Although it may seem easy enough, choosing an exhaust hood cleaning company can be a difficult task. Just about anyone with a pressure washer and transportation can call themselves a hood cleaning company. Knowing what to look for in a reputable company can ease your mind and potentially increase your profits in the long run. Sorting through the choices can be a daunting task for any busy entrepreneur or restaurant manager. I am here to help!
- Get References – References are always a great place to start. Your peers in the industry will always tell you about the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can always save yourself time by learning from other peoples mistakes! However, I would recommend interviewing at least two companies to ensure that the prospects are a good fit for your business.
- Chamber of Commerce – Your local Chamber of Commerce is a great resource for finding vendors. Reputable companies will usually have a working relationship with your local Chamber.
- Web Search – Searching the web will probably yield the most candidates. While looking at the options, pay attention to their websites. Think of entering a website the same as if you were walking into their business. A company that pays attention to the details will have a clean, organized, and informative website.
You have candidates, now what? Simple, get a quote! Call your prospective vendors and ask for a FREE proposal. You should never have to pay for a quote. A quote is also a great way to gather information that will help in your decision making process. I have included a list of tips below on what to take into consideration during the proposal process:
- Accessibility – Are you able to get in touch with the company? Chances are if you can’t reach them now, you will not be able to reach them when you need them most!
- Response Time – It is understandable in certain circumstances for you to have to wait up to a week for someone to come out and look at your exhaust hood system; however you should always feel like you are a priority. If you don’t feel important now, it’s probably not going to get better.
- Phone Quote – NO! Put down your phone! I would recommend that you NEVER take a quote over the phone. It is important that a representative from the company inspect your exhaust hood system to ensure that they understand the scope of work (See #5).
- Professionalism – Did the representative show up in overalls? Don’t get me wrong, my grandpa was a fantastic man and he wore overalls just about every day. However, he never wore them to a business meeting!
- Inspection – Having the representative look at your restaurant’s kitchen exhaust hood system(s) is probably the single most important part of the process. In my experience as a hood cleaning professional, I have learned that EVERY system is different in some way. The representative should have a solid understanding of your system and be able to convey that information to you in an informative manner.
- Quote – The quote should be presented in an easy to read and understandable format. You should never be afraid to ask for an itemized proposal. You are spending your hard earned money and any reputable company will have no issues breaking down their quote.
- Follow Up – If you need time to make an informed decision don’t hesitate to let your consultant know. A good consultant will request a follow-up time frame to check back with you.
Now that you have your quotes, it’s time to understand what you are looking at. Depending on your system a quote can have quite a few items to sort through. Below are some of the most common items to understand:
- Cleaning Price – The cleaning price should, at a minimum, include cleaning the exhaust fan, all accessible ductwork, the hood (inside and out), and the filters. All stainless steel should be hand dried and shined, floors should be mopped, and liquid grease should be rinsed from your roof. Before and After Pictures should always be provided (This will ensure that there is accountability from the company you are working with).
- Code Items – There are many codes (NFPA96) that pertain to your exhaust hood system. A company that recommends items to bring your system into code compliance shows that they care about your business and they have your best interest in mind. If you are not sure what an item is, ask! You should be informed and feel comfortable saying yes to any items that are recommended for your system. A few examples of items that are commonly recommended for code compliance are: Exhaust fan hinges, access panels, grease containment systems, and the list goes on. These items can and will save you money in the long run.
- Fees – Any fees that are additional to the above items should be listed on your proposal. Again, any reputable company will have nothing to hide. Fees are common, unfortunately, but as long as you understand what they are and why you are paying them there shouldn’t be any cause for concern.
I believe I have covered the proverbial “meat and potatoes” of how to choose an exhaust hood cleaning company. It is my hope that it helps you make a well informed decision about your next hood cleaning company.
I will leave you with one last though. Price should not be the most important factor when deciding with whom you want to work. Although it may seem like you are getting the best deal by choosing the lowest bidder, you are most likely not getting the best VALUE. Remember the old adage “You get what you pay for” is usually true. Paying a little more now for a reputable company can be invaluable, saving you time and money in the future.