So You Want To Wash Fleets

Dan Flynn

PWN Founder
<center>So You Want To Wash Fleets</center>

<center>By: Scott Stone</center>

Selling fleetwashing is like any kind of industrial selling. The problem is that as always first impressions are the killer. There are three things that need to be remembered about selling fleet services. That your presentation is important. You have to know what services that you can provide and understand the technical aspects of the services, and finally getting the sale.
The first thing that a potential fleet customer sees when you are making the sale is your smiling face. Do you look well kept? Do your vehicle and any equipment have a good appearance? Do they look like the appropriate equipment to do the work you are proposing?
When fleets are being ordered from the manufacturer there is a lot of attention that is paid to specifications. Usually there are up to thirty different engines and 20 different transmissions that can be ordered stock from the factory on a big truck. These same people are the people that are going to be buying your fleetwashing services. They pay a lot of attention to detail and expect the same attention to detail from you. It is for this reason that your equipment appearance is very important. Customers do not want to see improperly or poorly maintained equipment from their vendors. They want to know that you care. So no overloaded trucks and trailers, and no equipment that would look comfortable on top of a junk heap.
I know that there are some out their that think this is not important, and for some customers it isn’t, however, from my experience the most profitable customers do care.
What is your personal appearance like? Are you well groomed? Do you need a shave or haircut? Do your clothes fit the job? If you are trying to convey a professional image shorts and a tank top will not cut it. A polo shirt, and Levi’s are considered adequate for fleet washing. A company polo shirt is better, and uniforms are good , as well. You want your potential customer to know that you are in business for the long haul. Any potential customer is going to know that there are a lot of “professional†pressure washers out there that have been in business for a total of two weeks. You need to dispel this image and promote your experience.
Services Provided
The next thing that you need to be sure of is the services that you can provide. What can you provide? There are three things that people want to know when selling fleetwashing services. Do you have environmental capabilities? What type of washing do you provide? And what types of detail work can you do for them?
In order to fully provide these services there are a few things that you need to know and understand about fleetwashing services. First, What are your environmental regulations? Every city has different regulations. Depending on the area you may have to wash on a mat, or you could just wash on a parking lot and capture the water as it goes off the lot. If you are going to provide the environmental services you will need to know what the abilities of your equipment are, Can they fully keep of with your washing process in all conditions? There is not much that is more professionally embarrassing than not being able to capture the water that you are washing with because of low equipment capacities.
Another thing that is often asked is where are you going to dump the water? You need to have a location to dump the water at in mind at the time of the sale. It also needs to be a legal location and one that is acceptable to the potential customer. This could be the sanitary sewer on the job site or a separator at your yard or that of a customer.
There are other things that need to be known about the services that are provided. There are many different levels of fleet washing and not one is perfect for every customer. The first is a one step soap that is applied then rinsed off. Brushwork is also good and does a really good job, but gets more labor intensive. Two stepping is another viable option. The hazard with two stepping is two fold and not recommended by me under any circumstances.
Usually, the two step process uses one of the strongest acids there is Hydrofluoric Acid or Hf as it is commonly known. If this acid gets on your skin it will actually eat a small whole in your skin and seek out calcium. Your bones are made of Calcium, and it is painful, dangerous and even deadly. There are some other alternatives that are offered by some distributors that are a lot safer, although slower acting. If you have a choice, do not risk your life or the lives of others by using Hf. A phosphoric acid based cleaner is much safer for you and the environment. The other hazard with Hf is that most Sanitary sewer districts do not want to accept any water that is tainted with Hf. So that makes it basically illegal in most areas.
Another service that is often asked about is detailing services. There are usually three types of detailing that are asked for from the commercial fleet market. Interior detailing includes shampooing the interior, cleaning the floor mats and widows and getting all of the dust out of the nooks and crannies in the tractor.
Exterior detailing includes buffing and polishing the painted surfaces, Polishing all of the aluminum, and even painting the frame and wheels. These are a little more difficult to do for the novice. You need practice before you attempt any of these.
A tractor get ready is really a fast cleaning of the interior. This would include sweeping and vacuuming the interior, Spot cleaning the interior upholstery and putting a protectant, such as Armor all on everything in site that is vinyl or plastic.
Making the sale
References are important in making any sale. Usable references are the ones that call you by name. When you are just another entity, they are less likely to be willing to give a positive response when asked about you or your company. When using references it is always better to make sure that you have the permission of the person that you are going to use. This will avoid them being blind-sided when they are called for a reference and they will know what you expect them to say.
You also want to make sure that you know what they will say. Many customers are sometimes flattered when they are used as a reference, and will try to be too helpful, if that is possible. You have to remember the type of customers that you use as references shadow the type of company that you are running. You will want to have a professional image. It helps prospective customers to feel comfortable with you.
Although having references is important, in reality many commercial customers will not even bother to call them. They know that you can be thrown out as fast as you are hired. The only people that consistently call and verify references in my experience have been government purchasing agents. They understand that you are going to be working for them for a long term and want to verify that you have current customers, that you have a solid customer base and that they are happy with the services that you are providing.
I usually use an introductory letter to introduce myself and my company. This is your first contact and so you will want to make sure that you leave with a positive impression. I have a sales letter that briefly outlines my experience, the types of fleets that we wash, Commercial, government, and Sanitation fleet, and what I am offering them. I do not include any information at this time about references. The reason I do not is that I want to make sure that this information gets into the hands of the actual decision-maker. This type of letter can often get side tracked to someone that does not need or should not have this information. (read a Competitor) I sometimes include a price list and sometimes do not. It depends on the type of account. It seems that National accounts are much more price sensitive than local accounts. You will need to use discretion on this and trust your own judgement.
When I deliver the introductory letter, I do not even try to make contact with the decision-maker. I don’t avoid it, I just try to get information. What is his or her name? When are they usually in the office? Do you know if they are happy with the service that they are getting now? (receptionists will not know) Do you have one of their cards? After I get this information and any other bits that I might receive I go to my truck and record all of it that might even be a bit helpful and I plan my next visit, usually within a week. Within a couple of days I try to make Telephone contact with the decision-maker and build a relationship. All of this information is stored either on 3x5 cards or in my palm pilot to be downloaded into my computer for future reference.
Every time that you make contact with a customer you should have a goal. Explain to them about the environmental laws in the area, Answer a question that you had to research, Maybe to inquire about something personal that they told you about last time. When mentioning something personal, be DISCREET. If it is too personal in can be a turn off. If it was one of their kids going in for an operation, make sure that the odds of success are high before you ask about them. You do not want the customer to associate you with bad feelings.
Every time you should ask for the sale. You do not have to be direct, you can come from an angle, but you need to ask for the sale and let them know that you want their business. “Is their anything that I can help you with.†“What problems are you having with your fleetwashing.†“When is the best time for you to have your trucks washed.†These are all good lead in questions.
As long as your presentation is proper, you are familiar with the services that you can offer, and keep up the contact with the potential customer, your success rate will be much higher. After you win the account you just need to figure out how to service it to the customers satisfaction and provide quality, reliable service whenever you are in their yard. Then the word of mouth starts and will help you to build your business even more. It all takes time, but the rewards are worth it.

Dan Flynn
Timberland Power Wash
Houston, Texas.

Doug Rucker

Staff member
I didn't know Dan was from Houston, Tx. I wonder if he knew about the enforcement issues all these years.

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