Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Contracting Profitability with ProTeam

September 19, 2010

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The challenges of running a contract cleaning company never end. No matter the size of the client base or coverage area, efficiency becomes paramount in order to stay competitive and profitable. Here''s how two different contract cleaning companies—one, a large enterprise in Manhattan, and the other, a versatile solo operator in small town America—used ProTeam® backpack vacuums to build, expand and solidify their reputation and their business.

IBS Cleans the Big Apple

The New York metropolitan area packs nearly 3,000 people into every square mile—all in towering high rises, retail districts, and museums and hospitals that span entire city blocks. IBS Services Group, a commercial cleaning operation in Long Island City and Manhattan, sees the city situation as a big opportunity. In a typical day, IBS cleans 200 locations, from multi-story buildings to high-end retail floors, to cover a total of 2.5 to 3 million square feet. The company''s client base is just as diverse, with high-profile names like the American Cancer Society, Morgan Library & Museum, Hermes of Paris and Chanel.

"The Morgan Library was named one of the cleanest museums in the U.S.," says Owen O''Mahony, Vice President of IBS. "And the American Cancer Society is a totally green, LEED-certified building. We meet high expectations every day. And we do it with ProTeam vacuums."

When IBS opened in 1988, the company purchased its first ProTeam—one of the original lightweight backpacks in production.

From its early stages, the ProTeam backpack vacuum was an innovation that transformed the speed and efficiency of cleaning. The ProTeam backpack cleans up to 10,000 sq. ft. an hour when used in a system, compared to 7,000 for a canister and 2,900 for an upright. ProTeam also emphasizes an educational program called Team Cleaning® to enhance productivity.

IBS implemented Team Cleaning in 1998, and the company''s 160-member staff now uses the system for 90 percent of daily work.

"We''ve achieved really excellent results. I wouldn''t even make a comparison," says O''Mahony. "From a productivity standpoint, I''d say we cover 7,000 to 8,000 sq. ft. an hour on average. Once people are trained properly, they can vacuum up to 12,000 to 13,000 sq. ft. an hour."

Purdie Cleans in Iowa

The city of Jefferson, Iowa, strikes a distinct contrast, with a population of just under 5,000 in a six-square-mile stretch on the North Raccoon River. Marlyn Purdie, owner/operator of a contract cleaning business and environmental services janitor for a Jefferson hospital, found his own business niche in the small-town environment. His cleaning operation, Purdie Clean, has a varied client list—from a weight-lifting equipment manufacturing plant to law firms and engineering offices—that cover a total of 10,000 to 20,000 square feet.

Purdie cleans a wide range of floor types—from showrooms to hardwood to rubber floors—in his contract business, and is tasked with the equally complex tasks of the healthcare environment in his janitorial work at the hospital.

To find a solution that covers every floor variation, Purdie demoed different machines and equipment.

"I wanted something lightweight and versatile," he says. "I wanted a way to be more efficient without missing anything."

As a solo contractor, Purdie relies on his equipment to get him through a job quickly without cutting corners. He started using the ProTeam backpack vacuum 10 years ago.

"It cut my cleaning time in half," Purdie says. "The suction is unbelievable, and I can use the on-belt attachments to do detail work without slowing down."

Looking to a Green Future

IBS is on the cusp of new methods and innovations to help customers meet environmentally-safe standards. Over 65 percent of the company''s clients prioritize cleaning for health. Purdie''s work for a hospital also makes cleaning for health a main priority.

A dedication and commitment to cleaning for health education, aided by ProTeam brochures and materials, has won IBS medical facility clients, including the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, a LEED-certified green building. IBS uses vacuums with a highly-effective filtration system that traps and contains 99.9% of particles measuring 1 micron or larger. This includes mold, pet dander, pollen, heavy industrial dust, and other microscopic particles. HEPA filters and models boost that capture rate to even higher levels, up to .3 microns. IBS also uses only GreenSeal chemicals and has a color-coded microfiber system in place to prevent cross-contamination.

Purdie also relies on a multi-level filtration system to keep up with demands in the sensitive environment of the Jefferson hospital.

Contracting Profitability

From two widely different business frameworks, both IBS and Purdie Clean have found innovative floorcare methods that significantly boost their effectiveness, proving that success comes in all sizes.


Bob Cummings is an industry expert with over 25 years of experience in the cleaning world—ranging from product supply side to the delivery of daily cleaning services for millions of square feet in facilities of all types. He’s recently partnered with ProTeam, The Vacuum Company, to provide support to users needing assistance with cleaning system implementation. The new program, “ProTeam Cleaning Systems Training Group,” works with building management to maximize efficiency and improve cleaning operations, while reducing labor and supply costs. He can be reached at rlcummings@yahoo.com or 951-746-6021.