Facility Support 8036 Madison Blvd. Suite s105 Madison, AL 35758
Nobody wants to clean a building just for the experience!
Do not! …… I repeat ….. DO NOT! …. price your commercial cleaning bid based on “industry standard pricing” alone!
Author - Thomas Anthony
Founder—Facility Support client/contractor communication team
There’s lots of high priced, and extremely complicated, commercial cleaning industry bidding software available that scares the heck out of most of us. We don’t build defense missiles or perform open heart surgery, we clean bathrooms and empty trash! ….. that’s about it. We do it with pride, and in a professional manner…. and if we estimate our bids correctly we make very good money at it. The bid estimating process really isn’t all that deep, but it’s important for you to know what the industry standards are in your town. They will probably be the numbers your competition uses for their bid. You should try to have a basic idea of what the industry standard pricing is for your area and compare that to the “down to earth”, or “realistic”, pricing you should bid your company’s services at. This software will help you determine your individual “realistic” pricing for your bid.
“Down to earth” or “realistic” pricing is determined by asking the right questions of your prospect, truly understanding the scope of work entailed in the account and then determining the man-hours your company will put into the project. Try to project future equipment and supply expenses also.
Your greatest expense is almost always going to be payroll. Even if you’re paying yourself, it’s still the biggest expense. It’s important to take the time to “walk” the facility and digest the time it will take to maintain an acceptable level of service, consistently. A consistent level of service almost always guarantees on time payments and the renewal of a contract.
I promise you, the company awarded the bid for almost every contract (except for the “lowest bidder is gonna get it” type contracts) has been chosen during the initial meeting or “walk through” phase. We just don’t hear “congratulations” until the official bid opening date. This original conversation is where the prospect decides if you can maintain his facility in an uneventful, professional manner, and believe me… that is his goal. When you ask the questions your competitors didn’t ask, your prospect learns not only how much you know, but also how much you care.
Try asking these pointed questions and watch your prospect’s reaction:
- Ask about keys and alarm codes.
- Ask about restricted access in any specific areas.
- If the facility is to be serviced after hours, ask about locked office doors and suggest the occupants leave their trash cans outside their locked doors nightly.
Maybe you can coordinate a quick daytime servicing one or two days during the week to quickly address their specific restricted areas in their presence.
- Ask about after hours client points of contact (their management) and emergency phone numbers.
- Ask the best way to communicate with their company about service issues (daytime phone calls or visits. Possibly a communication form posted in the janitor’s closet, as your visit may interrupt their daily activities).
- Ask about previous cleaning issues (learn their hot buttons).
- Ask the number of employees and then their number of visitors.
- Ask if the traffic flow is heaviest on any particular day.
- For retail stores or malls ask about their traffic count.
- For Healthcare facilities ask about weekly or monthly patient count and about your involvement with their bio-hazard waste (or red-bags) and their sharps containers.
- If you are to include disposable supplies (soaps, towels and tissue) ask the percentage of men to women. Try not to include disposable supplies in your price. It’s always a subject for argument during the term of the
contract and if they have a thief on their payroll you may be supplying their families also.
- Try to determine specific places with your prospect in the facilities' bathrooms, break rooms, kitchens and/or closets where you can leave an extra roll of towel or tissue for their easy access in between servicings.
- Ask about past recurring issues and what remedies didn’t work for those problems.
Your goal is to have the prospect understand you are willing to take this responsibility off his shoulders and make him look very good consistently.
The most important question you should ask at this meeting should be asked at the end of the conversation and is: “Our business is always growing and I imagine I’ll be talking with other facility managers down the road. Would it be alright …. if AFTER you experience our service… I use this facility as a reference?”
OK… enough about selling. If you follow the thought process I just laid out about truly learning what’s involved in servicing the account, you will find this software incredibly helpful and informative. It will ask you about the time necessary to service the account and about expenses therein. It will also ask you about sq. footage so you can determine what your competitors will bid. You will then have their industry standard pricing and your “Down to earth, realistic” pricing specifically tailored to your business. This software will show the average of both pricing plans and allow you to adjust both your numbers as well as theirs, until you arrive at a price that’s both competitive and profitable. You may learn that the competitive price means that you will either lose money on the project or have to provide a poor level of service for that competitive price. It’s better to pass on a bid, than walk the long hard road of losing or quitting an account. Not choosing to pass on an account that’s been priced to low is the most common novice mistake in the industry! When you’re in the business for awhile, you notice the very large companies seem to rotate from one account to the next annually. That’s because the industry standard numbers don’t always turn a profit and the level of service fades after about 90 days. Often you will find the industry standard numbers reflect minimum wage labor pricing, leaving little room for you to turn a profit. Mention that to your prospect in your initial meeting, while your asking all those questions. Then explain how the cheapest guy really IS the cheapest for a reason and it becomes evident in about 90 days.
Remember…. Having 5 solid, uneventful accounts that turn a substantial profit is much easier than having 25 low dollar, “cheapest guy gets the bid” accounts. Low dollar accounts are easy to get, but will keep your phone ringing with problems because there’s just not enough money in the contract to service them correctly. This software will quickly make the distinction clear to you.
After starting and reviewing this software, you will have a whole different way to view a facility. You may not be prepared to answer some of the questions without reviewing your notes or walking the facility again. We understand this and don’t want to penalize you for doing what you have been taught to do. So we will give you a 2nd time entry pass to use our software again free. This will allow you to view and use the software right now, print something if you like and learn the simple information you may need to gather. Take a day or two and collect the information you are still lacking for a clear picture of the potential account. Then you may return a 2nd time for free and ready to generate your bid for your future client.
You may also see some other aspects of the software you want to use. As an example, you may want to evaluate some of your past or existing accounts and find out where your money is going or went. You may also want to print a “carry” sheet of your project work pricing (i.e. floor or carpet care) with the pricing for facilities of any size and/or your graduated pricing for janitorial services to keep with you. This is very serious software, enjoy it! …. And ... Good luck!
If you would like, you can print the carry sheet free right now. We put the small carry sheet program online as a freebie. Although this small program doesn’t show you how to adjust your numbers and arrive at the correct price to bid, it will print your current pricing and give you a handy reference sheet. It will also verify that your computer can run this software without any problems.