Getting the Best Commercial Cleaning Contract
As the commercial real estate market moves into the post-pandemic period, the need for professional cleaning services is high, as greater emphasis is placed on occupant safety through enhanced cleaning and disinfection.
As demand for the services of commercial cleaning businesses increases, facility and property managers should review their strategies for securing new cleaning contracts.
A Look at the Task of Managing a Property
The role of a facility or property manager in a commercial setting is multi-faceted that involves a variety of responsibilities.
This individual is almost always responsible to ensure employees, tenants and visitors are satisfied customers with the property and its services.
Commercial real estate management professionals are also typically assigned with responsibility for all aspects of the physical plant, including operating within a budget, paying contractors, and seeking ways to reduce costs.
One of the potential challenges that a commercial property manager might face is securing a contract with an experienced, qualified cleaning company.
Understand the Commercial Cleaning Market
Part of this growth is attributed to heightened awareness regarding the importance of cleaning and disinfection resulting from COVID-19.
In particular, the pandemic has created a need for improved hygienic practices in the workplaces of today.
Another emerging aspect of professional cleaning services is the desire for “green” or eco-friendly cleaning products and methods.
New sustainable products that are natural and organic including chemical formulas, tools, and equipment are increasingly popular.
Many companies that provide commercial cleaning services have created areas of specialization for certain niche environments.
For example, some providers exclusively service hospitals and other healthcare settings where disinfection is critical because of vulnerable occupants.
The cleaning businesses using these strategies are effective in differentiating themselves to serve certain vertical markets or subcategories.
The commercial cleaning business model has not traditionally been viewed as a sector that embraces the latest advancements in technology.
In recent years, this has begun to change with the adoption of software and/or integration with larger facility-wide management systems.
Progress in mobile technology offers real-time information that has enhanced communications for work orders and employee accountability, such as timekeeping.
Strategies For Selecting the Most Effective Commercial Cleaning Services
While creating a detailed process and strategy is critical, a facility or property manager should also remain flexible and open-minded.
For example, encourage prospective cleaning companies to make suggestions and propose solutions rather than proceeding rigidly according to your plan.
An experienced cleaning company representative may identify opportunities for boosting efficiency, reducing expenses, increasing occupant safety, and others.
Start By Defining Your Property Service Needs
View the building environment closely to assess the specific cleaning requirements.
You should identify high-priority areas that require more frequent disinfection, such as common areas with considerable traffic.
It is often helpful to separate your service plan into more manageable parts such as by floor, by department, etc.
Determine Your Budget
A commercial real estate manager will always have some price range or budgetary limitations that apply when drafting a Request for Proposal (RFP).
A report from Arizona State University’s Performance Based Studies Research Group in the Fulton School of Engineering addressed this specifically.
One fear that a property or facility manager might have about sharing their budget is that some vendors will inflate their prices.
A respondent who can comfortably render the required services according to the budget could boost their proposal pricing to maximize profit.
Classify Your Service Needs
In many cases, an RFP will specify the property’s needs more broadly. Perhaps the facility needs an extremely detail-oriented cleaning company?
The RFP could suggest that the property is specifically seeking a provider that will lower their expenses in this area.
The manager might also be seeking a commercial cleaning company that will bring the facility into compliance with the CDC’s COVID standards.
Contract For Commercial Cleaning Services
Ultimately, the real estate manager and cleaning company will sign and enter a contractual agreement.
The contract must contain all the relevant details and responsibilities of the parties, including the scope of work and pricing.
It is generally recommended that these (and any) contracts be reviewed by an attorney before finalizing an agreement.
Although often seen as a formality, it might protect the organization from unforeseen issues and potential liabilities.
Compose a Detailed Request For Proposals (RFP)
Property and facility managers should create a request for proposal (RFP) that invites pre-selected professional cleaning companies to bid on an opportunity.
Here, an RFP is a document that will announce that a commercial cleaning contract is available and encourages companies to respond.
The manager should take time to carefully develop all aspects and provisions of the RFP.
The process will involve looking at any existing policies to evaluate them and potentially identify areas of improvement.
The manager will need to create a document outlining the needs and expectations they are seeking from a service provider.
Using a uniform RFP allows the bid parties a higher likelihood of making an “apples-to-apples” comparative analysis.
An RFP will contain a host of specifications that explains the details related to the cleaning contract which may include:
- The size of the building in square footage
- Current occupancy
- Many of the building characteristics such as number of floors, restroom counts, and number of elevators
- The frequency that areas need service such as daily, weekly, monthly, and the time(s) that service is to be performed
- Specifics on how areas are to be cleaned (i.e. damp mop restroom floors with germicidal cleaning solution)
- Any specific services that might be considered as “add-ons” that are needed
The RFP must also contain some basic details regarding qualifications, deadlines, payment terms, etc.
For example, the RFP might contain a requirement to describe the legal type of organization (i.e. corporation, partnership, etc.) and state of incorporation.
The deadline for submitting a bid should be clearly indicated and whether the submission process is online, via email, through U.S. mail, etc.
The document should also specify which party is responsible for providing supplies, consumables, and any necessary tools.
Some RFPs may require some form of certification or credential such as OSHA compliance.
Client references and discounts, if any, are also typically requested.
Consider requiring, provided it is allowable by all applicable governmental laws and guidelines, employees are screened via background checked, such as for any criminal history.
These workers will likely be performing their work after hours or otherwise outside the scope of direct supervision.
Nailing Down the Details
When composing the content within an RFP you might want to consider maintaining some reasonable limitations.
For example, a fifteen-page RFP might discourage many potentially suitable cleaning companies from taking the time to respond.
Another possible pitfall is making the requirements or qualifications too restrictive, which could create the impression that your organization is too fussy.
Creating an RFP with a very narrow or restrictive set of qualifications or pre-requisites also could create missed opportunities.
For example, perhaps you require that your hardwood floors be maintained using one particular method or tool?
You might miss an opportunity to receive a response from a company that has a more efficient way of attaining the same result.
Contact Potential Vendors
One of the most commonly cited benefits of choosing to solicit an RFP is to effectively create some competition.
You might find that you should limit the distribution of the RFP to a select group of cleaning providers.
One potential reason for limiting respondents is to prevent receiving an overwhelming number of responses.
A more likely scenario would involve receiving responses from companies that are unqualified.
For example, a major 350-bed hospital would likely exceed the capabilities of a small cleaning company with eight employees.
Consider establishing some upfront means of prequalifying prospective companies.
This qualification process might relate to certain levels of experience, areas of specialization, cleaning industry accreditations, or others.
Handle Business Thoroughly and Professionally
Carefully review all RFP questions and contact the respondent if you have questions.
If more than one cleaning company is experiencing some confusion on a specific aspect of the RFP, consider sending out a revision.
Respond to Commercial Cleaning Proposals
A property or facility manager should create a reasonable submission deadline, such as 30 days or another sufficient period.
This is also helpful as you can evaluate responses as they gradually are received rather than all at once.
Upon receiving responses, you will make a preliminary assessment or initial evaluation for each cleaning company submittal.
You may want to start by eliminating any cleaning company that clearly does not qualify for the contract.
For example, vendors with proposals that were significantly higher than the budget or those obviously not qualified.
This will help to narrow the pool of viable options that you will closely compare and evaluate.
Evaluate Commercial Cleaning Contractors
The evaluation process involves assessing the cleaning contractor’s reputation, experience, and overall reliability.
Do some online research by reading customer reviews and testimonials that discuss the company’s quality.
Evaluating the organization’s background based on information from prior customers or other third parties, however, is not a replacement for direct communication.
A follow-up to the respondent reference(s) or referrals that can attest to the quality of the organization’s work.
It is generally preferable to speak with the references over the phone to ascertain if they are satisfied customers, about the cleaning services business model and quality of service.
Consider using the email as a way to briefly ask them when might be a good time to call them.
Create a list ahead of time with several questions that will remind you of the key testimonials to ask the reference.
Watch Out For Exclusions
Respondents to an RFP may submit their proposal with certain exclusions.
For example, the company may state they are unable to perform one of the services specified because they lack certification.
This is most likely when the RFP does not specify that all respondents can provide 100% of the scope of services.
Property and facility managers should attempt to seek a balance regarding potential respondents with exclusions.
Perhaps a cleaning company that was otherwise an “ideal fit” will be excluded based on a minor requirement.
Consider including only the requirements that you feel are completely necessary for the RFP to allow for more options.
Choosing and Hiring a Cleaning Service
Confirm the selected cleaning businesses’ credentials by checking that they are properly licensed or registered.
These licensing and registration requirements will typically vary based on the locality or state.
Request a Certificate of Insurance outlining the required coverages and limits in the RFP and their bid.
Busy property and facility managers strive to pick the best cleaning services provider for their specific needs.
Being successful at achieving this goal through an RFP process requires preparation, diligence, and focus in several ways.
Failing to adhere to best practices during the process will result in further frustration and decrease the potential for success.
Follow These Tips to Make the Relationship Work
- Property managers should promptly contact their cleaning provider if they notice mistakes or concerns early on
- Scheduled property walk-throughs are beneficial for all parties to see cleanliness conditions together
- Try to maintain regular communication and provide ongoing feedback. Establish a preferred means of communication such as via email, text, phone call, or other options.
- Continue to encourage any suggestions that could improve efficiency, quality, or reduce costs
- When changes or modifications are made to the cleaning plan, be sure to formally update the written agreement as well
- Remember to ask the cleaning company for assistance with additional operations or special events, projects, etc. These tasks will likely be billable at extra cost.
The Best-In-Class Commercial Cleaning Services
Servi-Tek Facility Solutions provides superb cleaning services for property managers, building owners, and facility directors in a variety of commercial environments.
We have an established track record of exceeding the expectations of our customers; in fact, we still actively retain our very first client from more than 15 years ago!
Our customers appreciate how we understand their goals and work with them to achieve these objectives.
The professionals on our team are thoroughly trained concerning the leading public health and safety guidelines and best practices.
We utilize our proprietary software, Servi-Trak, for Work Order and self-Inspection functions.
Our experienced and robust management team is specifically designed for employee support and client service delivery.
We will develop a personalized plan for facilities engaged in manufacturing, education, healthcare, office, warehousing, retail, long-term care, hospitality, and more.
We encourage you to contact our office today for a consultation.