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Choosing Equipment to Invest In

If your company is like most, the fourth quarter of the year inevitably brings with it the joyous process of budgeting for the coming year. A few years ago, this process was made bearable by the fact that there was money for new people, equipment and services vital to the growth of your business. But over the past few years, the typical refrain coming out of budgets meetings is “do more with the same resources.”

Admittedly, I am no expert on the economy. However, I do agree with most prognosticators that the economy is beginning a slow and steady upward climb. That means right now is an incredibly important time for your business. If you have weathered the storm over the past few years, you could find yourself in a great position to grow your business if you are properly positioned to do more with the same resources.

As you look to grow your business in 2011 and use the same resources, equipment is really the key to success. Let’s examine a couple of areas in which the proper equipment can help you achieve your goals.

First, begin by evaluating your processes. Most people do not realize it, but the processes they put their effort into are typically the highest in terms of labor, chemical costs and machine costs. For example, most contractors maintain floors by extraction and stripping and finishing. These processes burn through your budget dollars and labor hours. Investing budget dollars in equipment used in processes that help you delay these steps is the key to being successful 2011 and beyond.

A cost-effective floor care program consists of the following maintenance phases:

•  Preventative maintenance – stopping the soils from entering the facility through removal or containment. This step consists of matting and sweepers and is implemented outside the facility. The more soil you stop outside, the less you have to remove at an industry estimated $700 per pound.

•  Daily maintenance – removing soils daily to minimize their damage to the indoor environment. The average grain of sand has 32 cutting edges and abrades like 120 grit sand paper. The particulate soil that is tracked into the facility is what scratches and damages the floors and ultimately drives the maintenance procedures that you must implement to achieve the desired appearance level.

•  Interim maintenance – maintaining a high level of appearance with minimal labor, chemical and water. Most often this is the missing step in a maintenance program. Interim maintenance procedures include top-scrub and re-coat on VCT and encapsulation on carpet. Done properly, these processes save money and extend the time between restorative maintenance.

•  Restorative maintenance—intensive cleaning designed to restore the surface as nearly as possible to its original state. These processes use a high level of labor, chemical and water. Commonly used to maintain facilities, these processes include stripping and finishing and extracting.

Investing your budget dollars in equipment for preventative, daily and interim processes, and then implementing these programs will help you delay or avoid costly restorative procedures. Not only will this help you save money, it will also help you maintain a more consistent and clean appearance for your customer.

Here is the key equipment that you should invest in:

•  Sweepers are critical in removing soils from walkways and parking lots that can get tracked into your facility. Sweeping should be performed daily within 40 feet of an entrance. Parking lots should also be swept on a weekly basis if possible.

•  Vacuums should be used daily within 40 feet of all entrances. In some cases, vacuuming may

•need to be performed multiple times during the day just to control the flow of soil into the facility.

•  Encapsulation machines provide an effective way to maintain the appearance of the carpets in your facility. This method is fast, uses a small amount of chemical and dries quickly.

•  Cylindrical scrubbers have been shown to be as effective as rotary scrubbers on virtually any surface and, according to a study conducted by the American Institute of Cleaning Sciences, degrade floor finish less than rotary scrubbers.

One final note: when considering what equipment to invest in for your future, always remember to look at the productivity of the equipment you are investing in. An increase in productivity will benefit you across the board on every job you use that piece of equipment for. The benefit of this far outweighs any savings you may get by purchasing a piece of equipment simply based on price.