One Question to JUMP START your profits

Is there one question you can begin asking that can JUMP START the profits in your cleaning business?

Yes, but first, let me tell you a story….

Years ago, by accident, Tony and I began to provide consumable restroom supplies, like toilet paper and hand towels, for a few of our building owners and property managers, and only because, they literally told us we had to.

That’s right! They said they didn’t want to “mess with” it anymore – too much of a hassle – and inconvenience.

Oh, lucky us; more work…we thought.

So we took an inventory of what kind of supplies they needed i.e. kitchen roll towels, hand soap, toilet tissue, trash can liners, feminine hygiene items, toilet seat covers, etc.

And at first, it was a pain.

We took over this new responsibility for our clients but basically just passed along the supply items to our customers at our cost, or just a little over.

Then one day

we realized how much real value we were actually bringing to the customers of our janitorial company by handling this hassle – that they didn’t want to have to deal with.

That’s right, when we really looked at everything that went into handling the supplies, we were amazed:

-We had to keep the supply closet clean and organized plus, watch the inventory level, or count, of each item.

-We had to track the rate of use, to know when to order, to keep supplies on hand, without getting overloaded.

-We had to contact the distributor to order the supplies.

-We had to take delivery, and then make a trip to the account to unload each box, stock the shelves, and get rid of the cardboard etc.

-We had to take care of the paperwork and accounting from generating a purchase order and matching the packing slip to paying the jansan distributor, and then charging our customer.

Here’s the thing:

When it finally occurred to us how much work, and hassle, went in to this process – it quickly became clear that we needed to charge something more for handling these poly/paper, consumable type cleaning supplies.

So, we increased the mark up on each item we sold to the customers of our cleaning company to cover all of these costs- and allow for a small, but tidy, profit!

It wasn’t a jackpot of profit on each item, but right away it was started to add up!

Note: We simply itemized or listed these supply items separately on their regular monthly bill.

Well, there’s more to this story.

From then on, we began to ask every new customer if they would like us to take care of the poly/paper supplies for them.

And many started to say, YES!

Well, to our surprise – some of the janitorial accounts we landed really went through a lot of these restroom supplies. They had lots of employees, using lots of toilet tissue and hand towels.

And it was a good deal for our customers too, because, in addition to saving them all the time and hassle, we also began to get better pricing from our Jan San suppliers because of the increasing size of our orders.


Eventually, we were ordering so much we were able to arrange for our distributor to deliver the supplies directly to our customers for us… with little, or no cost!!

Well, the end of the story is this:

We not only improved the monthly profit at the accounts where we provided these consumable poly/paper supplies, there were actually times we made as much on supplies – as we did in profit on the cleaning!

So there it is, one question that can JUMP START your profits:

“Would you like us to take care of tracking, ordering and stocking your consumable supplies for you?

In an ultra-competitive market, like commercial office-cleaning; being able to keep your monthly general cleaning price tight, by having other sources of monthly income, like handling the consumable poly/paper products – can be smart customer service as well as PROFITABLE!

One idea may not make you an overnight cleaning business millionaire, but a number of good ideas, like this one, can make you one -quicker than you think.

You Can Do This, You Really Can!


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Hi Pete, you've asked a good question. Determining the percent % you can reasonably expect to mark-up the cost of consumable supplies in setting a price to charge your customer can take some time and thought. While one cleaning contractor may be able to markup the cost of consumable poly/paper supplies by 15%, 25% or more, another may not, due to a number of factors, such as: 1.) What are you paying for the consumable products (your cost)? If, for example, you are buying a great variety of different kinds of poly/paper consumable supplies in large quantities from a Jan/San distributor, you may be enjoying very attractive, 'low prices' from your supplier. You may be able to turn around and charge a higher markup to your customers than other cleaning contractors that buy only very few number of supplies in low quantities and as a result receive very little discount from their Jan San supplier. In these cases, you still may be able to provide these items at an 'attractive' or competitive price - compared to what the your customer would have to pay if they were to buy these items. 2.) What would your customer expect to pay if he/she went out to get them on their own? For example, if they are likely to pay $90 for a case of toilet paper, and your price after markup, comes in close to the amount the client might expect to pay if they bought the item on their own (because of the volume discounting you enjoy from your supplier) - you may have a relatively easy time 'selling' your customer on the value of you providing the supplies. You could explain the benefit of you being able to eliminate the hassle and expense of inventorying, purchasing and stocking consumable products for them, AND - for about the same cost as they were going to pay for them on their own anyway. In the end, the answer to the question of what markup % you should apply should be arrived at by considering your costs, as well as, the value you bring to the client by handling this duty. Hope that helps, Matt, CleanGuru Support

Pete DeJesus

Thanks on the tip about supplies. I figure that by taking care of the supplies for the customers will bring extra profit for the company. What is the fair % of mark up do you advice? Thanks. .