Corinne Zudonyi Headshot

My grocery store just changed from paper coupons to an app and my favorite apparel store just sent me a loyalty card to add to my growing mix. I appreciate all the discounts these offers provide, but I know the information the stores get in return regarding my purchasing habits far exceeds my 35 cents off bread.  

No matter the industry, retailers want information on their customers, and distributors are no exception. Fortunately for you, we have some valuable data to share.  

Facility Cleaning Decisions magazine, sister publication to Sanitary Maintenance, recently released its “2023 Management Study” in which in-house facility cleaning professionals were asked about their purchasing trends. The results might help you and your sales efforts when reaching these customers.  

For example, did you know that facility cleaning managers purchase 74 percent of their products and equipment through distribution and the closest competition is manufacturers at just 11 percent? This is obviously a win for you, but don't get too comfortable — the number of managers going directly to manufacturers grew by 5 percentage points since 2022. Warehouse wholesale clubs are also a growing competitor. 

Separating yourselves from these competitors often comes down to two things: price and service offerings. Fortunately, distributors seem to excel in both. Fifty-one percent of managers get the best pricing from their distribution partners and 70 percent say distributors offer the best value-added services with purchases.  

This is great news as cleaning facility managers continue to feel the pinch on budgets. Managers are looking at their distribution partners for discounts on bulk purchases, but as many as 78 percent of managers are postponing large product/equipment purchases. They are instead allocating budget dollars to the maintenance of existing equipment, which is where service comes in. Distributors who provide equipment maintenance, as well as free delivery and training will come out ahead of the competition. 

There’s more to this survey and you’re welcome to review it — but I’d also suggest you check out our “2023 End User Purchasing Study”. It offers a deep dive into the purchasing trends of both in-house cleaning managers and building service contracting customers. Getting to know the purchasing habits of your customers can help shape your sales approach moving forward. 

Corinne Zudonyi is the Editor-in-Chief of Sanitary Maintenance and has been in the cleaning industry for 17 years. She also oversees, Facility Cleaning Decisions magazine and Contracting Profits magazine.