Question: Pre-portioned chemicals typically cost more than concentrated chemicals. How do you get cost-conscious building service contractors to look beyond price?

Some people will step over a dollar to pick up a dime, too. When did you ever see a measuring cup in the janitor's closet? Who can pour exactly 1 fluid ounce from a jug? The premium in the cost of premeasured cleaners is far less than the value-added benefits that they provide over blend-centers and bulk.

Premeasured cleaning products provide a control over the cleaning process that blend-centers and bulk cannot. BSCs know that labor is 94 percent, plus-or-minus, of the spend and that they make money when the staff is cleaning and not when the staff members are shuffling back to the janitor's closet for a breather and another 4.5-cent quart of window cleaner from the blend-center.

Premeasured concentrates deliver a point-of-use mixing benefit that keeps the cleaning staff at their appointed tasks.

— John Everitt, president, Stearns Packaging Corp., Madison, Wis.


The value proposition with pre-measured systems is that more efficient janitors, using properly mixed products, produces a cleaner building. All the labor efficiencies embedded in pre-measured systems save hours, days, and weeks — and that is where the overall cost savings really adds up.

When looking at price, it includes more than just the cost per ounce or gallon. The lowest cost per ounce could be to buy in the greatest volume, such as in drums or totes. The cost per ounce tends to increase along with the control that is built in to the cleaning products. We all know that over 80 percent of the budget is labor so that is the element that really impacts the bottom line. The work itself has a cost, which includes labor, water and energy.

Pre-measured systems can also be a valuable management tool. You may know how much of your budget is spent on cleaning products, but with pre-measured, you can drill down to the site level and determine if products are being used properly and where they are being used. This accountability is what makes pre-measured so competitive.

— Jerry Goldman, national sales manager, PortionPac Chemical Corp., Chicago


Look beyond price to simplicity and ease of operations. Complexity costs money and tablets offer a simple solution. Once service contractors look at the complexity of an entire supply chain, the health issues, time issues, down time for equipment failure, wasted time going back to a mixing station or supply closet, wasted time cleaning up spills, wasted space in a supply closet, the time it takes to set up and take down certain types of mixing equipment and keeping that equipment maintained and clean, and they add up all the costs associated with that style of cleaning, it really makes sense.

It is kind of like how a phone company hooks you into a contract with a complex agreement. The costs just move to another part of the organization or someone else's responsibility. For instance, the service contractor is clearly not accountable for the health and well-being of the people working in a building or the company's downtime cost for people with SBS (sick building syndrome) produced by poor indoor air quality.

— David Baumgarten, vice president, Baumgartens, Atlanta