The Transition Process: The Missing Ingredient in All Too Many RFPs

Most cleaning contractors know that submitting their requests for proposals (RFPs) is one of the most important steps they can take to win new clients. Many have spent a considerable amount of time, energy, and resources developing new and enhanced bid-packages that look professional, are attractive, and promote their companies in the process.

But there is one thing many cleaning contractors overlook, and this is so key, it has the power to sway a new client in your direction. I am referring to including a transition process. If you win the bid, what steps are you going to take to ensure a smooth transition? How are you going to ensure the new client that your staff is up to the task and ready to go from the start?

You are likely already thinking about this. But so is your new customer. They would like to have a plan of action, indicating what steps you will take to ensure an easy transition.

Among the things that should be discussed are the following:

• The proposal should have an entire section devoted to the transition process. It can be sub-labeled, for instance, “Our Seamless Transition Guide;” “Our Guaranteed Transition-In Process;” “Why We Will Be Ready to Go On Day One.”
• State that a transition team will be created just for this account and that it will include a corporate team lead, a transition manager, the immediate supervisor, an equipment and supplies specialist, a customer service representative, and someone in charge of safety and compliance.
• Note that your transition team will contact the new client at least two weeks before the start of service. The reason for this meeting is introductions, schmoozing, and a review of the contract.
• Staffing strategy should also be discussed. Note that if new people will be hired, assure the new client they will be well-trained and ready to work from the start.
• Mention that your transition team will ask (or review) any special services at the beginning of the service. This may already be outlined in the bid package as well as any related additional charges. Either way, I should be brought up and discussed anew.
• Thoroughly discuss how communications will be handled; however, be flexible. The new client may prefer their own method. In general, people do not call any longer. They text, they email, and some will leave “memos” for a supervisor. While leaving memos may sound old fashioned, some managers prefer them because it helps keep a dated log of issues brought to the contractor’s attention.
• As part of the communications process, make sure to discuss how you and your staff will communicate with the new client, especially when their request has been addressed. Taking a photo, when appropriate, with a cell phone and sending it to the client is one of the best ways to handle this. But here is what is essential. The client needs to know that their emails, texts, and memos are not a one-way street. You will reply to them.

Also, include a few sentences on how your company has successfully handled transitions in similar situations. Discuss the details, how things were managed, and the timeline of the transition process. This will be reassuring to the new client.

There is a lot here, and some of these steps will not apply to everyone. If yours is a mom-and-pop concern, you and a couple of other people may be the entire transition team. That’s not what is important. What is important is that the new customer wants to see that a plan is in place, which will help ensure minimal disruption.

Ron Segura helps cleaning contractors grow. He has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the professional cleaning industry including ten years as Manager of Janitorial Operations for Walt Disney Pictures and Television. To contact him, call 650-315-8933.