Cleaning & Restoration Association News

The Good, Not-So-Old Days

June 1, 2006
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It's always fun when a cutting diatribe you once unleashed upon the faceless monolith of Industry can now be viewed as quaint. Cute, even. It would be even more fun if sarcasm translated better to the page.

It was the summer of 2004, August to be precise. I found myself nurturing the embers of outrage as oil prices shot higher and higher, draining gas tanks and wallets nationwide. I thought to myself, why not use this column to showcase the impact this is having on the profession? So, fingers dancing across the keyboard, I wrote:

In the third week of March, the national average for a gallon of gas hit a then-record high of $1.73. By the last week of May it hit $2.064. As I write this, the national average cost for a gallon of gasoline is $1.91. Here's hoping the only records broken this summer are at the Olympics.


Oh, forgive me a moment, as I wipe the tears of hilarity from my cheeks. Sorry about that; I was just remembering what the Chevron station up the street was asking for a gallon of unleaded this morning: $3.41.


In that August 2004 column I crunched some conservative numbers on what a $.50 difference in the price of a gallon of gas would cost a cleaner running a van with a 35-gallon gas tank getting 12 miles per gallon. It came out to just over $1,870 a year. And that was going from $1.50 to $2.

Now that the world of $3-a-gallon gas is upon us, let's break out the calculator once more. $3 x 35 gallons x 2.14 fill-ups a week (the same as before) equals $224.70, or $74.90 a week more than filling up at $2. Multiply that by 50 weeks and you get $3,745. Scary, huh? The Fed doesn't take energy costs out of the inflation report for nothing.

Steve Toburen has often lamented in his "To Your Success" column that too many cleaning companies are not charging enough for their services. The survivors and thrivers are those who consistently deliver a higher level of service at a higher price. The client who appreciates the service and value they have received over the years will be much more receptive to the idea of a price increase due to fuel costs than the client who may not always get your "A" game. And loyalty, like oil, is a very valuable commodity.

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