No matter how many times you’ve written a cleaning contract proposal letter, you may be surprised to learn about some mistakes that can cost you the job.
If you own your own cleaning business, the odds are good that you got into it because you’re an expert in the industry. Knowing your business, though, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to sell your services. A cleaning contract proposal letter can make or break things when you’re trying to land new jobs. Whether you’ve written dozens of letters or you’re about to embark on your first, there are some key things to avoid when outlining your proposal.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of potential mistakes, we hope that what follows will help both veteran and novice cleaning professionals identify things to avoid when writing a cleaning contract proposal letter. (For more information about how to win bids, read one of our previous posts.)
No matter how comfortable you are with writing proposals, we believe that following this advice will improve your client base and your ability to win jobs, bringing your business more success and more revenue.
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5 Cleaning contract proposal letter mistakes you don’t want to make
Mistake #1: Failure to personalize
Especially if you’ve been doing this a while, you may have a cleaning contract proposal letter template that you use for each bid. That’s okay—in fact, it’s a good practice—but remember to put a personal touch on all of your letters. Missing the slightest generalization in your letter may leave your would-be customer feeling that you aren’t paying them the attention they deserve.
Make sure that you address the letter to the appropriate person in the proper company and that you remain consistent throughout. Refer to specific conversation points you may have already had, outlining the services you’ve discussed, and only upsell services you believe might be helpful to the customer. Remember, even in this highly-automated world we live in, there’s nothing more important in business than excellent customer service and building relationships. That starts with personalizing all of your interactions with each unique customer.
Mistake #2: Being too vague
This is a common mistake because you, as the cleaning professional, already have in your head the things your team will need to do for any given job. The customer, however, probably doesn’t know all the details, and they won’t want to be surprised by anything. When preparing your cleaning contract proposal letter, include the specific services you’re including, accurate estimates for those services, and anything else that may pertain only to the particular job you’re bidding on.
Rule of thumb: When in doubt, include the information. By the time you’re sending out a proposal, most everyone’s cards should be on the table, so including potentially unnecessary information shouldn’t hurt your business strategy. Instead, it tells the customer that you’re thorough—which they’ll want you to be with your cleaning service as well—and that you’ve given some nuanced thought to the services you can provide that will help the customer solve their problem.
Mistake #3: Neglecting a walkthrough
This is a mistake that some make before the cleaning contract proposal letter, but it’s a good one to point out because it can throw a wrench in your bid. Walkthroughs are the best way to determine precisely what your customer needs—not just what they tell you they need. By visiting the job site, you can get a better idea of what services will cost, but you’ll also be able to look for opportunities to upsell when you do get to writing the proposal letter.
If a client refuses to give you a walkthrough, you might want to consider passing on the job altogether. Much like you probably wouldn’t buy a car without test driving, you don’t want to take a job when you haven’t seen the actual facility. There may be hazardous situations, perhaps the area to be cleaned is larger than you’d thought, or maybe the client site just doesn’t fit in with the values you look for in your customers. Whatever the case, a walkthrough is a must-do if you want to write a complete, detailed, and personalized proposal letter.
Mistake #4: No references
A complete proposal letter should come with two things: A quality assurance procedure and references from happy customers. These two things can go in the same place, which is why we’re mentioning both here, because they both serve the purpose of giving the customer peace of mind about the company they’re about to hire.
The quality assurance procedure you can write internally with input from your staff, but the references, you’re going to need to ask for. Start with your oldest, most satisfied repeat clients, and work your way down. Be sure to get references from different types of businesses so you can include references relevant to the job you’re bidding on. Don’t be shy in asking for these references—most satisfied customers will be happy to take a few minutes to write you a referral. No cleaning contract proposal letter is complete without demonstrable accountability and excellence in past work.
Mistake #5: Being too humble
Usually, humility is a good quality, but when writing a bid, avail yourself of the opportunity to call out what you do better than your competitors. You don’t necessarily want to call out competitors by name, as that can potentially lead to legal trouble, but do outline not only the services, but also the quality of service that you can provide that a competitor cannot. During your initial conversations and walkthroughs, try to zero in on the services they need that only you can provide, and highlight those in the cleaning contract proposal letter.
This is also a good place to talk about your company values. What is different about your approach to cleaning, not just the services you provide. Use your company values to connect with like-minded brands who are then more likely to give a contract to a business that holds the same things in high esteem as they do. Of course, try to come up short of bragging, but if you’ve got the proof to back it up, a little showing off during a bid can be a good thing.
Of course, we all make mistakes, and no one mistake will ruin your business. But when you eliminate these five, you stand a much better chance of winning the bid in the midst of fierce competition.
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