Custodial Proposals in a Post-COVID-19 World

BSCs will need to put infection control strategy front and center

Custodial Proposals

COVID-19 will significantly impact the professional cleaning industry. In fact, its effects are already apparent. Many contractors are busier than ever, addressing the cleaning and disinfecting needs of the facilities that are still operating during this crisis.

The goal of this intensified cleaning is to prevent infection. Some service providers may assume that these added cleaning and disinfecting steps will drop off in a few months once this disease has passed, but this is not the case. Building service contractors (BSCs) are now in the infection prevention business. This will be reflected in everything they do from the products and equipment they use to what their companies are all about.

Where this shift will be most evident initially is within custodial proposals. Going forward, a paragraph or two about disinfection will not be enough, and the standard list of services won’t do the job any longer. Rather, prospects considering hiring a BSC will be looking for an entire infection prevention section in custodial proposals.

What should the updated proposal look like? While its final form is still a work in progress, prospects want to see the following elements in the section detailing your infection prevention strategy.

A strong introduction

The infection prevention section needs a short yet powerful introduction. A degree of transparency may be especially impactful. Many service providers in the professional cleaning industry were caught off guard by the coronavirus and its repercussions. A statement indicating how “we can never be caught off guard again” will help justify why this new section has been added and why it is so important.

A focus on education

Building managers depend on BSCs to keep their facilities clean, safe, and healthy more now than ever before. One way to reinforce the importance of this relationship is to include details about best practices for cleaning and disinfecting in your custodial proposals. Not only does this show the prospect that contractors know their stuff, but it also provides a powerful takeaway. BSCs should no longer focus only on selling their services; they should also be looking to educate their prospects.

Team resources

During this outbreak, many BSCs realized how important it is to have knowledgeable cleaning and janitorial distributors they can contact as needed. When unexpected challenges arise, these distributors help BSCs address those challenges. Prospects no longer want to hire just a cleaning contractor; they want to hire a team. Prospects may not expect BSCs to have all the answers to these unprecedented cleaning questions. But if those BSCs are part of a team that includes knowledgeable and dependable distributors, they can assure their prospects that they can get the answers needed to keep the facilities healthy.

Equipment that works

Over the years, what BSCs look for when it comes to product selection has changed. While costs are always of concern, performance, the cost of ownership, worker productivity, and environmental issues are also necessary to consider. Now, prospects want to know what tools and equipment BSCs will use in their facilities and whether they prevent infections. Disinfectant electrostatic sprayers (misters), for instance, have proved effective in this crisis. Robotic cleaning equipment is also becoming increasingly important. Turning over routine cleaning tasks to a machine means freeing up cleaning workers to perform important infection prevention duties.

Effective chemicals

Cleaning solutions and chemicals that prevent pathogens from developing on surfaces are becoming more common. For example, floor finishes that hinder pathogen development are already available. BSCs can now purchase antimicrobial products that effectively kill germs and pathogens for as long as 30 days after application. Contractors that use such products should note this in their custodial proposals, along with an explanation of why these chemicals are so valuable and why prospects should consider them for their facilities.

Training and certification

Never has proper training of your custodial staff been so important. Prospects will want to know which training programs staff members have taken and which certifications they have earned, and the proposal should itemize this. In the past, cleaning certifications were used primarily as marketing tools. While the marketing benefits are still real, in a post-COVID-19 world, prospects will expect proper training and certification to be required.

Communication methods

Fast, effective communication and documentation will be crucial in the future. Prospects take comfort knowing they can contact their BSCs whenever there is an issue. Being able to provide documentation quickly to confirm that an issue has been addressed is paramount, and new software programs are making this easier than ever. These programs professionalize the entire industry, so mention this technology in the proposal’s infection prevention section.

Finally, BSCs should take the time to review their custodial proposals from start to finish. Make this a roundtable discussion—involving several people will bring more perspectives and strengthen the finished document.

Remember: everything has changed and proposals must reflect this. Bringing your custodial proposals up to date will keep them relevant, giving prospects confidence in the team they’re hiring and helping your company win new business.


Rick VanderKoy

President, Secure Clean Building Services

Rick VanderKoy is president of Secure Clean Building Services, based in Marengo, Illinois. This family-operated facility cleans schools and commercial facilities throughout the Chicago area and the state of Illinois. VanderKoy can be reached at

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Custodial Proposals in a Post-COVID-19 World
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