Oh, we’d certainly like to think otherwise, but when it comes right down to it, price is what bidding is all about.
The customer’s goal is to determine which company can provide the best service at the most competitive price.
Some request for proposals (RFPs) will add language about value or best qualified price, or make the bidders jump through a bunch of hoops in an effort to prequalify them to level the playing field, but when it comes down to the decision making process, nine out of 10 times, it is all about the price.
Even when an RFP put into place a complicated set of criteria to fairly evaluate one bid against another, pricing is weighted in such a way that in the end, cost accounts for at least 60 percent or more of the decision making process.
So once again, it’s all about the price.
Don’t Get Me Wrong
This is not to say that other factors aren’t taken into consideration or that an organization is going to accept poor or inferior service just because they accepted the lowest priced bid.
Quite the contrary, in most cases, regardless of price, the contractor is expected to perform at levels that meet or exceed the specifications of the contract and expectations of the customer.
Expectations Are Changing
A trend that I’ve noticed over the last 10 years is that customers are raising their expectations and are actually demanding more from those who bid on and provide cleaning services.
This is especially true for medium, large and mega-size projects.
On one hand you have contractors who are getting better at what they do — the good guys — and other hand you have lesser qualified contractors who are actually getting worse at what they do.
There is a growing divide in the levels of service that these two groups provide to their respective customers.
If you want to play in the same ballpark as the good guys, here’s what their customers are demanding and getting.
Validation: Glowing phrases and positive words in marketing brochures, letters and proposals are not enough.
In today’s competitive marketplace you have to actually prove that you are doing what you said you would do.
This often involves independent, on-site third party certification of technical and management processes as well as scientific testing and validation of end results using slip, gloss and ATP meters.
If you don’t know about LEED, CIMS, IICRC, Green Seal, UL and other acronyms, you are out of touch with high-end customers who are willing to pay for quality service.
Green and sustainable cleaning processes, products and equipment are expected to be a part of the program, and you will have to back this up with certification as well as with facts and figures.
Using green chemicals on the job is no longer good enough, the goal is to now reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals wherever possible.
Legal workers:The employees you bring into a customer’s building must be legal workers with valid social security numbers; they must understand English and have passed a criminal background check.
If you don’t do this as a minimum, you are ripe for assessments, penalties and possibly a negligent hiring practices lawsuit when something goes wrong.
Training and safety:You must provide on-going training for workers, supervisors and managers and keep accurate records of who attended, who conducted it and what subjects were covered in each session.
Without training, the risks and costs are too high.
You can’t expect people to do a good job if you don’t define what you mean by “good job.”
Professional performance:You can’t run a successful business today by the seat of your pants — customer expectations and costs are too high.
You have to be at the top of your game every minute, or someone else will eat your lunch before you even know it’s lunch time.
Professional relationships today are all about accountability, reliability and accessibility.
It’s not enough to talk a good game; you and your staff must be able to consistently perform at levels that exceed your customers’ expectations.
Cutting-edge equipment, processes and products:The mop, the broom and the old office chair in the janitor closet are gone.
Today it’s about prevention, microfibers, hybrid water, vacuum cleaners and a systems approach to cleaning.
Customers expect their contractor to beware of and use the latest cutting-edge equipment, products and processes.
The Good News
There is more work available today than ever before in the cleaning industry.
Customers are looking for professional contractors who can provide the services they need at a fair price.
Billions of dollars are spent on cleaning around the world each day and you can get a piece of that action.
Our world is changing faster each day, and the opportunities go to those who prepare themselves today for tomorrow’s challenges.