Countering Fly by Night Janitorial Competition

AlienAgent

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Since the economy is in a downturn there have been the usual cleaning businesses starting up. I’m curious what everyone’s thoughts are on countering these “competitors”.

I’m seeing small, fly by night type start ups using improperly classified 1099 workers trying to market carpet cleaning, VCT buffing, etc to commercial accounts.

Basically using drug addicts and unemployable types for labor with zero knowledge, training, improper chemical use. Rug Dr style junk extractors, that sort of thing.

I had one call me asking how to price “vct buffing or burnishing or whatever it’s called”. I offered to sub under him, he could just refer that service to me and I’d give him a cut for referral, he got huffy and pushed for me to just tell him how much to charge. I hung up on him.

Other accounts have had a $30k tile floor ruined with acid, $65k of LVP ruined by wet mopping, carpet in a library browned out from over wetting extraction, money going missing, bleach spots on carpet, etc.

These guys can really do a lot of damage, both to the facilities and legit businesses market share before they are let go or go out of business.

The thing that gets me is accounts are actually considering using these guys because the “service” is rolled into the weekly trash take out and table wipe down type Jani service.

I have my own sales pitch to counter, but just want to hear the perspectives of others.
 

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You've raised a very significant issue. The rising influx of fly-by-night janitorial services can indeed affect the reputation and market share of legitimate cleaning businesses. These unscrupulous entities utilize cheap, questionable labor, and their lack of proper training, knowledge, and professional tools not only produce disastrous cleaning results but also have a propensity for causing often irreversible damage to clients' properties.

In order to counter these competitors, businesses like yours should employ a number of strategies:

1. **Highlighting Expertise and Experience**: Promote your team's qualifications, certifications, and expertise. Discuss how much experience you have and the training your team members receive before they are allowed to serve customers. Prospective clients would have more confidence in hiring a company whose employees are adequately trained and knowledgeable.

2. **Educating About Proper Cleaning Techniques**: Where possible, educate your potential customers about the right way to carry out particular cleaning tasks, for example, the difference between buffing and burnishing. This would not only serve to provide a value-added service but would also highlight the competency gap between your business and the newcomers.

3. **Mentioning Insurance Policies**: A professional cleaning business always has insurance coverage. Accidents and damages do occur. Having proper insurance is protection for both the business and the client. Let your customers know that you are insured and explain what that means for them.

4. **Sharing Past Success Stories**: You could create case studies of challenging projects that were successfully completed by your business. Sharing client testimonials would, too, serve to boost your reputation.

5. **Offering Competitive Prices without Compromising Quality**: Rather than being the cheapest, strive to offer value. Setting fair prices, presenting comprehensive service packages, and customizing solutions to meet unique customer needs can set your business apart.

6. **Utilizing Eco-friendly/ Health-safe Products**: If you are using eco-friendly products that are safe for humans and pets, this could be another selling point.

7. **Offering Exceptional Customer Service**: Working transparently and maintaining open lines of communication with clients will build trust and enhance your business's reputation.

8. **Investing in Marketing**: Well-coordinated marketing campaigns will elevate your business's brand and give it more visibility. Using online platforms, giving presentations at local business meetups, or sponsoring events can work considerably in your favor.

Remember, while these unethical newcomers can cause a temporary dent, it's the consistent, professional, and customer-centered businesses that ultimately survive and flourish. Happy customers become repeat customers and they refer others as well. Best of luck with your endeavours.
 
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BIG WOOD

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I just lost a bid on a job that was 8k sq ft of carpet cleaning. I priced it at .25/sq ft, and I suspect that local Servpro undercut me because I gave the first bid.

They seem to be getting all the big bids around here lately (schools, big factories, this one, etc).

I don't understand why these FKIN companies still try to hold that low ass price and work for pennies to hurt our industry
 
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BIG WOOD

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The thing that gets me is accounts are actually considering using these guys because the “service” is rolled into the weekly trash take out and table wipe down type Jani service.
That's very frustrating to me over here. I've lost several cc bids because they won't even consider my services since they see carpet cleaning as custodial work too.

Total BS! Janitors have no knowledge of how to clean carpet. I know because I've seen the carpet at these accounts and have been called in to clean up after them.

The local school in the county next to mine put out a huge bid to handle the janitorial of the schools and some huge janitorial firm that only subs the work out won the bid. They called me, wanting me to put a quote to do janitorial. When I told them I'm just a carpet cleaning, they said they'll call me when they need that service. Hell no! They don't do any of the work and they expect to get 80%+ of it! Talk about screwing the little guy
 
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AlienAgent

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@BIG WOOD I think some of these companies just use carpet cleaning to keep employees busy between the big restoration jobs or as a loss leader to gain access to something more profitable/or desirable for them.

I’m kind of getting to the point where, in my mind, the toughest part of B2B/commercial accounts is this…

We’re business people/entrepreneurs trying to do business with people who aren’t.

The LPN who manages six locations I’m pulling my hair out trying deal with this past week, is not a business person. But here she is, making major decisions for a business. Asks for a competitive bid on May/November cleaning of all floors in six locations. Wants a maintenance plan to keep things looking perfect. I give bid, she accepts, now after a year she’s wanting to skip locations, change the schedule, etc. If she cuts down the volume, the price per foot is going up. She’ll end up having less floor cleaned for the same or more money, or can have the Jani company that caused them to replace $65k of LVP due to improper mopping last year do it.

The librarian I dealt with week before last… WTF does a librarian know about building maintenance? Or managing an organization’s budget? Obviously nothing. But here she is.

The maintenance supervisor at the long term care facility the week before that… this guy thought running a burnisher dry with a hog hair pad across a dirty floor, before slopping down floor finish, is a strip and wax. He cleans carpet with a BS little machine and plain water. The floors have been ruined. BUT… management/administration types don’t want to deal with me, they delegate those decisions to the maintenance man who can barely screw in a lightbulb.

Or the -obvious- pedophile, borderline “mentally challenged” maintenance guy at a school district, who was promoted to supervisor because he’s been there longest… who is in control of a nearly $200k per year purchasing budget. The decision maker is the untrained janitor who never quit.

They spend $30k, $50k, 100k+ on flooring, but them leave it’s maintenance (a specialized service) up to basically dumbasses.
 
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AlienAgent

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Sounds frustrating.


You guys probably lots your bids because your Glides are worn out.


seriously though, Matt you could have bid at >20 if you have a VLM option
I didn’t lose these bids, just my mind dealing with the clients.

And you’re right about that VLM. I’m at $.18 a foot on that six location, healthcare maintenance account. For LVP and carpet. It’s been a game changer.
 
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Hank Hill: It's a higher calling.

Buck Strickland: Oh, hell, Hank.
It's just a business.

It's about makin' as much money
as you can, while you can.

Incorporate VLM into your business model today. It’s the future.
 
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BIG WOOD

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Matt you HAVE to offer VLM if you expect to compete, it's just that simple.
I wish I had pics to show you, but VLM was not an option. It had restaurant typed soil in a hallway and needed several areas of adhesive removed from covid tape. I appreciate the suggestion, but HWE was the only option in this case

I do have 2 quarterly accounts that are eventually gonna start getting VLM because their not gonna let me go up in price, so that will be my preferred method very shortly
 

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I wish I had pics to show you, but VLM was not an option. It had restaurant typed soil in a hallway and needed several areas of adhesive removed from covid tape. I appreciate the suggestion, but HWE was the only option in this case

I do have 2 quarterly accounts that are eventually gonna start getting VLM because their not gonna let me go up in price, so that will be my preferred method very shortly

TopSpot which is a water based solvent removes not only covid.residue but restaurant gunk like there's no tomorrow
 

Jim Pemberton

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I'm not ready to cast aside HWE for VLM, and I think some of the claims made about the way the chemistry is touted are difficult to prove.

That said: I have found it to be a good choice for competitve situations beyond what most would think.

What too many cleaners think is that the cheap guy doing HWE is doing it as well as they are. This is rarely the case.

If they are using TM for HWE, and burning through the job quickly with degreaser and alkaline "rinse" agents, the job will wick and resoil.

If they are using self contained portable units (just about the only thing janitorial companies use), they have less cleaning capability than the cheapest of box and wand portables as a rule, and rarely extract 50% of the water put down. Jobs done by these machines rarely come clean at all, and are also prone to wicking and resoiling.

VLM, with the best tools and products, will easily outperform the portable category, and if not the "splash and dash" truck mount initially, and will have the carpet looking acceptable longer than the first few days by far.

I'd never hesitate to go after either category of cheap competitor with VLM.
 
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Jim Pemberton

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unGlided wand

Why do I always remember the Hebrew prophets and leaders referring to the Philistines as "the uncircumcised" when you put it that way? .....do you see it as equally debased to have an unglided wand?

For reference:

The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.”
 

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Why do I always remember the Hebrew prophets and leaders referring to the Philistines as "the uncircumcised" when you put it that way? .....do you see it as equally debased to have an unglided wand?

For reference:

The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.”
@Hoody please install a are you circumcised yes or no questionnaire to the order form on greenglides.com
 

AlienAgent

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I wish I had pics to show you, but VLM was not an option. It had restaurant typed soil in a hallway and needed several areas of adhesive removed from covid tape. I appreciate the suggestion, but HWE was the only option in this case

I do have 2 quarterly accounts that are eventually gonna start getting VLM because their not gonna let me go up in price, so that will be my preferred method very shortly
Here are some pics from a Pizza Hut my son and I knocked out one morning using VLM. It’s actually the “retro” Pizza Hut in Hillsboro, OH that went viral on social media a year or two ago.

I had my boy running a Cimex with grey pads and scalding hot cleaning solution (Commercial Magic @ 4-5 opg) followed by the TOPS Phoenix running blue microfibers and more Commercial Magic @ 2 opg.

It turned out well and stayed looking great for a couple months.

Don’t be afraid to try VLM out on the more challenging cleans. The chemistry is getting pretty good these days.

I’ve also had success removing adhesive residue as well.

42D05F34-3237-4FFC-84DA-8F6EADC59952.jpeg 29AFF848-4451-4519-8BB9-8C90861FAE91.jpeg
 

Kenny Hayes

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Got news for you, this janitor knows about carpet cleaning, stripping and refinishing floors, maintaining both. Not all janitors are alike. Oh, I also know which vacuums are good, and which are not. But City Wide Janitorial has got a new franchise here, and they’re the same BS. Hire subs that know nothing.
 
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AlienAgent

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Got news for you, this janitor knows about carpet cleaning, stripping and refinishing floors, maintaining both. Not all janitors are alike. Oh, I also know which vacuums are good, and which are not. But City Wide Janitorial has got a new franchise here, and they’re the same BS. Hire subs that know nothing.
I’m in rural southwest Ohio… it’s a clown act.

I doubt there’s one Jani company that doesn’t do the misclassified 1099 employee, no drug testing thing out here.

We had two show up at a place to take out the trash while we did the floors on night. I thought they were two dope fiends getting high on fentanyl in their car. I had my son go out and make sure the box truck was completely locked up. They just sat in their car for hours then left. Trash didn’t get taken out, but the client still got a bill saying they did.

Facility maintenance is a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure. I hate seeing this industry devaluated like this.
 

Kenny Hayes

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I don’t do 1099s. That’s the fastest way to an audit. We withhold and do direct deposit through Paycom. We do background checks on everyone and they go through a safe environment program because of the schools and churches we do. We certainly aren’t fly by night. I don’t do competitive bids anymore on anything, janitorial, carpet, floors, or entertainment. Either they want us or they don’t.
 

BIG WOOD

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Matt you HAVE to offer VLM if you expect to compete, it's just that simple.
Nope.

Let's do the math. I have most of my investment in HWE equipment.

Let's say I invest in more equipment to get in to VLM. I have a crb, but for fun I'm gonna just suggest getting a carpet buffer.

$5k

Ok, so now my current $80k + investment in equipment has just increased to $85K+. which is 6% increase in investment.

And no, the job doesn't go any faster when you buff carpet. You guys are slow as a snail in all those YouTube videos pushing that buffer. So time is not much of a difference. But I need to increase my cost to 6% to pay off my investment.

But it is less gas $, so let's just figure $25 saved. And chemicals, so another $25.

Total saved is $50.

So even with that difference, I'm not gonna drop my price whether LMC is faster or just the same speed. I'm sticking to my prices. LMC doesn't save anyone any money. I base my business pricing on my cost to do business. IN other words, how much I need to make/per day to make a decent living.

Like others have said, you determine the type of cleaning you do based on condition of carpet and availability of getting the equipment to the areas needed cleaned (high-rise for example), NOT on whether they want the cheapest price. FK that! Quit trying to sell sell sell. Not very ethical
 

Kenny Hayes

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I agree with about 66% of that. But, on a large job like you mentioned, you can’t come close, not close to a Cimex. If you believe you’re cleaning 8k sq ft of carpet better with hwe vs lmc with a Cimex, you’re mistaken. Also, a Cimex don’t cost 5k.
 
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Nope.

Let's do the math. I have most of my investment in HWE equipment.

Let's say I invest in more equipment to get in to VLM. I have a crb, but for fun I'm gonna just suggest getting a carpet buffer.

$5k

Ok, so now my current $80k + investment in equipment has just increased to $85K+. which is 6% increase in investment.

And no, the job doesn't go any faster when you buff carpet. You guys are slow as a snail in all those YouTube videos pushing that buffer. So time is not much of a difference. But I need to increase my cost to 6% to pay off my investment.

But it is less gas $, so let's just figure $25 saved. And chemicals, so another $25.

Total saved is $50.

So even with that difference, I'm not gonna drop my price whether LMC is faster or just the same speed. I'm sticking to my prices. LMC doesn't save anyone any money. I base my business pricing on my cost to do business. IN other words, how much I need to make/per day to make a decent living.

Like others have said, you determine the type of cleaning you do based on condition of carpet and availability of getting the equipment to the areas needed cleaned (high-rise for example), NOT on whether they want the cheapest price. FK that! Quit trying to sell sell sell. Not very ethical
Matt, we have 2 Vibes that we use for commercial glue down. A monkey could do it, and it's way more profitable than HWE. We can literally train someone new how to operate them in about 3 minutes. We usually price it at .20 per sqft and do between 2000-3000 sqft an hour. This is the up and back technique, not side to side. We could price @ .15 and still do well on profit. If you ever want to try one our machines to test it out for results, just let me know. certaclean.com
 
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Mikey P

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Matt, we have 2 Vibes that we use for commercial glue down. A monkey could do it, and it's way more profitable than HWE. We can literally train someone new how to operate them in about 3 minutes. We usually price it at .20 per sqft and do between 2000-3000 sqft an hour. This is the up and back technique, not side to side. We could price @ .15 and still do well on profit. If you ever want to try one our machines to test it out for results, just let me know. certaclean.com

Not very ethical


You're the last person in the world that Id sell an OP too.

Not being mean, I just don't have the patience to deal with the mindset that hasn't figured it out after 30 years of running a wand on commercial.
 

BIG WOOD

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Matt, we have 2 Vibes that we use for commercial glue down. A monkey could do it, and it's way more profitable than HWE. We can literally train someone new how to operate them in about 3 minutes. We usually price it at .20 per sqft and do between 2000-3000 sqft an hour. This is the up and back technique, not side to side. We could price @ .15 and still do well on profit. If you ever want to try one our machines to test it out for results, just let me know. certaclean.com
I'll keep in touch if I ever want to get one. You're not too far from me

Thanks for the offer
 
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I don’t do 1099s. That’s the fastest way to an audit. We withhold and do direct deposit through Paycom. We do background checks on everyone and they go through a safe environment program because of the schools and churches we do. We certainly aren’t fly by night. I don’t do competitive bids anymore on anything, janitorial, carpet, floors, or entertainment. Either they want us or they don’t.
If you were in my area I’d be trying to collaborate with you. You’re a pro. Pros can work together, compete, and raise the standards in a community.

These guys out here… it’s ridiculous.
 
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"If you believe you’re cleaning 8k sq ft of carpet better with hwe vs lmc with a Cimex, you’re mistaken"

sorry, he's just another janitor CCing hack and don't know it if he can't do a better job with HWE compared to scum 'n run dirt slurry cimex


an 'ats a fac, Jack!


..L.T.A.
Yeah, I don't dig the cimex. It's not the, "where does the dirt go?", thing. It's the, "where did that scrub pad go?", thing.
 

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