: Improving Timesheet Accuracy
Consider the case of Garden City Cleaning Services, a cleaning business that was struggling with timesheet inaccuracies. They implemented a digital timesheet system that included mobile check-in/out functionality and automated timesheet collection. Within just a few weeks, they saw a significant decrease in timesheet errors, leading to more accuracy and a reduction in payroll costs.
Within their first week, they identified a 12-hour variance between the hours their team would have normally reported and the hours reported by their Time & Attendance Solution.
Let’s explore how to maintain efficiency and compliance in your payroll process. By combining accurate timesheets with a well-run payroll system, you’ll be on your way to a smoother, more efficient, and more profitable commercial cleaning business.
Payroll Efficiency and Compliance
Once you have accurate timesheets, the next step is processing payroll. Doing so efficiently not only saves time and reduces administrative costs, but also helps ensure that your employees are paid accurately and on time – crucial for maintaining morale and compliance with wage laws.
How to Maintain Payroll Efficiency
Payroll efficiency can be maintained through the following strategies:
- Automation & Integration: Payroll software can automate many time-consuming tasks, such as calculations, tax withholdings, and report generation. An ideal timesheet solution will integrate with your Payroll Solution similar to the freshOps Payroll Xero Integration
- Regular Training: Ensure that whoever is managing your payroll is well-trained and up-to-date with the latest laws and best practices. Payrule Engines and Award Interpreters can reduce this burden on staff, but the buck still stops with you when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of your payroll.
- Timely Processing: Establish a regular payroll schedule and stick to it. This reduces the chance of errors and ensures employees are paid on time. Having to go back and forth with managers, supervisors and employees for clarification on Timesheets can add significant delays to your payroll.
Ensuring Compliance with Wage Laws
Every commercial cleaning business needs to comply with wage laws at the local, state, and federal levels. Here’s how to do it:
- Know the Laws: Make sure you understand all the wage laws applicable to your business. This might include minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping requirements.
- Stay Up-to-Date: Laws change regularly, so stay informed about any updates or changes that might affect your business. Consider subscribing to Email Updates.
- Consult a Professional: Consider working with a payroll professional or employment attorney to ensure full compliance.
Case Study: Improving Payroll Processing in a Commercial Cleaning Business
Consider the example of Pacific Maintenance and Cleaning. They were spending countless hours on manual payroll processing and frequently encountering errors, sometimes up to 3 days doing payroll. By investing in robust Time and Attendance Software like freshOps built specifically for the Commercial Cleaning Industry, they were able to automate many of their tasks, drastically reducing the time spent on payroll each week to as little as 3 hours. Moreover, their payroll accuracy improved, reducing overpayments and ensuring happier employees.
The Role of Software in Payroll and Timesheets
Technology can play a pivotal role in both timesheet and payroll management. When leveraged correctly, software can significantly increase efficiency, reduce errors, and help ensure compliance.
Payroll and Timesheet Software Options
There’s a wide range of software options available, many of which are specifically designed for industries like commercial cleaning like getfreshOps.com. These software solutions can provide features like digital timesheets, mobile clock-in/out functionality, automatic payroll calculations, tax withholdings, and reporting tools.
Benefits of Using Timesheet Software
The benefits of using software for payroll and timesheet management include:
- Time savings: Software can automate many manual processes, saving you and your team valuable time.
- Reduced errors: Automated calculations and error-checking features can help minimize mistakes.
- Improved compliance: Many software solutions will help ensure you comply with wage laws, including tax withholdings and record-keeping requirements.
Proof of Attendance: Simply digitising your Timesheet Collection isn’t always the silver bullet. It does really need to be partnered with proof of attendance technology such as GPS, Geofences and Near Field Communication (NFC) Technology, to ensure that you simply haven’t digitised the same self-reported and inaccurate timesheets discussed earlier.
Tips for Selecting the Right Timesheet & Payroll Software
Selecting the right software for your commercial cleaning business to manage timesheets and payroll can seem like a daunting task, given the myriad of options available on the market. However, a thoughtful evaluation process can lead you to the best solution for your needs. Here are some expanded tips:
Define Your Needs
Before you begin your search, make a list of what you need the software to do. Some common needs might include:
- Easy timesheet submission and approval
- Mobile clock-in/out functionality
- Automatic payroll calculations
- Proof of Attendance
- Payroll Analysis – such as the Scheduled Hours vs the Actual Hours
- Integration with your existing Payroll Systems such as Xero
Consider Your Budget
Identify how much you’re willing and able to invest in this software. While it might be tempting to go for a low-cost solution, remember that more robust (and often pricier) solutions can save you more in the long run by reducing errors and saving time. At the same time, an enterprise-level solution may be completely overkill for your size business, so find the sweet spot.
If the solution can save you money both in administration time for payroll as well as reduce your payroll costs with accurate Time and Attendance Records, then sometimes they can actually pay for themselves.
Do some online research to identify potential software options. Look at each software’s feature set, pricing, and customer reviews. You can also seek recommendations from other Commercial Cleaning Business owners or industry professionals.
Don’t get caught up choosing tools based on the Shopping List of features they offer. In many cases, the average user only uses about 45% of the available features. This percentage decreases with broad industry software solutions but greatly increases with industry-specific tools. So it’s important not to get caught up in the bells and whistles as we like to call it and look at the core functions and determine if the core function aligns with your daily operations.
Evaluate Ease of Use
Software should make your life easier, not harder. A solution with a complex, hard-to-understand user interface might lead to user errors or resistance from your team. Look for industry-specific solutions. While you’ll find plenty of solutions that promise the world, they may not be built and developed with you in mind. Commercial Cleaning Companies often get dropped in the Trade and Services Sector, but they are unique in their own right. If possible, sign up for a demo before committing to a purchase.
Assess Customer Support
Good customer support is invaluable when it comes to software. Look for a solution backed by strong customer service – this means not only reactive support when issues arise but also proactive resources like User Guides, Knowledge Bases, Help Centres, Tutorials, FAQs and InApp Support and Training. It’s also worthwhile considering, when is the support available. If every request, isn’t even going to be looked at until the Customer Service Team wakes in a completely opposite timezone, this may lead to much frustration when trying to resolve issues and get answers fast.
Verify Compliance Features
While ultimately the responsibility lies with you, ensure the software can help you comply with all applicable wage laws. It should handle the heavy lifting though and ensure that you can simplify the headaches around cleaning award conditions, rates and penalties.
Plan for Growth
Choose software that can scale with your business. But be realistic, with a team of 10 -20 cleaners, implementing a solution that delivers solutions to the Enterprise and supports the payroll of thousands of employees, may be overkill. It should be capable of accommodating the realistic foreseeable growth of your business. While we all may have dreams of having a gigantic cleaning empire, the reality is the majority or Commercial Cleaning Companies tap out at between 20 – 80 staff purely due to the operational glass ceiling of their systems and processes.
Selecting the right software is a strategic decision that can greatly enhance your business’s efficiency and compliance and it’s important to make sure it’s right for you now. Take the time to evaluate your options carefully, and don’t hesitate to switch solutions if your needs evolve or if your current solution is not living up to expectations.
Troubleshooting Common Payroll and Timesheet Problems
Despite best efforts, problems can arise in both the timesheet and payroll processes. Being proactive in identifying and resolving these issues is crucial to maintaining operational efficiency and employee satisfaction.
Identifying Common Problems
Common problems might include;
- inaccurate time entries
- Inaccurate attendance records
- missed timesheet submissions
- miscalculations in payroll
- and late payments.
Keep an eye out for these issues and address them promptly when they arise.
To resolve issues, you might need to revisit your policies, provide additional training to your team, or consider implementing new tools or software.
Remember, communication is key. Ensure your team feels comfortable bringing up any issues they encounter and that they are clear on how to report their Timesheet records outside of your main solution of issues arise.
Have you ever seen a Retailer pull out the old Ca-Chink Manual Credit Card Machine? That’s their backup for if the terminal goes down for whatever reason. Whatever you implement in your business, you should always have a redundancy backup solution. Whether that is a dedicated Chat Channel/Group or a SMS Process, if for any reason your team can’t log hours, ensure they know what the backup system is.
Proactive Measures to Avoid Problems
To avoid issues before they arise, maintain clear policies and procedures around Timeheet Recording, BackUp Process and how to get Support. Ensure your payroll team is well-trained, and consider using software to automate processes and error-checking.
Future-Proofing Your Timesheet and Payroll Processes
Timesheet and payroll management isn’t a one-and-done task. To stay efficient and compliant, you’ll need to continuously revisit your processes, stay up-to-date with the latest laws and best practices, and be ready to adapt to changes.
Ongoing Training and Support
Ensure your team receives regular training on how to accurately fill out timesheets and any other payroll-related tasks they’re responsible for. Also, provide ongoing support to answer any questions or troubleshoot problems. If you’re using Software or Manually Collecting time sheets and processing payroll, ensure you continuously look out for Improvements or New Features. In the case of software reach out to the Software Support Team regularly to see if you can be doing better or in the case of manual timesheets regularly reach out to Industry Bodies and/or other Cleaning Businesses to see if you can be doing better.
Keeping Up with Changes
Wage laws, tax rates, and industry best practices change regularly. Stay informed about these changes, and adjust your processes accordingly. Also, ensure you are aware of any Industry Software Solutions such as getfreshOps.com or Government Tools such as the Fairwork Ombudsman PACT Calculator to help you keep up with industry changes.
Planning for the Future
As your business grows, your payroll and timesheet needs will likely change. Regularly reassess your processes and software to ensure they’re still meeting your needs.
Congratulations, by now, you have an understanding of why these elements are crucial and how to manage them efficiently and compliantly.
Timesheets and payroll may seem like mundane administrative tasks, but as we’ve seen, they are at the heart of your business. An accurate and efficient timesheet and payroll system ensures your employees are paid correctly, contributing to their job satisfaction. It also helps you control labour costs, making your operations more profitable.
Embracing technology in managing timesheets and payroll is no longer a luxury but a necessity. It not only saves time and reduces errors, but also helps ensure you’re compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. By selecting software that aligns with your Commercial Cleaning Business needs, you’re investing in the future success of your commercial cleaning business.
However, remember that mastering timesheets and payroll is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires you to stay updated with the latest laws and best practices and continuously reassess your procedures. Moreover, providing ongoing training and support to your team can greatly enhance the accuracy of timesheets and payroll processes.
Running a successful commercial cleaning business requires juggling many different tasks, and now, with the insights and tools gained from this guide, managing timesheets and payroll can be a less daunting, more streamlined aspect of your operations.
If you want to learn how to grow and scale on your own, be sure to check out the freshOps Blog.
But if you want to do it faster, I invite you to schedule a Free Scale and Grow Demonstration with myself, or one of our product specialists.
What we’ll do on the call is dig deep into how you could implement freshOps to get the results you want for your business even faster.
During this call, we’ll cover ways you can
- Have increased visibility of your team for Improved Service Delivery
- Streamline your Timesheet or Attendance collection with super-accurate records
- Share insights on how the fastest-growing cleaning companies are Streamlining their Service Delivery while the owners are getting some time back to work on their business.
You’ll leave with a clear understanding of how having visibility of your team could be a game-changer for achieving the results you desire faster in your business.
So take a moment right now, book a demo and then choose a time that works for us to schedule a call.