CHAPTER 17-: This is the seventeenth chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Cleaning Business.” Acquiring the best cleaning products and hiring the best cleaning staff in the city is not enough to get your cleaning business off to a flying start. The quality of a cleaning service is often measured in terms of how fast the workers can reach the jobsite. In other words, mobility of your cleaning staff and equipments is of utmost importance. The reason for this lies in the nature of the cleaning business itself. People will knock on your door and ask you to go to their homes, offices and workplaces for cleaning.
Why You Need a Vehicle for your Cleaning Company
Every time you strike a deal with a client, you cannot go shopping for equipments and have them transferred to the location of your client’s home or office. For the purpose of business operation efficiency, you need to store all the products and equipments in your headquarters or storage facility. Once a contract is signed and a date is schedule for you to carry out the cleaning project, it is your responsibility to transport all the products and equipments along with the staff that will be using it to the location of the jobsite.
If you think that you can rely on public transport or the personal transport arrangements made by your employees, then you are sadly mistaken. More often than not, you will be required to carry a very heavy amount of equipment and therefore transportation of these will not be possible without the presence of specialized cleaning service company vehicles.
What Kind of Vehicle is Best for a Cleaning Company?
The kind of vehicle that you need to transport your personnel and equipments is a van, truck or station wagon. In other words, your company needs to purchase heavy duty vehicles where you can safely store and transport all your men and machinery. If you want to give your transport facility a little bit of a contemporary edge, then you could even buy one of the powerful, yet stylish SUVs that are available in the market today. The storage facility in these SUVs is certainly not as useful and spacious as those in vans or station wagons, but they are nevertheless a fine way of grabbing the attention of the people in the streets and also providing some much needed transport comfort to your exhausted and toiling workers.
Eventually, the kind of vehicle that you end up purchasing will depend entirely on the type of equipments that you are carrying and the number of equipments that you will need to complete a particular assignment from the client. Since the workload of the assignments will differ from one client to the other, it is always preferable to have a variety in your collection of vehicles. You can use a SUV for some of the lighter and easier tasks in hand, such as carpet cleaning in a residence in the suburbs. You could perhaps use a van for transporting the “heavy artillery” when providing full fledged cleaning services in a major commercial complex.
How Much Should You Spend on a Vehicle?
You are however strongly encouraged to not overspend on vehicles, as it will financially burden you during the initial stages of your business. Not only are vehicles expensive, but they often turn out to be quite costly to maintain. Not only do you have to clean the vehicles and keep it well supplied with fuels, but you also have to pay for repairs and other forms of rather expensive maintenance which may challenge you financially. Therefore, you are recommended to be very careful when purchasing your vehicles.
One of the biggest mistakes made by rookie entrepreneurs is spending lavishly on vehicles. From their inexperienced perspective, vehicles act as symbols of a well established business and the more extravagant the vehicle is, the more inquisitive the people will be about the cleaning service company to which it belongs. Perhaps this is true for businesses that have spent a considerable amount of time in the industry, but it does not apply for newcomers in the sector.
Never try to be too flamboyant or a show off when conducting your business operations. If your need for pomp and affluence comes in the way of your business conscience, then you will be putting yourself knee deep in hot water. The price range of a typical van is $10,000 to $35,000.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Van or Truck for your Cleaning Company
There are auxiliary features that you can have included with the van. For instance, you can ask for special luxury options such as exquisite carpeting, reclining bucket seats and state of the art windows and doors. There are a lot of options that you can choose from, but you need to make your investments wisely.
If any of these luxury features do not benefit your business or help in keeping your equipments safe and sound, then there is no need to spend your hard earned money on them. In the case that you have equipments that can easily get dirty or oily, you are recommended to invest in a hardwood floor. Do not opt for the carpeted floor in this case, since it does very little to stop your van from becoming dirty. Also, carpets are much harder to clean and maintain on a regular basis than hardwood floors.
When buying a van, your first priority should be spaciousness. If there is not enough room inside the van to store your necessary equipments, then there is very little point in investing such a massive amount of money in the vehicle to begin with. There should be abundant space for cleaning items such as hoses, brushes and various other accessories that commercial vacuum cleaners use. This makes it necessary for you to invest some money in modifying the interior of the van according to your specifications.
Ideally, you would want to have racks and shelves installed in the vans. Most vans do not come with racks or shelves, but it is worthwhile to pay a little extra for a van that has all of these features installed in it from the onset. Most cleaning companies purchase vehicles that have these features pre-installed. If you know someone who can install racks and shelves in a van for very little price, then you are free to buy vehicles without these features.
How Many Vehicles Do You Need for your Cleaning Company?
The kind of vehicles you buy will also depend on the nature of your cleaning service business. The vehicles for janitorial services, residential services, upholstery and carpeting services will differ from one another for obvious reasons. For the first year or so of your business, you can perhaps rely on a 4 wheel drive pickup truck. This will be the time when you will not have a tight schedule and the influx of clients will be relatively low. Therefore, having just one vehicle with decent spaciousness should allow you to carry out your business operations rather smoothly.
In addition to that, having a single vehicle during the early days helps you to save a lot of money. A vehicle is not something that you can buy and simply store inside a garage. You need to keep it on the move to ensure that it stays active and functional. It is always much better to be short on one vehicle and perhaps lose out on a contract than having an excess number of vehicles and lose money in unnecessary maintenance expenses.
As your business expands and your operations grow along with the list of clients, you will realize that sticking to a single vehicle such as 4 wheel pickup will no longer help you overcome the day to day challenges of transporting your vehicles.
When the time comes to switch to other vehicles, always look for the ones that have better gas mileage. These will save you an incredible amount of money and curb down your annual expenses significantly. If your business is carpet cleaning oriented and you need a vehicle for where you will install a truck mounted unit, your best option would be to buy the heavy duty vans that have a weight which is well above the 1 ton mark.
Sometimes it pays to take advice from the veterans in the business about vehicular transport. Since they obviously have much more experience than you in the field, you have a lot to learn from their past errors and success. Take heed of their recommendations and you will most probably be in a better position to find the vehicle that best suits your needs. Also, their advice can help you to avoid structural damages to your vehicle which may end up costing you a fortune to repair.
Covering Legal Loopholes When Buying a Vehicle for your Cleaning Company
Before you purchase your vehicles, you need to do your homework on the legal side of things as well. Each vehicle you purchase for your cleaning service company must be officially registered by the state or the municipality using commercial plates. If you think that you can simply use your own personal vehicle which has a standard plate on it, then you are making a faulty assumption. For your information, it is illegal to place any kind of advertisement on a vehicle or even use the vehicle for business purposes if it does not have a commercial plate on.
If you do not get this right, you run the risk of having your vehicles confiscated by the law enforcement authorities and the next thing you know, you will be unable to transport your men and machinery to your designated jobsites. In other words, a cleaning service company cannot run its business operations without vehicular transport under any circumstances. If you try to rent vehicles from transport agencies in the case that your own vehicles are confiscated, you will end up with enormous expenses that will badly hurt the finances of your business.
Getting Insurance for your Cleaning Company Vehicles
Once you get your vehicles registered, you will need to get them insured. Insurance is absolutely mandatory for your vehicles. In the unfortunate event that your vehicles are involved in a road accident and are damaged well beyond repair, insurance is the only thing that will help keep your business afloat. Once again, vehicles are vital to the existence of your cleaning service company, let alone its success. Make no compromises whatsoever on the quality and the functionality of these vehicles. As soon as one vehicle goes out of service or gets totalled, you need to replace it with another vehicle with immediate effect.
Depending on the kind of business that you are running, you could ask your employees to use their own modes of transport. Under such circumstances, it becomes quite imperative for you to insist your employees to acquire insurance for their vehicles as well. If your cleaning staffs get their vehicles damaged or totalled in a road accident, then their mobility will be compromised. You will be left with no option but to arrange additional vehicular transport for them till they get their vehicles fixed or buy a new one. This will once again lead to another set of unnecessary expenses that will only slow down the progression of your business operations.
Turning your Vehicle into an Advertising Tool for your Cleaning Business
As the owner of a cleaning service business, you should not see vehicles as merely modes of transport. Rather, they should be viewed as mobile advertisement billboards for your company. Once you have your vehicles registered with commercial plates, you will have the luxury of posting advertisement on your vehicle. This is your chance to spread the word about your business around in the street and to make your company look really attractive.
The first thing that you need to have on the vehicle is the logo of your company. Place it on the vehicle in such a way that it makes the vehicle look visually appealing and sets it apart from the rest of the vehicles in the streets. Find a nice little spot on your vehicle to post the name of your company. Try to use a font and colour that looks formal and professional. It will give off the impression that the vehicle belongs to a successful, thriving and we established cleaning service company.
Last but not the least; you ought to mention the contact details of your company on the vehicle. Make sure that these details are clearly visible. This is one of the cheapest and most effective strategies of marketing that your business. With that being said, make sure that you do not go overboard with the logo, the designs and the information. If you want, you can even insert a subtle and catchy marketing tagline.
Vehicles are so important to the success of a cleaning service business that you will eventually find it necessary to appoint a manager to handle your company’s transport affairs. While concentrating on the brush and the mop, do not take your eyes off the company’s wheels.