Bill Luallen

Bill Luallen is the Director of Technical Services for XL North, a division of Textile Rubber and Chemical Company. He is the current IICRC CCMT TAC Chair and also the former Vice Chair of the RFMT. He participates on many panels and boards including the CRI 204/205 Carpet Maintenance and Cleaning Standards. When Bill is not traveling to work with customers or talking on the phone, he spends all his down time with his wife Cynthia of 30 years, outside enjoying this beautiful world.

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For commercial flooring service providers, this past spring brought a lot of uncertainty when many businesses were either fully or partially closed down for an unprecedented period of time. “What do we do now?” is a question I heard on multiple occasions from our customers. Many of you either started or stepped up your disinfection/sanitization game, and it looks like those services will continue to be a strong sector for everyone in the near future.

Facility maintenance programs are still at a drip from what they were last year at this time and if estimates are correct, we won’t see occupancies of somewhat normal levels until Q2 or Q3 of 2021.

So what can you do to keep your business afloat, your families fed, and your employees working? Do what you are good at – clean. You can call yourself a floor care professional, a carpet cleaner, a commercial floor care provider (and I’m sure there are many more titles in use) but at the end of the day we in this industry know three things: how to clean, the science behind cleaning, and the ability to troubleshoot when issues arise. You may ask, “Okay, Bill, yes, we are cleaners, but didn’t you just say that companies are still locked down?” Some are, it’s true, but carpet is not the only thing that we as professionals can clean.

Here’s a suggestion from Pete McMaster, Vice President Operations, at Legacy Maintenance Services.

“Take a look at who’s continuing to work in their workspace during the COVD crisis. What business sectors are still hopping? Target those companies as new customers. Don’t let ‘historical prejudice’ blind you to opportunities that feel unconventional. Servicing corporate headquarters may have been great in the past, but your next best customer could be a manufacturer, a chain of salons, a daycare, etc.”

Let’s explore some areas that may not necessarily be your bread and butter, but definitely have the potential for opportunity.

Hardscape Cleaning

You walk by this opportunity every time you go into your customers’ space. The areas outside of any facility have surfaces that need to be cleaned and preserved. These can be vertical or horizontal surfaces, which may include concrete, pavers, or stone. And don’t forget about unseen areas, including loading docks, trash enclosures, etc.

Warehouse Clean and Seals

As our economy continues to evolve, warehouses and on demand supplies create a lot of movement within the warehouse real-estate market. A company moves in, they grow, they move out. Company B wants to move in, but the floors need to be cleaned and re-coated. You already have the skill set and if you don’t have the equipment at first, rent a walk behind scrubber then take the profits from your first job and invest in one.

Upholstery Cleaning

If you aren’t already doing this, shame on you, but there is still hope. For companies that have workers present, they want to make sure that their employees and customers feel they’re in a clean, hygienic environment so keeping the entire space jazzed up, especially the chairs they sit in, is now a priority.

Fast Food and Restaurants

People who know me well will be shocked when I say let’s look at these locations, but hear me out. Yes the opportunities to clean sit down restaurants are very few and far between, however takeout business is going strong. Because dine in isn’t really happening on a large scale, health departments have more time to scrutinize back end areas. The dirtiest place in any restaurant is always the flooring. Although commercial floor care providers often shy away from tile and grout cleaning of food areas, we definitely know how to make them sparkle.

Disinfection/Sanitization Services

Just like upholstery cleaning, if you’re not already doing this, shame on you.

School Facilities

Schools are in need right now because their staff is overwhelmed with doing disinfection services. They’re unable to maintain the flooring like they need to. Plus, many of them are using disinfectants that cause issues with their floors that they are unable to figure out. Your professional expertise is invaluable in these circumstances.

Small Medical/Dental Offices

Staff in these facilities are finding themselves in the same predicament as those in the schools. They are working hard to keep the facility disinfected, but as I mentioned in our recent “What Goes Up Must Come Down … and be Removed” blog article, they end up causing issues with their floor by using disinfectants to prevent viruses and bacteria.

Stone and Concrete Polishing and Care

Lastly, there’s not too much of a stretch for commercial floor care providers into stone and concrete polishing and care. Although most companies in this sector invest in high production, large footprint equipment, you don’t have to and again, because you already understand the science of cleaning, it’s a service that can be easily added to your offering.

We all know this has been an unprecedented time. No one has the guide book on how to navigate our way through the coming weeks and months, but if you use what you have and lean on your collective knowledge base (your tribe) we will come out of this better, stronger – and maybe a bit leaner – with a more diverse portfolio of services.

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