Where should I order my cleaning supplies from?

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by Tom Watson on June 8, 2014

Once you start collecting cleaning accounts you’ll need to think about having an organized way to order supplies.

I know that when you first get started, many will just hit the supermarket. While that may be convenient, it’s not ideal or economical.

When you lack a system you tend to create a patchwork of vendors that has you running around from place to place in an attempt to get all the supplies you need. This tends to waste time and create a mess of keeping track of what you spent.

I’m a believer in picking one just one or two companies to order your supplies from. The companies you choose don’t have to be etched in stone, as you want to reevaluate your suppliers from time to time, but the greater good is achieved by making a decision and sticking to it.

My opinion is that you want to spend as much time marketing your business as possible, as you are the chief cheerleader for drumming up business. The more time you waste performing other tasks, the less effective you will be.

Over the years I’ve experimented with many different companies. One of my favorites is a company called Jon-Don. I can’t speak highly enough about them as they are one well-run company. They are a national supplier of not only janitorial supplies but also carpet cleaning and VCT floor care supplies.

To go along with them I have a local company that I deal with that’s right around the corner. I have a great relationship with one of their salesmen, which comes in handy when I need to ask a question about what product or piece of equipment is best. All I need to do is call his cell phone and he gets back to me right away.

I set it up this way by design. I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket to begin with plus it simply doesn’t hurt to get a different opinion from time to time. I would suggest you do the same for your business.

It may take some time to find some suppliers you are comfortable with, but the payoff is more time to work on your business not to mention keeping track of expenses is a bit easier. Feel free to get the conversation started by sharing your favorite suppliers in the comments below!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shannon Nix June 8, 2014 at 4:20 pm

We are located in Oklahoma City, OK. We have only been going to the supermarket because our clients are tiny…so.far. Suggestions on vendors would be nice.

2 Tom Watson June 9, 2014 at 11:17 am

Hi Shannon! If you have a Staples store in your area, try “Staples Advantage”. When you sign up you get an account rep who can offer you better pricing than you can get from the store (which is retail pricing). They have just about everything, learn more here… http://www.staplesadvantage.com/

3 Susan June 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Hi Tom,
We have been in the cleaning business for about 2 years now. We are keeping our business small intentionally as that is all we can handle at the moment. To understand how much I should be spending on cleaning materials/supplies, I date each bottle when I purchase it. That way I can calculate how frequently I need to replace items and better understand how my money is being spent. Now I really know a “good deal” when I see it.

4 Tom Watson June 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Hi Susan! GREAT idea. The more you know about HOW MUCH you spend the BETTER you will be at not only keeping track of what you spend, but pricing the jobs better going forward. THANKS for sharing that tip.

5 Jim Bulkowski June 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Another overlooked option for the smaller start up company is to go to Dollar General and and look at the cleaning supplies they have. One of the main things to stat buying on a regular basses is rags. You need lots and lots of rags that dont leave behind lint. DG sells packs of 5 rags for like 4 dollars. Buy a bunch!

6 Tom Watson June 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Hi Jim! That was a favorite of mine when I first started. When you find a deal there, you REALLY find a deal! Thanks for sharing that Jim.

7 Shannon Nix June 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Thanks everyone! Is there another forum where I can ask questions on the quote process?

8 Jane E lalane June 10, 2014 at 10:38 am

Hello Tom,
Just discovered your website today. I have been housecleaning for over 25 years as a part-time or “in between” jobs, but have now had my business for almost 3 years exclusively. As far as cleaning products I have always told new clients that they supply the cleaning products as well as a good functioning vacuum. Their cleaning supplies is what already works best in their home. Limits possible damage by introducing a new product and they also usually have scent(or no scent) preferences. I do bring my own rags and take them home to clean unless house has many animals. I still keep in the car a back up supply of basics in case we run out of something. The reason for not lugging around my own vacuum (obviously it saves my back) but mainly because of allergens. I don’t want to introduce dog hair in a house with no animals. Changing vacuum bags for every house does not solve this problem.
I have never had any resistance to requesting the above in case anyone is wondering. It’s all how you present it!

9 Tom Watson June 10, 2014 at 11:29 am

Hi Jane! You have a good system in that all you have to do is show up and do the cleaning, making for a real simple setup (which is nice). And I agree, HOW you suggest ideas to the customer makes all the difference.

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