A key to growth for commercial cleaning and maintenance companies lies in perfecting the bidding and estimating process. Whether your company provides services to a single market or across multiple territories, using the optimal process to submit bid proposals and communicate value is the quintessential skill that separates your business from the competition.
The bidding process is crucial in setting the groundwork for a potential relationship with a client. It allows you to maintain profit over the long term without risking a price increase in the future that could lead to the account going back out to bid.
Consider Client Size
A commercial cleaning or maintenance company’s portfolio likely includes a diverse array of clientele:
- Small commercial properties or those that are not serviced full time
- Medium contracts or those requiring routine services
- Large clients made up of multiple sizeable properties with extensive maintenance requirements.
While a single-page bid and service agreement based on a preliminary walk-through might be appropriate for a smaller, independently-owned client, the bidding process for larger contracts, especially for chains or corporate facilities, will likely be more complicated.
Despite the account size, some best practices remain the same:
- Whenever possible, perform a walk-through.
- Take measurements of your own, in addition to reviewing blueprints.
- Don’t shy away from offering smaller clients a variety of pricing and frequency options.
Analyze Bid vs. Profit
For smaller commercial cleaning companies, analyzing a bid may be as simple as conducting a regular audit of overhead costs, including labor and supplies, to ensure that your profit calculations include the increasing costs of doing business in your market. However, beware of simply “square-footing” an estimate, especially for smaller accounts. Firing off a quick estimate and bid to quickly lock in a contract is almost guaranteed to undercut your actual profit margins.
As your business grows and your bidding process becomes more systematized and sophisticated, scrutinize the difference in the request-for-proposal process for contracts of different sizes and the resources devoted to securing larger contracts. By candidly reviewing your bidding process, you may ultimately increase your profitability across your entire portfolio, regardless of account size.
Look to Industry Standards
Ultimately, the strongest tools in your bidding repertoire may be the standards offered within the commercial cleaning industry itself. Whether a potential client is a small mom-and-pop building management company or a corporate powerhouse that owns every commercial medical space in the county, you’ll be providing a bid based on size, labor, and overhead, and industry tools can help streamline these calculations. Bidding standards provided by the Building Service Contractors Association International are an excellent starting resource to help ensure you’re priced competitively in your market, regardless of the size of the client.
Make sure your business is ready to back up the services offered in a bid—especially the cleaning and maintenance required of a large commercial client. Be prepared to build from a portfolio of small clients and to take on larger contracts over time, rather than jumping at the chance to service large contracts before your business is truly equipped for the challenge.