LISTEN TO THIS SHOW AND LEARN:
- The most important qualities for a successful cleaning company owner
- The color coding system you can use to ensure you’re providing top quality service
- Why you should absolutely use a different cloth in each room
- The importance of durability in your cleaning products and how to evaluate it
[Welcome to the Microfiber Wholesale show where we talk with cleaning professionals about how to better run and grow your cleaning business. To learn more about who we are and what we do, visit us at microfiberwholesale.com.]
Host: I’m here today with Bob Mann from Jan-Pro. So Bob, tell us a little bit about Jan-Pro, how you got started, how long have you been doing it and just kind of your background.
Bob: Okay. Well, we own Jan-Pro Cleaning Systems in St. Louis and it’s part of the Jan-Pro International company. We’re the master franchisor for the St. Louis metropolitan area. We bought this franchise at the beginning of 2012.
Host: How did you get started in 2012?
Bob: My wife actually had been in the corporate world. We decided that we wanted to do something on our own. So we started looking around and we looked at a number of different types of franchises, and we ended up getting connected with Jan-Pro out of Atlanta. After we went down there and interviewed with them—it was kind of a two-way interview. They were interviewing us as if they wanted us to become a master franchiser, and we were interviewing them to see if we wanted to be part of their organization.
After talking with them, we decided to go with them because we were really impressed with the ethics of the company. The cleaning industry has a lot of companies in it and it ranges from really good to really bad. The final straw was the ethics of the people, the company, and the people we met in Atlanta.
Host: Well, tell us over the past couple of years, what are some of the bigger challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome those? What have been some big lessons you’ve learned?
Bob: Well, we do a couple of things because we don’t actually do any cleaning ourselves. We’re a commercial cleaning company but what we do is we sell franchises to people who want to start their own business and do their own cleaning of commercial businesses.
It’s been a real challenge to make the decision. When we’re talking to people, we’d like to know that we’re getting in people who are going to try to be successful and it’s very difficult because people don’t really understand the complexities of the business, the dedication that you have to have to it.
When it comes to equipment, they don’t realize that there are certain types of equipment that works better than other types. That’s actually what led us to Microfiber Wholesale is because we really liked the equipment that you had. We’ve tried a lot of different types of microfiber equipment and we finally decided that yours—from all that we’ve tried, yours is the best.
Host: Well, I definitely want to come back and hear more about what you have to say there, Bob, but you mentioned finding the right people can be tough. Are there any specific qualities you see in people that are successful in this business as opposed to those that aren’t?
Bob: Yes. What we found is that generally, people who’ve been in the military tend to do better because they understand the discipline. Most of them have had a lot of cleaning experience when they were in the military, especially the Navy. I don’t know why, but they seemed to do a lot of cleaning. But they understand that it takes discipline and diligence and hard work to make something successful. We have a couple of our franchisees who started out with very small franchises. They’ve grown to be pretty good size franchisees and it’s been a real pleasure seeing them grow.
Host: Once someone has gotten started and they’ve gotten some initial success with their cleaning business or cleaning company, what’s the number one or the top two tips you would advise them that they can use to improve their business? What have you seen make a difference?
Bob: One of the things that they have to do is they have to realize that they are running their own business. They have to get out of the mindset that they’re not an employee any longer. So they have to have the ability to manage people. They have to have the ability to get out and do those inspections and then decide when they have grown large enough that they have to hire supervisors to work for them. That’s probably the biggest thing that they have to learn to overcome is that employee mindset. For the average person, that’s really difficult.
Host: The people that have been successful with that, is there any clear way you see they’ve overcome that?
Bob: Well, I think it’s been a combination of factors. One, they wanted to run a successful business. These people came in with the idea that they knew they were going to start out small but they wanted to grow and have their own successful business. So they’ve worked hard at it and they’ve made sure that—what we do is we help them hire the appropriate people. We don’t leave them on their own. When they’re looking to hire somebody, they will come in here and use our office and the people that they’re interviewing, we’ll talk to them. Sometimes they’ll talk to one of our operations people as well. We act as a crutch for them in the hiring process.
That’s key is to get the right people working for you because we see it time and time again, somebody gets hired by a franchisee and they don’t want to get trained properly. They think they know how to do the cleaning. They think they know what products to use. That’s something that we really work very hard to have is making sure they use the right equipment, products, and know how to use them.
Host: Well then, in terms of how to do the cleaning and what products to use, is there a system or a strategy you have for cleaning? Do you start in a certain spot? Do you go room by room? Do you use—do one cleaning tool, the tool, like do you do all the vacuuming and then move on or how’s your strategy there?
Bob: Well, first, we only do commercial cleaning. We don’t do any residential cleaning. So it’s a little different than—homes are a little different than commercial stuff. But Jan-Pro has a very good program set up where we teach our franchisees how to clean, what equipment to use. Not only what equipment to use, but how to use it in the right place.
So for instance, we use the color coded microfiber cleaning cloths. They all have a different purpose. We have the microfiber flat mops that we use. The wet mops, the dry mops, and we have scrubbing pads that we use and we have all the different types of flat mops from the nine-inch walls up to the 48-inch mops. In this type of situation, you’re going to want to use—probably use, let’s say, a 24-inch mop versus a larger mop. Even though you could get a larger mop in the space that could do the best job, you’re going to want to use a smaller mop.
Host: Can you give us a couple of specific examples of maybe you think common mistakes cleaning companies might make and how your process is better?
Bob: Well, the colored microfiber cleaning cloths are superb. We teach them we only use red in restaurants. We don’t use any cleaning but red except on the mirrors. On the mirrors, you use a blue cloth. And then when you go to a different room, you go to a different cloth. You put that cloth and you’re banned for dirty cloths and mop heads and you pull out a clean one. Because what we see are people who are cleaning a washroom and then they’ll take that cloth in. We’ve seen it happen and they’ll go into the kitchen. You never, never, never do that.
Host: Why do you do red for restaurants and blue for mirrors? Is there a specific reason?
Bob: I don’t know. That’s what we were told.
Host: Okay, but that’s just part of the very segmented color coding system.
Bob: Yes. Yes.
Host: Other specific examples that spring to mind of like specific tools or processes you have that you found to be really effective?
Bob: We use most of the chemicals, for instance, that have been recommended to us by Jan-Pro. One of the things that Jan-Pro has, it’s a proprietary system called EnviroShield, and there’s a couple of companies involved in that. We’re the only ones that use it and it’s a spray disinfectant. So you don’t have to wipe down everything anymore.
With this product, you can just walk into a room, you stand there and you spray it and it will disinfect most of the germs that are in there. If you want to do an extra special job, you wipe it down and then you re-spray everything. We spray a lot of it, like doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices. We even do the Ronald McDonald, one of the Ronald McDonald houses here in St. Louis. When somebody moves out of the apartment, we come in and spray it. It works really, really well. It kills pretty much any type of germ that you can think of.
Host: Well, you said earlier that it was really important for successful cleaning companies to use the right products and use them in the right way. So, what are some of, I guess, the most useful or the most commonly used products you use and then how do you use them?
Bob: Well, the microfiber cleaning cloths, I could say, the colored cleaning cloths. We make sure that the red ones get used in the wash rooms. The blue ones get used on mirrors. Yellow and green are used for dusting. They work very well. We really like the microfiber because of the way that dust seems almost to leap on to the rag.
They do a fantastic job of cleaning floors although we have found that there are certain floors that you’re better using—now again, we still use microfiber but we use a loop mop. Large surfaces, for some reason, just seemed to work better using a loops microfiber mop rather than the flat. Not quite sure why that is but it just works better that way. But we love the microfiber materials. They just work so much better than the old cotton cloths and mops. There’s no comparison, at least in our opinion.
Host: And then obviously you do business with us at Microfiber Wholesale. We always like to know why our customers do business with us, and we’re always seeking to provide better value. So what is it about what Microfiber Wholesale is able to offer that keeps you doing business with us?
Bob: Well, you pretty much got a full range of equipment. Your prices are excellent. But one of the things that keeps us coming back is the stability of the equipment. We’ve tried—especially on the mops, we’ve tried a number of other companies’ mops and they just don’t last. I mean, we’ve had some of our franchisees come back after using one of the other mops one time, and it broke. Whereas the mops that we get from you guys—I mean, they break too, but we’ve never had one break almost immediately after they start to use it. I mean, they tend to break when they don’t handle them right. If they mistreat them, anything’s going to break. But your equipment just seems to last a whole lot longer than some of your competitor’s equipment. I don’t know why.
Particularly one of the areas that seems to take a hit is where the bracket that attaches to the mop head. They seem to break off of there really easily. But yours do—they don’t do that. So, we’ve been very pleased. The only thing that I don’t like about yours is the difficulty sometimes of getting the mop handle down into that bracket. It can be kind of [unclear 00:13:45] sometimes.
Host: We’ll take a look at that. We definitely appreciate the kind words. We do do a lot to make sure we’re giving the best possible value and the highest quality products we can, so it definitely means a lot to us to hear you say that. Beyond the products being durable, have you found everything you need from Microfiber Wholesale?
Bob: Pretty much. Now, I don’t buy all of our supplies from you because–
Host: Yeah, in terms of microfiber.
Bob: Yeah, yeah. We don’t buy all of them because there’s a couple of products that, quite frankly, we can get cheaper from somebody else but the mops and that line of equipment, we buy it all from you now. So we’ve been very pleased with it and there’s been a couple of instances where shipments have come in and I found the box. The tape had come off one end of one of them and one or two pieces had fallen out and gotten lost then. And you guys replaced them. I had a mop that came in one time that was broken and you guys replaced that as well. So we’ve been very pleased with your service.
Host: Well, thank you, Bob. We appreciate and it’s something we put a lot of thought and effort into, so thank you very much.
Bob: Okay, you’re welcome.
Host: Bob, are there any other vendors you work with? We’re always happy to introduce people to other quality vendors that you would recommend, whether that’s software, anything you use to run your business or recommend to your franchisees. And if nothing comes to mind, that’s fine.
Bob: Yeah. The problem we have is that we, our franchisees, buy most of their supplies from a Jan-Pro premier vendor. And so, we try to get equipment from you guys to turn around and resell it to our franchisees because we happen to like it better and we can sell your equipment to them at a lesser price than what they pay to this other company.
Jan-Pro International has a lot of agreements with a whole lot of companies and unfortunately, they prevent us from doing things that we like to do sometimes. You know what? Offhand, I just can’t think. Because most of the stuff that we get comes—we buy from Jan-Pro vendors. Right now, I just can’t think of any.
Host: No worries, Bob, thank you very much for your time. Again, for anyone listening, that was Bob Mann from Jan-Pro. So thanks, Bob. Thanks, everyone, for listening. To learn more about who we are and what we do, you can visit us at microfiberwholesale.com. Thanks!
Bob: Okay, thank you.