Floor Care is Hot in 2001
By Wm R. Griffin, President
Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc.
Everywhere you look there are $100 bills on the floor. Seriously, I don't think the opportunity to make money selling the chemicals, supplies and equipment used for hard and resilient floor care has ever been better than it is today. Hard and resilient floors are the latest rage; the trend right now is moving away from the use of carpeting in residential and commercial locations. When it comes to carpeting, concerns are being raised about short life cycles, high maintenance costs, shoddy installation, poor manufacturing quality, worthless warranties and indoor air quality issues. This means that the use of all types of hard and resilient floor coverings is on the rise in virtually every market you serve. This includes such things as Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT), vinyl or rubber sheet goods, stone, wood, laminate, masonry, and other new and innovative as well as specialty floor covering materials.
This is great news for suppliers and distributors, and equipment and chemical manufacturers. With all the new and different types of floor coverings that are coming on the market, those who are expected to maintain these surfaces need to update their knowledge and skill levels, as well as the equipment, supplies and chemicals they are using.
It is no longer a matter of simply sweeping and mopping the floor. Today's tenants, the public, and building owners and managers expect and demand much more than basic services, when it comes to floor care. Floors must not only shine, but they must also be safe to walk on and last for at least 30 to 50 years. To accomplish these goals, regular maintenance, modern equipment, quality products and the latest technical information and skills are required. Other issues that come into play and drive the need for what you offer your customers include: indoor environmental quality (IEQ), recycling and disposal, ergonomics, energy conservation, low maintenance costs, new equipment and chemicals, and lest we forget, a shortage of skilled workers to make it all happen in a timely and cost efficient manner.
This is a time of transition. There are a lot of questions about what to use and how the work should be done. Even for the seasoned pro, it can be difficult and confusing to separate all the hype from the facts. And there in lies your opportunity to be of service to your customers and to make a tidy profit in the process. The money is literally on the floor waiting for you to pick it up.
What's New in Floor Care
New Floor Covering Materials
At the recent Surfaces Floor Covering Show in Las Vegas, it was obvious that it's no longer business as usual. Floor covering are getting fancier, more intricate and more costly. There were all kinds of new exhibits for marble, slate, ceramic, exotic woods and a growing variety of plastic laminate products. The trend is towards earth tone browns and natural colors and appearances. Vinyl sheet goods that look and are textured to feel like natural stone were definitely popular.
As for laminates, the trend is toward clip or snap together products that no longer use glue in the installation process. Don't get me wrong, there is still a lot of carpeting being sold, but it's certainly feeling the pressure from other floor covering categories. When it comes to carpeting, new backing materials, more color selection and new styles were the latest rage. For more information on the annual Surfaces Floor Covering Show, call 1-800-547-3477 or <www.surfacesexpo.com>
Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention
Preventing and protecting yourself and your customers against slip, trip and fall liability and lawsuits is a major issue for all suppliers and companies that provide cleaning services. Slip and fall liability is the fastest growing and most costly area of litigation taking place today in the cleaning industry. To defend yourself and your customers, it is imperative that all employees receive training on how to eliminate as many risks as possible and how to properly establish a safety perimeter around work areas when performing all floor-cleaning tasks.
As of January 16, 2001, OSHA enacted it's ergonomics standard which basically requires all employers, as a minimum, to provide each employee with a two page ergonomics information fact sheet by October 16, 2001. Once a Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) illness is reported to an employer, the employer has seven days to respond and meet other requirements of the ergonomics standard. All cleaning, floor, carpet and warehouse employees are covered by the standard. There is and will continue to be much confusion as to what is required by this new standard, which provide an excellent opportunity for the ergonomic literate supplier to be of service to his or her customers. For more information, visit OSHA's website at <www.osha.gov> and read the ergonomics article elsewhere in this issue of Maintenance Supplies.
A Worker Shortage
Good help is difficult to find and even more difficult to keep on the job. On going employee training discourages employee turnover and is a valuable service that employers appreciate and value and it's a service you can and should provide to every one of your customers. Certification is coming to the cleaning industry.
Over the next couple of years you will see innovative suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, and trade associations, all jumping on the bandwagon to offer their customers and members an opportunity to become a Certified Floor Care Technician. And it's about time.
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) recently established a certification category and course for hard and resilient floor maintenance. The IICRC is no new comer to the cleaning industry, they have over the last 15 years, certified over 18,000 professional carpet cleaners and more than 5,000 firms in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia. In fact, through this one groups efforts, they have transformed an entire segment of the cleaning industry into a well-respected group of professionals that clean millions of square feet of carpet every years and is represented by 18 regional trade associations. For more information on how you can bring the Certified Floor Care Technician Training Program to your local area, contact the IICRC at ph-360-693-5675 or <www.iicrc.org> or Anthony Trombeta at the ISSA at 1-800-225-4772.
New Equipment and Chemicals
Our world is changing; manual labor is being replaced by mechanization. Riding equipment such as sweepers, vacuums, burnishers and autoscrubbers now represent one of the fastest growing segments of the cleaning equipment sales market.
Backpack vacuums are continuing to make in roads as a way to reduce costs and improve quality when cleaning carpet and hard surfaces. Specialty and environmentally preferable chemicals, topical treatments, and new types of coatings are available to clean and maintain the shine, while prolonging the time between stripping and refinishing. With wood, stone and laminate surfaces gaining popularity, whole new categories of equipment and chemicals are finding a place on janitorial supplier's shelves. Along with these new products and procedures, comes the need for more detailed technical support and training.
New Floor Care Products that You Can Sell
- Non-Chemical Grout Cleaner (pic 1)
Discolored and dirty grout? It's no longer a clean up problem with the Grout Eraser. Environmentally safe, contains no chemicals, won't scratch grout, use wet or dry, restores grout to its original color quickly and easily. Effectively removes wax build up, algae, mildew, soap scum, rust, coffee and other organic stains from grout in bathrooms, kitchens, swimming pools and other locations. For more information contact, The Stain Eraser, Ph-888-387-6111, <www.r-teez.com>
- Dry Vapor Steamer Vacuum (pic 2)
The first dry vapor steam that incorporates a wet vacuum system to remove soiled solution for fast and easy clean up. Great for quickly removing wax and soil build-up from baseboards, chair and table legs, door jambs, thresholds, elevator tracks, grout and other surfaces. Also effectively removes gum, labels, and tape from all types of surfaces without damage. No chemicals needed. Perfect for carpet spotting, upholstery cleaning and detail work in restrooms, shower areas, kitchens and many other locations. Comes with a variety of attachments and a built in filtration system. For more information contact, Total Vapor Systems, 1-800-371-6134 or 1-900-867-6870
- The KiaBucket (pic 3)
Here's a new twist on the old Mop Pail. The "KaiBucket" reduces by 1/3rd the amount of lift needed to empty a mop bucket into a janitor sink, floor drain or toilet. It's ergonomically designed so employees use leg muscles and not the back to lift. According to Bob Robinson, President of Kiavac Cleaning Systems in Hamilton, OH, "The KaiBucket and the Kaivac Cart are safer, easier and faster to use than existing equipment to clean floors, walls and fixtures in heavily soiled restrooms. Our systems is ergonomically friendly because the cart facilitates no touch restroom cleaning, thus eliminating all of the moping and much of the bending, reaching, lifting and repetitive motions associated with the physical activity of restroom cleaning." For more information on Kaivac Systems call 1-800-287-1136, or 513-887-4600 or www.kaivac.com
Backpack Vacuums Remove More Soil than a Dust Mop
Pro-Team Inc. in Boise, ID, a well-known manufacturer of backpack vacuums says its backpack vacuums are more effective at removing dry soil from hard and resilient floor than a dust mop.
In addition, a recently released ergonomic study conducted by Battelle Memorial Institute and Ohio State University compared repetitive motions, musculoskeletal stress and fatigue for both upright and backpack vacuums. According to the study, researchers found that upright vacuums restrict the worker to forward-backward movement involving the weight of the entire machine, while backpacks enable alternating between forward-backward and side to side movements with a light weight cleaning wand resulting in potentially less body stress. For more information on Pro-Team call 1-800-541-1456, or 208-377-9555, or <www.pro-team.com>
- The Eraser Burnishing Pad
According to 3M, the company's new Eraser Burnishing Pad removes black marks and quickly restores a high gloss shine to floors. The pad provides excellent durability, resists tearing and shows half the wear of other burnishing pads. The new pad, which creates very little dust, can be used with all types of burnishers and finish or as part of 3M's hard floor maintenance system. For more information, Contact 3M at 1-800-221-8211 or <www.3m.com/profile/pressbox/burnishpad.html>
- Floor Washer, Scrubber, Steamer (pic 4)
This new style floor machine that includes an innovative steam injection cleaning system is ideal for removing heavy and greasy soils from all types of difficult to clean floor coverings. The Duplex Cleaning Machine, with interchangeable brushes can be used to clean all types of hard and soft floor coverings. This includes safety and non-slip surfaces, dimpled or profiled vinyl and rubber, ceramics, wood, and carpet without the use of chemicals.
The Duplex Cleaning Machine with steam injection sanitizes as it cleans and can be used as a floor machine or as a replacement for damp or wet mopping. For more information contact, <www.duplexitaly.com/inglese/modelliduplex2.asp>
- Nylon-Grit Brushes
When it comes to cleaning, scrubbing and stripping hard and resilient floors, some of the most effective tools are nylon grit brushes produced by Flo-Pac Corporation, Minneapolis, MN. The brushes contain DuPont's Tynex nylon bristles, which are impregnated with abrasive silicon carbide, grit. According to Flo-Pac, it's brushes save substantial time and labor, perform equally well over new, old and uneven floors, and each brush is guaranteed to outlast 100 pads. I've personally used these brushes and found them to be a great alternative to pads. For more information, contact Flo-Pac Corporation, Ph-612-332-6240, or <www.flo-pac.com>
If the Floors Shine, the Building Shines and So Do You
It's an old saying, but it still applies today, as much as it did fifty years ago.
If you're not educating yourself and you're customers as to what's new in floor care, you are literally leaving $100 bills at your feet for your competition to pick up. Get to know your floors, offer the Certified Floor Care Technician Seminar in your area and you'll have customers beating a path to your door to help them solve their floor care problems. Good luck and keep it clean.
Side Bar 1
Mop Heads - When 24 isn't 24 or is it?
Do I sound confused? Is somebody getting ripped off here? Or is this just business as usual in the sanitary supply industry?
It seems to depend on who you talk to. I called a number of mop head manufactures to get their comments. Several didn't return my calls or were unavailable to comment, those that I did talk to seemed to have strong feeling about the subject.
I asked Larry Beadles, CEO of Layflat Products Inc. in Shreveport, LA. "What's the story about a 24 oz. mop verses a number 24 mop?" And he didn't mince any words. Beadles said, "This is the biggest cheat that has been going on in the sanitary supply industry for many years." And then he explained, "A 24 oz. mop weighs 24ozs., a number 24 can weigh as little as 18 or 19 ozs. and most people who order and those who receive a mop head don't know that there is any difference."
"Most reputable mop manufacturers and distributors aren't playing a game," said Beadles. "But some end users and especially those who are looking at price only could be at risk." According to Beadles, "For every ounce of yarn you remove, you can reduce the cost by approximately $1.25 per dozen mop heads and if someone is ordering a lot of mops that adds up."
It can also give an unscrupulous supplier/distributor an unfair advantage on a competitive bid if the buyer or end user doesn't know what they are actually ordering and getting. And with less yarn, the mop hold less water so it's not going to do as good a job of cleaning when compared to a full weighted mop. "The end user is the one who comes up short, that's why we only make ounce, not numbered mops," said Beadles.
Clark Hart in Customer Service at Golden Star Inc. in North Kansas City, MO explained it this way. "We sell 12, 16, 24 and 32 oz and number mops heads. As an example, we make both a 24-ounce and a number 24-mop head," said Hart. "The number 24 will be several ounces lighter, say 20 or 21 ozs. Basically everybody does it. Suppliers like it as it allows them to be a little more competitive. We're not misleading anybody. If they order a 24oz. mop from us, that's what they get. I can't speak for other companies or what a supplier or distributor delivers to his or her customers."
Well I learned something here. It had never crossed my mind that there two very similarly described mop heads, let alone a difference between a 24 oz. and a number 24 mop head. So now we know, 24 is not always 24 or is it?
After hearing both sides of the story, I figured more research was needed. One way to sort this out and to see what is actually happening in the field is to order some mop heads. So I've had my assistant call six suppliers in different states and order six 24 oz. mop heads from each. We even went on the Internet and ordered a few mop heads on line. Next month, I'll tell you what came in the boxes and who sent them. Now all I have to do is figure out what I'm going to do with all these mop heads.
Have you taken any out of state phone orders for mop heads recently?