Free Cleaning Advice

Timely Tips and Articles about the cleaning business - from Gary Clipperton 40-year industry veteran, consultant, author and trainer.

Choose an expert who knows the answers to your questions.

Choose an expert who knows the answers to your questions.

Carpet Care | Floor Care | Managing your Cleaning Service | Land More Cleaning Contracts

Carpet Care:

36 difficult carpet care questions expertly answered by Gary Clipperton

Floor Care:

90 questions about floor care expertly answered by Gary Clipperton.

b_bullet How can I get a shine on ceramic tile? It has never been waxed.
b_bullet Is it ok to apply 6 coats of finish to a VCT floor?
b_bullet Is floor wax still used today?
b_bullet Do I need to seal VCT before applying floor finish?
b_bullet What is wrong with applying ten or more coats of finish to a floor?
b_bullet Is a hog’s hair burnish pad safe on all types of finishes?
b_bullet Should natural stone be sealed and then several coats of finish applied?
b_bullet Once I purchase burnishers do I still need my old buffers?
b_bullet What is the best process to maintain a high gloss on VCT?
b_bullet What would cause swirls in the floor after finishing? A clean mop head was used, and the floor was rinsed, neutralized, and buffed before applying floor finish.
b_bullet How do I prevent floor finish overlap in a hall that is used 24/7 and must be stripped ½ at a time?
b_bullet What would be different when you strip and refinish floors with wood subflooring instead of concrete?
b_bullet When do I know if the floor finish has dried and is ready for the next coat?
b_bullet Is it safe to use a standard floor finish on a wood floor?
b_bullet What has happened with a floor finish turning yellow after being on the floor for a while?
b_bullet How can I prepare for a future in training others in floor care?
b_bullet Can you provide a written procedure for applying floor finish? We are a fairly large facility.
b_bullet What is the proper care for Laminate floors?
b_bullet After stripping the wax, do you usually pick it up with an autoscrubber, or just the old fashioned mop and bucket with squeegee?
b_bullet What about applying wax with old towels wrapped around a mop head?
b_bullet Are flat mops good for applying floor finish?
b_bullet Is it necessary to soak a finish mop in water prior to using it?
b_bullet A sealer I use shows a 45 minute drying time and a finish shows 30 minutes per coat. If I was using a fan, should I still give it the same amount to time to dry, or could I cut down on the time some?
b_bullet If a concrete surface is porous, is it ok to apply 3 coats of sealer, before applying a high-gloss finish?
b_bullet How do I sell the quality of my floorcare services when I use an autoscrubber and have more investment than competitors who just mop the floor?
b_bullet It is best to rinse the floor even when using a no-rinse stripping solution?
b_bullet How do I clean damaged floors that are under plastic chair mats?
b_bullet What is the best way to clean floor pads?
b_bullet How do I remove a heavy build-up of floor finish?
b_bullet How do I provide the “wet look” on VCT floors?
b_bullet What is the best way to strip old build-up from edges?
b_bullet How do I strip a classroom with about 30 computers plugged in?
b_bullet Can you give me some suggestions on strip and wax for 42,000 sq. ft of tile?
b_bullet Should you use stripper to remove factory seal on new VCT?
b_bullet Do plastic chair leg tips prevent scratches in the floor finish?
b_bullet Can you explain how the “Dot” method works to track floor finish wear?
b_bullet How do I clean a vinyl floor which has built in dips and they are heavily soiled?
b_bullet What is the best way to blend start and stop points when stripping a floor in sections?
b_bullet How do I remove Betadine stains in surgery?
b_bullet What is the proper way to clean a Formica floor? Can an auto scrubber and or buffer be used?
b_bullet How do I maintain vinyl floor planking, especially removing tar?
b_bullet How do I resolve floor care problems with a new VCT installation?
b_bullet Some tile flooring has a gray discoloration on some of the tile in some small rooms. Stripping did not take it out. Do you have a remedy to remove this discoloration?
b_bullet Should you flood the floor when you apply stripper?
b_bullet What is the proper procedure when using a scrubbing machine on VCT? Also, what type of pad or brush should I use?
b_bullet What is the best procedure to remove salt from marble floors?
b_bullet What is the best way to clean laminate flooring?
b_bullet What is the general procedure for stripping and waxing a floor?
b_bullet How do I remove rust from a restaurant terrazzo floor?
b_bullet How do I remove urine stains from a floor underneath a urinal?
b_bullet What is the procedure and suggested pricing to buff a concrete floor with epoxy finish?
b_bullet How do I determine the proper floor care crew size and proper machines?
b_bullet How do I remove the light-brown stains left behind after the successful removal of chewing/bubble gum from broom-finish concrete?
b_bullet What can be the factors causing a VCT floor to be slick when it was burnished?
b_bullet How long should it take to buff 11,500 sq. ft. of VCT in a day care facility including moving the furniture?
b_bullet What is the best way to estimate or price out jobs?
b_bullet How do I solve scuffing and swirl marks in polished concrete?
b_bullet Is it safe to sand off heavy buildup from a VCT floor?
b_bullet How do you strip VCT tile with an autoscrubber?
b_bullet Are there drawbacks to stripping with a high speed propane stripper versus a low speed?
b_bullet Can you tell me how to strip an impossible floor buildup? I am not having good luck with the job.
b_bullet How do I remove the finish from Armstrong VCT?
b_bullet How do I remove dried on stripping slurry?
b_bullet How do we use an auto scrubber when the floor has sand and snow on it that has been tracked in from the outside?
b_bullet Should I just dry buff VCT floor that are finished or use a spray buff compound/restorer?
b_bullet What do I do when drain opener bleached out the floor?
b_bullet It appears if different rooms respond differently to buffing and stripping. What could be causing this?
b_bullet What are the best practices for burnishing between coats and stripping 10 times to remove build-up?
b_bullet How do we remove finish build-up in the low spots and the molded grout lines of a sculptured pattern vinyl linoleum flooring?
b_bullet How do I solve cork floor care problems?
b_bullet How do I remove scuffs from laminate floors?
b_bullet How do I prevent propane burn spots on VCT?
b_bullet What is the frequency for burnishing or buffing?
b_bullet Would a flatmop application of the floor finish be better than the standard mop bucket and mop?
b_bullet What is the exact procedure for obtaining the “wet look” on VCT? A client wants 6 coats of high solids finish and the floor burnished. At what point do I burnish and how?
b_bullet How many coats of finish is ideal for a daycare?
b_bullet How many coats of finish should be applied for good burnishing results?
b_bullet How do sticky floors occur, and how do we prevent them? We use Johnson Diversey floor finish (3-5 coats) with a quat disinfectant floor cleaner from Hillyard.
b_bullet How do I get management to approve required floor care maintenance schedules?
b_bullet Can you give me a detailed procedure for top scrubbing a tile floor? Chemical usage, color of pad, proper equipment, etc.
b_bullet What is the best method and products for cleaning new VCT floors in a day care center? What price per sq. ft.?
b_bullet Can you use a buffing machine on a wood gym floor to get up scuff marks?
b_bullet What would I charge to strip a floor that has been recoated 3 times with about 5 coats of finish? The store will be open when we do the job.
b_bullet What should we be charging to clean commercial tile and grout; about 1000 sq. ft. with no sealer?
b_bullet How much should I charge to scrub and coat new VCT in Arkansas?
b_bullet What do I charge to strip and finish a VCT floor?
b_bullet What is the rate to strip and wax 10,000 sq. ft. in Oklahoma?
b_bullet How much should I charge for stripping and refinishing a 4,000 sq. ft. empty (no furniture to move) building?
b_bullet How would I bid scrubbing and sealing 77,000 sq ft of concrete?
b_bullet I have a new vinyl floor (3500 sq, ft) that needs to be scrubbed, sealed, and finished. I gave an estimate of $800.00. Is this a good estimate?
b_bullet How do I bid a medical facility with 4220 sq. ft. of VCT cleaned every other week?
b_bullet Should I train all of my janitorial / custodial workers on Floor and Carpet Care?
b_bullet Will your carpet or floor care training course insure that I get a job?

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Managing Your Cleaning Business or Service:

Land More Cleaning Contracts:

Q. How can I land more cleaning contracts?

A. Here are just a few approaches to use:

  1. Identify and map out your immediate trade area. You can do this by drawing a large circle on a map around your business or home that in turn reaches out 20 minutes in drive time in each direction. You will lower your cost and be most effective in your own backyard. Obtain the print out of all the businesses in each ZIP code for your trade area. Our new Cleaning Manager Dashboard accomplishes all of this for you.
  2. With your marketing flyers and business card begin visiting all of the businesses in your trade area that represent the type of prospects you would like to clean. Your written or email strategy might include the note that: “We are large enough to service all of your cleaning needs, yet small enough to provide personalized service.” Or, “We are located right in your backyard and ready to impress you with our superior cleaning service”. Our Janitorial Success manual now contains 40-marketing flyers for just about every situation.
  3. Open the conversation with the receptionist: “I’m _______________ with______________. We are located right down the street and clean accounts in the neighborhood. I’d like to ask your manager if I could provide an office cleaning bid, just in case your people quit. It would be like a back up bid you could keep on file - and it’s free.” (Smile Big). Our one hour video explains 12 Secrets to Landing Cleaning Contracts.
  4. If they insist they already have someone they are happy with and don’t need a backup bid, ask if you could make a note when the contract is up for renewal and make future contact.
  5. Even if the receptionist (gate keeper) does not let you pass, make conversation with them. Create a positive impression. You will be amazed at what you can learn from the receptionist if you handle the conversation correctly.
  6. When you do the building walk through and site inspection, take note if the bid specs really meet the needs of the building. If not, offer to rewrite the bid specs to address current service issues.
  7. Locate as many cleaning and service issues or problems as you can. Janitorial Success shows 18 reasons why cleaning contractors are cancelled. Construct your bid proposal to address all of the deficiencies that you noticed.
  8. Differentiate your company from the competition - do you use vacuums with hepa filtration to improve indoor air quality? Do you do background checks on your staff using e-verify? Do you offer Green Cleaning? Are all of your employees trained to eliminate cross-contamination? And the list goes on. Determine your best niche and exploit it.
  9. Prospect companies that are similar to, or of the same type that you may currently clean. If you have an “in” with realtors, insurance companies, banks or medical offices, expand your marketing coverage to focus on these markets. Use one of our flyers for each specific category along with letters of recommendation.
  10. Make application to be placed on bid lists. Check local branch banks and ask them how they contract for cleaning services. Some banking institutions contract nationally but others contract regionally. If you can get on a regional bid list you could pick up multiple accounts.
  11. Visit the after-hours mixers for your local area Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau or a local leads club such as BNI. Normally, you can make an initial visit to see if there is a good fit for your company. Networking is an important avenue to land more bid appointments.
  12. Ask for referrals or leads from everyone you know. This could include current clients, family, friends, church, clubs, PTA or any organizations that you belong to. When you get a lead from someone, send a personal thank you note. And, if you get that account, follow up with a gift certificate.
  13. Consider expanding your service coverage such as cleaning apartment communities, cleaning their move outs and also providing their common area and clubhouse cleaning. Consider expanding carpet cleaning, floor care and upholstery cleaning for all of your customers. Our Contractor Training Program includes a comprehensive Carpet, Floor and Upholstery Care training program, including testing and certification.
  14. Establish a telemarketing program. Since we have personally landed over a thousand contracts using telemarketing, we can show you all of our secrets. Read our booklet included in the Janitorial Success Manual. We have set up our Cleaning Manager’s Dashboard to track and help run your entire telemarketing and direct mail campaigns.
  15. Your closing average will improve by using a winning presentation that we have developed for you. In addition, most customers prefer to study a contractor’s webpage before they make a final decision.

Land more Cleaning Contracts Learn More...

Janitorial Success Marketing Program - Click to Learn More... Contractor Training and Certification Program - Click to Learn More...

Contractor Ratings

Q. How do I compare my performance with other contractors in the business and know I am making progress?
A. You can take our tests and rate yourself. Then, use our Janitorial Success Program to expand your talents.

Contractor Marketing Skills – Rating Scale (Rate each question on a scale of 1-10 )

  1. Determination, discipline and focus – Sufficient motivation to sacrifice and achieve important goals?
  2. Marketing plan, strategy and quotas – Vision statement, target markets, media plan & weekly quotas established?
  3. Aggressive promotion and prospecting – Massive action to get the word out by following a well planned approach?
  4. Networking - Actively working circles of influence, contacts and referrals?
  5. Image - Do all public relations contact points favorably impress prospects including; phone message, literature, personal appearance, vehicle, etc?
  6. Believability and Credibility - First brain friendly – impressive eye contact, posture, movement, dress, appearance, smile, voice and pleasant humor?
  7. Presentation – Presentation book with fliers, case studies and important industry information establishing needs for thorough cleaning systems?
  8. Quality performance - Demo performed to convey floor or carpet superiority? Qualified and impressive references along with customer buildings that can be toured?
  9. Bidding accuracy - Bid performance tracked and prior productivity data collected and analyzed? Working knowledge of adjusting cleaning variables for each contract?
  10. Negotiation and closing skills - Program adjusted to fit customer needs?  Rapport established so negotiation and closing expertise is effective.
Total Score ______

A perfect score of 100 is unlikely.  Individual areas below a seven will need improvement and below five should demand immediate attention. Re-evaluate your score quarterly. A low score should be quickly addressed by studying and applying the principles from Janitorial Success Program and Jan Bid Software.

Customer Retention – Performance Rating (Please rate each the following items on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being poor and 10 being perfect.)

  1. Performing to customer expectations
    All cleaning specifications are clearly defined prior to the contract start date.  Cleaning expectations and level of quality is agreed to by both parties.
  2. Professional Staff
    Quality workers are recruited and thoroughly trained. Cleaning staff has memorized the posted list of cleaning requirements. Workers are trained in safety, chemical usage, equipment operation, building security and all company policies.
  3. Motivated workers
    Staff is encouraged to perform to high standards and they are validated with adequate appreciation. Advantageous pay and benefit plans attract and keep quality people.
  4. Quality control program
    All work is inspected on a regular basis. Workers are shown and taught how to  correct and prevent cleaning deficiencies. Regular monitoring ensures that nightly performance meets or exceeds customer’s expectations.
  5. Customer relations
    Customers are encouraged to provide performance feedback. A “be of service” attitude is always conveyed. All customer requests are handled in a professional manner. Customers receive special thanks such as birthday cards, notes, etc.
  6. Communications and follow-up
    Customers can easily reach you. Voice mail response time is prompt. Workers are quickly informed of changes in service or complaints, etc. Prompt follow-up ensures all corrections or adjustments exceed customer expectations.
  7. Handling complaints
    Customers are encouraged to phone or leave a note regarding any service issue. Problem areas are quickly inspected and workers are trained to make corrections to prevent future complaints. Customer receives apology and assurance of prompt correction of all cleaning problems. A caring attitude is conveyed.
  8. Worker growth
    Workers receive performance evaluations or regular feed back on their overall performance. Employees receive written reprimands for substandard performance. On-going training program sharpens skills and builds teamwork.
  9. Support Systems
    Superior cleaning chemicals and procedures are employed (and adequately stocked) ensuring exceptional results. Up to date equipment is well maintained and utilized.
  10. Customer Cheerleaders
    Level of service and follow-up exceeds customer expectations. New prospect referrals and letters of recommendation are received. Contracts are renewed   because of superior performance and satisfied customers.
Total Score ____

A perfect score of 100 is unlikely. Individual areas below a seven will need improvement and below five should demand immediate attention. Re-evaluate your score quarterly. The newJanitorial Success program can help you improve your score.

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