Cleaning Cart

In the world of jan/san distribution, the janitor cart is one item that often goes unnoticed. As one of the most visible signs of a facility’s cleaning operations besides the janitorial staff or “Caution: Wet Floor” signs, the state of a janitor cart leaves behind more than just a first impression — the tools also leave behind a potential cross-selling opportunity for distributors.

With prices ranging from about $100 to nearly $1,000 for top-of-the-line cart configuration options, pitching janitor carts along with regular business would seem like an attractive sales strategy. But janitor carts are far from top-of-mind.

“Customers are not buying a janitor cart every week,” says Keith Schneringer, director of channel marketing and sustainability at WAXIE Sanitary Supply, San Diego. “Distributors may not be spending time and effort selling carts because we are focused on selling things that come on a daily basis.”

Those items might include things like trash bags and cleaning chemicals, and consumables such as soaps and paper products, which are ordered by customers on an interval basis.

In fact, customers may be totally unaware if a distributor even sells carts in the first place, and ultimately choose to source a janitor cart from somewhere else.

“They could be losing sales,” says Schneringer of distributors.

More Than A Wheeled Box

Besides losing dollars, distributors could also be losing out on a consultative selling opportunity, especially among their building service contractor clientele.

Most customers know a properly loaded janitor cart can help BSCs improve cleaning times and efficiencies, and lead to increased revenues in the long run. But BSCs may not consider the impact janitor cart configurations or styles can have on their business.

While having a basic janitor cart on hand — one with a couple of lipped shelves, hooks and a waste receptacle, for example — is obviously better than having janitorial staff lug cleaning supplies from one location to the next, a traditional cleaning cart may not offer the appropriate configuration for large-scale commercial buildings, Class-A office spaces, or for facilities in specialized markets such as healthcare or hospitality.

A “rolling box on wheels,” often isn’t enough to service a facility, says Schneringer.

“What you’re really selling is custodial hours,” says Schneringer. “You want to make sure you have something configured to maximize efficiency. The more work you get done, the more you’re billing, and holding onto a contract that’s profitable. It’s about having the right tool at the right time.”

Carl Roussel, co-owner at Carefree Janitorial Supply, in Bossier City, Louisiana, agrees.

“It keeps them from taking extra steps and going back to get the things they need to complete their cleaning tasks,” says Roussel.

In addition to promoting cleaning efficiency, a properly configured janitor cart can help BSCs and building owners provide a good first impression. When a tenant sees a dirty, rickety or sloppy cart, it can make them wonder about the state of cleanliness within a building, says David Florea an account manager at Crown Paper and Janitorial Supply, in Walla Walla, Washington.

“From a consumer’s mind, if you’re a hotel guest or hospital patient, and a cart comes down and is beat to hell, or scuffy, you wonder if [the uncleanliness] continues up,” he says. “A janitor cart can set the standard.”

Today, janitor cart manufacturers offer a wide variety of cart configurations and modification options to stay organized, giving distributors an opening to educate their building clients about a number of carts, as well as an upselling opportunity. These additions can be assembled as easily as LEGOs.

Still, the growing list of cart options can present a challenge for distributors who aren’t sure which configurations to keep in stock. Distributors say drilling down clients’ needs, and considering the most lucrative markets can help narrow the options. It’s just important to get in the game.

“Distributors should sell janitor carts for the same reason gun manufacturers sell gun holsters — it’s where customers hold their tools,” says Florea.

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Janitorial Cart Configurations Depend On Industry