Downs Janitorial Services in Greer, SC, doesn’t have a website. But take one look at the Facebook page of the company or its owner-operator, Roland Downs, and you’ll learn everything you need to know. Downs’ Facebook banner is a photo of a plaque that reads, “Janitor,” and in his profile picture, he’s cleaning. Clearly, cleaning isn’t just his job; it’s his passion. His obsession for excellence is clear in his posts, not to mention in his choice of vacuums: ProTeam.
Having been a janitor for 11 years, Downs decided to strike out on his own about 3 years ago.
“I got tired of having to use cheap stuff, run-of-the-mill equipment, the cheap yellow buckets,” he recalls. “I went out and got some insurance and approached a local gym franchise. I was just a kid at the time, and didn’t know anything about the business end. But I put all my chips on the table, and I got the account.”
For someone who claims he knew little about business, Downs quickly applied his abundant energy to systematically turning his business into a well-oiled machine.
“At first, I didn’t really know how to bid a job. I just timed myself over and over again,” Downs explains. “I used to attach a watch on the vacuum hose.”
He quickly determined that vacuuming constituted a large share of the work.
“I’m only allowed so much time on site. If I could minimize the time I took on vacuuming, I could free up time for other work.”
For Downs, using a ProTeam vacuum with an adjustable straight wand was a game-changer. As always, he took a scientific approach to testing tools and techniques for maximum productivity.
“I started by mimicking the videos you can find on the ProTeam website and on YouTube. They show how you to clean using the proper vacuuming motion,” he explains. “That motion alone covers more ground with less movement than other tools.”
Downs also noticed another ergonomic benefit of the adjustable wand.
“I’m 6’ tall, and I realized that other wands made me hunch over just a little. The adjustable straight wand lets me stand up. Along with the efficient cleaning motion, it just feels more comfortable.”
Naturally, Downs carefully measured his results.
“My production time was shortened by 15 to 20 minutes an hour,” Downs proclaims. “Right away, the vacuum started paying for itself!”
Just as Downs swears by using quality equipment, he also knows that it’s only as good as the company that stands behind it.
“Once, I bought an expensive unit from another brand that broke within 60 days. After confirming it wasn’t my fault, I took it to my distributor. They told me a modification was in the works, and I’d have to wait for that,” he recalls. “In the meantime, the handle had to be held together with tape!”
He contrasts that unfortunate experience with the treatment he got from ProTeam.
“When I had an issue with my ProTeam vacuum, I got the same kind of service I want to give my customers. The reps fixed the problem and went above and beyond. They sent me a High Dusting Kit.”
The High Dusting Kit is essential to the cleaning routines Downs has optimized for efficiency.
“ProTeam even sent me a rebate on a new battery vacuum. That gave me all the more reason to get the GoFree Flex Pro and free up even more time.”
Cordless Efficiency and Safety
“Once you eliminate the cord, you can vacuum the way you want. You can create the most efficient cleaning system,” says Downs.
But efficiency is only part of the story. Safety is also a real concern, especially when your major client is a busy 24-hour gym—and when your cleaning partner is your wife.
Professionalism and Personality
Downs is charmingly self-deprecating about his professional persona. He characterizes himself as a humble janitor, while he describes his wife and business partner, Dena, as the one with the professional aura.
“I focus on the work, and I love it. But my wife looks professional, acts professional, and she took college courses in business and contract law,” he says with obvious admiration.
She’s the one who initially got the insurance paperwork in order, and who eventually left school to join the cleaning business full-time. Yet Roland Downs is clearly preoccupied on making a professional impression, as well.
“Looking professional is major to me.” Downs says. “In the facility I clean, I’m on video. The owners can watch me remotely on their phones.”
In fact, Downs has used video to analyze and perfect his cleaning strategies. And it hasn’t hurt the impression he makes, either.
“They tell me I look like a training video!”
Liking and Sharing
Downs strives to give a personality to cleaning. Although he and his wife have built his namesake company into a successful business, they have no immediate plans to expand or get a fancy new website. For now, they prefer to provide quality cleaning services as owner-operators. Even so, Downs continues to express his irrepressible zeal for his work in person and online.
“’Charismatic’ is a nice way of saying I talk a lot!” he jokes. “Social media is a good way to connect with other people who are doing the work. ProTeam feeds are getting shared in those groups more than you realize.”