The story behind me buying my first commercial cleaning vehicle…

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by Tom Watson on March 30, 2014

At a certain point in your business career you’ll probably think about buying some type of company vehicle.

Some people wind up purchasing a small truck while others go for either a small or full-size style van. It just depends on your taste in vehicles.

When I was just getting started in the business, well before getting a company vehicle, I only had my trusty Ford Probe to work with. In case you’re not familiar with that type of car, it was a smaller two-door car that was on the sporty side. It was a great car, but not a great work vehicle.

At some of my accounts I could leave my supplies there, but at others I had to transport them in my car. This meant I had to load everything I could into that car then make the rounds cleaning all my accounts.

In most cases this arrangement worked just fine, but when I had to transport larger buckets and mops this became much more of a chore. I put up with the hassle of it all as long as I could, as I didn’t want to have car payments at first.

My goal was to bank as much of the money I had coming in from the cleaning business for as long as possible. I kept my expenses low and only spent money on things that would make me more money, such as advertising.

This “keep my expenses low” approach coupled with “spending more on advertising” paid dividends over the long haul. My monthly revenue from the business grew quickly and my bank account got bigger as a result. So far, so good!

My initial benchmark for even “thinking about” getting a company vehicle was $4,000 per month in revenue. It was just a made up number in a sense, as all I was worried about was being “well over” the minimum needed. I wanted to LIMIT my risk as much as possible.

In other words I didn’t want to buy a vehicle then go on a losing streak and get let go from a few accounts. I had no desire to sweat the monthly payments each and every month. I wanted a nice fat cushion to work with, the bigger the better.

Though I did start looking at buying a work vehicle at my $4,000 income goal, I didn’t actually make the purchase until I hit a little over $8,000 per month in income. I made that Ford Probe work for as long as I could take it!

I wound up buying a Ford E-150 work van. It was a full-size van that also had the towing package. I wanted that because I thought at some point I may tow a trailer. That never materialized, but that option didn’t set me back much anyway.

In case you’re wondering, I put $1,600 down and my payment was $346 per month. These were easily manageable numbers given my income. After that I spent $200 the next month to have the van lettered professionally.

I wound up paying the van off about eight months early, as I would double up my payments from time to time. I currently still have the van. It has served me well over the years, getting me from account to account much better than my car ever did.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FABIO HART March 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Very good I started off with a hyundai Sonata and Ford Ranger pick truck. Which I still drive to this day. Both of them serve me we. Most of accounts I can leave products and cleaning supplies at. Basically I offer my field managers a little more to carry products around in there cars. That way when they go checking site to site for me they have whatever the site could be missing at that point. I didn’t get the car or truck lettered out. I do use car magnets that I bought through vistaprint. They still work gret for us. So for all subscribers to this site please keep it simple.

2 Tom Watson March 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Thanks Fabio!

3 Diago Rocha March 30, 2014 at 3:29 pm

job help in house keeping

4 Raymon Samuel March 30, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I have just started to look for a used van, something that I could buy out right, so far, no joy, However, it seems like you can tell where I am at in the business. Weird HUH. Thanks for the tip, right on time.

5 Tom Watson March 30, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Hi Raymon! You’ll find the perfect one, just take your time. “Haste makes waste” as they say.

6 paulina March 31, 2014 at 9:13 am

i also have this small deawoo i take it every where and would get a bigger van at the right time
thanks for the education

7 Tom Watson March 31, 2014 at 9:32 am

Hi Paulina! Happy to help!

8 Tom Watson April 2, 2014 at 8:04 am

Hi Diago! I’m not sure what you are asking for, can you clarify?

9 Darinda Green April 6, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Thanks for the information I’ve been following you and your awesome. The problem that I’m running into is alot of the property managements in Michigan are asking for workers compensation and in Michigan with me getting really started the rate for getting worker’s compensation, is there other ways I can go around that?

10 Darinda Green April 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Thanks for the information I’ve been following you and your awesome.

11 Tom Watson April 7, 2014 at 7:27 am

THANKS Darinda!

12 Tom Watson April 7, 2014 at 8:17 am

Hi Darinda! If that’s the law, then you have to follow it. That is part of running the business. Call an agent and discuss the costs. Better yet, call two or three! Odds are you’ll get an agent who can really help you understand how it all works.

13 Darinda Green April 7, 2014 at 8:34 am

Thanks so much Tom!!!

14 Tom Watson April 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm

You are very welcome Darinda!

15 FABIO HART April 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm

@Darinda start with smaller office buildings if you just starting out. If you must have apartment units then start with maybe owner occupied apartments. Property management are cool but sometime they could be huge in terms of the size of business they do. Many have apartment units in and out of state. Owner occupied is a bit more negotiable. Keep at it though with your mailings or door to door,etc… eventually you get a hit. I suggest leave apartments alone for now, dnt stop marketing to them though.

16 Darinda Green April 7, 2014 at 7:31 pm

@Fabio Hart thanks so much will do!!!

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