Floor care machine

Cordless equipment is becoming standard in the jan/san industry. As it continues growing in popularity, the importance of batteries will also increase. Unfortunately, many end users still don’t fully understand proper battery maintenance.

“Most of the time, people buy batteries, install them, and that’s the end of it,” says Don Wallace, COO of U.S. Battery Mfg. Co., Corona, California. “You end up with a 3-year battery that could have been a 6- or 7-year battery if it was properly maintained.”

Battery manufacturers say jan/san distributors can play a valuable role in educating users so they get more life out of their batteries.

“If you’re just selling batteries, then you’re not doing your customers the best service,” says Wallace. “I think distributors need to do as much as they can when they are face-to-face with customers and get them as much information as they can.”

Distributor As Educator

The education process starts with helping clients choose the right products for their specific needs. Medical facilities require sealed batteries instead of potentially corrosive wet-cells. Clients on limited budgets likely won’t buy pricey lithium batteries. A customer with a fleet of machines that use a specific charger may not want to switch to a battery that needs a different charger.

“It’s about understanding what end users need, what they have to start with, and then filling that requirement as you can,” says Matthew Karlovic, technical support engineer at Fullriver Battery, Camarillo, California.

After the sale, distributors can offer initial training on how to properly use and maintain battery-powered machines.

“We find it works best to work with small groups in a hands-on workshop versus a seminar,” says Stacey Delzeit, senior applications engineer at Trojan Battery Co., Santa Fe Springs, California. “Have the batteries there, and allow people to come up and practice. Smaller groups also allow all questions to be addressed.”

After an initial training session, distributors should consider retraining their customers about battery maintenance on a regular basis. This can include an annual in-person workshop, perhaps during the client’s off-season, as well as a few additional mini-training sessions throughout the year.

Multiple trainings throughout the year may sound excessive, given that battery technology doesn’t change often. Frequently reviewing basics and best practices is useful, however, to combat problems caused by turnover.

“One of the hardest challenges in floor care is the huge amount of turnover,” says Ed Pogue, sales manager for NexSys floor care, a division of EnerSys, Reading, Pennsylvania. “If you just drop off a machine with a set of batteries, they may be well trained and ready to go, but in six months there could be a new person that may need training.”

Why invest so much time educating about a low-cost product? Because it’s a great way for distributors to show their customers they are invested in their overall success.

“If the machine doesn’t run, the floor doesn’t get cleaned and that’s a big problem for the customer,” says Wallace. “You want to make sure their investment lasts as long as it can.”

Distributors don’t have to tackle battery education alone. Most manufacturers are happy to provide support, from brochures and online materials to on-site training assistance.

“If they have questions, hopefully they don’t feel like they are out there on their own,” says Delzeit. “We and other manufacturers are more than willing to help. Making use of the resources we offer is a great start, or we can even go out and do training.”

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Battery Charging Issues Aplenty