Making extra income by selling different supplies to your customers…

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by Tom Watson on February 1, 2015

Once you start landing some customers, or even submitting a bid for that matter, you’ll have the chance to up sell them on the supplies you offer.

Items like c-fold towels, toilet tissue, hand soap and various sizes of trash liners are just a few of the items you can provide for a fee. Keep in mind you don’t have to offer these items, but it is a chance to earn more off each account.

Back when I first started my business I didn’t offer anything other than my cleaning services. I don’t remember exactly when I started offering items they could buy, but it was probably within a year or two. Once I started selling different items I kept it simple, offering just a basic collection of liners and c-fold towels.

Over the years I started adding in some more items. I never went all that crazy, as I didn’t want to focus on the supply side, but I tried to offer the most commonly used items. So in essence, I charged people my regular flat fee for the cleaning, then if they needed and or ordered the extra supplies, I just added the amount onto their next monthly bill.

Some customers liked the idea of me taking care of this for them, while others ordered their own supplies. I just went with the flow when getting hired, and it was probably 50/50 as to whether or not I supplied the paper goods and other such items.

My goal as far as pricing the items was pretty simple. I wanted to get the supplies at the best price and sell them at full retail. After all, if I was going to keep track of their supplies and be responsible for them I wanted to make a few bucks. Not that it’s all that hard, but I’m not going to do it for free.

I basically looked at the retail pricing that W.B. Mason or some other big chain offered items for sale and tried to mirror that. Normally you can purchase supplies at a janitorial supplier at prices well below retail prices if you do your homework, then mark it up to retail prices.

For instance I was able to buy a case of c-fold for $17.00 and sell for $34.00 when I started. If a customer used 5 cases per month I earned and an extra $85.00 off that just one product from that one customer. Multiply that by many different products I offered my customer base and it totaled a decent amount each month.

Not enough to get rich, but it was money there for the taking. Either they buy it from someone else or me, so why not me? Anyway… the idea behind this post is to just get you thinking about the concept of selling some supplies to earn extra money. It’s not hard to do and it goes hand in hand with what you are already doing.

So give it some thought and consider adding it in as a value added service that will add to your bottom line. If anyone has done well for themselves selling supplies, has a question about it or just wants to say something, post your comments below and get the conversation started.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria February 1, 2015 at 4:41 pm

What a great idea Tom. Do you purchase the supplies as needed or do you have a storage room for extra inventory? Do you deliver them or do your crews deliver them? Thanks and keep up the good work.

2 Tom Watson February 1, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Hi Maria! A little bit of everything was done in the beginning. When I first started, I bought when it was needed. But after a while I just bought in bulk (and stored at either my home or office once I got one) so I didn’t have to buy supplies as often (for the items that moved a lot). On some job sites I delivered, this way I could take a look at the job (quality control), but on others I had staff do the delivery. It all depended on the situation.

3 Cos Campbell February 2, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Great idea Tom! I just put this into practice with an account for their toilet paper! Hopefully I can get a few more on board. Every little bit helps!

4 Tom Watson February 2, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Hi Cos! That’s great. It’ll add up over time!

5 Pauline T Ila February 2, 2015 at 9:28 pm

Hi Mr. Watson,

I am really blessed with all the encouraging messages you send. I am now starting to send out the expression of interest letters to my intending clients and believe all will be well in the next coming weeks.

Thank you.

6 Tom Watson February 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm

Hi Pauline! I’m happy to help. Keep up your spirits, and keep spreading the news you own a cleaning business. If you do that, you will be just fine over the long haul.

7 Calvin February 3, 2015 at 2:07 am

Don’t we have charge tax

8 Calvin February 3, 2015 at 2:09 am

What about the issue of paying taxes.

9 Tom Watson February 3, 2015 at 8:28 am

Hi Calvin! In NJ I do. You’ll have to check your State, odds are you will too.

10 Tom Watson February 3, 2015 at 8:29 am

Hi Calvin! You talking about paying your income taxes? Or is this a duplicate question on charging tax on supplies?

11 Daniel February 5, 2015 at 10:58 pm

Great idea for extra income! Do customers ever ask to see the original invoice for the supplies you ordered or they just seem to accept the price on the bill? Also, I almost didn’t find the blog after listening to the podcast, I went to a completely different site : (

12 Tom Watson February 8, 2015 at 8:25 am

Hi Daniel! No they do not. You don’t have to worry about that. And yes… lots of copy cat sites out there. I’m happy you found me!

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