You’ve spent countless hours training, certifying, educating, preparing, and presenting. You have prepped until you were almost over prepared. You look in the mirror and think to yourself “I got this” after a great pitch. So why do you keep losing commercial cleaning contracts to low-cost cleaning contractors?
If you’ve experienced this before, you know the feeling of frustration, the disappointment, and the nagging thoughts of defeat. You’re angry and you even feel betrayed, you thought you had assured them of your quality and worth. Not only do you need this job, but you also know you can do a better job than the other company!
Why did this happen, and what immediate changes will yield different results? Consider the following and determine how you could apply these lessons to future commercial cleaning contract bid opportunities.
Listening- Sometimes we fail to LISTEN. Not just letting someone speak while you are scripting your next sentence in your mind. Listening by fully opening your ears and mind to consider what is in your customer’s best interest. Listening will help you interpret what the customer wants. Focusing on the customer’s specific requests and needs will help you formulate a presentation that captures all the customer’s concerns and offers a comprehensive solution. For example, if the customer is concerned with the cleanliness of the bathrooms because their previous facility cleaning company fell short in this area, be sure the bathrooms are specifically addressed in your presentation.
Innovation – The inability to properly articulate and communicate innovation continues to give customers cause for concern. When you go out of your way to explain the benefits of your solution or its value to the customer, the innovation practices you employ can set you apart from your competitors. Properly structured proposals that clearly map the price to defined benefits will spark a customer’s interest.
Clarity- In some cases, the info you provided was too much to understand. Remember, just because you are familiar with certain terms and phrases does not mean your customer has an understanding of them. The customer didn’t want to feel inadequate. To save possible embarrassment they just hired someone else. As an expert, you need to know the technical justifications for your bid response, but always prepare your response to the customer without the jargon. Whenever possible, remember the KISS principle designed by the US Navy in 1960, Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Bid Creation- Your customers’ have different learning styles. Appeasing each type of learner in every presentation will net you a greater return in the long-run. Speak to the customer, physically walk through the facility with the customer, make a write up of your plans, and diagram your solutions for the customer. You are professional, and your presentation is a representation of your company. It may feel like more work than necessary, but if it’s that extra step is what gets you the contract even once a year than it is more than worth the effort. As a starting point, ensure that grammar is correct and use appendices to supplement your presentation with additional relevant information. Always make sure you are using up to date information, the world changes every day and if you don’t present the latest trends and innovations to your customer someone else will.
Bond and Insurance -Smart Customers use Great Cleaning Contractors, and Great Cleaning Contractors charge more. The cost of having the appropriate insurance and bond will affect your bid. Smart Customers know to ask about insurance and Great Cleaning Contractors know when something goes wrong, their insurance is invaluable. Take the time to educate prospects about why you are a Great Cleaning Contractor and you will help create Smart Customers. Taking the time to do this truly make you stick out from your competitors.
Pick any Two- Don’t forget the project management triangle; there is good, there is cheap, and there is fast. You can have any two. Good and cheap, won’t be fast. Good and fast, won’t be cheap. Cheap and fast, won’t be good. Decide which category of service you can offer and work to your strengths. Successfully market your strengths to increase the number of bid opportunities and then win a greater share of those bids with these tips. If you have the capability to provide multiple different category of services, learn to read your customer to determine what category of service would fit their business best and apply that to your bid creation.
It’s a fact that more bids fail than succeed. This is true in almost all types of trade businesses. A price-only decision almost always costs the customer more eventually. As a Great Cleaning Contractor, you will win more than your share of future contracts by listening and offering innovative, yet simple solutions that clearly communicate your understanding of the customer’s problems and the solution you will employ.
If you are responsible for the management of a cleaning contract or are a contract cleaning professional frustrated with properly managing successful contracts, the Action Team provides more than just wholesale cleaning supplies. Our mission is to provide you with every tool necessary to successfully achieve your clean, healthy, and safe facility goals. Contact us and let’s discuss your program for success.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.