A reader recently reached out to me saying they had just started a new job where they were tasked with selling jan/san equipment, tools and chemical supplies to building service contractors and in-house facility cleaning executives. This person contacted me in hopes for some advice on the industry. But my first thought was, welcome to the exciting world of contract cleaning!

But as for advice…Based on the conversation we had, I learned that this person did not have much experience in the cleaning industry, but they are looking to make a lot of money, fast. Although that hope is possible, I would caution that the margins on cleaning supplies and equipment is shrinking since there is growing completion in this area. Everyone from big box stores to the Internet are marketing about any type equipment and supply that can be imagined. How you differentiate yourself from them and other supply reps is important if you are to reach your goals. The main question you have to answer is: “Why would I (or any end user) choose to give you my business?” Let’s consider a few ideas that may help you towards becoming a professional distributor rep:

1. What can you learn about custodial practices that will allow you to become a consultant rather than just an order taker? In other words, can you provide training, assistance and technical support to end users who are looking not only at price but also value added? It turns out that your company has a training program that should get you up to speed rather quickly. Their training includes not only hands on training but also videos, manuals and manufacturer’s support that can be invaluable to you as you become more adept in this field.

2. How knowledgeable are you of the challenges that your prospective customers are facing today? How can you be part of the solution? No one that I know of wants to spend more for a piece of equipment or a gallon of chemical than they need to unless they are convinced that it will save them time, money and/or improve their bottom line.

We will continue these thoughts in a future article.

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