Part two of this three part article examines the total cost of ownership for vacuums.

More often than not, the purchase of consumer vacuums by BSCs results in a costly mistake.

“Some of the facilities I visit, they’ve got five, 10, 15, 20 or more vacuum cleaners sitting there that need repair or are not working,” says Bill Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc., Seattle. “If vacuums are good, you’ll see them on the floor. If you don’t, you’ll see them in a closet waiting to be repaired.”

BSCs often pay the price due to the ineffectiveness of consumer vacuums, because they are not built to withstand the rigorous workload of a professional cleaning staff. These vacuums are designed to be run once a week for no longer than 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
 
On the other hand, quality, commercial-grade vacuums are built with the professional end user in mind. They are engineered to be used five days a week and up to five hours or more a day. Consumer machines are not built for this kind of wear and tear, and are not designed for even the most basic field maintenance and repairs.

Given the nicknames “throwaway vacuums” or “disposable vacuums,” repair costs often will exceed the overall price of the equipment, resulting in expensive down time and forcing BSCs to purchase a new machine altogether. With a quality commercial machine, contractors often are able to troubleshoot and fix a piece of equipment on their own because manufacturers have designed them for easy repair and make parts readily available.

“The lowest price is never the lowest price. It’s always going to cost you more,” says Griffin. “It’s not productive to buy the cheap stuff unless you like to repair vacuum cleaners in your spare time.”

When it is time to buy a vacuum, BSCs shouldn’t rush out and buy the most attractive consumer model at their local big-box store. Instead, consultants say they should be thinking of this purchase as an investment and should work with a jan/san distributor to help find a commercial-grade vacuum that fits their facility and custodial staff.

Distributors, unlike big-box stores, provide end users a test drive before making a purchase. Distributors also have service departments with certified technicians that can repair vacuums quickly. And, if a machine will be out of commission for an extended period of time, distributors will provide loaners at little or no cost to the end user, allowing them to continue to go about their business with little disruption.