Pricing commercial cleaning with encapsulation vs. hot water extraction?


Do you think hot water extraction should be more expensive than cleaning by encapsulation?  I’m getting ready to bid a 3,000 sq/ft bank that has carpet that isn’t that dirty and I know I could clean it a lot faster with our ProChem ProCap agitator than with my truck mount but I’m not sure if I should charge less. What is your take? Should I just talk to the customer about it?  Thanks,

Debating in Tampa

All other things being equal, Debating, hot water extraction (HWE) is more expensive to perform because of the productivity issue. (Plus your running costs will be less with encap because you are using the customer’s electricity instead of your gasoline.)  But more importantly, you can clean with encapsulation technology at 2,000 square feet plus per hour (even more with the Cimex Cyclone) and HWE will be less than half that and some times much less depending on soiling levels.  Of course, your results may be different!

My belief is that your clients should not be as concerned with method of cleaning as with how it looks when you are done and how long it will stay that way. For that reason I think you should charge what is necessary to make a profit. (And all things being equal I always say having money is better than not having money so lets make it a LARGE profit!)

Think about this.  I don’t ask the dentist which drill he is going to use. I just want the one that hurts the least and shortens the time he is using it! I consider the dentist the professional in his office and he should consider me the professional in mine.

So I seldom argued (or frankly even discussed) method with my commercial clients.  Instead, we focused on areas, soiling levels, traffic and cleaning frequencies. (Our conversation was guided by my Commercial Carpet Analysis form.)

In other words charge what you like. If you are competing against a HWE competitor and you want to underbid you can with encap. No competition?  Then you can still give a fair market price AND making a LOT more money. (This will even out the jobs where you didn’t make as much!) This “pricing flexibility” is just one of the beautiful advantages of encapsulation technology.


7 thoughts on “Pricing commercial cleaning with encapsulation vs. hot water extraction?”

  1. when encapsulating don’t you still have to hot water extract occasionally i thought encapsulating was only an iterum maintenance form of cleaning

  2. Over the last few years the perception of encapsulation has changed drastically. As an example when encapping became popular Shaw Industries took a so-so view of the process and said it wasn’t much better than vacuuming.
    Now they state in their official training that commercial carpet can be encapped 3-4 times before a hot water extraction should be performed.
    There are no absolutes in cleaning as all carpet is different in how it performs. You are the expert and make the final decision on what needs to be done and when.
    Cleaning principles dictate 5 steps for the best cleaning. The methods are chosen by how you decide to use the principles.
    We tend to argue about methods when we should be focusing on the most important principle which is dry extraction of dry soil. otherwise known by the prosaic name: “vacuuming”!

  3. Is encapsulation really that much faster when you consider post-vacuuming?

    The chemicals also cost a great deal more than HWE detergents.

    We have found that encapsulation is easier on the operator, but unless a carpet is already pretty clean, there isn’t that much of a time difference by the time you go back over the carpet and vacuum the encapsulated soil like you are supposed to.

  4. Good question, Jason. Most of our SFS grads are “encapping” in commercial buildings with a nightly maintenance service that automatically does the post-vacuuming as part of their contract. (I’m not a believer in encap for most residential carpets.)

    I haven’t done a break down on the per square foot cost of chemicals of encapsulation versus truck mount hot water extraction. However, Jason, remember that with HWE you normally factor in the cost of a prespray plus an emulsifier. While with encapsulation it is just one chemical.

    Add in the virtually non-existent running cost (no gasoline) and much greater reliability factor (the Cimex is built “like a brick outhouse!) plus the MUCH greater production per hour and encap is a pretty good tool in your truck!

    But as always, that is all encapsulation cleaning is- one tool that works great in some commercial situations. Encap will never replace hot water extraction completely. (I still get goose bumps when I hear a truck mount running!) 🙂

  5. Yep, the need for hot water extraction of deep set stains will never go away, Anthony. Every “encap only” company needs (at the very least) a really quality portable extraction machine to flush deep stains. Good catch and thanks for the reminder!

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