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Commercial Flooring News

Rough & Smooth Of Wood Sanding

Terry Guilford on providing wood sanding as a business

IN the current economic climate every savvy person is considering how best to grow their business and most cleaning professionals understand the need to identify the clients who can afford their services and maximise the return from those clients.

The ‘complete floor care company’ is not a new concept, but one that is difficult for customers to understand and therefore not easy to market successfully. But with database marketing that is now more achievable.
For those of you in cleaning, it is easy to discuss ‘total floor care’ with your clients, they already trust you to maintain their carpets and upholstery, so why not vinyl, tiles, stone or wood floors?

Many floor cleaning professionals avoid wood floor sanding and some with good reason, but if you are considering adding this as a service, the points I will make in this article may help you to decide if it is right for your business.

What are the reasons for NOT going into floor sanding? Leaving aside the usual ‘fear of the unknown’ let’s deal with the practical difficulties, starting with capital expenditure.

There are few low cost options in starting a professional floor sanding operation; your competitors will generally have reasonably decent machinery and the hire option is (normally) limited to cheap equipment.
Your local hire shop will generally have a drum (as opposed to belt) sander which is lowered onto the floor manually and which pumps large amounts of dust into every corner and orifice (yours and the property you are working in), this is not acceptable nowadays.

Professional equipment is available for hire in some areas but not many and in addition to the belt sander you will need an edger, a random orbital, an extractor and a rotary machine (you may have one already but does it have a dust extraction port?).

Expect to outlay around £7,000 + vat on machines. On top of this you will obviously need to buy abrasives (not expensive) and decent floor finish (which will seem very expensive compared to carpet cleaning and hard

floor chemicals).

Training is also essential for anyone wishing to start floor sanding; mistakes in this business can be very expensive and a knowledge of both wood and finish types is impor tant.

So in summary a budget of around £8,000 + vat is reasonable if you want to start fully trained and equipped with new, state of the art, machiner y.

The second reason for avoiding floor sanding is nothing to do with floor sanding; it’s about your perspective as a carpet cleaner. If your only business is carpet cleaning, do be aware that this has a very high profit margin, beyond what you can expect from wood floor sanding.

And finally, if you are a one man band, don’t want to employ people and are doing well with your existing setup, then don’t go into wood floor sanding. It’s physical (the machines are big and heavy) and time consuming to do competently; and it will pull you away from your more profitable activities.

If you are still reading I guess you think there must be something good about wood floor sanding. There is. Let’s deal with the tangible benefits first. If you want to be the first person anyone thinks of when it comes to maintaining their floors, you should add this service.

There are a number of NCCA members whose businesses have benefitted by adding wood floor sanding. Any reasonably competent salesperson will understand that being invited to quote on ONE floor surface restoration is an invitation to quote on ALL floor surface restoration. Once your foot is in the door, if they trust you, it is likely they will give you all the floor sur faces.

Floor sanding may not be AS profitable as the other floor services, but there is still money to be made and the numbers can be a lot bigger. The average spend in our industry is regularly in the high hundreds and very often in the thousands, especially in the commercial sector.

What has been lacking in the wood floor industry up until now is maintenance and this presents a clear opportunity for those already in the cleaning sector. You have sanded and finished the client’s floor and they are delighted, the next thing they ask you is, ‘how do we maintain it?’

The answer is up to you, it can be ‘I’ll show you how and sell you the product’ or it can be ‘how about one of our maintenance plans and we can quote on the carpets, tiles and stone as well’. You won’t have competition from other floor sanders, they’re not interested in maintenance.

So what are the non-tangible benefits? It may not be easy to answer in words but take a look at some of the before and after shots on our website: www.ultimatefloorsanding.co.uk, or indeed any website.

Quite simply the satisfaction derived from sanding and finishing a wood floor is immense. Your client will feel the same and you may have gained a customer for life. I will discuss this furtherinanotherarticlenextmonth.CFJ
Terry Guilford is technical director of The Ultimate Floor Sanding Co, a corporate member of the National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA).

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.