Changing Services From Free To Fee

Six years ago, Sanitary Maintenance ran a cover story encouraging jan/san distributors to start transitioning from free value-added services to fee-based ones.

The article featured a line from that year’s edition of “Facing The Forces Of Change.” Author Guy Blissett wrote, “services represent the most viable way for distributors to differentiate themselves from competitors, expand margins and grow their top line.”

Today, this idea takes on even greater importance. Distributors aren’t just feeling competitive pressure from suppliers down the street, they also get it from newer and nontraditional sources, such as Amazon Business, Staples and a host of other e-tailers and big-box stores. With these giants offering extremely low prices, service offerings have never been more crucial to a distributor’s success.

“Distributors today operate increasingly as service providers and so need to determine which of their business activities could become competitively differentiating service offerings,” writes current author of “Facing The Forces Of Change,” Paul St. Germain, in a blog post.

This month’s cover story revisits the idea of monetizing services. Just as we reported six years ago, changing from free to fee is tough for customers to accept. But distributors need to move this way, or at the very least, define the value of these services. Get customers to understand the dollar value they receive for the services you provide, and how much they’d be giving up if they switched vendors. Learn more about this concept on page 8.

As I mentioned, change is never easy. This month, I speak from experience as this issue is our last with Associate Editor Nick Bullock. For the last three years, Nick has been a tremendous asset to Sanitary Maintenance and its website, I know many of you have enjoyed working with Nick on articles or interacting with him at live events. Join me in wishing him well in his next endeavor.