Ultrasonic Cleaning: Is it Right for You?
If you are considering ways to improve your current contents restoration business or the possibility of entering into the realm of contents cleaning for the first time, there are many questions to be explored. One option to think about: ultrasonic cleaning technology.
Ask around, there’s a lot of good news about ultrasonics. You’ll find it’s a thoroughly tried and tested technology around for about 40 years. Industry experts discuss its meticulous and efficient cleaning capabilities. Business owners tout ultrasonic cleaners as highly valued tools for increasing profitability. Insurance companies recognize the cost savings of ultrasonics, and some even insist restoration companies use ultrasonics in order to receive new contents jobs.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and some guidance on how to consider and answer: Is ultrasonic cleaning right for you?
1) Is my company big enough?
This question usually refers to the number of content jobs a company is currently handling. In other words, are there enough jobs each month to justify the investment? Consider this another way: Are you satisfied with the number of jobs you are bringing in or would you like more work? And, are you profitable enough with the work you are doing?
If you’re looking to expand your contents business, this should be planned growth. Set goals, and determine what you need to achieve those goals, including equipment. The reality is insurance companies give contents jobs to companies they know can handle them. If you can show adjusters you can perform these jobs with efficiency, handle multiple jobs at once, take on contents that were previously considered a loss, reduce secondary damages and residual issues, and also save them money... you will get more work!
This is one of those, “if you build it they will come” scenarios. Successful businesses make targeted investments in the proper ultrasonic cleaning systems, and then market it well. It’s a proven formula for success in contents restoration.
If you’re only looking for improved speed and quality, there is ultrasonic equipment for this too. No one will argue hand cleaningcontents is difficult. For items with crevices and other hard-to-reach areas, it is even more problematic. As a result, there are frequently odor and corrosion issues where items need to be re-cleaned. Hand wiping is also tedious and time consuming work. Because it is so labor intensive, with labor being the biggest cost for any company, it is expensive work. This means many companies are currently doing a lot of work for little profit. It’s frustrating.
Fortunately, there are ultrasonic tools for these companies, too. These machines are typically smaller, but just as powerful as well as portable and can serve as a launching point for growth once owners begin to realize more profit.
2) Do I have enough employees?
In many cases, individual ultrasonic machines can be operated by a single employee, but that doesn’t mean you’re working efficiently. Employees are also needed to unpack boxes of contents, inventory them, prep, wash, dry, and repack. With a single employee, you can get the job done, but that employee becomes a bottleneck. However, you don’t necessarily need a single employee for each step. Many profitable ultrasonic cleaning businesses can work effectively with two to four employees. This keeps overhead low, but doesn’t depend on one person to do everything.
3) Do I have enough space?
Ultrasonic cleaning and contents restoration does not require a tremendous amount of space. While some companies with expansion plans may want to relocate to a larger facility, most only need to use their current space more efficiently. Sometimes all it takes is a little reorganization, better lighting, a fresh coat of paint and some creativity.
There are more ultrasonic equipment options available today than ever. One size does not fit all. Guidance should be provided by your contents equipment manufacturer or supplier to help you choose the right equipment for your space, electrical capacity, drainage, etc. Many will even help you design your space and provide you with floor planning.
If you are a company with a goal to diversify services and grow ultrasonic cleaning as a major division or department, keep in mind more equipment may be necessary as well as space.
If you are a newer or smaller company, it may be necessary to minimize the space you use. A smaller ultrasonic machine may be the answer to help in being nimble, flexible, helping with cash flow and allowing you to maximize your profits. Your strategy should include some planning for future growth and deciding if you want to reinvest your new-found profits towards additional space or future equipment.
In most cases, you should plan on a minimum of 500 square feet. This space will not only be for equipment, but for storage of both dirty and cleaned items, racks for drying, tables for packing/unpacking, etc. With a little extra attention to detail, you can easily turn your cleaning area into a “show room” to bring adjusters and other customers through for demonstrations and classes. This is terrific marketing that will grab their attention and brings the “wow” factor.
Don’t let the perception that you can’t start offering the ultrasonic cleaning service until your space is perfectly planned out stop you from moving forward. Start simple and see what works best.
4) Should I just sub out contents work?
Some companies are currently sub-contracting their contents work because they don’t want to deal with these questions or invest in equipment. Companies taking on this contents work are profiting tremendously! The question is: would you like to re-capture this profit? Take a look at how many dollars are going out the door and think about what that would mean for your company. Better yet, maybe you would like to become THE contents company to which everyone else subs their work.
5) What about training and support?
Ultrasonic equipment utilizes sophisticated technology. Accordingly, it is critical the machinery you work with is designed for ease of use and is supported by the manufacturer or supplier. While training is available from most manufacturers and some industry experts, “hands-on” training is critical and truly the best way to learn.
Additionally, many restoration companies prefer to have an instructor come to them so employees receive individualized training and attention on their own equipment. When these employees become comfortable using the equipment, they’ll look forward to using it and use it more effectively.
Finally, no single training program or class can account for all the different items and scenarios that occur in contents cleaning. Be sure your manufacturer/supplier offers on-going, expedient, and ideally, free-of-cost answers to all of your questions.
6) Can I afford it?
We’ve already discussed the labor savings, the efficiencies, the marketing capabilities, etc., but there is one more factor to consider: additional markets.
One of the great things about ultrasonics is its ability to clean so many different types of items. When not busy with fire restoration and you have some down time, why not diversify? Clean sports equipment, electronics, industrial parts, window blinds, medical equipment and more. If you haven’t explored and marketed these other options, you are leaving the proverbial money on the table.
An investment in ultrasonic equipment can run anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 (your manufacturer/supplier should work with you to determine your budget and needs). Most companies are reporting return on investment within the first quarter of ownership.
With profit margins averaging over 50 percent, ultrasonics is a serious tool for business and worthy of serious consideration.