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Add Hard-Floor Maintenance to Your Service Offerings

April 10, 2006
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Hard surfaces offer all kinds of opportunities.


There were natural stones from all over the world; porcelain and ceramics; engineered and solid wood; laminate; bamboo; and a wide array of resilient flooring designed for all environments. This massive event highlights global floor coverings, and is a good predictor of what the floor maintenance technician can expect to encounter in the field. The carpet-cleaning entrepreneur may consider making some adjustments to capitalize on the hard floor maintenance business boom.

Adding hard-floor maintenance to your service offering does not need to painful or costly. In fact, it should be a natural transition because the technician is already accustomed to the principles of cleaning and working or floors. The biggest problem the carpet-cleaning technician faces is fear. Fear that the floor will not turn out, fear of an unsatisfied customer, and fear of not knowing as much about hard-surface flooring as carpet.

The truth of the matter is when this same technician entered the carpet-cleaning world, he did not know anything about that either, yet he persevered and succeeded. Understanding that carpet is one seventh of the floor covering categories should be incentive to pursue concrete, stone, clay, wood, specialty and resilient. In each category there is ample opportunity to create financial gain and increase revenues. The question should be which of these will create the best opportunity for the business owner.

Adapting to Hard-Floor Maintenance

When transitioning into hard-floor maintenance it is usually easiest to begin in the environment you already service. There is plenty of opportunity in the home: laminates, bamboo, wood floors with area rugs, porcelain/ceramic tiles and stone are on the increase. Daily/routine and periodic maintenance can extend the investment of the floor for the homeowner considerably.

Initial maintenance is usually performed before the floor the home is turned over and daily/routine maintenance is left to the homeowner. Periodic maintenance is often overlooked until it is too late, and restorative maintenance is then required. It is unfortunate, because this maintenance could be as simple as a removing dry soil and damp or wet mopping. On some surfaces dry or spray buffing might be required, or even scrubbing and recoating. The point is that this is a perfect opportunity to provide a much-needed service, make the customer happy, and reap some financial reward. After all, you are there anyway.

For those interested in transitioning into other environments - commercial, industrial, transportation, medical/health care, education, government, retail, grocery, hospitality, high-tech, food service and entertainment - be aware that these are areas that have been traditionally serviced by janitorial service companies or in-house services, and are difficult to obtain. The trend in the industry, however, is leaning toward contracting floor care specialists or subcontracting floor work out to qualified building service contractors. Either way, there is sufficient work in these areas that everyone can be satisfied.

In order to pursue these opportunities, the carpet-cleaning technician will have to do some adapting. Careful consideration should be made in selection of the floor coverings and the environments that the entrepreneur wishes to target. Once these important decisions are made, some modifications in chemicals, equipment, tools, materials, education and training will be required. This is especially true if you plan on getting involved in the restorative service procedures of any of the flooring categories.

Chemicals

The cleaning and coating chemicals required are predicated by the floor covering category and classification on which the technician is working. There are general chemicals that the floor-maintenance technician should always have available: neutral and all-purpose cleaners are great for wet mopping and scrubbing service procedures; however, for more aggressive soils, degreaser may be required. If the technician will be performing the stripping and refinishing service procedures, task-specific chemicals will be required.

Wood floors may require an aerosol spray-buff system to be used in conjunction with the appropriate pad and machine and stone floors may require powder polish or diamond abrasives. Although concrete and clay flooring are very durable and will last a long time, they will still need some form of periodic and restorative maintenance.

Equipment

Performing hard-floor maintenance requires some basic equipment. This does not mean that there is a big investment on the horizon. Much of the equipment required has already been adapted to work with truck-mounted and portable extractors.

A standard equipment package should include: a 175-rpm rotary floor machine, a wet vacuum with wand or floor squeegee attachment, and a high-speed burnisher.

Tools and Materials

Tools should include mop buckets with wringers or pad system receptacles, dust mops or cloth system applicators, and wet mops or micro-fiber applicators. Materials will include the mop heads, applicator pads and the buffing or polishing pads required for the floor covering the service is being performed on. Remember to protect everyone by having plenty of wet floor signs, placards and caution tape to cordon off areas for service.

Safety is a huge issue in hard-floor maintenance, and every technician should have his or her own personal protection equipment bag. This is simply a duffle bag with the necessary materials to keep the technician safe. A PPE bag should contain safety goggles and glasses; cut-resistant gloves; kneepads; rubber gloves; slip prevention shoes; a first aid kit and a change of clothes, the last in case the technician slips and falls into stripper or some other unfriendly chemical.

Education and Training

The main ingredient for adding hard-floor maintenance to the service offering is education and training. Many carpet-cleaning technicians have spent years accumulating the necessary knowledge to become proficient in their trade. There should be no less expectation with learning hard-floor maintenance; it is just a little more difficult to find. Although somewhat lacking in the past compared to carpet care, training in hard surfaces is becoming much more established in the industry.

If you are looking for training, the best place to start is with the trade associations. There are associations for professionals who specialize in concrete, clay, stone and wood that can help direct you to some form of training, especially when it comes to the restorative maintenance. Some chemical and equipment manufacturers offer basic training in how to use their chemicals or equipment. The good news is certification courses are becoming easier to find than they were in the past.

The bottom line is that hard-floor maintenance is no ugly stepsister. If you are looking to capitalize on the opportunity it presents, you must make the effort to get there. For many this is simply overcoming the fear factor and making the leap.

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