Last but certainly not least, custodial departments want floor machines that last longer, doesn’t break down, and is easy to maintain.

“You can sell me a widget that’s supposed to do everything, but if it’s in the shop every month it doesn’t do me any good,” says Vogelsang. He suggests building long-term relationships with vendors and distributors to ensure that they are trustworthy and their equipment is reliable.

Due to campus growth and staff cutbacks Dumouchel needs floor machines he can trust that won’t break down.

“We’ve set up a partnership with our supplier, and we use that one supplier for all our cleaning equipment,” he says. “In return, we’re found the equipment to be very durable, and when it comes to repairs they’re done very quickly because we use one company for everything.”

To avoid equipment misuse that can lead to breakdowns, Vogelsang monitors who can operate the campuses’ floor machines.

“We train workers and then go around to see if they’re cleaning it and taking care of it,” he says. “If we have a piece of equipment that’s constantly in the shop, we rely on people in the shop to tell us if the equipment is the problem or the handler.”

To help make the sale, distributor sales reps can promote their inventory of replacement parts to the end user. That way if the floor machine breaks down, customers will feel more comfortable knowing the downtime will be minimal.

In addition to focusing on the above checklist for new purchases, cleaning departments are advised to consult a valuable resource that is sometimes overlooked: the custodians who use the equipment on a daily basis.

“Our vendor will bring in a new machine at no charge to us, and we’ll let the staff use it and record a score for adaptability, ease of use, and effectiveness,” says Dumouchel. “We’ll then add up the scores and decide if it’s worth purchasing. So instead of saying, ‘Here’s a piece of equipment, go and use it,’ we turn it around and say, ‘Try this and let us know if it’s worth investing in.’ If they come back and say, ‘This is a great piece of equipment,’ then the buy-in is already there.” 

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.

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Floor Care Equipment Buyers Place Ease-of-use Over Price