I love cleaning tenders.

However, they’re not particularly interesting and the services on offer are relatively straightforward. But these tenders are numerous, still require a high degree of creativity to distinguish a bid from another and can be completed quickly so long as the pricing has been finalised.

Cleaning tenders are a straightforward exercise. Unlike my other guides, I’ll keep this post straight to the point.

Tenderer Information/Company Overview

This section requires you to note down the following details about your business:

  • Business name
  • ABN/ACN
  • Contact Details (address, phone, email, etc)
  • Representative Details (name, position, phone, email)

It won’t take long to complete these sort of questions. Make sure to keep this information close at hand for any future tenders.

Regarding company overview, expect to see the following questions to further describe your cleaning business and its goals and objectives (apart from making money):

  • Provide a summary of the organisational objectives and key business strategies over the next 3 – 5 years.
    • The hint the client is making here is that you are not a fly-by-night enterprise and instead a legitimate business that will likely be around until this contract is up for renewal.
  • Provide an organisation chart showing the Tenderer’s corporate structure, detailing names, positions and titles of key management positions.
    • Customers want to deal with businesses that will have more than one or two people performing and managing the contract. If you’re a sole trader or a new business, take this in to consideration if you’re trying to decide whether or not to tender. You can overcome this if you decide to subcontract out the work to inflate your team numbers. But from experience, clients generally don’t like subcontractors unless there is a niche service involved that a bigger tenderer can’t perform on their own.

Policies/Plans

Most tenders ask for a copy of policies that cover any implemented ISO systems, procedures or other factors that may affect the business.

Policies can be anywhere from volumes worth of content to a few pages briefly describing standards or processes to achieve an objective.

For cleaning, it would be wise to have these policies in place and available in word/PDF format:

  • Fatigue management: Cleaning services require physical activity so managing employee health and safety must be enforced and documented
  • Drug and alcohol: These policies don’t manage the use of drugs and alcohol while cleaning. They either prevent or rectify situations where they have been used as efficiently and safely as possible. Demonstrating that you have this policy shows that your business are able to identify and remove anyone under the influence in a safe and legal manner.
  • Ethics and corruption: Ethics policies are unfortunately often ignored but your business will still need one. There are guidelines that must exist to ensure that your business and its employees are acting in good faith with your stakeholders (clients, suppliers, etc). To not do so will lead to things like corruption and the eventual failure of your business and fines and/or prosecution for those involved.
  • Business Continuity Plan: This plan covers contingencies for when the business and its employees finds itself in an emergency situation. Contingency planning focuses on how certain events can incapacitate the manager/director or employees, leading to an inability to perform cleaning or other services within the business. In these situations, the plan lays out a series of steps that allow the business to continue operating in a worst case scenario.

ISO Policies

I’ve given the following three policies below their own section because of how often public sector clients will ask for them.

Having these policies below automatically complies with many tender requirements:

  • ISO 9001 (Quality Management)
  • ISO 45001 (OHS Management)
  • ISO 14001 (Environmental)

Public sector tenders require ISO certification as a measure of compliance. ISO management systems are neither cheap to set up nor to maintain. They will also require someone to act as a compliance manager within the business, whom is often solely responsible for maintaining each system and ensuring a successful renewal when an ISO policy is about to expire. ISO policies are usually renewed every 3 years.

Experience/References

As with all businesses, experience and references are necessary in order for a bid to be properly considered.

For cleaning tenders, clients will often ask for a short paragraph or two on current and/or prior contracts.

References will also often be required so ensure that you have briefed your referees that you’re tendering for a contract and that they have actually agreed to providing reference if called upon.

Innovation/Value Add

For cleaning services, clients are interested in new technology or processes you may have used that make your service more efficient and cost effective.

Examples of this would be:

  • Environmentally sustainable products
  • Cleaning service packages
  • Mobile apps that document employee shifts, routes, etc

This section will tie in closely with pricing as clients will assess if any value adds are even worthwhile or add something to a bid that positions it at the top.

Pricing

While bid writers don’t regularly assist with pricing schedules, I’ll share the feedback that previous customers at Tender Works have been given by clients in the past:

  • The lowest price is often not what the client wants. Clients are aware of award rates for the cleaning industry and can determine on their own if your rates are low to the extent where you’re either breaking even or not making any profit. If you’re not making money, it is natural to assume that you’ll have difficulties fulfilling the contract and thus lead to service standards slipping.
  • Clients are after prices that reflect the best value. Best value does not mean the cheapest and many tenders will explicitly state that this is the case. Best value refers to pricing that is highly competitive for the services required. Unless it’s a new building or complex, clients will have a benchmark for cleaning rates from previous contracts or prior experience. When assessing this benchmark against the prices on offer from the tender, a best value level of pricing can be derived. To summarise, best value pricing is effective when the client knows exactly how much they’re willing to pay for cleaning services.

Many of the sections above are commonly found in cleaning tenders. While the nature of cleaning itself is routine and straight-forward, a proper bid for cleaning services is about addressing each question directly.

You want to give future clients the impression that your cleaning services are appropriately priced, your employees are experienced and willing and that the procedures in place can ensure a high quality of service throughout each shift everytime.