A good janitorial supply house is like having your own technical support center

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by Tom Watson on August 25, 2013

When you are new to the cleaning business it seems like you have a lot to learn. It’s a new career with new challenges and opportunities.

One of the little details that get missed by most beginners is the importance of having a few good “contacts” within the janitorial supply business.

Before I get to that point let me clarify that a janitorial supply house is nothing more than a place where they sell janitorial supplies. These folks only sell cleaning related products and tend to offer expert help for the items they sell.

I also want to make mention that you shouldn’t be fooled by the term “janitorial”, as they sell products and solutions for the house cleaning market as well. In fact this post applies to BOTH the janitorial and house cleaning sectors.

I don’t know if I was lucky or good back when I was starting out, but I stumbled across three really good companies in my service area. Two are pretty close to me and I use them often while one is a little farther out, but is still worth using for certain products.

How to find a janitorial supply house near you

The easiest way to find a company near you is to just type in “janitorial supplies” into Google along with your zip code. This should give you several options to choose from depending upon where you live. I would visit each to get a feel for the type of service they offer.

A good supply house will have one or more sales reps that sell the different product lines they offer. For instance one may be for “solutions” like floor cleaners and bathrooms cleaners while another rep may specialize in “hardware” like carpet cleaning machines, floor machines or other physical products used in the business.

With any luck you’ll “connect” with one or two sales reps who will be able to point you in the right direction whenever you need help with a certain project. Some of the best reps will go way out of their way to help you solve a given problem. I’ve had a few even meet me at the jobsite to review what I would need to complete a given job.

A janitorial vendor can even help you land accounts

In one instance I had a large floor care job I was bidding. This was way back when I was just starting out. I was nervous about making a mistake on a job that was fairly complicated. I went to one of my vendors to discuss the job and he offered to go on the “walk-through” with me to see the job before making a bid.

He just told me that he would “act like my employee” when we were with the customer to see the floor in question. When the time came to see the floor I asked a few questions as my vendor took some notes. He chimed in a few times if he had a question but otherwise his job was to advise me afterwards on what supplies I would need and how to best attack the job.

To make a long story short, I wound up getting that job. The sales rep was instrumental in me feeling like I actually could pull that job off. He not only told me what machines I would need, he also told me about the different solutions I could use and what would be best for my situation. He then gave me tips on how to get the job done faster to save money on labor.

The reward for the sales rep was that I would purchase the materials and supplies from him. After all he certainly earned it! This totaled well over $1,000.00 for this particular job. So it was a win-win situation. I got a lot of knowledge that would have taken me a long time to get if I did it myself and he padded his sales numbers PLUS got a loyal long-term customer in the process.

So I’ll wrap this up by encouraging you to get out there and start building some relationships with your janitorial supply houses. They can provide you a wealth of knowledge about every aspect of the cleaning business. This way when you need to know what is the best cleaning solution to use for a certain situation or what machine works best at cleaning floors you can find the right answer.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arlene Smith August 25, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Dear Tom,
Thanks again for your repeated tips on starting a cleaning business. This article is one I really can currently use with starting my cleaning business. And I completely agree with the point you made about getting out into society and making connections its an idea I myself have had but have had a tough time over coming being timid in order to do so. But ill get there.
Thanks again.

Arlene Smith

2 Tom Watson August 25, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Hi Arlene! You’ll be fine, just keep working at it and you will get better as time goes on. Thanks for commenting and touch base if you need me.

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