Thus far in this series we have discussed our increased focus on the effects our actions and choices have on the environment including our places of work, the importance of selecting service providers that understand and practice what is necessary to maintain a sustainable level of indoor air quality: general cleaning of the facility, textile and carpet maintenance and HVAC maintenance.
The service providers that specialize in these areas are Professional Building Services (janitorial) contractors, Professional, Certified Carpet and Textile/Upholstery Cleaning contractors and HVAC/Mechanical contractors.
Areas to consider in the selection process for such services based on preferences, specific needs applicable to the facility/occupants, and desired results were also discussed.
We have established the service provider must meet basic minimum qualifications such as licenses, insurance and certifications, etc. But more importantly, the areas of professional certifications, designations and associations that true professionals participate and invest time and money into, to the betterment of their business and the level of services their customers receive.
Then we hit a wall; What is a fair price? Is this proposal overpriced? “I’ll just Google-it and compare.” Interestingly the wonderful tool we go to for virtually everything, the internet, has made price comparison on ‘goods’ quick and easy. This is certainly advantageous on many levels. The problem is, services are not goods. Services provided and priced based on volume come at a price. Buying services with the click of a mouse leaves you open to many disappointments. Services are provided by humans; therefore, the variables are endless!
Understanding the inner workings of the service provider industry, how their overhead contributes to the prices we pay and why appreciation and respect for specialty services results in long term business relationships, we realize there is much more behind the price on the proposal we are reviewing.
Take for instance Commercial Carpet & Textile Cleaning which requires investing in vehicles and a variety of equipment, often in multiples, to address the extensive range of fibers encountered in buildings and servicing multiple accounts. This part of doing business has a startup cost easily ranging from $65K to over $180K per van with equipment.
The average cost of operating one truck mount starts at $39.18 per hour depending on model, etc.
That is an average for just operating one piece of equipment, and does not consider other specialty equipment used, and expenses that the contractor must build into the overall cost benchmark:
- Salaries (Labor)
- General Liability Insurance
- Workers Comp Insurace
- Van and Truckmount Insurance
- Care, Custody, and Control Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Other Insurance
- Van Payment
- Other Maintenance Costs (Van/Shop)
- Phone (Mobile and Landline)
- Marketing and Advertising Other expenses
Other factors that affect cost and we may easily overlook (we are often not familiar with the details needed in maintaining indoor air quality) are simple thigs such as the cost of goods used in servicing our account. For example; the seemingly simple process of pre-vacuuming has cost attached. Standard vacuum cleaner bags let dust escape. A service provider that takes care to be eco conscious will use allergen-reducing bags.
- A 12-pack of regular vacuum cleaner bags costs about $4
- An allergen-reducing pack of 3 costs about $7
- That’s about 33 cents a bag versus about $2.50 a bag.
Details like this should be considered when reviewing a proposal. Assumptions and dismissal of the importance of the ‘service’ provided is not a good way to build long lasting, dependable results. Not all owners or account managers in the service industry are the same. Just as your business focuses on a specific niche or area of expertise, service providers also build their business on what their objectives are.
Ultimately, we have control over what we pay, the key is to keep in mind that the pricing level we are comfortable with will reflect the level of service we get and the type of relationship we can expect to have with the service provider.
- Know what you want, know what to look for, know what questions to ask
- Determine the extent to which there is compatibility between the service provider and the specific needs and wants you to have established for your facility.
- Determine the level of importance you place on the ease of communication with the service provider when problems arise
- Decide what is more important to you; services based on price vs professional business approach to service, quality and approachability/availability.
- Finally, remember, “You get what you pay for”.