Carl Robinson, marketing manager for cleaning and FM specialist Nviro, offers a step-by-step guide on how to deliver the exact criteria required to meet clients needs, and what issues need to be considered when sourcing a reliable and professional cleaning contractor.
Cheap and cheerful is never quite what it seems, and certainly nothing in life comes for free. So why, when it comes to choosing a suitable cleaning contractor, do we get fooled into thinking that the cheapest price is necessarily the best. There are many factors to take into consideration when sourcing a cleaning contractor and these five steps will help you get the best results at the right price.
Get the spec right
Clients should make their spec as airtight as possible and be upfront with themselves about the total likely expenditure. A professional cleaning contractor should be able to identify pinch points on the horizon for a new client and highlight these in the initial stages, being as transparent and honest as possible, even if it means adding cost to a tender proposal. Contract cleaning companies know that the lowest price is nearly always the most attractive to prospective customers, however, these companies are dropping specifications not margins, so what is provided is a bare bones service, and if the client wants a high level of service, they will pay through the nose to get it. Do not be scared of considering a higher priced pitch, as ultimately it could mean a better overall deal.
Do your homework
Always look at the contractor’s track record, particularly with similar contracts and buildings, to see how successful they have been. All too often the procurement process is a paper-based exercise, where no matter how the submission is assessed, the cheapest price often wins. You wouldn’t let someone clean your house without meeting them first, so why let a contractor into your company without making sure they are right for the job.
Even if the price is right, the delivery of the service is the important thing. Be as diligent as possible about the provider you’re selecting and do background checks, find reviews and look for case study material. Also make sure they have a strong message about the positive treatment towards their staff, as these are the people that will provide the cleaning service to the business. Spotting mistakes late in the game can be a costly procedure, so get the decision right before letting them through the door.
Factor in all client needs
Clients need to make sure that every part of their cleaning spend is accounted for somewhere in the proposal, even if there isn’t a price for it. The Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) directive is interpreted by many to mean the ‘cheapest’ and they will opt for this in order to make savings for the company. However, many points need to be taken into account and a good FM specialist will factor all of a potential clients needs into a contract and then price accordingly.
These extra client needs may include periodic work such as biennial deep carpet cleans or the stripping of floors which will result in the end cost being increased because they fall outside of the original specification. By interpreting MEAT to mean taking the most inexpensive option, organisations may ironically be doing the opposite by choosing something on paper which looks economically advantageous, but in reality is a basic package which needs expensive add-ons just to come up to the mark.
The reality of cheaper prices is that they all lead to low or inconsistent cleaning standards, which in turn leads to an increase in client involvement which is the last thing any company wants. Physical working hours are expensive and so companies should do their sums. If there are lots of hours being offered in the tender at a cheap price then something does not add up. I am not saying that the cheapest price is always inappropriate but be realistic when budgeting for your company’s cleaning requirements.
Don’t spare on the details
Arm yourself with a detailed understanding of what you should be looking for in a potential supplier. Make sure everything has been included such as holiday pay, pensions, auto-enrolment costs or potential TUPE costs. Remember, the contractor is running a business and needs to make a profit margin from somewhere, whether this is transparent or hidden to the client. If some costs have been omitted from the proposal it is more than likely that they will save this money elsewhere by cutting corners. However, an honest and transparent contractor would have accounted for these costs accurately from the start, with the flexibility to accommodate at a later date.
Do the numbers add up?
Every facilities manager wants value for money, as budgets are tight and savings need to be made. However, clients need to ask themselves, does the sum quoted realistically include everything that you are likely to have to pay for over the life of the contract?
Even if the client builds in a contractual mechanism limiting the extent to which the price can rise, if the cost to the supplier increases by more than that figure, they can try to find another way of recouping that difference.
It is advisable to look for an open and transparent company who will be able to work with you if your budgets are squeezed and help you make the best decisions in moving forward. Nviro has already seen this due to its numerous public sector contracts which are under substantial budgetary pressures. However, a trusted partner with expertise in the field will assist in saving you money on the cleaning contract but in the right areas, so as not to compromise on hygiene and safety standards.