If you want to reduce the amount you spend on cleaning then it is really easy – go out to tender. 

There are loads of sales teams looking to win more business with razor sharp prices and you will find someone who will give you a really competitive quote with all the promises in the world.

Saving money couldn’t be easier ……………!!


So Why The Warning?

Well if you choose this route you are likely find that you have NOT really saved any money, you've simply been sold a cheaper model and your new contractor is simply delivering less, irrespective of any assurances they will make;

  • less time on site
  • less product
  • less management
  • less uniform
  • less auditing etc……

……….And the consequence of this is that cleaning standards will undoubtedly fall and you will get more complaints and issues.


Best Practise

Best Business Practise will tell you that you must TENDER your services to get the best value and in some instances it may work well but my experience is that they are poorly run and managed with the main focus on price, irrespective of what the words in the tender say…. eg, “we want a quality service to deliver the standards we expect” with an outcome of "Company A delivered the best price". After all, if everyone has the same qualifications, capability, same specification etc… then logic will say that the only differential is PRICE? 

To me this is so WRONG as the "service" is not a commodity product!!


Price - How does it all ADD Up?

1. Staff costs

In my experience the productivity rates used to calculate the labour costs for a tender are very similar across all cleaning businesses. So with labour being the largest proportion of cost in any cleaning service it follows through that any significant difference in price would equate to a difference in the number of hours being put into the contract. Clearly they may have some magic system that saves hours but you do need to beg the question and investigate the difference carefully.

2. Management

After labour the next most important factor is management and auditing – if people try and save in this area then service standards are likely to be an issue. With cleaning it is not unusual to have issues – staff not turning up being a typical problem – so contract management is key.

3. Margin

The final part of the price equation is margin and being a finance person I know the margins that we all operate on. With industry average net margins between 6-10% there is not much scope for price reductions if you want to stay in business.


Therefore if you really want a proper cleaning service for the right price then I would suggest that simply going through a standard faceless tender process is WITHOUT DOUBT one of the worst decisions you could make, particularly if you have a good working relationship with your current cleaning contractor.


It’s not complicated

Don’t you SIMPLY want your building cleaned properly - to the required (and agreed) standard - at a fair price that will ensure you don’t get continual problems and complaints?


Embrace a new way of working

To me the world has changed demonstrably over the years and the smart contractors and smart customers are changing their approach to ensuring the right service levels are achieved for the right price and not buying or selling simply on price. They understand that simply cutting costs and expecting the same results cannot continue.

This change in approach I think heralds the end of the them (supplier) and us (customer) contract relationship and we have now matured into the age of collaboration and co-operation where knowledge is shared and harnessed to achieve mutual and long lasting success. From my vast experience the best way to ensure best value and the best RESULTS is to find a contractor (service provider) that you trust and then work together to find a solution that delivers the right VALUE for both.


Build Trusted Supplier Relations

With the right relationship with your cleaning contractor you should be able work through any situation and find a solution avoiding any discussion or thought on going out to tender. 

NOT only is this more likely to achieve better value and RESULTS it will also save you from all the additional work, hassles and time associated with changing your cleaning contractor; meetings, TUPE complications, negotiations, more supplier documentation, new contracts, other legal stuff etc..

So I urge you to think carefully if you are thinking of binning your current cleaning contractor. Ask yourself what is the reason?

If it about saving money then have an honest conversation, you might be amazed at what is possible when working together. HOWEVER if it because you have lost all faith and trust with your current contractor then this is a different story and you should take action and find someone you can work with.


Sean Taylor

Head of Insights into Cleaning Contracts

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