A reader writes: “I am struggling with which piece of equipment to buy for a very tight contract. I know you do not endorse products but can you give me guidance on how to proceed?”

There are several factors to consider in purchasing a piece of equipment that can impact not only your success with the contract but also your bottom line. Every contract is different and you can apply these general principles to your case as appropriate. Please consider the following points in making your decision:

1. In most cases related to custodial operations, labor and benefits are the largest expense (60 – 90 percent of total cost) with equipment and supplies only a few percentage points at best.

2. Determining the ROI (Return on Investment) is basically calculating the labor expense savings generated by purchasing a piece of equipment.

3. If it does not truly and clearly reduce labor expenses then why are you buying it?

4. The size of the area to be serviced is important since one can easily choose a very “productive” piece of equipment on paper that may never pay for itself in a reasonable time frame.

5. A small area may not generate any substantial savings even though it is more productive.

6. The larger the area, the greater the potential savings.

7. Usually you can reference Cleaning Times Standards to compare the different processes.

8. Compare how much DLH (direct labor hours) are required to perform a task now compared to the potential savings if a more productive piece of equipment is introduced.

9. Example: Scrubbing 50,000 square feet of VCT (Vinyl Composite Tile) with a 20 inch 175 RPM machine and 2 mop buckets compared to utilizing a 32-inch autoscrub unit for same task.

10. Note that a 1,000 square foot area could not produce the requisite ROI to justify the machine purchase although there may be other alternatives that cost less.

Finally, be sure that the worker is trained in safely and effectively using and maintaining the new equipment to maximize the ROI.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.