Yesterday''s methods of bidding and estimating jobs included a lot of "guesstimating" of prices — which were then quickly jotted down on the back of business cards.
This led to the somewhat more useful, but still relatively simple, bidding calculator approach using overall cleaning production rates with the ability to produce a modest one- or two-page proposal.
Today, partly in response to mounting pressure from building owners and managers, modest requirements, basic lists of cleaning duties and plain-looking proposals are quickly being replaced by customized service schedules, detailed lists of cleaning tasks and professional-looking proposals.
Fortunately, today''s bidding and estimating software programs are designed to help cleaning businesses meet the increasingly sophisticated service demands of today''s decision-makers.
This represents a dramatic break from the past, not only in how it they work, but also in what they can produce.
The result is workloading or bidding and estimating software programs that can deliver increasingly accurate cleaning times along with customized proposals and detailed reports.
Today''s Golden Rule: Customization And Detail
All one has to do is take a look at the countless number of examples easily seen today where "detailed and customized" has replaced "general and one-size-fits-all."
While today''s successful retailer may be found designing clothes where size, cut and style are all clearly targeted for a fashion client who wants to be seen as special and unique, today''s successful cleaning contractor can be seen workloading, printing and delivering highly customized proposals to their prospective customers.
These customers want their cleaning program to reflect not all buildings, but one specific building — theirs.
Today''s sophisticated yet user-friendly bidding and estimating software programs make this job easier than ever.
Cleaning businesses and building service contractors (BSCs) can now determine labor hours and prices based on detailed building data.
Then, these same contractors can quickly turn around and use the same software to print out detailed proposals and reports to review with their prospective client.
These improvements in bidding and estimating software programs have been driven largely by two factors: Competition and cost savings.
A growing number of cleaning companies want a software program to help them compete successfully in a competitive environment that rewards only those who can demonstrate ability to layout and bid on an extensive and varied list of requirements from routine to periodic and from basic to specialized.
Cleaning businesses want the bidding and estimating software to be user-friendly and more flexible than ever before, allowing them to change nearly everything from the names of areas and wording of tasks to the frequency of each task and the order in which they appear in the proposal.
Many building owners and managers will only consider using those cleaning contractors who can not only meet this new, higher level of detail and accuracy, but who can also show they can deliver the services cost effectively.
Bidding and estimating software addresses both ends of this equation.
On the front end, the software needs to permit the user to enter building data and task specifications that are accurate and measurable.
Everything from a detailed list of customized cleaning tasks and frequencies to the actual fixture counts in specialized areas of the building must be accounted for.
On the back end, the resulting layout and format of both the proposal and/or accompanying set of reports needs to be both customized and professional in appearance.
Increasingly, cleaning businesses are turning to software solutions — both offline and now online to meet the challenge.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
This commonly used phrase, which highlights the importance of entering useful, detailed and accurate data into computer programs, applies to the building information workloaded into bidding and estimating software as well.
This critical building information can now include actual room dimensions, the type of flooring, area breakdown by use as well as more subjective factors such as degree of difficulty or density.
Fortunately, many of today''s bidding and estimating software programs also allow users to dramatically improve the accuracy of the bid by moving beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to a more customized one where the wording of the cleaning task, the frequency and the degree of difficulty can be entered on an area-specific basis — rather than just for the building as a whole.
For example, while a certain level of scheduled dusting duties may be called for on an infrequent basis for a seldom used conference room, a very different kind, level and frequency of dusting or cleaning duties may be called for in a patient examination room in a medical building.
While janitorial bidding and estimating software programs are useful for standard office cleaning situations, which call for common tasks such as vacuuming carpeting or emptying trash containers, they are, in many cases, also capable of much more.
Any number of periodic cleaning tasks such as high-speed burnishing, for example, can be used as input data in some of these programs.
Where an appropriate production rate can be determined, nearly any cleaning task can generally be programmed into the software.
Industry associations offer useful reference guides for a wide variety of cleaning tasks.
Individual production rate studies can also provide useful insight into the efficiency of the cleaning from your own company or department.
One of the most recent developments in janitorial bidding software is the move to go "online."
This next wave of online bidding and estimating software programs offers additional opportunities for improvements in ease of use, accuracy and professionalism.
With technology leading the way, bidding and estimating software is positioned to improve even more in the future.
These advancements are just in time to meet the ever increasing demands for accuracy, detail and professionalism from cleaning businesses as well as building owners and managers.
Dan Liebrecht is co-founder of Clean Guru LLC, co-creator of the CleanBid® Program — Janitorial Bidding Made Easy®. He is co-author of the book "Discover the Guru in You® — The 7 Insider Secrets to Finding, Landing and Keeping Profitable Cleaning Jobs!" as well as the video series "Flip My Cleaning Business From Painful to PROFITABLE" Find out more at www.CleanBid.net.