My name is Tom and I’ve just come across this site today. The original post was the originating site for one of the visitors to our website, it sounded interesting and I followed the link back and reached this article. The first response reflected some of my opinions from one of my site’s pages named “The novice mistake” about pricing a bid and I thought I might reinforce those suggestions here. I hope you accept my agreement with the writing as complimentary.
I believe one needs to thoroughly digest the scope of work necessary at a potential account and then project prices and expenses both hourly and by sq. footage before determining a bid price.
The greatest expense is almost always going to be payroll. Even if you’re paying yourself, it’s still the biggest expense. It’s important to take the time to “walk” the facility and digest the time it will take to maintain an acceptable level of service, consistently. A consistent level of service almost always guarantees on time payments and the renewal of a contract.
I promise you, the company awarded the bid for almost every contract (except for the “lowest bidder is gonna get it” type contracts) has been chosen during the initial meeting or “walk through” phase. We just don’t hear “congratulations” until the official bid opening date. This original conversation is where the prospect decides if you can maintain his facility in an uneventful, professional manner, and believe me… that is his goal. When you ask the questions your competitors didn’t ask, your prospect learns not only how much you know, but also how much you care.
The original response to the request suggesting asking as many questions as possible and I absolutely agree.
Try asking these questions and watch your prospect’s reaction to your true concern:
- Ask about keys and alarm codes.
- Ask about restricted access in any specific areas.
- If the facility is to be serviced after hours, ask about locked office doors and
Suggest the occupants leave their trash cans outside their locked doors nightly.
Maybe you can coordinate a quick daytime servicing one or two days during the
Week to quickly address their specific restricted areas in their presence.
- Ask about after hours client points of contact (their management) and
Emergency phone numbers.
- Ask the best way to communicate with their company about service issues
(daytime phone calls or visits. Possibly a communication form posted in the
Janitor’s closet, as your visit may interrupt their daily activities).
- Ask about previous cleaning issues (learn their hot buttons).
- Ask the number of employees and then their number of visitors.
- Ask if the traffic flow is heaviest on any particular day.
- For retail stores or malls ask about their traffic count.
- For Healthcare facilities ask about weekly or monthly patient count and about
Your involvement with their bio-hazard waste (or red-bags) and their sharps
- If you are to include disposable supplies (soaps, towels and tissue) ask the
Percentage of men to women. Try not to include disposable supplies in your
Price. It’s always a subject for argument during the term of the
Contract and if they have a thief on their payroll you may be supplying their
- Try to determine specific places with your prospect in the facilities' bathrooms,
Break rooms, kitchens and/or closets where you can leave an extra roll of towel
Or tissue for their easy access in between servicings.
- Ask about past recurring issues and what remedies didn’t work for those
Your goal is to have the prospect understand you are willing to take this responsibility off his shoulders and make him look very good consistently.
The most important question you should ask at this meeting should be asked at the end of the conversation and is: “Our business is always growing and I imagine I’ll be talking with other facility managers down the road. Would it be alright …. if AFTER you experience our service… I use this facility as a reference?”
Often a potential client is shopping for the lowest bidder and to be competitive we would have to bid extremely low. You may learn that the competitive price means that you will either lose money on the project or have to provide a poor level of service for that competitive price. It’s better to pass on a bid, than walk the long hard road of losing or quitting an account. Not choosing to pass on an account that’s been priced to low is the most common novice mistake in the industry!
When one is in the business for awhile, he/she will notice the very large companies seem to rotate from one account to the next annually. That’s because the industry standard numbers don’t always turn a profit and the level of service fades after about 90 days. Often you will find the industry standard numbers reflect minimum wage labor pricing, leaving little room for you to turn a profit. Mention that to your prospect in your initial meeting, while your asking all those questions. Then explain how the cheapest guy really IS the cheapest for a reason and it becomes evident in about 90 days.
Remember…. Having 5 solid, uneventful accounts that turn a substantial profit is much easier than having 25 low dollar, “cheapest guy gets the bid” accounts. Low dollar accounts are easy to get, but will keep your phone ringing with problems because there’s just not enough money in the contract to service them correctly.
I hope I didn’t copy/paste too much text. I just copied what seemed appropriate to the thread. This seems like a nice site and I imagine I’ll return here often. Thank you for dealing with my rambling
. Best regards,
Thomas Anthony - Facility Support