Wondering how to get cleaning contracts with schools? It might not be as difficult as you think.
As a commercial cleaner, your business prospects are everywhere you look. Boutique hotels, government offices, restaurants, small businesses, and office parks are just some of the many possible places you can win a lucrative and steady cleaning contract. In that landscape, however, there is one place that stands out: schools.
If you’re thinking about why or how to get cleaning contracts with schools, you probably already realize how steady that work would be. Schools, whether they be elementary, middle, or high schools, have heavy foot traffic. They are always in use, even outside of the typical school day. There is no shortage of things to clean in a school, and most schools are open even in the summer, at least to some degree.
School cleaning contracts need a slightly different approach, though. Compared to an office building, for instance, schools can take a lot longer per square foot to clean. Despite that, you’re often up against strict budgets and can expect some negotiations on services and fees, especially in the case of public schools. You may also be competing against well-known service providers, although that may present a hurdle, the personal touch you can offer might be appealing to school districts and private schools.
But what makes you stand out? What can you do that makes your bid one that schools and school districts want to pursue? It would be best if you had a few things lined up to win those bids.
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How to get cleaning contracts with schools: Your 5-step primer
1. Ensure your employees can pass a background check
Before you think too much about how to get cleaning contracts with schools, you need to make sure you have the people to do the job. First on that list is ensuring that your team can pass a criminal background check. This is a non-negotiable requirement. You and your team will be working around children, and a clean history is essential. Many schools even require parent volunteers to pass a background investigation. As important as this is, it’s not a prohibitively tricky task. Many police stations offer background checks free of charge.
2. Keep your turnover rate low
Schools want continuity. If you have a steady core crew that has been with you for a while, highlight that. High turnover introduces an element of instability, and it also opens the possibility that someone coming into a janitorial shift may not have the correct criminal background check.
There are multiple ways you can decrease turnover. Offering higher wages and regular raises is an obvious strategy, but that’s not the only way to build a loyal, long-term team. Paid vacation time, paid sick days, and health benefits will help you attract and keep good employees. But even things as simple as professional development opportunities and saying, “thank you,” can have a massive impact on your employee retention rates.
3. Offer green cleaning
Today, we are hyperfocused on the quality of school buildings in many communities. There is some evidence that “dirty and decrepit schools” can lead to lower test scores, so it’s only natural that communities are looking for ways to improve school environments.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to test scores than a clean building. Still, when you can put your services into a framework of benefits for students, you automatically have an advantage over your competition. You could even cite the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that points out that biodegradable cleaning products with low toxicity can “improve indoor air quality, and reduce water and ambient air pollution while also ensuring the effectiveness of cleaning in removing biological and other contaminants from the building’s interior.”
4. Start small
A lot of commercial cleaners who are thinking about how to get cleaning contracts with schools are looking at big projects. City school districts, private schools with multiple buildings, and charter school networks are certainly great contracts. But don’t overlook the small schools in your area. Some Montessori schools, for instance, may only have a few rooms in one building. Smaller private schools might limit their size. Those less obvious opportunities could lead to bigger contracts eventually, but even if they don’t, a steady contract is not a bad thing to have.
Remember, too, that school administrators go to conferences, they meet up with each other and they network. If you’re doing a good job, word will get out. The next time the large city school district needs a cleaner, your name could easily be in the running.
5. Be detailed with your bid
School administrators and school boards know they want a clean school for students and teachers. Yes, the budget is a significant factor. In fact, that will likely be the first thing that decision-makers look at when they’re evaluating bids. Here’s the catch, though. Most of those decision-makers don’t know what they are looking for.
That’s not to say they aren’t smart or dedicated. What it means is that commercial cleaning is not their area of expertise. It is, however, yours. It’s your job to make clear to them exactly what, why, and how you intend to care for their buildings and make sure their teachers, staff, and students all have a safe, clean place to work and learn.
The most direct way to do that is with a highly-detailed bid. Show them what they can expect for their investment. Run down the specifics of your experience. Highlight the importance of a team that is thoroughly trained and why even if your bid isn’t the least expensive, it is the most valuable. Everything you put in your bid adds value to your proposal. It helps the schools know why you are the most qualified and the best choice for their cleaning needs.
If you’d like to know not just how to get cleaning contracts with schools, but also where to find them, look for opportunities through your professional organization and at Government Bids, which lists contracts for schools and other government buildings.
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