STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – For cleaning companies in a university town like Starkville, the month before students move in is the equivalent of the Christmas season for retailers.
But in 2021, due to the hiring crisis and the pandemic, Worker Bees Cleaning Service owner and CEO Shannon Voges-Haupt says it was one of the worst periods for turning over and cleaning rooms she has seen in 20 years.
“It’s 1000s of apartments that have to be turned over in a very short period of time,” she says.
Because of the sheer number of units and the need to coordinate with maintenance crews, painters and carpet cleaners, Voges-Haupt says plans to clean these apartments are scheduled months ahead of time.
Cleaning companies were so understaffed in the spring that they could only schedule so many cleaning requests at Starkville apartment complexes ahead of move in day for #HailState students. That left some complexes behind schedule during one of the busiest weeks of the year. pic.twitter.com/KjTfWK614U
— Stephen Pimpo (@spimpojr) August 16, 2021
“When you’re doing these turnover cleaning for apartment complexes. You have to commit to it early in the year, like April or May, so that they can plan I mean it’s such a big production.”
Worker Bees cleaned all of the nearly 700 rooms at the Vista, which amounts to about one-third of the jobs they did in 2020.
Voges-Haupt says the ongoing worker shortage forced cleaning companies all over the Golden Triangle to take on fewer assignments.
“I wanted to be optimistic that it was going to make a turn for the better, but I couldn’t risk saying yes and then getting to that point and not being able to finish what I committed to,” she says.
Because of that, Voges-Haupt says multiple apartment complexes did not have some of their rooms ready when students arrived.
“That definitely happened in a number of complexes, especially the larger ones,” she says. “Because those large complexes are so hard to turn over. It’s just so much to do.”
She says she’s even gotten last-second calls for help.
“A couple of the complexes that I said I couldn’t do this year, found themselves in those positions,” Voges-Haupt says. “I said ‘I am sorry and I will do anything I can to help as a pinch hitter or in an emergency if I can.’ And they definitely were calling, but we were so swamped I couldn’t help.”
A resident at a different Starkville apartment, who wished to remain anonymous, told WCBI that their room was not clean when they moved in and about seven or eight other residents had similar problems.