The Janitorial RFP Process and Presentations of Bids

The request for proposal process and the presentation of bids is key to selecting a building service contractor.  The following applies both to building managers and contract cleaners.

If an organization has decided to take bids for the their cleaning needs from a building service contractor, the first step is to make sure the “scope of services” (scope) is up to date. The scope should list all the cleaning duties needed to be performed at the school. It is important that this be as current and as precise as possible because it is the foundation of the request for proposal.

I frequently work with organizations using a scope that is 10 or more years old. Very often there is nothing in it referencing green cleaning or sustainability, and floor refinishing and carpet cleaning schedules [may be set] far more frequently than they are today. That can be a very costly mistake.

Once the scope has been prepared, it is time to prepare the Request for Proposal (RFP). Along with the scope, it should include such things as insurance requirements. Cleaning-related items that have been an ongoing concern at the school should be highlighted so that these issues are not repeated.

The RFP should clearly say when the bid package, as it is called, is due. This actually becomes the first step in the “weeding out” process. It’s often a bad sign if the contractor does not meet the deadline. Other things to look for include the following:

  • Was the bid package returned in the correct format (electronic or hard copy)?
  • Was it filled out completely?
  • Is the pricing clear?
  • Does it offer any suggestions?

If the bid package offers suggestions for how to improve cleaning efficiencies, offers cost-reduction strategies, or addresses green and sustainability initiatives, this can be a “green flag”—an indication to take a very close look at this cleaning contractor.

Presentation of the Bids

Usually large organizations want to see 10 or 12 bids. Then they have to weed out those that—for whatever reasons—do not meet the needs of the school. Once that is done, the cleaning contractors still being considered should be called in to present and discuss their bid before the major stakeholders.

Among the things to look for are the following:

  • The contractor should be punctual—once again an important factor.
  • The contractor should wear business attire.
  • The presentation should look professional—in a PowerPoint or similar format.
  • The talk should be about 30 minutes and address all key points and concerns in the RFP along with further discussion of the “green flag” suggestions.
  • If a green cleaning strategy is requested, the presentation should acknowledge that green cleaning relates to more than just chemicals. It includes the equipment as well as worker certification (CIMS-GB or GS-42).

Usually all the presentations occur on the same day. What the potential customer is looking for is how they “feel” about each contractor. Invariably, one contractor will rise to the top. Because all the technical requirements have been addressed, what remains is a gut reaction to who will be the best contractor for the school and to work with the administration. That person will be the right selection.