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How to bid for cleaning contracts in 5 steps

How to bid for cleaning contracts: cleaning contractors

Key takeaways

  • To determine a competitive bid, research your potential client’s needs as well as local competitors’ offerings 
  • Conduct a walkthrough with your prospective client to understand the full scope of work, including the services required and square footage of the space
  • Calculate a price that will allow your cleaning company to turn a profit by computing the cost of each cleaning task, and consider offering alternate pricing options

When busy consumers and commercial building owners don’t have the time, skills, or resources needed to clean their own space, they turn to cleaning professionals for help. To capitalize on this audience in need (and grow your cleaning company), you need to know how to successfully bid for cleaning contracts

To create a winning cleaning bid, you have to come up with more than a price. It’s also important to show prospective clients why your cleaning business is the best fit for their needs. A bid needs to be attractive and competitive enough to make potential customers choose you over the competition yet realistic enough to allow you to make a profit and grow your business. 

How to bid for cleaning contracts: 5 steps to winning new business

Offering a bid to a new cleaning customer starts well before you put it in writing. The process begins with generating leads and researching your potential client, then moves on to determining the scope of work and creating an estimate that works for both of you. Follow these five steps to come up with bids for cleaning contracts that will help you get the job.

1. Generate high-quality leads 

Before you can start working on a bid, you need prospects that are interested in your services. A few ways that you can generate leads for your cleaning business include:

  • Running cleaning service advertisements on social media platforms 
  • Advertising with Yelp Ads so your business shows up above the search results and on your competitors’ pages
  • Offering incentives, such as gift cards or discounts, for referrals
  • Offering discounts for new email subscribers

If you want to do outreach instead of waiting for leads to come in, you can also research the owners of local properties. Platforms like ProspectNow and your county tax assessor’s website can help you identify property owners who you can contact with information about your commercial cleaning services.

Once you have an interested cleaning lead, schedule an appointment for an estimate, during which you can conduct a virtual or onsite walkthrough of their space. This will initiate the start of the bidding process.

Yelp tip: When you add or claim your Yelp Business Page, you can receive incoming leads through Request a Quote. Potential customers fill out a short form that details their project, and you’re able to respond to them directly through Yelp. You can also set your service area so customers know how far you’re willing to travel for a job.

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2. Research your potential client in advance

Knowing how to bid for cleaning contracts requires a strong understanding of your prospect’s needs. Whether you’re trying to land a commercial cleaning contract or a residential cleaning contract, do your research before you meet with your potential client for the first time.

Commercial cleaning business owners can research the facilities that their prospects own or manage. Different types of commercial cleaning jobs—like those for hotels, schools, Airbnbs, offices, and malls—have different requirements. For instance, government contracts may require more licensing than small office cleaning contracts—and knowing that will allow you to emphasize your licensing as a selling point to prove your expertise.

House cleaning business owners can also prepare talking points based on what they know about a home. Public listings on sites like Zillow and Redfin sometimes provide details about square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and information about types of floor coverings and other finish materials.

3. Determine the scope of work

How to bid for cleaning contracts: an office cleaner

When it’s time for your scheduled estimate—whether it’s in-person or virtual—you’ll be able to chat with your potential client to get more details about their needs. Make sure to gather the following information:

  • The type of services they need, like mopping, vacuuming, and spot cleaning
  • How often they need cleaning services
  • The square footage of the area to be cleaned
  • The types of surfaces to be cleaned, such as hardwood floors, counters, and carpets
  • Special cleaning areas, such as windows, ceiling fans, and baseboards, that may not be included in your standard services

Having this information will help you understand the scope of work, which you can use to calculate an estimate and compose an official bid.

While speaking to your potential client, you can also learn more about why they’re looking for a cleaning business. You might get context—like reasons they’re unhappy with their current cleaning company or other pain points they’re facing—that will help you tailor your bid to their needs and stand out.

4. Calculate a realistic price

Once you gather the information you need, start calculating a price for your potential client. Many cleaning companies refer to an official price list—which often includes an hourly rate or cost per square foot for each service—to simplify calculations. However, you may still need to come up with add-on prices if clients have special requests on top of the services you typically offer.

Make sure your prices allow you to earn a large enough profit margin to reliably cover operational expenses—like rent and insurance—and grow your business every month. Consider the costs that will go into each job, such as:

  • Transportation costs, including gas and travel time
  • Labor costs, including how many employees are needed and how much time is required
  • Cleaning supplies, including expected product usage levels if possible
  • Special equipment you need to purchase or rent

Consider researching your local competitors to see how they price their services. During this exploration, you can also identify your brand’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to theirs and how you can feature what makes your cleaning company shine.

5. Prepare a detailed cleaning bid

Office cleaner vacuuming

The final step in bidding for cleaning contracts is putting together a professional  proposal. High-quality bids should be tailored specifically to each customer and provide details that include the following:

  • A complete description of the cleaning services you’ll perform
  • The estimated time required
  • Your proposed cleaning schedule (if applicable)
  • The total cost, ideally itemized
  • Your proof of insurance and relevant business license information

Sharing testimonials and offering new client discounts can also make your bid more enticing to prospects. Plus, you can consider proposing a few different price points—for instance, discounted loyalty programs for repeat clients or other promotional packages. 

The right pricing strategy can help you highlight the value of your recommended price point while also giving your prospect other options so they don’t turn to your competitors.

You can use proposal templates from free design tools like Canva to make your bid look professional and visually appealing. Customize your document with brand elements—like your brand colors, small business logo, and typography—to ensure your cleaning company makes a good impression.

Remember to follow up with prospects if you don’t hear back after a few days. This can keep your cleaning business top of mind and nudge them to sign a business contract.

Winning business starts with the right bid 

As a small business owner, knowing how to bid for cleaning contracts is a big part of running a successful brand. When you identify a potential client who you want to pursue, start doing research to get to know their property and needs. By the time you meet, you’ll be able to cater your pitch to them personally and impress them by asking the right questions about the scope of work.

Also research the competition so you can come up with a bid that makes your company stand out from the rest.

A virtual or in-person walkthrough will allow you to determine the scope of services. When that is completed, you can calculate a bid price that takes into account all your expenses, including time, labor, and materials, so you can turn a profit. 

Then, prepare a professional bid that outlines all the services and the cleaning schedule you’re proposing. Always follow up with prospective clients if you don’t get a definite answer in a few days.

Want to get more potential customers interested in your cleaning business so you can put your bidding skills into action? Tips on how to market a cleaning business will help you attract more leads from your target market.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.