ICS Magazine

Gadgets for Diversification: Adding Services Without Breaking the Bank

October 12, 2004


If you are like most professional cleaners, you have a lot invested into your cleaning equipment and service vehicle. You are spending a lot of money on advertising and marketing to secure new clients. It only makes sense, then, to look at ways to make more money on each job you do.

The best way is to try and offer additional services to the customer while you are in their home or business. Traditionally, selling fabric protector and cleaning upholstery are the two most common "add-on" sales. But now a number of gadgets and tools are available that allow you to diversify into cleaning or maintaining a variety of different surfaces using the cleaning equipment you already have.

What all these gadgets have in common is that they allow you to diversify into a unique service offering for your present customers without requiring a significant investment into new equipment. And since many of these services are needed by the clients and customers you already have, it may not require a great deal of marketing for you to add a significant amount of income to your business.

Duct-Cleaning Attachments
Truck-mounted equipment exclusively manufactured for the cleaning of the ventilation and duct system can cost as much as $20,000. But if you already own a truckmount or high-performance portable extractor, you already own one of the most important components of a duct-cleaning system - a powerful vacuum-extraction system.

Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with investing in a stand-alone duct cleaning system if you are going to dedicate an entire part of your operation to duct cleaning. However, if you just want to clean the ducts of your existing customers on the same trip as you clean their carpets, or if you need it for the occasional restoration job, a duct-cleaning attachment system is a better investment.

Duct-cleaning attachment systems employ the powerful vacuum of your extractor, but with special adaptations that make them effective and easier to use. The more efficient systems have no cables running through the hose system, just the electrical cord. This allows for greater flexibility and durability when running through the air ducts. Another option that some manufacturers use is a turbine-driven system that uses the vacuum air to turn the brush at the end of the hose.

The duct-cleaning attachment system employs the use of special agitation brushes that work through the ducts, dislodging attached soils from the side of the ducts. Some models of these brushes have remote controlled direction reversal. They are powered by small drive motors at the end of the brush hose. The brushes come in various sizes and construction to tackle of aide variety of duct cleaning requirements. Other features to look for in a duct-cleaning attachment include durable housing for the brush motor, the ability to easily transport the system through the building, quiet operation, and large intake ports for better suction.

If your carpet-cleaning operation focuses on cleaning for health to a high-end clientele, adding duct-cleaning services is almost a must.

Hard-Surface Cleaning Tools
Some cleaners have overlooked the fact that a truckmount is really just a hot-water pressure washer with vacuum recovery capability. From the early days of truckmounts, cleaners would often purchase hard-surface pressure washing guns to clean off vertical and horizontal surfaces outside the customer's home or business. This could include everything from cleaning an oil spot off of the driveway to cleaning a swimming pool getting it ready for the new summer season.

More recently, the focus on tool design has centered on wands and attachments that allow for cleaning hard-surface floors indoors, using the vacuum recovery capabilities of a truckmount to literally pressure-wash a floor without flooding the indoor environment. At first, much of this focused on specially adapted hard-surface cleaning wands being used on concrete, and to clean vinyl composition tile (VCT) after a stripper was applied.

Today, more sophisticated power-cleaning wands are on the market, primarily due to the rapidly growing number of ceramic tile and natural stone floors. Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have probably noticed that many of your customers have converted a room or number of rooms in their home from carpeting to ceramic tile or natural stone. While a number of designs for tile- and grout-cleaning tools exist, the rotary solution pressure-head style is certainly one of the most prevalent.

This type of tool works with a front-to-back and a side-to-side motion. It can blast soil, grease, dirt, and grout from smooth and uneven hard surfaces. The rotary arm spins to create blasting power at pressures up to 2,000 psi, while the vacuum ports pick up the waste. High-grade, poly-based plastic bases absorb bumps and bruises, allowing for safer operation and better aesthetics. The ergonomic designs of these rotary floor-cleaning tools allow for low-profile cleaning under counters, and help reduce operator fatigue. Some units contain nylon brushes at the base to help reduce the likelihood of scratching the stone and concrete. The key is to effectively clean the surface without damaging more-sensitive natural stones or scratching less-durable finishes.

Most cleaners charge significantly more for cleaning tile and grout than they do carpeting, so adding this service can more than double your income from every home or business where the service applies. Many varieties of hand-held cleaning tool attachments are available that allow you the same type of cleaning in hard-to-reach areas such as under counters, around toilets and other fixtures, and more. Several companies who manufacture tile and grout cleaning tools also sell marketing brochures and postcards to help you advertise this new add-on service to your past and present customers.

Hardwood-Floor Care Tools
You have probably also noticed the significant growth in hardwood and laminate floors in your clients' homes and offices. In the past, many companies offering hardwood floor maintenance programs offered one option: re-sanding to refinish, literally sanding off the old finish of the floor and putting down a new one.

This process was time consuming, dirty and expensive. Today's professional cleaners can use some simple floor-care materials, along with specially manufactured cleaning and refinishing agents, to keep their customers' solid- and engineered-wood floors looking great and lasting longer. You can use a low-speed rotary floor machine that you may well already have for bonnet cleaning, shampooing, encapsulation cleaning or VCT stripping. Some rotary-jet powered carpet-cleaning wands also come with special adaptations for hard-surface floors.

First, specially formulated wood patches repair any deep scratches or marks in the wood floor. The floor is then cleaned with a wood-cleaning solution. The technician uses a maroon floor-scrubbing pad powered by a low-speed rotary floor machine to clean the floor and agitate the finish. This prepares the floor for a refinishing agent. The floor is also cleaned and prepared with a microfiber bonnet pad. Finally, a wood-floor finish is applied, using a cotton towel, nylon bar, or lamb's wool applicator to evenly spread and apply the finish. Semi-gloss, glossy and matte finishes are available, based upon the customer's preferences.

What do all three of these gadgets have in common? They all let you take advantage of cleaning equipment that you may well already have, allowing you to get more money out of the same job. This is the easiest and fastest way to improve the profitability of your company.