Looking to move into construction clean up - Cleaning Talk - Professional Cleaning and Restoration Forum
 
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post #1 of Old 11-23-2008, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Looking to move into construction clean up

Hello all,

Before I move on with my questions, I would like to introduce myself first. My name is Kevin, and I run Crystal Clear Window Cleaning. I am a self taught entrepreneur. I started my business from scratch like many of you probably all have. I created this company because I was bored, and was noticing I had a lot of extra time on my hands. I am also going to school for medical imaging with a minor in business management. Being my own boss provides time for homework. I have quit a few questions, I appreciate any feedback I can get, and I will be more than happy to answer questions about window cleaning.


I have been somewhat successful in creating clients for my company, but I have not found my niche in the local service industry market. I live in a booming town, where the real estate market is not affected by the downed economy. As far as I can tell, there are no companies that do only construction clean up. This is where my idea comes in, I want to grow my business into a full service construction clean up business. I will not ask questions about pricing, because I have figured out what my time is worth. I figure .30 cents a square foot including windows. I plan on creating a good base of builder accounts to sustain my marketing aspirations for creating a residential client base. Here are a some of my questions.

What supplies do you take to an average house for PCCU?

What do you start to clean first?

What do you think takes the most time?

What do you concentrate on the most while cleaning?

How did you network with builders, and get your clients?

Do you feel cold calling, or joining a builder associate would be most beneficial for the type of client I am looking for?

I have not started an advertising campaign yet for acquiring residential clients, but I am very big on direct mail. How is your success when it relates to direct mail? Does your website generate a lot of clients? If you have used mail campaigns, what incentives do you find yield you the most clients, discounts, or gifts? Any advice you would have, or if you would like to discuss advertising I would appreciate it.

Hopefully I was clear with my post, if not I will be more than happy to clear anything up. I hope I can help some people out, as well as get help from some of you. I look forward to the responses you people have.
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post #2 of Old 11-26-2008, 11:33 AM
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Hello and welcome to the forums!

Q: What supplies do you take to an average house for PCCU?

Rags, rags, rags and more rags :P

We used modified 'shop vacs' with ProTeam back pack wands & nozzles. Extra filters, simple green, heavy duty garbage bags, carts (depending on the size of the place and if it's still a work in progress or not), lots of microfiber rags and the standard mop setups.

Q: What do you start to clean first?

Start high knocking all the dust down. We usually start in bedrooms & living rooms first. Bathrooms & kitchens get roughed out after that because there's always a stray contractor or 10 lurking around waiting to ruin your work. We'll also give the glass a first pass after the bedrooms and that's about it.

Q: What do you think takes the most time?

Depends on the contractors We've run into very time consuming windows were everything from the casing to the glass is painted and or filled/covered with joint compound.

Sloppy grout jobs are the next hardest. After that while it's not hard you will sometimes run into cupboards filled with drill 'dust' from handle installations.

Q: What do you concentrate on the most while cleaning?

Not sure I follow the question. The one thing I focus on the most has nothing to do with cleaning but talking to the other contractors to find out what they are and are not finished with, what their schedule is for the rest of the project and making sure the GC knows when we are done with a certain area so he can check it and write us off for it.

I've never, ever, have been to a construction cleanup job where everything was done and we were the last contractors to occupy the space so what I'm writing here may not completely apply to you.

Q: How did you network with builders, and get your clients?

I think with any type of cleaning service once you get your foot in the door and show that your work is unmatched they do the networking for you. We started anyway by cleaning trailers for a construction company which turned into them asking us to bid out the C.C. for the project. After that it's all been word of mouth.

Q: Do you feel cold calling, or joining a builder associate would be most beneficial for the type of client I am looking for?

I've never done any cold calling specifically, but if I see a project underway I won't hesitate to drop off my card. Haven't joined a building associate yet, but that seems like the best way to keep abreast on all the ongoing projects which would lend itself to cold calling rather nicely.

Q: I have not started an advertising campaign yet for acquiring residential clients, but I am very big on direct mail. How is your success when it relates to direct mail? Does your website generate a lot of clients? If you have used mail campaigns, what incentives do you find yield you the most clients, discounts, or gifts? Any advice you would have, or if you would like to discuss advertising I would appreciate it.

The only advertising we do is the yellow pages. After a project is done the GC gets a Christmas present Rest is all word of mouth.

Beyond all of that I'd advise you to familiarize yourself with some of the building contractor terms like charge backs. Get yourself an attorney to write up your contracts. You may also need one to read some of the doozy contracts the GCs come up with. You need to stress that you're doing a one time cleaning and that if another contractors messes up the work you've already done then additional charges may apply.

It's also handy to have a good insurance agent. When GCs start wanting additional insureds listed on your policy it gets a little expensive as well as kicking up what your liable for if someone gets hurt. Also it may be obvious but you have to ask before you even bid a job on what the insurance requirements are as if they spring them on you during the project be prepared to loose your shirt

Everclean Building Services
Serving CNY
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post #3 of Old 11-26-2008, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you much for the reply, its nice to know someone is watching out for me. I live in a small but booming city. I have been doing window cleaning for a while, and even though I had a general contract written up, whenever I brought it up to protect both my assetts, and the builders as well, they decline. Everything here is based on trust, if I were to try and bring a contract into it they would think I was screwing them over, or get the wrong idea. Does that make sense?

I just went and bought 3 gallons of simple green, 60 micro fiber towels, some shop vac's and lots of cleaning "tools" I.E. sponges, scrubbers, things like that. Is there special stuff you use for hardwood floors, tile floors, marble countertops and things like that?

What dillution ratios do you use with the simple green, or do you use it straight?

I can tell from your post that we are in two different types of construction clean up, or at least I think so. I want to go in after the whole house is built, and do a "detail" to make it ready for sale, is that what your company does also?

What kind of forms do you use for checking off your work? I am just trying to get an idea of what to make when i move into this aspect of business. i am in washington, so you do not have to worry about competition, I can show a copy of my wa satate business lisence as well if you are worried. How long have you been in the industry?
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post #4 of Old 11-27-2008, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crystalclear View Post
Thank you much for the reply, its nice to know someone is watching out for me. I live in a small but booming city. I have been doing window cleaning for a while, and even though I had a general contract written up, whenever I brought it up to protect both my assets, and the builders as well, they decline. Everything here is based on trust, if I were to try and bring a contract into it they would think I was screwing them over, or get the wrong idea. Does that make sense?
No that makes sense to me, it's how I'd like to do business - the hand shake way. The best advice I've ever been given is to get it in writing because somewhere down the line all it's going to take is one case of he said she said/one case of someone got hurt/one case of something broke or came up missing to leave potentially foul tastes in someone's mouth that may end a relationship business or otherwise.

A written contract is actually designed to do the opposite of screw someone, it's there to serve as a reminder of what's expected of everyone involved, to keep everyone honest and to protect your assets.

I'm doing a job now were we started before the contract was delivered and currently stand at 75% done. The contract asks to have the GC & owner listed as additional insured and yesterday my insurance company balked at that notion since that means if someone gets hurt on the site and it has nothing to do with the cleaning I can still be held accountable for someone else's actions that I don't even know. This could end up with me not being paid, pay being delayed or no problem at all etc, but because I started with a hand shake with contractors I've done work with in the past I'm now in a little bind because the paperwork wasn't in place

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Originally Posted by crystalclear View Post
I just went and bought 3 gallons of simple green, 60 micro fiber towels, some shop vac's and lots of cleaning "tools" I.E. sponges, scrubbers, things like that. Is there special stuff you use for hardwood floors, tile floors, marble countertops and things like that?
Swiffer believe it or not work well on hardwood floors; so does very 'dry' damp mopping and my favorite a little Murphy's Oil with warm water and a mop.

Tiles if I can fit it in I always go to the auto scrubber with a red or white pad and neutral floor cleaner. A doodle bug also works well (3M makes them) with a brown or green pad to get off those stubborn stains and grout.

Experience with the different types of hardwood floors and tiles though is invaluable. If you go too aggressive on tiles that only have the top layer coated you'll end up destroying them. You have to know the materials you are working with.

Counter tops, micro fiber is pretty much used on everything until you run into something that won't come off. Then you turn to Goof-Off, sharp razors or magic erasers. Remeber new homes often have paint that comes off very easily or has counters that aren't quite dry in the glued down department. Proceed with caution

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Originally Posted by crystalclear View Post
What dillution ratios do you use with the simple green, or do you use it straight?
I've never used Simple Green straight. Typically we use 10-15% SG to water ratio. Instead of using it straight I'd go with a mild degreaser to remove something as it's more effective.

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Originally Posted by crystalclear View Post
I can tell from your post that we are in two different types of construction clean up, or at least I think so. I want to go in after the whole house is built, and do a "detail" to make it ready for sale, is that what your company does also?
Yes that's what we do. I think the big difference between situations is the contractors here seem to always be behind and they hire us during crunch time to get a home completed. The situation you describe is ideal

Quote:
Originally Posted by crystalclear View Post
What kind of forms do you use for checking off your work? I am just trying to get an idea of what to make when i move into this aspect of business. i am in washington, so you do not have to worry about competition, I can show a copy of my wa satate business lisence as well if you are worried. How long have you been in the industry?
I've tried to use spreadsheets to make check off lists in the past but it never ends up working from house to house. Basically I've resorted to a clip board and a legal pad. I'll go through a site myself after everyone is gone periodically and make a list of what needs to be finished. It may seem a bit archaic but some times the things you think will make your life easier just complicated them.

Officially 6 years, but I've been involved with cleaning in one form or another for 15.

I just want to stress again though that you have to pay attention to what you’re cleaning (or more accurately your employees). For example Goof-Off works great on just about any stubborn stain, but use it on something plastic based and mark that down in the I Own Them column.

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post #5 of Old 12-23-2008, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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I am currently putting together a check list to show my crew, and for them to stay in line with my expectations...Only problem is I am relatively inexpirenced, so could any of you just write out a quick list of what you perform on a standard CCU job?

And Merry Christmas by the way.


Kevin
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post #6 of Old 12-24-2008, 09:27 AM
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Kevin you have a PM

Michael Kreisle, First Choice Power Washing LLC
Lexington, KY 859-983-5955
We own and operate a great Cleaning Service in Lexington KY as well as provide
awesome Pressure Washing and Roof Cleaning services.
You can follow us on Facebook here...Pressure Washing Lexington KY
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post #7 of Old 12-24-2008, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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I got your PM. Thank you so much for your help, this is EXACTLY what I was looking for. =) I hope you have a merry Christmas. (or preferred holiday)
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post #8 of Old 12-24-2008, 11:07 PM
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post #9 of Old 01-03-2009, 10:42 AM
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Krall -
Quote:
Swiffer believe it or not work well on hardwood floors; so does very 'dry' damp mopping and my favorite a little Murphy's Oil with warm water and a mop.
If you are cleaning real polyurethane coated wood floors you just voided the manufactures warranty. I had to replace about 1000 sq' of hard wood floors due to using off the shelf cleaners. Check with the manufacturer regarding what will void the warranty. The only chemical I am aware of the you can use and not void the warranty is Bruce Hardwood floor cleaner (sell it at Home Depot - Lowes etc..) I find it leaves streaks so I don't use it very often. Boni Ami is sold at wood flooring companies - that is what I am now using.

In my situation my insurance did not pay for it. It is a costly lesson learned.

Quote:
Q: What supplies do you take to an average house for PCCU?
Ladders

Quote:
Q: What do you start to clean first?
We start with windows. Frames, sills, tracks and then panes. Outside grid panes I charge $.02 extra per sq'.

Quote:
Q: What do you think takes the most time?
1st - Windows (you need a glass waiver signed by builder - always bring scratches to their attention BEFORE cleaning the window - if you notice it as you are cleaning the window, stop - show him (even if it is not until the next day) and then continue. You could be buying new windows if not.
2nd - Hardwood floors that have not been covered at all.
3rd - Sloppy grout/mortar jobs especially on thresholds.

Quote:
I've never, ever, have been to a construction cleanup job where everything was done and we were the last contractors to occupy the space so what I'm writing here may not completely apply to you.
ditto

Quote:
Do you feel cold calling, or joining a builder associate would be most beneficial for the type of client I am looking for?
I felt I never had the money to join the builder association - one of my builders built the "2008 Showcase House" he told me he wanted me to clean it. To clean it I had to be a member of HBA. I paid my fee (cutting every corner to make payment) cleaned the Showcase in Oct. I have had 3 builders contact me since then. I feel the membership is worth the investment.

Quote:
Q: I have not started an advertising campaign yet for acquiring residential clients, but I am very big on direct mail. How is your success when it relates to direct mail? Does your website generate a lot of clients? If you have used mail campaigns, what incentives do you find yield you the most clients, discounts, or gifts? Any advice you would have, or if you would like to discuss advertising I would appreciate it.
I cold called. First I called builders that were not in my county. When I ask 'stupid' questions or didn't have informative answers to give (due to lack of knowing termology/processes) I knew that I would not be contacting them for work. Secreteries (bored ones anyway) can give you a lot of information (not the large crackerbox spec house companies - they usually can just give you an extension and then it goes to voice mail). I found out the going rate for the area, general info.

Quote:
Get yourself an attorney
Quote:
have a good insurance agent.
Absolutely!
I like hand shakes too - if everyone I dealt with was as honest as me, it would all be good. But regardless of the GC's honest handshake...his boss looks at the bottom line and if some of the cost can come out of your pocket...whose pocket do you think it will come out of? You will not have a leg to stand on if you end up going to court. "It will never happen to me.............." It did!


Quote:
I just went and bought 3 gallons of simple green, 60 micro fiber towels, some shop vac's and lots of cleaning "tools" I.E. sponges, scrubbers, things like that. Is there special stuff you use for hardwood floors, tile floors, marble countertops and things like that?
Go to a flooring store (not HD or Lowes or any other hardware store) Go to a specialist and talk to them! Do not do what the contractor says to do. Do Not assume anything on stone or flooring - any kind. With the different types of flooring and stone being used, you need to know what to do and what not to do - or you will be replacing hard wood flooring or a granit counter top because you used a chemical that etched it. Know what you are cleaning and the proper way to clean it.

Quote:
I want to go in after the whole house is built, and do a "detail" to make it ready for sale, is that what your company does also?
yes - almost 2 yrs

Quote:
the I Own Them column.
Know what you are cleaning and how to properly clean or this column will close you down.
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