One of the biggest mistakes a building service contractor (BSC) can make is closing a standard services contract without considering other opportunities. In many cases, while servicing that client, you may want to try expanding your contract based on needs you observe. If you’re already in business, you may know that one of the most reliable ways to grow that business is by further serving your current customers.
Very often, hard floor care is an area of great need. In facilities both large and small, it's best to keep in mind that no surface receives more use and requires more maintenance than the floor.
Customers will sometimes choose to avoid aggressive floor care services due to cost. Many make this decision under the assumption that they're saving money by delaying recommended monthly or quarterly services. If you are a contractor, part of your job is educating the client on how regularly scheduled maintenance is actually a safeguard to the bottom line.
As professionals, our overall goal is to help reduce operating costs. Here are some tips on how to help our customers take proactive steps to achieving this through proper floor care.
Step 1: Set Expectations and Dates
Ask your customers, “How do you want your facility to look?” Some of them will have over-the-top expectations, and others will be quite conservative. If handled properly, this can open the conversation to budget discussions and display your expertise to your customers and prospects. Agreeing on these expectations sets the stage for your professional relationship.
Try to lock in a floor care service by opening your calendar and picking any date next year. You should know that seasons, foot traffic, and weather have a direct impact on your floor care services.
Step 2: Keep Your Eyes Open
It is important to focus on the work at hand and perform so your customer is happy. Remaining observant serves both of you. Remember that you are a trained and experienced professional. You know when a floor is showing wear, when and how to take action to avoid costly material repairs, and how to apply your trade to your customer’s industry.
Step 3: Understand Your Customer
As a BSC, your responsibilities include doing a good job and bringing concerns and relative solutions to your customers’ attention. This can be subjective based on their industries, owner needs, and expectations. Find a good balance that allows you to voice your concerns, while addressing topics of interest to your customers. Doing this successfully means you understand what’s most important to your customers regarding their facilities.
Step 4: Know What to Share and When to Share It
Be discerning. If your contact is in the middle of a crushing deadline and addressing the issue of floor care maintenance is not crucial to that deadline, then wait. If your topic can impact whether or not that deadline is met, then speak up. This can apply to other areas of cleaning and maintenance, as well.
Pay attention to your customer’s body language and don’t over-communicate. For those who are not sure what I mean, please allow me to be blunt: Know when to shut up. If your contact seems anxious, be respectful and get to the point quickly. If he/she appears relaxed and has an interest in what you have to say, explain your approach. Regardless of what method you have to use, ask if the client has a little time to listen to your professional suggestion.
Step 5: Focus on Certain Phrases
Phrases such as “saving production time,” “containing maintenance budgets,” and “seasonal services versus flat budgeting” are a few that are helpful. If a quarterly floor, strip, and wax program is to a client's benefit, ask the client how best to budget this service. The client may want to see those items only when the service is performed.
However, many customers don’t want those quarterly spikes in cost to be seen—or worse yet, have to explain them to supervisors. If that’s the case, propose dividing the annual cost and building it into your monthly fee. Either way, the upsell opportunity works for the BSC as well as the customer.
Step 6: Know How to Cut Costs and Protect Assets
For the customer, better maintenance actually reduces costs in the long run. Floors that are poorly maintained will have a shorter life span, in some cases by as much as 10 years. That means poorly maintained floors will require replacement sooner than expected. Replacement cost, labor cost, moving equipment and furniture within the facility, and production downtime can create losses, which eclipse the cost of regular floor maintenance.
Additionally, increasing daily maintenance will translate into a less aggressive floor care program; routine dust mopping for removal of debris will lengthen the time between stripping and other more aggressive floor care.
The average vinyl tile is designed to last approximately 20 years. Active, routine floor maintenance, such as dust mopping more often, can extend the life of the floor considerably—up to 30 years or more. This simple step can protect the floor from being exposed to the risk of damage via both chemicals and abrasion, which can occur from stripping and waxing.
Step 7: Have the Right Equipment and Knowledge
Conventional floor machines, brush blocks, stripper and pads, neutralizer, etc.: These are the tools of your trade. Educate yourself through professional training and educational materials or hire a certified cleaning consultant.
For companies new to floor care programs, understand the cost of the equipment and when to purchase versus subcontract or rent. Locate a good supplier for your product and equipment. Often, they offer leasing programs, allowing their customers (you) to use and buy out equipment at the end of the lease.
Building services can be tough work with lean profit margins. Becoming an expert in one area, such as floor care, can distinguish you in your market, and allow you to create greater opportunities and wider profit margins.