Installments: Initial maintenance is vital

Home Columns Installments: Initial maintenance is vital

July 6/13; Volume 30/Number 2

By Bill Luallen

Almost every resilient flooring product today has the same statement in its instructions: After installation, initial maintenance must be performed prior to use. Unfortunately, these documents are often ignored and seem to make for better dustpans than casual reading.

Flooring contractors have immeasurable involvement throughout the lifespan of a job, from bid documents to punch out, but a vital step is often overlooked. Initial maintenance varies and is dependent upon the type of floor, ranging from a light dusting and damp mop service to removal of a manufacturing protectant and application of an approved acrylic finish. This is vital for both the floor and your business, for numerous reasons.

The manufacturer says so

Manufacturer-provided documentation instructing that initial maintenance must be performed is not merely a manufacturer preference or recommendation—it is a requirement. Consider the work of a plumbing contractor. After water line installation, plumbers run thorough tests to make sure there are no leaks and confirm that the lines are operational.

The same logic applies for a flooring contractor. The floor is not ready to go to battle with the elements and foot traffic until the quality of the flooring can be assured. Initial maintenance is a perfect test run for flooring and guarantees the floor’s performance and condition.

Client relationships are strengthened

You are the go-to guy for your client, or at least you should strive to be. Providing initial maintenance upon installation makes your company that much more useful to the customer by ensuring a quality product with an additional service. Not only do post-installation procedures provide profit for your company, they also help you cultivate your relationship with your client.

What do you need to add this vital component to your service offering?

  1. Start slowly. Consider finding someone currently in your organization who has a flexible role or bringing on someone who can wear many different hats.
  2. The most important step in the process—aside from your 100% commitment—is good, solid training. Consider groups like the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification), local distributors and community colleges for training and instruction.
  3. After training, the next step is purchasing equipment. This investment can range from $1,500 for a rotary floor machine and basic tools to $10,000 for walk-behind auto scrubbers. Total costs vary on how automated you prefer the equipment to be. These decisions are also dependent upon the scope and size of the initial work to be performed.
  4. Chemistry is the smallest portion of overall job cost (coming in at around 7% to 10% of the sale), but purchasing the correct chemicals is important as it can influence the labor costs on a job. Buying a more affordable floor stripper that takes twice as long to use or buying a cheaper floor finish that requires one or two extra coats can cost far more money in labor hours over the course of the job. Profits are eaten up as your technicians watch the finish dry between coats. Invest wisely in your chemistry because it greatly impacts your bottom line.
  5. Finally, practice, practice, practice. You have the training, equipment and chemistry in place—now find jobs to put everything to good use.

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