How to bid on janitorial contracts to win more business

How to bid on janitorial contracts to win more business

Kim Mercado
By Kim Mercado
Dec 7, 2021
9 min read

If you own a janitorial business, you’re probably always on the lookout for new clients. But it can be tough to balance keeping a booked schedule while leaving a little room to bid on lucrative new janitorial contracts.

The key to keeping your schedule full is to seek out opportunities to place bids on the most desirable jobs. One way to achieve this is by setting up a system to help you quickly bid and win new janitorial business contracts. 

In this article, we cover:

What is a janitorial bid?

A bid or bid proposal is a document sent to prospective employers outlining how your company can meet their needs. Usually, bids are submitted after an employer invites solicitation through a request for proposals (RFPs). The RFP describes the scope of work they want and basic janitorial contract terms.

The RFP may be for a one-time job, a cleaning maintenance contract or an annual janitorial contract. When you put in a bid, you have the chance to show the engineer or property manager that you have the skills and expertise to meet their needs at a price they can afford. 

Bidding on government contracts

While bidding on business and private janitorial contracts is a great way to build your business, many small janitorial businesses overlook government contracts. 

Learning how to bid on government contracts may seem intimidating because there is generally more paperwork involved. However, winning these contracts can provide a stable source of income, and they typically pay well. 

Additionally, there are a wide variety of contracts with jobs suitable for businesses of almost any size. Local governments regularly post janitorial opportunities for open bidding. You also may find opportunities for state and federal government agencies. 

Before you place your first bid, it helps to have a D-U-N-S number — a unique nine-character number used to identify your organization. You can register at no cost and get your number on the Dun & Bradstreet website

You can find government bid opportunities online. Official government sites end in .mil or .gov. You can search janitorial contracts up for bid by geographical location, job type, and posting date. 

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) program also helps small businesses grow by landing government contracts. You can register your janitorial business for free in just a few minutes. 

How to choose the right janitorial contracts

Janitorial jobs vary greatly, so it's crucial to consider each cleaning bid carefully and give them individual attention. 

1. Flex your deduction skills

While you don’t want to assume things, your experience can tell you a lot about the job.

For example, property managers that want a specific set of tasks completed on a timeline may be replacing a previous service. You may want to find out what happened or if there are certain aspects you should prioritize.

Or, if a client’s scope of work is detailed, you'll know right away if you can handle the work and offer them a competitive price. 

Others may have more relaxed written requirements. This could mean that they'd like to see what's out there and are interested in how your business could uniquely meet their needs. 

2. Evaluate the job site

Most bids will involve a walk-through of the job site. If not, it's smart to request one before submitting your bid so you better understand client expectations.

During your scheduled walk-through, ask about job site permits or any associated fees you may need to include in your bid. Take notes about any potential costs that you should factor into the finished janitorial bid, such as cleaning supplies or special equipment. 

Janitorial bids should include details about the job site to show that you've considered their needs. If possible, take measurements and photograph the area. Note any potential problems or hazards that may need special attention. 

Make sure you have the time, equipment and staff to complete the work on time. Resist the urge to promise more than you can deliver to increase your chances of getting the work.

3. Ask questions

If the person taking you on the walk-through is knowledgeable, ask a few questions about the job. For example:

  • Are they seeking a replacement for a former contractor? 
  • What kind of timeline do they want? 
  • Is there a specific time of day that they prefer that you work? 

You can learn a lot about a job just by asking some friendly questions. The knowledge you gain could help you develop a bid that sets you apart from the competition and helps you win the contract. 

4. Make sure it's worth your time

Take a close look at your current client list. 

Identify the most profitable customers. What types of customers give referrals? Which are easiest (or most difficult) to work with? After you've put in several bids for janitorial services, you'll start to see patterns. 

Use your experience to identify your target market. Then, concentrate on expanding your business to include more of your most desired customer type. 

When you are new and don't have a lot of janitorial contracts, it may be tempting to reduce your rates to win the bid. However, be careful with this approach. There's no benefit to your business if the job pays so little that it's not worth your time. 

Spend a small amount of time figuring out your "break-even" price. Add a percentage that you are comfortable with and call that your bottom dollar. Do not accept jobs that pay below that rate. If you start working for free, you'll burn out quickly. Keeping your janitorial business afloat means consistently making a profit. 

How to list your benefits to get janitorial contracts

While this may seem obvious, your clients may or may not have done their own research on your business. They may not know your strengths, so now’s the time to pitch why your custodial services are the right match for this contract.

Offer a competitive price

You may need to do some research to learn how much your competition charges for similar services. But it's worth your time to avoid being one of the highest bidders. 

Unless you offer a specific and sought-after service that others can't provide, it's better to fall in the middle to the low end of the bids when it comes to offering a competitive price. 

Keep in mind, when decision-makers place janitorial contracts up for bid, they want the job done right by someone they can trust. They want more than the lowest price. Make sure you include a clear justification for your price. For example, if you charge more for certain services, offer details about how your clients benefit from the "extras" you provide. 

Show them you understand their needs

Janitorial cleaning bids should adhere to the job creator's requests completely. Show your future clients that you pay attention to the little things and can deliver to their specifications by presenting an impeccable bid that answers every question.

You can also demonstrate that you’re thinking ahead by being properly insured. Janitorial cleaning companies are almost always required to have insurance due to the risk of injury and property damage. From spilling a cleaning solution on a computer to a customer slipping on a wet floor, janitorial insurance helps protect you from various risks and potential financial loss. 

Be sure to include your certificate of insurance with your bid so the decision-makers know you are covered with general liability insurance.

Communicate through your bid

When you bid on janitorial contracts, highlight your experience and recommendations. Also, include your business insurance information. 

Remember, the people evaluating janitorial bids are looking for the thing that makes you stand out. While it could be an ultra-low rate, it's more likely that your experience, references, or dedication to perfection will put yours on their short-list. Think about what makes your janitorial business different from others, and focus on those attributes. 

NEXT helps you win sought-after janitorial contracts 

Bidding on janitorial contracts can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it as you make a name for yourself and start winning desirable jobs. NEXT Insurance can help you with this. Our custom pricing ensures that you only pay for the coverage you need for your janitorial business.

You can get a quote, customize your insurance package and get your certificate of insurance in less than 10 minutes. The certificate is accessible 24/7, so you can show it to potential clients anytime you need to, helping you stand out by virtue of speed.

If you need any help, our U.S.-based, licensed insurance professionals are standing by to answer any of your questions.

Get your instant quote today.

How to bid on janitorial contracts to win more business


kim mercado
About the author
Kim Mercado is a content editor at NEXT's blog, where she writes and edits posts for small business owners. She enjoys helping entrepreneurs solve their business challenges and learn about insurance. Kim has contributed to Salesforce, Samsara and Google.

You can find Kim trying new recipes and cheering the 49ers.

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