independent distributors

How independent distributors can help with today’s challenges

Maximize your margins and simplify your processes with independent distributors.
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
By Chip Shields

These are challenging times for commercial cleaners, with lowered building occupancy, smaller budgets, and less labour, but independent distributors can prove to be valuable resources for managers and cleaning contractors.

The commercial cleaning pricing structure varies considerably throughout Canada and the United States, depending on the size of the facility, frequency of cleaning, and types of cleaning tasks involved, typically charging anywhere from $0.10 to $0.30 per square foot.

The cleaning tasks typically include nightly cleaning services, but they may or may not include extra duties such as refinishing floors, performing carpet extraction, cleaning acoustic tiles, and similar projects. In most cases, cleaning contractors charge extra for these services when they are performed.

In the U.S., major cities report that most of their commercial office space is about half empty. While Canada is struggling, it is in a better position. According to CBRE, a leading commercial real estate firm with offices around the globe, the office vacancy rate in Canada has gone up and is now approaching 20 per cent.

These vacancies, and the reduced income that results, create a challenging situation for facility managers, in-house cleaning staff, and contractors hired to clean and maintain these locations. How can they keep these facilities clean and healthy when funds have been, in some cases, cut in half?

RELATED: Commercial cleaning remains critical even with lower building occupancy

What many managers and contractors may be overlooking is that independent distributors in the professional cleaning industry can help them make their way through these challenging times. Here’s how independent distributors can simplify the situation:

Access to a wide range of cost-effective products. Distributors can supply managers, in-house cleaning crews, and contractors with cost-effective cleaning supplies, from basic to specialized high-tech cleaning equipment, such as IoT (Internet of Things) floorcare technologies – along with training on how to use them.

Quality assurance. Purchasing from a network of independent distributors helps managers/cleaning professionals select cleaning products that are of high quality and meet industry standards. These products are typically well sourced and evaluated, ensuring they are durable and perform as expected, if not better.

Expert advice. Independent distributors have extensive knowledge and experience in the cleaning industry. They can offer expert advice on what products to use specific to your facility, how to use them, and how to optimize your cleaning processes. They can also provide training and support on using the products safely and effectively. Ask a mega-retailer chatbot to do that!

Personalized service. Independent distributors value their customers and strive to build long-term relationships with them. They can offer customized service that meets your specific needs and preferences. They can also respond quickly to your requests, questions, and feedback.

Local support. Independent distributors are usually based in your local area or region. This means they can deliver orders faster and more conveniently than other suppliers. They also help bolster the local economy and community by creating jobs.

Volume discounts. Frequently, manufacturers offer price distributors discounts with larger orders. This helps managers and cleaning businesses save money on their supplies and equipment.

Implement advanced cleaning methodologies. Cleaning methodologies are rapidly changing, partly due to the pandemic, but new cleaning techniques and best practices were evolving even before COVID-19.  Distributors can educate facility managers and cleaning professionals about these changes and help implement them, streamlining cleaning programs so they are effective and efficient.

Help with inventory management. Distributors can help managers and contractors track inventory levels and ensure they always have adequate supplies. This helps them avoid running out and, conversely, prevents ordering more supplies than necessary.

Audit product inventories. An audit typically results in cost savings for managers and contractors. The first step is eliminating products used for the same or similar purposes. There is rarely a need to keep redundant products, and they utilize much-needed closet space. The next step is even more significant. Have you ever asked your cleaning professionals the following questions?

  1. Which products do you prefer?
  2. Which do you believe performs the best?
  3. Which are the easiest to use?
  4. Which are the safest to use?

By comparing these results to the costs of these products, what is often uncovered is that the best-value cleaning tools, equipment, and products are not always selected. The audit helps managers and contractors select the most cost-effective products for your facility.

 The big picture

Overall, independent distributors can be a valuable resource for managers and cleaning contractors. By working with an independent distributor, both managers and contractors can save procurement time and money, get expert advice and support, and improve the overall cleaning effectiveness and health of your facility.

Chip Shields is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for AFFLINK, which connects a network of distributors with more than 250 manufacturers of Industrial Packaging, Facility Maintenance, Food Service, Safety, and Office Supply solutions with more than 300 independent distributors.

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