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Getting Commercial Cleaning Contracts

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Jun 13, 2008 @ 09:30 AM

As I said yesterday nothing improves curb appeal more than a clean appearance and that applies to a business as much as a home, maybe more.

Businesses rely on public perception to keep and improve their business. A run down dirty outward appearance of a business location can mean the difference for a new customer not to stop by or from even going into a business. For this reason businesses are more likely to want regular routinely scheduled cleaning done to their property and that means possible business for you.

Repeat business should be 75-90% of any businesses income. If you do not have good repeat business along with a plan to find new customers you will soon have no work to do and be out of business!

Even if a business owner or manager that you go to speak with already has someone doing work for them, leave a business card with a quote, making sure it has a time limit on it. You never know when something will come up, the other company may not be able to meet their obligation, or may do something to anger the owner enough to try someone else. If you had never stopped by and left them your information you may miss that next opportunity.

Since most jobs come from word of mouth or from prior contacts, not putting in the time to scout out new prospects can mean death to the growth of your business. As I have mentioned before you should spend at least 20% of your effort (time and money) in to finding new business.

The only difference with commercial work vs. home owners is many times they want this work to be done during off hours, meaning when they are closed in the evenings, over night or on the weekends. Since many businesses are now open nearly 24 hours a day you usually can find a time that is slow enough to allow you to work or where you can block off areas to clean so not to restrict your clients own business while you do yours. Of course special care must be taken when working close to the public with proper signage, that all proper safety measures are taken and to be sure you carry enough liability insurance.

It is also good business practice to have prepared information packs for the prospective business customer that includes; copies of your business license for the area you are working in, certifications, insurance binders, bonds, references and any other information that will make the client feel comfortable going into a contract with you and allowing you to do business with them. Many chain locations have corporate restrictions in regards to hiring local companies. If you want to do business in this area it may also be good for you to contact the company at the corporate level first to see if they have their own certification process you must apply to before you can be considered to do work for them at the local level.

Good luck in finding these contract jobs.

Tags: Contract accounts, Commercial cleaning contracts

Flat Work Cleaning – with Concrete Cleaner and Rust Remover

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 12, 2008 @ 09:00 AM

One great up sell when you are cleaning a customers home, gutters or roof, besides decks and their other wood accents, is to clean their homes concrete areas as well. Areas such as sidewalks, driveways, curbs, flower or garden trim edgings as well as pool decks and patios.

The best way to clean these flat surfaces is with a specialty circular cleaning machine. And although many contractors use water alone with this kind of equipment, application of even a small amount of specific concrete cleaner will make the job come out that much nicer in less time. Our "Concrete Cleaner" contains an organic solvent designed to dissolve and remove grease, oil, black tire marks and embedded dirt. And of course with all pressure washing using hot water will improve the cleaning and shorten the amount of time as well. Hotter water allows the surfactants and other components in the cleaners to work their best.

But even if you do not have rotary equipment you can get good results with a regular pressure washer. Just be sure to use the correct size nozzle, proper concentration of cleaner, all with the lowest setting possible for your machine to remove the dirt and follow your local ordinances in regards to the water run off or need for reclamation equipment.

Our "Concrete Cleaner" is organic, bio-degradable, is USDA approved and classified as a non toxic pollutant under the Clean Water Act.

Another problem that may come up when cleaning concrete, brick or rock surfaces is red rust deposits from hard water in areas where iron is in high concentrations. This red coloration can be a headache and many companies actually etch the top of a surface off to remove this color which in time can cause major damage. We have another solution. You can use our "Wood Brightener also called "Rust Remover" to remove those rust stains from white decorative gravel in flower beds and patios.
C  Documents and Settings Dan Kidd My Documents My Pictures RustRemoverBA
"Wood Brightener" contains a mild Oxalic Acid which when used at the proper mixture of 2 pounds of cleaner per 5 gallons of water it will remove the rust color safely from the rocks in and around flower beds. You can spray on with a hand pump and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes and then rinse well with water. Repeated applications maybe needed if buildup is sever and has been on the rock surfaces for a long time. Repeating the application is safer for plantings rather than increasing the solution strength or dwell time or using high concentrations on bleach. Have patio furniture that left rust marks, no problem, just take a look at these before and after photos, no bleach was used, just "Wood Brightener".

Nothing improves the curb appeal of a home more than having a clean bright appearance.

Tags: Wood Brightener, Concrete Cleaner, cleaning concrete, Rust Remover, Flat work

Deck Cleaning and Stripping Advice from Soap Warehouse.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Jun 11, 2008 @ 11:30 AM

The first step to deck cleaning is to first find out if the wood only needs a general cleaning or if there is an old finish that needs to be removed and if the customer plans to retreat, seal the wood, stain or paint.

C  Documents and Settings Dan Kidd My Documents My Pictures PhotosfromotherWebsites a deck cleaning Advanced

If you have a good finish under just general dirt, a good deck wash is all you will need. Our "Deck Wash" is designed especially for cedar wood and is fine for all other kinds of exposed wood surfaces. With a deck wash you are just loosening and removing surface dirt, mold and mildew. It is best to use warm-hot water at the lowest pressure setting possible that allows you to remove the dirt without damaging the finish or raising the wood grain. Followed by a good rinse, when dried, the original natural color or treated color should be easily seen. If needed a new coat of sealer for wearability or new coat of stain can be applied by either you or the customer.

But if the deck has an old finish that is worn out in places, old paint or a badly faded finish you will first have to remove the old surface materials with a stripper. When ever you use a stripper, you have to have mixed up and available to use right after using the stripper, a neutralizer, like our "Wood Brightener", to bring the ph of the wood back down to normal following the stripper. We have two different levels of strippers.

Our regular "Deck Stripper" is made to penetrate and emulsify old paint, varnish, stain, dirt, grease and oil. Our "Supper Stripper", which is three times stronger than the regular "Deck Stripper", is for removing newer or thicker build ups of stain, paint or other materials. It can also be used to clean asphalt or fiberglass shingles. Both strippers can also be used on other wood surfaces such as fences, free standing structures like gazebos or wood roofs or siding. Again be sure to follow any stripper with a neutralizer like "Wood Brightener" to stop the chemical reaction of the stripper on the wood and make the surface ready to take a new paint or stain after it is rinsed well and has thoroughly dried.

If you had seen problem areas of mold or mildew you may want to think about using some "Bio Barrier" to retard the return of new mold growth.

Please see the earlier session a few days ago on Bio Barrier in this Blog; you can use the search to find other Bio Barrier posts as well.

Tags: Bio Barrier, Deck wash, Deck Stripper, Super Stripper, Wood Brightener

Carpet & Fabric Cleaner and Qwiczyme

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Jun 10, 2008 @ 01:30 PM

These are two more great products not a lot of our customers know about.

Carpet and Fabric cleaner is a great addition for the car detailer, interior home cleaner as well as the RV dealer and commercial exterior professional. You can use this on fabric upholstery in a car, RV or in the home. When used with professional carpet machines this helps give carpet back the rich tones and contrast of color they should have. This product is great on fabric awnings on building facades as well as on RV’s. Carpet and Fabric will remove those black streaks from awnings and when used with Qwiczyme deodorizer you can also breakdown mold and mildew in carpet and fabric fibers. Qwiczyme leaves a clean wintergreen fragrance, and it can be added to your normal carpet cleaning solution.

The Carpet and Fabric cleaner is mixed 1-2 oz per gallon of water. It can be sprayed on with a spray bottle, applied directly with a clean brush, sponge or cloth left for a few minutes, agitated if needed and then rinsed with clean water with the excess water and dirt removed with a clean cloth or towel, or extraction equipment with or without brush agitators.

Qwiczyme can be used by it self or in combination with Carpet and Fabric cleaner when you have mold, mildew or other organic materials such as pet urine to remove and to remove odors that are effecting the carpet or fabric. Qwiczyme is mixed 2-4 oz per gallon of warm water. The water must be at least lukewarm (70 degrees) for the enzymes to get to the correct temperature to work properly. Mix this product only as needed.

I would love for any of our customers that have used these products to please comment on their use and the results they got.

Thanks and see you later.

Tags: Quiczyme, Carpet and Fabric Cleaner, Carpet & Fabric Cleaner

Bio Barrier, our mold growth inhibitor, stops Gloeocapsa magma.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 09, 2008 @ 10:45 AM

I want to talk today about a product many of you might not know about that can add value to your house washing business, Bio Barrier.

Bio Barrieris a 'Mold Growth Inhibitor'. It helps stop the re-occurrence of that ugly black mold (Gloeocapsa magma) on roofs as well as the green mold that loves to come up on wood surfaces and vinyl siding in areas where the sun does not reach.
C  Documents and Settings Dan Kidd My Documents My Pictures PhotosforWebsitesorAds roof algae
Besides looking bad, mold and mildew will eventually cause permanent damage to asphalt shingles. You already have a customer wanting a cleaner looking house, so sell them the added benefit of keeping it clean longer with yearly regular maintenance.

You first clean the existing mold from the hard surface; roof, wall, deck etc. with your regular cleaning method starting with the molded areas first. Then once the surface is dry, many times in the hot summer weather that is by the time you get back around the house, that is when you apply the Bio Barrier. Bio Barrier is applied to a dry surface straight with no dilution. You just wet the surface using a hand spray pump or similar method, do not drench or allow puddling. You allow the treated area to thoroughly dry, with no rinsing. You want at least 24-48 hours to elapse before the surface gets wet again. So do not apply if you know it will be raining with in that time. Once dried you have a protective barrier that stops the microorganisms that cause odor and mold growth from attaching to the surface for around 12 months or longer depending on the exposure to water and moisture with no sun. So if it usually takes 9-12 months for the mold to start showing on a surface, schedule to be back the next year before it gets hold again.

If you add Bio Barrier to your cleaning package, adding say $50 to your price, that will practically pay for a five gallon pail of the product with just one sale and this will give added value to your customer and make your next years cleaning that much easier. Plus you have a reason to come back and retreat even if a completely new cleaning is not needed.

1 gallon will normally cover 1,500 sq. ft. and you need only treat areas where you found mold in the first place to help stop the spread of future outbreaks. You do not have to treat the whole house. For this reason it is a good idea to do a simple drawing of the property indicating where you needed to spray so you can easily come back and do those areas again next year even if you do not need to re-wash.

If you are adding Bio Barrier as a protective measure, most roofs get mold and algae starting on the North side or shaded areas first so treat those with Bio Barrier after your cleaning. Decks, fences and vinyl siding normally get mold where the sun does not reach for hours of the day if at all. This allows areas that get wet to stay moist and damp thus it becomes a perfect place for mold to start.

Increase the value of your service to your customer as you increase your bottom line by using Bio Barrier.

Tags: Bio Barrier, Gloeocapsa magma, mold growth inhibitor

How to Make your chemical dollar go further Suggestion #3

Posted by Linda Chambers on Sun, Jun 08, 2008 @ 09:00 AM

Continuation:

Our third suggestion is to stretch your cleaner as far as you can to still get the results you need. Most people, pressure washers included, tend to think more is better. Twice the dirt means you should use twice the cleaner, and that is just not true. Many times the more soap you add the harder it gets to get it clean. Sometimes all you need is hotter water to make the soap you already have do the job better. That is why our dilution rates are doubled with cold water. Turn up the heat and you will increase the cleaning power of the soap you already are using. Always first start a job with the least amount of chemical you think it will take and work up. Do not start high and think you can work down. Most operators will never dial it down to the same lower level that they could have cleaned with had they started the other way. This has also been proven in washer tests.

Sometimes all you need for the soap to work well is softer water. You can spend pennies per gallon on a water softener like our “So Soft” that will help your soap work better. It will also promote the sheeting off of water for vehicles and houses to dry faster. Or our "Booster" that will stretch the amount of soap you use. Adding "Quick Dry" to rinse water also aids in the sheeting action or our "Spray Wax" to leave cars or vinyl siding with a nice shine.


Please add your comments on how you save on product cost, additives you might put in like bleach or any other suggestions. Also if you have any questions about these suggestions as to how we can help you save money, just ask.

Tags: Cost savings, So Soft, Booster, Quick Dry, Spray Wax

How to Make your chemical dollar go further. Suggestion #2

Posted by Linda Chambers on Sat, Jun 07, 2008 @ 09:00 AM

Continuing from yesterday, June 6th:

Second use as few products as you can for as many different jobs as you can thus reducing the number of different products you have to buy, allowing you to buy in bulk, making it easier to store and manage. I have some customers that will use, say Mighty Max for almost all of there exterior cleaning jobs. They will buy one 55 gal kit in the beginning of the year to use at different strengths with different additives during the year thus saving money since they got one kit and saved on shipping the water weight of pails. So if you are buying over one year even 10 pails of Mighty Max, two at a time every other month, that would be $350 plus the shipping costs five times, where as one kit is only $205 and shipping one kit is less than even one set of two pails. Saving you hundreds!

Tell us your best all in one product? Is it Brown Derby? Mighty Max? Smoke House? We would like to hear from you and let everyone know what you add to these to give you the best results for the jobs you are doing. Maybe if enough of you like a certain product with a certain additive we can have it made that way and possibly save you even more.

Tags: Cost savings, Business

How to make your chemical dollar go farther. Suggestion #1

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Jun 06, 2008 @ 09:00 AM

Most of your expenses fall into one of three areas; supplies, fuel and labor.
Labor is the only near constant you have. You either work for yourself or you have a crew that work X number of hours a week for a certain amount. The next expense is fuel and we all know that is rising out of this world making everything else go up. So that leaves your supplies as the best place to be able to cut costs. So how can your chemical supplier help besides lowering their prices? We can make suggestions.

First, as we spoke of earlier at the start of these posts: Buy as much product as you can at the best freight rate you can get. Paying $50 for a single pail of 5 gallons of product and spending $50 to get it there costs you $20 a gallon. But if you bought 4 pails ($200) for the same $50 in shipping, your cost per gallon drops to $12.50. 

If you had bought all four of those pails separately even over just a few months time and freight rates had stayed the same, you would have spent $400 on the same amount of product you could have spent just $275 on, for a savings of $125. We here at Soap Warehouse are always ready to calculate rates for you with different carriers or amount of product that can be shipped. We are happy to help you get the best $ per gallon rate you can get.

To help you with this we have posted in our archives the weight chart for our products on our website that you can go to at any time; Product Weight Chart. Of course freight prices will always be changing but you will be able to see what pails and drums vs. kits weigh.

Let us know what your suggestions are as to how to save on product costs.

Tags: Business, expenses

Post cards to generate business.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 05, 2008 @ 09:00 AM

Next to business cards post cards can be money well spent it just depends on how you use them.

Spending hundreds on bulk mailings in mailers or on post cards can be great for the large companies that are building and maintaining name recognition, but for the little guy this kind of marketing expenditure can be out of reach.

But don’t give up on post cards yet. One thing they are great for is repeat customer business and to build customer loyalty.

Say you have a customer that gives you a referral, but you do not have a referral business card program in place like I spoke of yesterday. You can use a post card as a thank you for sending you business and list an offer on it as your thank you, such as $20 off your next visit or for a free added service. You would be surprised to know most people like to see a concrete figure instead of a percentage, even when the percentage off may have been greater in the long run. For example you offer $20 off of your next service instead of 10% off, which they perceive as less value, and their next service call costs $300. You have saved $10 but they are happy they got the $20 off. Also discounting lowers the percieved value of your work. That is why the free added service offer works best.

Post cards are also great for recouping lost business. Say you see April that a loyal customer that calls every year in March has not called you yet. First send a kindly reminder card that their service is due, it may have just slipped their mind or they have been busy and have been meaning to call you. Remind them your days fill up fast this time of year and to call now for the best times, they need a reason to call you. Then if in a few weeks still no call, you may want to extend an incentive offer to them. Always make a definite offer with a definite dead line. Like you have an opening during such an such week and can do it for X amount but only if they call by a certain date. Also never have an offer cost more than 10 or so percentage of what you are making for the job depending on your expenses and mark up rate. You are trying to get back business you've lost not give it away just to have a job to do.

One more important thing is for your card to have your customers name on it. Do not use the standard Dear loyal customer. Your customer needs to feel like they are important to you not just a number. That salutation may be fine for a general card you are sending to all of your customers to make an announcement but not when you are trying to win back a customer, and hand signed is best.

Good Luck

Tags: marketing, post cards

Business cards, your best investment.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Jun 04, 2008 @ 09:00 AM

One item that is your best spent money for the dollar is your business cards. They are the least expensive way to get your name out and get jobs. Make it a goal to hand out at least 10-20 cards a day to people you meet, or leave them where ever you go. True many will just get tossed out in the nearest garbage can but you never know when someone will need your service and dig out that card "That guy gave them". Or when they will hand your card over to someone else that mentions they need to find someone to wash their house. You can expect less than 10% of any type of advertising including business cards to generate a call. Then it is up to you to land the business.

It is a known fact that people need 3-5 contacts from someone before they may buy. Also it takes someone to hear or read something at least 3 times before it sinks in. And the number one way to get business is by referrals. So how do you get those referrals? Leave your customers at least 10 cards with their name on the back and ask them if they liked your service to hand them out to their friends. Also make an offer to them, ex: you will give a discount off the next job for them or even send them a gift card worth $25. And that if their friend calls and uses their name that you will also give the new customer the same offer. Make it what ever you want but keep it the same so you will remember what your offer is all the time. You will find that if you change offers, one person will talk to another and may not be happy to hear the offer was not the same for them, a sure fire way to loose business. That is why referrals work, people talk! And remember one satisfied customer will normally tell two friends while an unsatisfied customer will tell at least 10 people they may not even know. So increase your number of good referrals and work extra hard never to have bad ones.

Since exposure is the key to generate new business. Post your cards everywhere you can. On subdivision notice boards, dry cleaners, the corner pub, just about anywhere in areas you like or want to work. Do not put them in locations where the type of customer you want probably does not go, like a Laundromat. If a client does not have $300 to buy a washer to wash his clothes why would he hire you to wash his house? But drive out of your way and post on the club house bulletin board in a upscale subdivision where you want to work, where you know the disposable income level is high and esthetics are important to the potential customer.

Good Luck and keep passing out those cards.

Tags: Business, marketing, business cards

Where have you found new business?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Jun 03, 2008 @ 09:00 AM

I meant to ask this open ended question yesterday for anyone to answer as to what is the best way you personally have found to get new business? And where have you found it?

Was it by a traditional method? Or have you stumbled on a great but unique angle?

Please feel free to tell everyone here what you have found. Remember Soap Warehouse sells all across the US and this will not be like giving away your best kept secret. Most of our customers will never come in contact with each other or even work in the same area. Although some of you do live in the same part of the country and have even referred other local pressure washers to us for which we are very grateful. We only hope to make everyone’s business better with this blog and not try to take business from each other. That is one reason we have a link to other open sharing sites with forums like The Grime Scene and Power Wash Network.


What job or type of work is your most profitable and why?

This will probably have a lot of answers, maybe as many as there are companies. I have heard from some clients that state they will only do fleet washing because that is the only place the money is and then the next week I will hear the same thing from a Hood Cleaner.

We also ask for anyone that has a web site to please forward it to us for us to link to you from our web site as one of the bonuses for being a Soap Warehouse customer.

Hope to hear from someone soon.

Tags: Business, network, forums

Where to find new business?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 02, 2008 @ 11:16 AM

Good Morning and Welcome to a new month, June!

I can not believe half of the year is almost gone. How many of you have been making the goals you set for this year? How many of you even set goals? Goals are a very important part of business. If you are spending all of your time working and no time building your business, you will soon be out of business. You can not just sit back and expect the customers you currently have to always be there to meet your obligations. It is said that if you do not spend at least 20% of your effort; meaning time and money, to increase your business you will not be able to sustain it for long. Most new, independent or self owned businesses are out of business in the first 2-3 years. All businesses loose at least 10-15% of their customers each year for what ever reason. And in these tough economic times let’s face it, that percentage is probably higher. Keeping your clients equipment or property clean is not going to be a top priority for them when they have other bills to pay. So if your client base is shrinking or at least dragging right now what can you do to fill in the gaps? How do you find new customers? You need to look in places you may have not before.

For example, since the housing market is slow in most areas right now, many times the difference between which house sells is its curb appeal. Contact realtors in your area and give them special pricing to give to their sellers for you to do exterior cleaning. Sometimes just a freshly cleaned roof or front walk and driveway will make a new buyer like the house and think that the property looks great and that it will not need maintenance any time soon. Also contact new home builders about after construction clean up in a development. With so many homes sites out there they need to make their subdivision look the best to new home buyers. Also look for maintenance contract work that won’t dry up with the weather. For example I recently had a funeral home owner contact me looking for a referral for a company to do his three locations. He told me "No one has ever come by to see me about starting a monthly contract to clean my buildings, hearse and limos." He reasoned that most people including pressure washers do not like to call on funeral homes. But this is a business where image is key and they always have customers. There is never a slow month for a funeral home.

Have a good day and keep looking for new opportunities.

Tags: Business, goals, marketing

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