The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a busy one for cleaning contractors, with holiday parties and events in schools, offices, and other types of facilities. This means that the typical cleaning routine-and, along with it, the cleaning solutions and supplies normally used-can be in for some big changes.

Unfortunately, what often happens is that cleaning contractors rush out to purchase "last minute" cleaning products to address specific cleaning needs during the holiday period. This can prove very costly.

In response, the National Service Alliance, which negotiates agreements with manufacturers so its members can purchase cleaning products at reduced rates, offers the following tips on how to keep cleaning supply costs in check during the holiday season:

1. Plan ahead. Check your cleaning supply inventory as early as possible to avoid making "rush" purchases; when supplies are selected quickly and/or rush deliveries are necessary, there are invariably added costs associated with these actions.

2. Work closely with your customers to make sure you are aware of any events scheduled in their facilities as soon as possible.

3. Appoint a "holiday events administrator" to stay on top of not only upcoming customer events but the cleaning products needed to clean up after those events.

4. Emphasize preventive maintenance, and put less emphasis on cleaning. Cleaning is the removal of soil; preventive maintenance is the prevention of soil buildup.

5. Avoid ready-to-use products. While convenient and easy to use, they are also expensive when compared to traditional cleaning solutions that must be diluted.

6. Do not select "specialty" products designed for one purpose. Products that can be used for multiple cleaning proposes on multiple surfaces are more cost effective.

7. A simple trick when applying cleaning solutions: always spray the cloth and not the surface. Invariably, less product will be used.

8. Delay major or restorative cleaning tasks until all events have concluded.

9. Encourage customers to install indoor mats over carpet and hard surface floors when and where food and drinks will be served.

10. Charge more for holiday cleaning. Some customers are unaware of the increased cleaning demands of the holiday season. Discuss this with them before their events, and make sure they are aware of any additional charges that may be necessary.