By CeCe Mikell, 3/29/3013
I was delighted last Thursday by a surprise visit with Peter Chakonas, owner of Pride Klean in Delaware and past ARCSI board member, as he made his way home from a vacation in Florida. Peter is always full of surprises and delightful to talk with, but what caught my attention was his mention of getting home to start preparing for a big new contract.
CeCe: Peter, tell me about this new contract! Is it really $12,000 per month?
Peter: Oh, yes! In about two weeks, Pride Klean begins daily service in the general areas of a group of medical aid units, or walk-in care clinics. They’ve got eight locations, and we’ll be cleaning ALL of them at a beginning rate of $1500/month per location.
CeCe: So how much of Pride Klean is residential versus commercial? Which “side” is more profitable?
Peter: We do about 35% commercial and 65% residential. We can charge more for commercial jobs, so it brings in higher revenue dollars, but our profit margin is higher in residential. And since the majority of our company is in residential, that’s where we see our higher annual profit. You see, it’s all about managing people; if you can manage your people well, then you’ve got a huge portion of what you need to be successful in residential or commercial, or both!
CeCe: What was the bid process like? Can you take us through the steps and how things unfolded?
Peter: Well, the building’s current commercial cleaning service told them earlier this year that they’ll be raising their rates; that’s what prompted the manager to call around to local commercial cleaners and request bids, and how I got the chance to make a proposal. In February, I did a walk-through and sent in a proposal for the job. It only took two weeks for the manager to get back to us, and the first question he asked was what this IICRC logo was all about.
CeCe: So what was the conversation like when you met with the building manager to discuss your bid?
Peter: When the building manager called, he didn’t beat around the bush. He told us straight out that this IICRC certification…both the certified House Cleaning Technicians (HCT) and the Certified Firm…was what really stood out to him even though he didn’t know much about it. We’d placed our IICRC Certified Firm logo along with our company logo in the proposal and had talked about our HCT certified technicians and the value of continuous education and training. The manager wanted to know more, so I put together some of IICRC’s best talking points and a link into an email for him and invited him to look into IICRC.
CeCe: Wow! That’s incredible to hear that the IICRC certification and certified firm status really won him over. What were some of the other features of your bid or proposal that he liked?
Peter: It was interesting. The building manager told us we were in the group of higher bids (his lowest has been around $900/building). Now our proposal includes a promise to meet or beat our competitor’s prices, but when it came down to it, after reading about IICRC and its standards for technician education, he was willing to pay more for a certified firm. In the end, we came down some on off of our original proposal and agreed to start the contract at $1500/building, with a review at six months in, where we both expect the price to increase. That’s almost a $5000 difference in our favor from the lowest bidder, but that’s the real value to us right there of having certified HCTs and becoming an IICRC Certified Firm. The building manager made no bones about it; that we take the time and make the investment to educate our company is the value to him that was the deciding factor in our winning this lucrative contract!