The cost of supplies is more than the sticker price; consider the image of you they create for your customers and employees.
One of the things that makes our industry very attractive to so many people is the very low cost of entry, or the amount of money it takes to get your business up and running. That being said, there are a few problems with going the ultra-cheap route, the chief one being perception.

Clients Question the Value of Your Service
Clients perceive the use of cheap equipment and supplies as unprofessional. Many times this perception isn’t even a conscious thought. When they see a house cleaner with common but great household product names like Windex®, Comet®, and Fantastik® in their hands, the subliminal message is that you’re doing the same thing they could do but they’re paying for it. It isn’t a big step to think you aren’t doing anything of value for them to pay for. The smallest of problems can become the final problem simply from being perceived as unprofessional.  

[EasyDNNnewsToken:Left Justify Embed 300 x 250]Conversely, when the house cleaner shows up with professional products like Mr. Clean® Professional labeled for commercial use, the message is that they have access to something better than the homeowner can get and subsequently will be able to do a better job with these better products.  

Employees Question the Value of Your Employment
Another perception problem is on the part of your employees when you get them. Similar to your clients, it is easy for your employees to feel as though you aren’t doing anything they themselves can’t do. After all, they’re doing all the work and they know where to get Windex ®, Comet ® and Fantastik ® too. Why should they continue to work for you and give you the money they themselves are making?

Owners Question the Value and Price of Their Own Services
Finally, the perception that you yourself can have is affected. It is common to see cleaning business owners who are unable to raise prices to even the lowest of a professional prices – around $25/hour – because of their own lack of self-esteem. Doing the least you can do to get into the industry isn’t going to bolster your feelings of value and worth.  Making a real investment can.

Oh, And It’s Not Cheap At All
An interesting thing about going the “cheap” route is that it really isn’t cheap at all.  Ready-to-use (RTU) products can be as much as 20 times the price of commercial grade products.  Consumer equipment is the same way but not to quite the same extent.  Taking the time to search out a janitorial store in your area can be a wise investment.  Take the time to get to know your local shop.  They will be able to give you an abundance of information about products and equipment that would take you quite a long time to figure out on your own.  Once you’ve had a chance to try some of the professional products, you will be in a better position to decide what works best for your needs.  At that time you will have even more opportunities to save money and grow your company.

As part of your business plan you may have decided to start with the most easily recognized products to connect easily with your clients or perhaps because you, yourself are most comfortable with the things you are used to working with.  There are many reasons to start this way.  The quicker you can make the change-over to professional products, the sooner you will be able to grow your company.  From a small neighborhood company that is in competition with every other person that can find a sponge and a mop – to a professional company that can begin to separate itself from all the rest.

Getting into the business initially it can seem very inexpensive and easy.  As you grow and take on more clients and more employees, you will begin to see that the cost is much more than price on the sticker.

Liz Trotter is founder of American Maid Cleaning as well as an entrepreneur and leadership trainer based in Olympia, Washington.  She is also a former ARCSI baord member, a partner in Cleaning Business Builders, creator of the HiPEP employee development system and a charter member of Cleaning For A Reason.