How Do I Bid and Generate Business?

That is a big question that everybody who starts an Office and Window Cleaning business has to consider.

When you never have done that type of work before you just don’t know what to do.  Many times you have to just try to figure out how much time a cleaning account will take.  Remember to ask yourself, “What is my time worth?”

You also, have to try to figure out your cost for supplies, travel time and any equipment you use.  I always also included a miscellaneous amount depending on the size of the cleaning account.

How Did I Come Up With These Figures?

When we moved back to Pennsylvania in 1977 previously we had an office cleaning business in Kentucky.  Even though, that was the case the bidding on cleaning accounts in both places would very different.

Living here I found out quickly that bidding on office and window cleaning accounts was very competitive.  The ideal situation was to know how difference companies would do their bidding.

I looked into the local newspapers and went under bidding contracts.  In doing so I found different companies that wanted to receive bids from office cleaning companies on a yearly basis.  I found companies that not only wanted bids but, if you would submit a bid then they would send you a copy of the company that was awarded the contract.  In addition, they would send you the contract pricing and the cost breakdown.  That was very interesting to me!

So What I Did

Now, remember that I was just starting out with my office cleaning business in Pittsburgh.  I had asked my brother-in-law if he wanted to go into business with me.  He felt that he wasn’t able to do that but, he would work part-time doing some evening cleaning.

So, it was basically just me and my wife that would be working together to start out.  I had sold my former business so, basically we were starting from scratch.

I found a bid in the newspaper for The Pittsburgh International Airport  and I decided that I was going to make up a bid for the airport.  Can you believe that?

I always have been able to take chance but, I am not stupid either.  There was a method to my madness.  Anybody who would submit a bid for the airport would receive a breakdown of the complete cost analysis of the company that was awarded the contract.

There was no way in this world that I wanted that contract or would even be capable of accepting and doing a cleaning contract that large.

You would need to have a minimum of 1000 employees and the work would be divided up 24 hours a day.  I could never imagine the amount of supplies and equipment that would be needed for an undertaking like that.

Could you believe that I didn’t win the contract and yet, I did receive the complete cost analysis and breakdown of supplies and equipment to be used.

What is weird that the following year I received bidding information to see if I would bid again.  I just laughed when I saw that.

I also, sent bids for a hospital and a few school districts.  Each one send me the bidding results.

You might ask, what would have happened if I had been awarded one of those contracts?  I knew that I wouldn’t be awarded the contracts for a few reasons.

1st.  Many of these companies didn’t want a brand new cleaning company with no experience.

2nd.  I bid them so high that I knew that they would not be accepted and if they did I would either turn it down or live with it for one year.

Those things never happened but, what did happen is that I received a wealth of information.  I found out how companies bid and what they charge to do carpet cleaning, window cleaning and stripping and waxing floors.  Material costs were also included and things that I never even thought of.

I would really suggest that if you are starting out and not knowing what to charge people for a cleaning contract that you do something similar to what I did.  Of course, if starting on a part-time basis and just wanting to do a small cleaning account it is easier.

Again, just figure your time that you will spend on the job and the supplies and equipment that you will need to use.  If it is your first cleaning job you may figure your time and supplies wrong.  It will be a new learning experience for you.  I figured cost wrong a few times when I first started out.

It is always good to have a 30 day cancellation policy at first.  This way if you figured the cost wrong, then you can go back to the customer and show them where you have to raise the price.  If they don’t agree then you have only lost 30 days and also, you are getting more experience at bidding.

You will find out that even with an annual contract there is a 30 day cancellation clause if you are not living up to your agreement.  Basically, an annual agreement just guarantees to the customer a certain price for one year.  It also, guarantees that you will have that cleaning contract for one year.  Yet, you both have to live up to your ends of contract.

You will find out that smaller cleaning jobs can be priced on a cost per day basis.  What is your time worth?  When you have larger cleaning accounts many companies charge on a square foot basis.  In order to do that you will need some experience.

After a few years that is the way I would bid accounts that I cleaned anywhere from 3 days a week to 6 days a week.  You will learn to bid carpet cleaning and stripping and waxing floors the same way.

A good rule of thumb, don’t include carpet cleaning, window cleaning and stripping and waxing floors, initial cleaning or anything that is not included in your regular everyday work.  There should always to extra charges for them!

Hopefully, this will give you a pretty good idea where to start in bidding office and window cleaning accounts.  It will also, help you to see the type of work that you will want to generate for your business.

Experience is the best teacher that is what I found out over the years.

Remember, “You Can Always Clean Up In This Type Of Business!”

Please leave your comments and suggestions below.


2 Replies to “How Do I Bid and Generate Business?”

  1. Bobby, thank you for sharing your wealth of information. I worked in Pittsburgh and fell in love with the beauty of the city and its people. It is a great sports town. I am surprised that the airport and even hospitals were so transparent during the bidding. Do you know if that is a law in Pennsylvania or do you think that is standard practice in large bids? Also, how did you find out that there was a bid at all?

    1. Hi Tony,
      I appreciate your comments. Now you have to remember that I had my cleaning service for over 40 years.
      In 1977 was when I put out a number of large bids to test the waters and that was the common practice at that time. I am sure that a lot has changed in the bidding process since then.

      For example, now in large bids they require that you have a bid bond. That way they know that your company is a serious bidder.
      At that time they advertised their bids in newspapers and business magazines.
      I would suggest just start small and don’t get into the bidding wars.

      Thank you,

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