How to Select Your Commercial Cleaning Company
Find three qualified bidders.
We all know that Google (or Bing or Yahoo) will provide you with countless options to choose from with a few simple search keywords. The important thing to remember is to use wording that will eliminate the providers that don’t specialize in your area of need. For instance, be sure to add “commercial” or “office” to the rest of your search phrase to weed out residential-only cleaning companies. And if you have a medical facility (or another property with specific cleaning requirements), include that as well. For general office space “office cleaning service” or “commercial janitorial service” along with the name of your city should bring up more than enough options to choose from.
In addition to your online search, ask around!! Positive word-of-mouth is the best indicator that a cleaning company is good at what they do. Most every commercial facility employs an outsourced cleaning or maintenance outfit in some form or fashion. Ask your friends or family if they work with someone they are happy with.
As you are narrowing down your search, check each potential bidder’s website to make sure they do in fact provide the type of services you are looking for. Also look for customer testimonials and any other ancillary services they may provide which might be of interest to you. If the health of the planet is even a small concern to you (and no matter where you stand on the politics of it, it really should be at least a small concern, right?) check to see if the provider has a green cleaning program. It should be noted that using environmentally friendly products and procedures is neither less effective nor more costly. Most cleaning companies have “gone green” in recent years because there’s no good reason not to.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to three, schedule a walk-through with each bidder.
At this point, when you are speaking with actual humans (as opposed to reading web pages), you’ll begin to get a feel for what really matters – the kind of people you will be working with. There is a common misconception that anyone could do a cleaning job. Anyone who has ever cleaned an office building, refinished a floor, done carpet detailing or washed windows can tell you, there are tricks to the trade that sometimes take years to fine tune. Experience is key. You want the personnel handling your cleaning duties to have had plenty of practice in the business. The same is true for the representative you will be working with, perhaps even more so. The company owner or account manager should be professional, responsive, and knowledgeable and they should treat their staff with respect. The working relationship between management and staff is crucial to things running efficiently. Be sure to ask the kinds of questions that will reveal just how the operation works, and more importantly, what type of people will be responsible for the account.
Other things to bear in mind during walk-throughs (in no particular order of importance):
1) Provide each bidder with the exact same information so you are comparing apples to apples.2) Try to be specific about what you are looking for and any areas of concern that are most important to you. 3) What is included in the proposal price? Are chemicals extra? Periodic services such as semi-annual floor refinishing included? (If these are not included, be sure to have them listed separately.) 4) What quality control measures does the company employ? 5) Can the company provide paper products, soaps, and trash liners? If so, have them include a paper price sheet with their proposal. 6) Does the company carry general liability insurance? Workman’s compensation? Fidelity bonding? 7) Be sure to ask for references from each bidder.
Making your final selection.
You now have three proposals to choose from. Look through the cleaning specifications and make sure they all include the services you need for your facility. Obviously, pricing is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, but try to avoid the lowest bidder trap. If the price is too low (considerably lower than the other bids), corners will likely be cut and you’ll be going through the whole process again in short order. If you like everything about one provider’s proposal except for the price, ask if they have any room to work with you. When we bid jobs, we submit our lowest number on the first go-around (we want the work!), but I never mind if someone asks. No one should mind. It simply means, “I like you, but I don’t know if I can afford you.” It’s worth a shot if that’s all that stands in the way of a deal.
Above all, if you like the representative you would be dealing with and you feel confident in his/her ability to provide you consistent, professional service, that’s the gut instinct to go with. As is true in every other business, the performance of a janitorial service relies entirely upon the people behind it. This industry provides so many shades of nuance. Each account is its own unique job. The things that will make each job run effectively in a lasting way are the people responsible for it, their willingness to do whatever it takes, and their personal pride in a job well done. When you find the outfit that is made up of those people, you have found your cleaning company.