Convince Customers to Sign Longer Contracts

The following was published in CMM in June 2017

Cleaning contracts between building service contractors (BSCs) and major corporate centers, schools, or universities often are for two-year terms—sometimes less. There are some reasons for these contracts to be so short, but for the most part, it is to the customer’s—and the BSC’s—advantage to agree to a longer cleaning contract.

However, convincing the client of this is not always easy.

To help with that, below are five ways long-term contracts can benefit both you and your customers.

1. Mastering of Strategies and Routines

It takes a new cleaning contractor a month or two—sometimes longer—to become familiar with a new facility, its needs, and even its idiosyncrasies, such as when and where staffers may work late and which areas need the most attention. During this time, profit on the account may be minimal.

Additionally, the need to bring in extra workers during this learning phase may cause you to lose money on the account for a period of time. However, with a longer-term contract, the extra investments in staff time and resources may be necessary to keep the customer happy and long-term costs and productivity in check.

2. Better ROI on Equipment

It can be beneficial to invest in additional equipment and more advanced cleaning technologies to clean a particular type of facility. However, for a short-term contract, the return on investment (ROI) is limited and you may be reluctant to take on this added expense. A longer-term agreement helps to recover the cost of equipment purchases, and allows for faster and more effective cleaning of the facility, invariably enhancing customer satisfaction and cost savings.

3. Dedicated Account Support

A longer-term contract affords you time to become more knowledgeable about the facility and develop programs to address issues not necessarily identified in the original request for proposal. It also allows for more time to upgrade the quality of service.

4. Stronger Partnerships

As with any relationship, partnering takes time. While you may want to partner with the client as quickly as possible, it takes time to get to know the managers and fully understand the needs and operations of a facility. A longer-term contract will allow you to suggest and help implement ways the facility can operate in a more sustainable manner and reduce operating costs. A short-term contract may deprive clients of the opportunity to implement your suggestions for improving quality and making their operations leaner and cleaner.

5. Increased Security

Longer-term contracts may help increase security in buildings as the cleaning staff becomes familiar with the occupants and their patterns of approved building usage. Custodians can learn to be aware of who should be in certain areas of the building during particular times and can notify the client of any potentially suspicious activity.

Help the Client Understand the Benefits

The first step in convincing a client that a longer contract term would be advantageous is discussing it during the proposal stage, and—if selected to make a presentation before the major client stakeholders—presenting the benefits.

At the presentation, show the client a timeline that indicates what will be accomplished and when, and highlight the potential ROI that comes with a longer working arrangement. For instance, you can point out how adjustments can be made in the contract as you become more knowledgeable about the needs of the facility.

Ideally, these adjustments will help reduce the client’s operating costs and foster a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable working environment.

Ron Segura is president of Segura Associates. His company works with large organizations to streamline their cleaning and building operations as well as promote sustainability and healthier cleaning strategies. He can be reached at