Are you selling supplies to your cleaning customers?

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by Tom Watson on June 4, 2017

Today I wanted to write a quick post that deals with selling supplies to your customers.

When I was in business I made a point to sell them paper goods, trash liners and whatever else I could.

I did that for several reasons. First, I wanted to ADD VALUE to my service. After all, the more valuable I was to the client the more likely they were to want to keep me around. At the end of the day I wanted to be their “go to guy” for all things cleaning related.

Secondly, I wanted the extra money that selling them provided. I knew that I could find good products to sell AND mark them up enough to turn a tidy profit. I was already going to their accounts all the time either to clean or check on my staff. Why not make some extra money in the process?

My approach did pay dividends! I sold a lot of supplies to many of my customers, and earned a nice profit each month in the process. Not all my customers bought off me, as some simply took care of that themselves. But those that did sure did supplement my income.

Anyway, today I wanted to ask all you folks out there these questions: Are you selling your customers supplies? If so, what are you selling? How much are you grossing per month via supplies? What seems to be the hot seller? Whatever you can share would be great!

And I also want to hear from those that do not sell any supplies! In particular, what’s holding you back? Is it just something you haven’t gotten around to? Do you plan on it in the future? Whatever the case, leave your comments below. I look forward to hearing them.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa Maccune June 4, 2017 at 1:32 pm

I never thought to sell products to customers.
I am not sure how. If I “up” prices on things, isn’t that unfair? Why wouldn’t the customer take care of buying their products direct vs from me if I am upping the price?

2 newbizowner June 4, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Did you only have commercial cleaning clients that you sold supplies to? What about residential customers? What kind of supplies would you suggest I sell them? I’m a little afraid to ask the customers if they would like to buy from me. I don’t want them to think that I’m trying to get over on them. Your thoughts?

3 Karabo June 5, 2017 at 3:09 am

I was only thinking of cleaning malls but not to supply. So my problem is do I have to give them proposal or how to start and how much should I charge them

4 Tom Watson June 5, 2017 at 9:53 am

Hi Melissa! Selling supplies to customers is ok, and it’s good business. Marking it up to cover your expenses and to make a profit is also ok. They will buy many times from you because it takes one more thing off their plate. Why do people hire house cleaners? Because it makes their life easier. Same principle!

5 Tom Watson June 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

You could sell supplies to residential! With that said, I think the process is more tailored towards commercial, with a much higher upside as far as volume is concerned. Supplies like trash liners, c-fold towels, soap, toilet paper and other related items is what sells. They won’t think you are “getting one over on them”. They will just see you as EXPANDING your operation.

6 Tom Watson June 5, 2017 at 10:01 am

Hi Karabo! You should take a look at my courses, as they show you how to do that stuff. You need to MARKET TO THEM, BID THEM, and then hopefully GET HIRED. How to do that is spelled out in my Start-Up Guides. Aslo, selling supplies is recommended on large accounts, as they will EXPECT that.

On a side note, I’ll be writing about how to sell supplies to your customers (what to sell, what to price them at, how to bring up the topic, how to sell painlessly among other details) very shortly. Doing so will make you more valuable and bring in more money every month. Stay tuned for that!

7 Tony June 6, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Hi am in africa.what kind of items do u think i can sell to me customers and what if my price is higher than the market price.

8 Tom Watson June 9, 2017 at 10:18 am

Hi Tony! It’s OK to be more expensive, but you can’t be WAY MORE EXPENSIVE. Work hard to buy at low prices then set your price 20% to 30% higher, just keep them in line as best you can with competitors. Remember, costing more is OK because you are ordering and delivering the supplies for them (that cost money and they have the CONVENIENCE of not having to deal with it).

9 Debbie June 25, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Hello Tom,

Question, when you say you charged a flat rate of whatever that was did that include taxes or was it the flat rate + taxes; since you sold the products as a separate invoice I assume you charged taxes on products as well?

10 Tom Watson June 25, 2017 at 8:02 pm

Great comment: I should have made that clear….”Plus Sales Tax” would come after the flat rate. You can do a separate invoice for supplies as you sell them. I generally just added what I sold in one month to the next months invoice )but feel free to do whatever works for you). I only did one invoice for simplicity (plus it was faster for me). You add tax to whatever needs to have tax added to (check your state requirements for what you add tax to).

11 Howie November 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

We have a number of corporate clients we could potentially sell supplies to.
However, I would have to mark-up supplies a minimum of 50% from my cost to make it financially worthwhile. This could potentially increase my clients cost by 25 to 30%. I can’t see this as being financially beneficially to them.
If they typically spend 12-15k/year, my service of convenience could cost them $3500 to $5k/year, a pretty big hit to their budget.

Instead, I’ve forged a relationship with a supplies reo who I refer business to. In return, she has referred my company resulting in 2 new clients.

12 Tom Watson December 3, 2017 at 4:16 pm

I hear you… but what if TARGET said I can’t sell this (insert whatever product you want) because WALMART is cheaper. They should just go out of business I suppose.

You are in business to earn a profit, not to run cost comparisons for them. What if you found a cleaning service that could do the same as you for 10% less. Would you refer them to that company?

All I’m saying is that these issues are for the CUSTOMER TO DECIDE. You offer the service, they decide if it’s the right fit. I sold supplies that many times cost more than they could get elsewhere. They weren’t comparing prices, they were paying for CONVENIENCE (they didn’t want to take care of it, whey wanted ME to do it for them!).

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