Floor equipment purchasing options with proven ROI for custodial executives, part two.

Deciding which equipment represents the best investment is only the first piece of the equation. Next, facility managers must choose between buying directly from a manufacturer or using a middleman. In general, prices will be lower from a manufacturer, but selection and service are often greater with a distributor.

Manufacturers of janitorial equipment often don’t sell direct to end users, and when they do, it is typically only to very large customers that can buy in multiples, Spencer says. “Manufacturers want to sell stuff constantly, and most of us can’t buy equipment every year.”

For most in-house custodial departments, a distributor will be the likely source for most equipment purchases. These third-party vendors offer a greater breadth of products because most carry lines from multiple manufacturers. As such, they tend to stay on top of industry and product trends and share that knowledge with customers.

“The distributor is a reservoir of knowledge of all systems in a cleaning operation,” Poole says, “and they are local so they can answer questions whenever you need.”

Being local also means a distributor can do on-site work with customers, including product testing to get employee buy-in of new equipment. After a customer has narrowed a purchase to two or three options, for example, the distributor can demo the contenders with custodial staff. VanReeth recently used this method to chose among a few ride-on battery-powered machines.

“Without a moment’s hesitation, we selected the machine that was perceived as more user friendly by our front-line employees,” he says.

The biggest reason many janitorial buyers choose distributors rather than manufacturers is service after sale. This is never more important than with expensive machines. The longer the equipment lasts, the greater the total return. It’s important, therefore, for users to work with vendors that can train staff, answer questions or address problems and quickly provide reliable parts and repairs.

Some distributors sell maintenance packages to help users budget for these ongoing costs. This allows custodial executives to plan for the annual costs associated with keeping equipment running so they can avoid many unexpected expenditures.

“If a machine is not being maintained and serviced properly, then our repair budget can go sky high,” says VanReeth.

To keep future expenses in check, consider whether the manufacturer or distributor offers warranties. Very often, custodial executives forget this step and miss out on budget-saving assistance. Knowing what is and isn’t covered can help a manager allocate a realistic amount of money each year for equipment maintenance. Without preparing for future problems, managers can be in a world of hurt if things go wrong.

“If a college or hospital relies on an automatic scrubber and it breaks, and they don’t have money earmarked for maintenance or the working capital to fix it, then they will have people mopping and using fans, which costs more and poses safety risks,” Poole says. “It’s prudent to budget for repairs so they can happen as soon as they are needed.”

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Factor In Productivity Before Purchasing Equipment
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Benefits Between Buying Or Leasing Equipment