Secrets you need know when tendering cleaning contracts.
First up, let me be clear, we are a cleaning company amongst other things, we provide the services I’m talking about in this article, office cleaning, school and other commercial cleaning in Sheffield and Doncaster.
So why do I hate the cleaning industry?
Any tendered contract comes down to many issues, but the fundamental is the price and value for money. Some tenders may capture other areas on the SLA’s, but very rarely do they value the full human effect and human impact of the agreement. E.g. I can quote to clean your building for £100 to a standard spec, and I can quote £80 to clean exactly the same spec and building. What’s the immediate thing that springs to mind? £100 is expensive?
What amazes me every time, after all these years doing these FWB jobs, is in all but the rarest of cases, no one ever asks ‘why are you more expensive?’
We just get a reply saying sorry you came in more expensive. I kept thinking ‘why are we more expensive, what are they doing that I am not?’ What I didn’t realise is what other contractors were doing to achieve this lower price. I have learnt by taking on TUPE contracts how staffs are treated, how clients are treated. Believe me when I say I am just touching the surface.
What’s even worse is I fail to explain and quantify why we are more expensive.
Rather than continue to lose work, and in my heart know that people will be badly treated, customers will be let down and the cycle continues, because we were not able to explain our value, I want to try and create something useful that will inform clients when they tender, what to ask that really captures what is important. Just remember that in 99% of cases there is nothing wrong with the cleaner, it’s the contractor who fails the cleaner. Deal with the contractor and the reasons they are failing the cleaner, and you will then get a good service which you will never want to lose.
Rather than detail specifics about what goes on, I decided to put a tender standard together. It’s not detail on the actual clean, you can get that from anywhere. This is a tender standard that is designed to draw the secrets of cleaning malpractice. People think these things happen in third world countries. Not so, they are happening right here under your noses, and what’s more your company is endorsing it because you are not asking the right questions. Upset or annoyed with my statement? Read on, ask the questions, and get ‘proof’ of my statement, and get back to me. You will see why we charge £100 and not £95.
- Are your contract cleaners paid correctly and up to date?
- Are your contract cleaners paid correctly for holidays and sickness?
- Are your contract cleaners charged fairly for any PPE or uniforms, or is it deducted without choice and not reimbursed should they leave?
- Does your contract cleaning management provide cover for absences or are you charged regardless?
- Are you charged a fixed fee with no weekly or monthly consolidation of hours worked?
- Are any underworked hours carried on as a credit which never actually gets credited?
- Do the staff have a contract of employment, training, and COSHH training?
- Do they have to buy the cleaning materials to do the job? Do they re-use dirty bags?
- Do they have a method for ensuring the have clean clothes and mops?
- Do they have a procedure for reporting accidents and dealing with accidents?
- Have they been inducted into your fire and evacuation procedures?
- Are they CRB checked where needed? Do you have proof?
I personally believe that this cleaner that turns up and carries out a service for you to leave your work place as clean as they make it, to give you a pleasant environment for work, is worth everything from the above, which are basic employment rights, let alone the fact the cleaner should be valued, respected, part of a team and something bigger. By allowing your cleaner to be treated like this, the only person who wins is the contractor. You lose as you have a demotivated poorly treated, poorly trained person delivering less than you are paying for. You do not win.
The typical process that you will experience.
- Tender put together listing areas, inclusions etc.
- Tenders are assessed, and 9 times out of 10, the lowest or one of the lower ones is picked.
- Contractor starts job and immediately tries to maximise margins. How can they do it? There are costs for labour, national insurance, company insurance, PPE, uniform, training, HR, sick and holiday pay, management support and cleaning materials.
- Initially contract goes well.
- Time passes, and issues start to arise. You see less of the contractor.
- Issues are not dealt with efficiently, and then not at all.
- You consider giving notice and see that there are complicated exit terms and you have to give them time to correct issues.
- You give them longer to sort things out.
- They accept that they will lose the contract and continue to maximise profits.
- You eventually give notice because you are just not happy with the level of cleaning.
- You recruit a new cleaning company, the existing cleaner stays under TUPE. The contract is perhaps for less or the same price, the contract starts well……………on we go.
Definition of a fool?
It’s not you, it’s us. We have to do things differently to give our clients what they want.
One thing is certain. You can get the lowest price, but I guarantee you that the contracting company will make their profit. In which case where do you want to the contractor to take money from to ensure they do that, wages, hours, materials, management support, non payment of wages, over charging you. Where?
I would also add that paying the highest does not secure these basic essentials. You still need to ask these questions. Are the contract cleaning staff treated as I would expected to be treated, or as I would treat my own staff. If they are, great, you’ve done a superb job. If they are not, then you need to consider what you value. Is it delivery at any cost? I care only for one reason, these cleaners who do this hard job at all hours and all weather with no thanks, sometimes no pay, sometimes getting themselves into debt getting to work for you, so they don’t let you down.
We have to do better. You can write into your contracts as we do now, that should the staff not be paid there is an equal financial penalty to the contractor. It’s a really easy fix and will help ensure the delivery of full benefit of your investment. A clean building, means less need for expensive redecorations and renovations.
Rejus Ltd provide cleaning services in Schools, Offices and Commercial Buildings across Doncaster and Sheffield. If you’d like to know more call us on 01302 738684 or visit https://rejus.co.uk/