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Water Damage Restoration / Carpet Care
September 2014

Make Them Pay

How to maximize production hours for each truck and employee.

September 04, 2014
KEYWORDS cleaning / equipment / good / hours
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You’ve made a shocking discovery, and now you’re standing on an international stage addressing the world. Thousands of cameras center on your face, and banners carrying your name wave in the crowd.

In this moment you are the most important person on earth because you’ve developed the Day Extender, a machine that adds as many hours to your day as you <photocredit>iStock/BSWei</photocredit>need, making ample time for sleep, recreation and, most importantly, loads of money.

What is as valuable as time? You’re trying to decide what would be valuable enough to make you share your invention when… BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

The alarm rips you from your dream, and it’s time to greet your busy day. You’ve got things to do today, and no amount of dreaming will make the day any longer. Without the Day Extender, you’ve now got to face reality and find a real plan for making the hours you do have as profitable as possible.

To get the greatest per-hour return, focus on labor and equipment. It’s good business to invest in equipment, which has a limited financial return per day like labor, in order to help your labor force bring back more money. Using equipment that performs high production brings in a high dollar return. Consider the following ways to improve returns by improving your equipment and labor.

Warm things up

Sometimes you really need the couch that you just wet-cleaned to be totally dry as fast as possible before anything bad happens. Blow some warm air on it and vent it out. Now you’re working safely and saving time, making your hours pay you more.

If you aren’t already engaged in water damage restoration, and drying carpet after extraction, think about adding a heat unit to your equipment inventory. It will pay for itself in no time, as income per hour of operation is exceptional. Adding a heat unit will make customers happier, cause less disruption to clients, eliminate other expenses and increase your per hour earnings.

Keep the wand moving

It’s been estimated that employing an assistant makes a cleaner’s day 30 to 50 percent more efficient. An assistant allows two or three rooms to be worked simultaneously.

While one tech moves any furniture necessary in one room, the other tech rinses behind the already cleared furniture in another room. Then one tech returns the furniture, while the tech with the wand moves on to the next room, and so on, alternating back and forth. This two-team system allows for jobs to be completed much more quickly so that more can be scheduled each day.

There are a number of other benefits of adding an assistant cleaner. First, a mentally and physically tired tech is less productive, as he or she will be slower and more prone to mistakes, as well as less driven to perform add-on sales, which will cost the company and, if commission is involved, the tech money.

In addition, a single tech may hesitate to do add-on sales so that they may finish the job faster and move on to the next customer. A two-man team is more likely to offer add-ons since a team can finish the job more quickly. It is much more cost effective to visit fewer locations while making the same (or more) money. Consider this: If you sold customers on what they actually need done, rather than only doing what they asked for, you would double or even triple your business without adding a single advertising dollar.

Keep in mind that some techs are great solo performers and, therefore, don’t want or need help. You know these techs — they’re the ones that never tire like the Energizer Bunny. Know your people; run the numbers. If a tech performs well alone, there’s no need to force an assistant on him or her.

Labor, of course, is the most expensive part of any service business, so adding this cost might feel counterproductive. But the increased productivity a busy company experiences with an added assistant will be well work the expense.

Equipment choices

While a portable carpet cleaning machine can be a necessary piece of equipment for a professional cleaner, full-time cleaning with a portable can use more of your time than most truckmounts. As you know, the longer it takes, the less your hours pay you.

As discussed previously, labor cost is high, so it’s important to help your workers out wherever possible. The added efficiency of truckmounts will make better use of cleaners’ valuable and limited time.

Also important to consider are dual wand truckmounts. They are almost never used, but dual wands can be more efficient, especially in empty houses, and especially for a cleaner/assistant team. Give some consideration to the setup and breakdown process, and you may find that, while using a dual wand system isn’t twice as fast as a single wand, with planning, it can make your hours pay much more.

By the foot or by the acre

We all know that different locations require different time commitments, and since timing is inseparable from our earnings, location is important to think about.

Consider apartments. They are different from higher priced residential jobs, requiring get-it-done-quickly equipment and products. If you earn $50 for a 700-square-foot apartment, and you need $100 per hour to make a profit, then you have only 15 minutes from start to finish for that job.

Large commercial cleaning requires a different approach than residential cleaning. Many commercial cleaners make good money at 10 cents per square foot, but you’re not cleaning large commercial by the foot; it’s by the acre. You probably use low moisture cleaning or maybe encapsulation, to speed up the process. You generally must charge more for hot water extraction.

It’s important to investigate methods that will produce 2,000 square feet or more per hour. Then periodically slower, more thorough cleaning methods can be averaged in over the year while maintaining good income. Again, while not the only consideration, equipment that is faster and more efficient can make your hours pay much more. Still, each situation must be viewed independently.

A few more profit builders

The list of ways to improve your per-hour profits could go on forever. You have to look for ways that will work best for your own business, but here are a few more simple ways to stay efficient:

  • Make sure your techs have GPS. Wandering around a neighborhood while trying to read house numbers is a sure waste of time.
  • On-board water can be a huge time saver. With the right equipment, several jobs can be done without water hookup or waste tank emptying. Think about this when you schedule jobs. It’s a real benefit in apartment complexes where the water supply may be 300 feet away.
  • You should be selling fabric protector. This can really make your hours pay more, and it’s honestly needed. Protector helps increase customer satisfaction, and helps you because you’ve got more money coming in.

Look for creative ways to save time (and thus money). Something as simple as putting two blocks stacked together under each corner of a sofa, rather than wasting time trying to make the wheels stay up on the blocks, can be a real time-saver. Just make sure nothing is touching the damp carpet — there should be air flow under the sofa. Of course, if you’re good at getting the blocks under the wheels, great!

There are thousands of ways to make your company more efficient, but it’s important to always be focused on time. It’s the most precious asset your business has — after your employees, of course.

It’s also important to remember that, while doing things faster is often a good thing, it’s not the same thing as using time-saving procedures. Be careful not to confuse the two.

Remember how valuable your hours are, and always strive to find more ways to make them effective because the Day Extender does not really exist. In the real world, unfortunately, we have only 24 hours a day.

Make sure you make them pay!

Dennis Klager is an Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)-approved instructor. He can be reached at dennis.klager@gmail.com.

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