Commercial Fleet Cleaning
Commercial fleet cleaning is a fantastic profit source in the auto detailing and mobile detailing business. You’ve got a large source of units to clean and the businesses is fairly constant. Many companies will establish contracts for commercial fleet cleaning frequency of twice a month or more.
The bad side of the commercial fleet cleaning business is the competition. Many of the larger national fleet cleaning companies enter into contracts with the big trucking firms to lock out small local companies. The other thing they do is compete solely on price. We were bidding against a very large national commercial fleet cleaning company for a contract for the cleaning of a fleet of delivery. These trucks were for a large national manufacturer with operations in Pennsylvania. We came in with a reasonable price of $11 per box delivery truck and they came in at $1.50. You read it correctly, that’s one dollar and fifty cents. You and I both know there’s no way they are making money at that rate, but somehow they stay in business and lock the rest of the companies out of the market. We were planning on cleaning the outside and inside of the trucks, this national company was running through rows of trucks and spraying down the outside and that was considered “good enough” for commercial fleet cleaning from their perspective. The GM for the local center was tired of listening to his drivers complain about how bad the interiors of the trucks were and how bad it smelled, which is why he wanted us to start working with them. His national office looked at the price that we were charging and thought he was insane but they didn’t understand that we were doing a ton more services and focusing on the interiors which is what they needed. So keep this in mind when looking at this business. Even if you already have these types of contracts, if your commercial fleet cleaning account gets acquired by a larger competitor or decides to save some money, your business can disappear overnight.
The good thing about local commercial fleet cleaning work is that there is more than enough business to pick-up that the larger national commercial fleet cleaning companies don’t want. Like local smaller companies with 5 to 10 vehicles versus the larger fleets of vehicles. With the smaller companies you can push the fact that you are a local company, you own the company, and you also work at the company to insure quality and workmanship. That’s usually enough to get you a good flow of business and it’s more than they can say about their hourly employees who are doing this job while they are going to school or between jobs.
The other area to push with this market is with fleets you may not have thought of. Did you ever notice how dirty your local television news crew vans and satellite trucks are, especially in the winter. You can’t fit those trucks through a car wash so how do they get them washed? Many times they don’t. They just sit and stay dirty because it’s too much of a pain for the station manager to hunt down somebody to clean the vehicles. We had a client who was an on-air TV reporter for a local station. We regularly detailed her personal cars and when she was picking up her car one day she was quite angry and venting about the fact that both she and her camera crew had to take their satellite truck to a self-serve car wash bay and clean it themselves because it was so bad. I told her that we did commercial fleet cleaning and if she would put in a good word for us I could go talk to her station manager. She did and we got the account cleaning all 15 of their local news vans and other vehicles. After a few months the station also decided to add a perk for its reporters and have us do mini details on their personal vehicles to keep them clean. Go after these accounts and push the fact that you can work around their schedule. Many times the trucks don’t get back into the parking lot or garage until early morning, sometimes 3am or later in the morning. They are running these trucks constantly. So work it out where you can pull your mobile rig into their garage early morning and clean their trucks when they aren’t being used. They will appreciate the fact that you are willing to work around their schedule and also be willing to pay a little more to compensate you for your flexibility in scheduling around their needs. News stations are also a great add-on revenue source. Those news vans are horrible inside. Crews are constantly on the run, so they eat at fast food places and throw the trash in the truck. Empty coffee cups and water bottles are usually strewn about the vehicle. I’ve actually spoken with reporters who can’t stand the vans at their station because “they stink inside”. You already provide great services that can help them with this. It’s also an inexpensive way for their employer to make the crews and on-air talent happy with the condition of the vehicles. Up sell to ozone the interior of the vehicle and kill any nasty odors and you will be everybody’s hero. Plus, it never hurts to have a few news reporters that like your services. They talk with everybody and they usually get their vehicles done after they see the job you do on the news vans. This goes the same for radio stations and other kinds of businesses with vehicles that are always being used and on the run doing something.
Another great resource for commercial fleet cleaning is real estate offices. I kept busy one time for more than a month just cleaning vehicles for the agents of just one office of a local real estate company and that was just the first full detail cleaning. They were so happy that the agents had us back 4 more times that year. Plus I put together a sales brochure and told the agents I would give them $10 off their next detail if they referred just one new customer. Each one just gave the brochures to buyers of their properties and I got a ton of new business from that.
Building a detail business with commercial fleet cleaning work isn’t rocket science. It’s just a matter of looking for business in the right places. People need the services you are providing. You just have to get in front of them to remind them that you are there whenever they need you. Also, it helps if you are mobile since you can bring the mobile detailing rig and equipment right to the customer’s location. Mobile detailing really is much easier to setup and get started than a fixed location center.