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The Exclusive Magazine for the Building Service Contracting Industry Since 1981

Increasing Profits Without Increasing Sales

Written by  Richard D. Ollek, CBSE

Wherever I go to work with BSC’s, the one comment I always hear is “help me increase my sales so I can add to my bottom line.” Here we're going to talk about the money that is in your company that will add to your bottom line without making one sale.

Finding additional profits in your company is all about doing a periodic retuning of the accounts you presently service. I have for years used a simple process every six months to make sure that each account we have is running as efficiently as possible. We still miss some things. But let me give you some ideas on fine-tuning the accounts you have. Not only are there profit dollars to be found, but you will also create a much safer work environment for your cleaning staff, which might also reduce your workers’ compensation premiums, also resulting in more bottom-line dollars.

1. Do you have current job specifications posted on the wall in each janitor’s closet with a current date on them? Even if nothing has changed, I suggest you update the specifications with the current date. This tells your client you are on top of things. I recall visiting a building not long ago that had specifications dated 10 years earlier and suggested to my client they do an update, to which I got the response that “everyone knows what to do.” So you never have turnover? “Well, yes but the experienced people can tell them what needs to be done.” I suggest this is a recipe for eventually inviting disaster and a lost account.

2. Make sure you have a current book of MSD sheets. In this industry, we sometimes change products but forget to place the MSD sheet in the closet. By the way, if you are transporting any chemicals in your vehicles they should also have an MSD book.

3. Are the current company and client emergency phone numbers posted on the wall in each closet? Do you know how to get in touch with your client or manager in the case of an emergency? I secured a large account because the building had a flood in the basement, and when the client called my competitor, who was his contractor at the time, for help, all the phone numbers were out of date or disconnected. I was happy to get the account, plus it taught me to always have our emergency numbers up to date.

4. Do you have posted the emergency procedure for injuries to your staff? Who do they call? Where do they go for treatment? Do the supervisors have workers’ compensation accident report forms on hand that can be completed ASAP?

5. Are all spray bottles properly labeled? Fines from OSHA on this violation can run into the thousands of dollars.

6. Are all of the keys properly marked and secured? Are all old keys properly disposed of? I recall doing a workshop a few years back for a group of school district custodians, and there was an older gentleman who had a key ring of, I would guess, 50 keys. I couldn’t resist asking him how many of them he actually used. He said he only used two, but that when he took his current job three years earlier he had been given the ring of keys, and was afraid to discard any of them. I suggested he work with his superior to determine which keys could be destroyed. It would also help him walk straighter.

Before I go on, you may be wondering, “How does this increase my bottom line?” Well, let’s see:

• Not wasting time trying to determine who to call will save you how many hours, and maybe a life, in the case of an emergency.

• Not having huge fines from OSHA for improper labeling and out of date MSD sheets will save how many dollars?

• Having keys properly marked and old ones disposed of saves how many dollars in lost time, especially when a new employee begins?

• Having up-to-date job specifications saves how much time not cleaning what you don’t need to clean and instead cleaning what you should clean?

Okay, let’s go on.

7. Is all equipment neat, clean, and safely working? Cords good; switches working; belts, brushes, bags, and blocks in good working order?

8. Is the supply closet neat, clean, and in proper order? A major customer once told me that was how he judged our work. If we couldn’t keep our janitor’s closet clean, how in the world could we keep his building clean? If your clients were to look in your janitor’s closet today, what impression would he or she have of your organization? Lost account, maybe?

9. Return all excess equipment and supplies to the warehouse. This can really add to your bottom line. We budgeted each account X dollars for supplies per month based on the dollar volume and other factors. Almost always, we found our staff did not need the entire amount, and we could adjust the budget downward. When you take excess supplies and equipment back to the warehouse, that money goes right to the bottom line, because it is now available for another job and reduces the need to buy additional supplies. By the way, that can include mop buckets, wringers, etc., as well as motorized equipment.

10. Has the cleaning schedule changed so that you can reduce the budgeted hours? Also, it is a known fact that as the staff becomes more familiar with the facility, they learn that hours can be reduced, and by doing this six-month review, you can make the necessary budget adjustments.

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