RFPs, or Requests For Proposals, are documents that detail a facility’s janitorial needs and ask for proposed plans from qualified contractors. Similarly, RFPs provide guidelines to contractors on how to best meet the needs of an organization as detailed in the request. They are intended to open up the process to a range of janitorial companies in order to find the right contractor and value for your facility. The better the RFP, the better chance you will find the commercial cleaning company that offers the best fit and value in your facility. But while the Request For Proposal process can help you find the right Building Services Contractor, the process can quickly go off track. From imprecise specifications to hacked together RFPs to bids that are not grounded in reality, problems with RFPs can sometimes make it harder to find the right janitorial services company. But there are some ways to guide and manage the Request For Proposal process so that you as a Facility Manager can get an RFP grounded in reality and specific to the needs of your facility.
Don’t Cast Too Wide a Net
Sure you want to open up the process to a range of companies and allow them to compete for your business, but using RFPs to assess every possible contender is unnecessarily costly to both you and the janitorial companies. Think about it, you are asking for complex RFPs from a number of janitorial companies that are likely unqualified. These RFPs take time and money to put together and tremendous time on your behalf reading and sifting through so much information. You should prequalify prospective janitorial companies and the RFP shouldn’t be your first prequalification tool. When anyone and everyone are invite to bid, often the most effective, professional commercial cleaning companies will concentrate on other business that they know they have a better shot at, leaving you with perhaps lots of janitorial companies that want your business but few that are actually set up to deliver professional, consistent janitorial services at a good value.
Use Industry Certifications Like CIMS to Prequalify Janitorial Companies
A sound way to cut through the crowded janitorial marketplace is to use industry certifications like the ISSA’s CIMS to prequalify contractors before you invite them into the bidding process. CIMS can help you get the basic, and not so basic, information that can make all of the difference when it comes to finding the right janitorial services contractor. ISSA CIMS certification offers you a free shortcut to sift through the crowded janitorial marketplace and identify those companies most equipped to provide the kind of cleaning and maintenance you really need. CIMS certification is a deliberate certification process that requires a building services company to demonstrate competencies and proficiencies in a number of areas that directly correlate to the delivery of high levels of cleaning and maintenance. CIMS or the Cleaning Industry Management Standard demonstrates a janitorial company’s commitment to industry best practices. These benchmarks are all predictors of competency that can at the very least, give you a healthy starting point in the search for a janitorial services contractor. Our suggestion is use CIMS as a starting point to develop your short list of qualified janitorial companies, then do a RFP (Request for Proposal) including on site walk thrus using price and your feel for which company will ultimately fit your needs best. If you are looking for a CIMS certified partner in your building maintenance, check in with ISSA for a complete list of CIMS certified cleaning companies and building services companies in your area.
Where You Can, Simplify the RFP
Information is good but there is a tipping point where too much information begins to be present a handicap. Look, there is some information you really need and some that you don’t. Some RFPs can be a cobbled together version of older RFPs with new information included without the requisite editing. This can create organizational RFPs that get bigger and more complex without actually providing or requesting better information. Again, overly complex RFPs can create unnecessary work on both sides. Of course you want to be detailed, specific and thorough but it can be wise to pare down your RFP to the most critical, pertinent information. What kind of information is important in making a decision on your next janitorial services provider? Cleanable square feet by floor type is critical because different flooring requires different processes that are completed at a different speed. If all you include is gross square footage without breaking it out by specific flooring type, it will be more difficult for janitorial companies to accurately estimate. Second, accurate building occupancy is important in both pricing consumables like toilet paper and hand towels as well as getting a good understanding of how many janitorial hours will need to be allocated based on the amount of people using a space.
Identify Your Issues & Pain Points & Look For Janitorial Companies That Focus On Solving YOUR Problems
We often see RFPs where an organization will go into great detail presenting solutions for their existing problems, when really, the burden for solving your cleaning and janitorial issues should be on your prospective janitorial company. They may not even share the actual problem with prospective contractors. Were you disappointed with your last commercial cleaning company? Are you facing budget cuts? Share this with qualified janitorial companies. Not only will you get to see their problems solving skills in action before you give them a yes, they may have better, more efficient, effective and even less costly solutions to the issues plaguing your facility. Isn’t that why you outsource your janitorial services to experts or specialists in the first place? You know your business but if a prospective janitorial company is good, they know their business. They know and have the most practice solving issues just like yours in other facilities. Help them help you by identifying your issues and pain points and sharing them with would be Building Services Contractors. In structuring your Request For Proposal around actual business problems and allowing prospective janitorial companies to present solutions, you get the benefit of free advice from a number of seasoned pros, the opportunity to compare cleaning companies with regard to expertise, problem solving skills and competency and a much better chance that you will end up with a company poised to help you solve your most pressing, costly and time consuming problems.
Extend Site Visits to Prequalified Janitorial Services Companies
All too often site visits are quick and cursory because everyone is afforded one. What is much better than a lot of bids is a handful of qualified bids based upon very good information. For this reason it can be helpful to offer site visits to would be commercial janitorial services after some thinning of your list. This way, you can allot more time to fewer contractors saving you time on-site while allowing increased time for qualified companies to accurately assess your facility. You’ll get a more accurate cleaning bid as well as better insight on the company itself.
Get the Building Services You Need
As a Facility Manager, one of the most difficult things you must do is find the right janitorial services company to help you manage your building’s maintenance. Put in the time adjusting and refining your RFP and you set your facility up for success. It certainly isn’t easy sifting through the crowded janitorial marketplace but it is important to set yourself up to more easily compare potential cleaning companies and get solid information on what they can offer you. Here at Stathakis, we have served the businesses of southeastern Michigan for over thirty years. We provide commercial cleaning, janitorial services and commercial handyman services to the following Southeastern Michigan Counties: Genesee County, Livingston County, Washtenaw County, Monroe County, Wayne County, Macomb County, St. Clair County. We offer effective, professional facility services to the cities of Detroit, Ann Arbor, Farmington Hills, Dearborn, Farmington, Livonia, Plymouth, Downriver, Royal Oak, Southfield, Troy, Auburn Hills, Novi and more. For more information on our services and how we can help you, please contact us at 1-800-278-1884.