A reader writes: “I have a customer who called me out of the phone book to get a quote on stripping a floor, even though they have their own internal cleaning. What gives?”

First of all, this may be a way of their testing you for potentially more business if you perform well. It also could be that although their staff performs basic custodial tasks, the company outsources more labor intensive work such as hard floor care and carpet cleaning since the investment in equipment and other resources may not be cost effective. I highly recommend you conduct an onsite visit that involves testing the floor and asking some key questions. You need to very closely inspect the floor, baseboards, corners, splash areas, etc. for buildup as well as ascertain what floor finish (water based, urethane or ????) that is on the floor as well as the number of coats will need to be removed.

The customer may not know or simply be evasive since they do not want to tip their hand. Look for evidence that the floor has been partially stripped recently since this may be indicative of past attempts that failed. In many cases, the person who authorized the floor work is gone or not available so you will be on your own as to determining what labor and supplies will be necessary to satisfy the customer. Make note of how old the floor is, traffic and how it is serviced on a daily basis. If the building is old and the baseboards are beyond their design life you may need to point out that it may be time to replace the baseboards since the labor and chemicals may damage them. You may be able to offer a Plan B that allows you to strip the floor, remove/replace the baseboards and then get them on a maintenance program designed to extend the life of the floor by using the best matting system, correct chemicals, mopping and buffing/burnishing (if necessary).

Since you have no history with this floor, proceed with extreme caution.

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.