3 Ways to Make your Cleaning Tenders Stand Out

14th June 2019

Cleaning Tenders: Sector Insights from Hudson

Last updated: Dec 17, 2021 @ 12:18 pm

Cleaning tenders seem to be everywhere these days. Indeed, cleaning is one of the most frequently outsourced services in the UK. Each day, when our team of procurement experts scours national and international portals for new opportunities, cleaning tenders seem to pop up everywhere for services of all scopes.

Why do cleaning companies outsource bid managers?

Many cleaning companies outsource their tendering to a Bid Manager, for a few good reasons. The cleaning sector is vast, covering such areas as:

  • Private / Domestic
  • Commercial
  • Corporate
  • Education
  • Culture and Heritage Sites
  • Hospitality
  • Industrial
  • Local Government

10 years ago the UK recession hit, causing a decline in the domestic cleaning market. Many homes sought ways to reduce their suddenly constrained budgets. While other sectors also saw budget issues, calls for outsourced cleaning increased in the education, hospitality and local government sectors. The reason for this is quite simple. It can be more cost-effective to outsource cleaning requirements for a fixed price than to accommodate the internal costs.

There is no doubt, this change in attitude has created a deluge of opportunities for cleaning companies in the UK. However, with the huge amount of opportunities comes fierce competition. There are many large, successful cleaning companies with a full roster of cleaning contracts. They tend to dominate the top end of the market with contract values of £1M+.

However, for SME cleaning companies, tendering for contracts with an annual value of £0 – 150,000 can be an excellent way of diversifying their client portfolio. It can also help to increase their turnover and build their reputation. For this reason, many cleaning companies look for a bid manager for their cleaning tenders. A professional who can give them the best shot at managing their tender opportunities.

What does it take to succeed in the cleaning sector?

Broadly speaking, tendering in the cleaning sector is not all that different from tendering for anything else in public procurement. There is usually an SQ stage, followed by shortlisting (hopefully) to ITT and perhaps then a presentation. Tenders are evaluated using the MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) method. This means that they will put a certain percentage of the overall evaluation on price, and another on quality. E.g. a tender might be evaluated as 60% price and 40% quality.

The combined score from these weightings will give the overall result. The company with the best overall score should then be awarded the contract. If you are interested in learning more about the evaluation process, you can find more on our e-learning facility, Tender VLE.

More and more public or publicly-funded organisations such as schools, hospitals, and local councils are looking to get value for money in their cleaning endeavours. And that does not just necessarily mean the cheapest quotations! Indeed, purchasing organisations now use the MEAT to ensure the supplier who can provide the most value wins.

As more organisations, both public and private, outsource their cleaning requirements, the race to win a contract becomes more competitive. Prospective suppliers need to make their bids stand out.

Here are a few tips from our bid writing experts to help increase your chances of winning:

1. The devil is in the detail

Make sure you are as precise as possible in your responses to the qualitative element of a cleaning tender. Vagueness will get you nowhere. In fact, it usually detracts from the focus and substance of what you might be trying to say. The buyer will likely assume that you either don’t know what you’re talking about or have something to hide. So, give specific examples, talk about specific accreditations, give names, dates, facts, and figures. A good example of this is something we often see in clients’ previous, unsuccessful responses.

For example, some clients have been asked to detail their proposed site supervisory structure, mobilisation team, or management team. They have made the mistake of simply named job titles and potential responsibilities, rather than naming individuals. In this case, it would be a good idea to include the names, specific experience and qualifications of those involved in the project.

Adding this kind of detail lends clarity and focus to your response. It shows buyers you know what you are talking about, that you are prepared, organised and mean business. If you’re struggling to understand the question requirements, or where you could add more detail, our team can help. We can look over your work, guide you through the response element, or take the tender writing off your hands altogether. Get in touch today to see how we can help!

2. Showcase experience

Whilst it is all well and good talking in as much detail as possible about your team and internal processes, this only gets you so far. You have yo demonstrate where you have successfully done what you are proposing, in the past. Buyers need to see that you are a safe bet before they part with any cash, which is understandable. And the best way to prove that you can successfully deliver the goods and services you say you can is to show where you have done this in the past. Do not underestimate the value of a good set of well-developed case studies. Showcase your experience of past projects and your proudest achievements as a company. Including evidence will lift your cleaning tender head and shoulders above the rest.

For more information on the value of showcasing past experience, check out tender VLE video “Evidence is Key.”

3. Accreditations

One of the first things we always advise clients to include in cleaning tenders is a list of professional qualifications or accreditations if you have them. Many certifying bodies are internationally recognised and will automatically score you much needed “brownie points” with evaluators.

Professional accreditations for your quality management, information processing, security and environmental procedures (amongst others) is a good way of showcasing your professional competencies in given areas without the need to eat into word counts by providing further explanation. Indeed, telling a buyer that you are ISO 9001 accredited showcases from the outset that yours is an organisation with a robust quality management system that actually works, and has been certified as such by “those who ought to know.” If you’d like to know more about the value of accreditations, take a look at our Tender VLE video on accreditations.

So far, so simple. In this way, tendering in the cleaning sector is not that different from any other kind of public procurement tendering. However, there are definitely things that are deemed as highly important by bid managers in the cleaning sector, which it pays to be aware of, such as:

  • Supply chain and sustainable procurement

Supply chains exist in all industries, but for the cleaning sector they are often extensive. Buyers are keen to see evidence in your cleaning tender responses that your company have measures in place to ensure that your supply chain is ethical, environmentally friendly and sustainable. Remember that it is not enough to simply state that you have a procedure; you have to provide the evidence. Do you have a policy that covers this? If so, attach as an Appendix if possible. Can you provide a case study that shows how you have improved or monitored your supply chain in the past? The more evidence you can supply, the better.

  • Eco-friendly products

This is somewhat related to your supply chain. The cleaning sector uses a huge amount of chemical cleaning products, which is unavoidable. Being able to demonstrate to the Buyer that you source eco-friendly (non-toxic) cleaning products will stand you in good stead, especially if you couple it with an explanation of how your use of eco-friendly products feeds into your overarching environmental policy. ECOLOGO, EU Ecolabel, Global GreenTag Certified, Green Seal and Green Tick are all excellent ecolabels/certifications to have attributed to your cleaning products and materials.

  • Waste reduction

The emphasis on environmental awareness is strong in public procurement for the cleaning sector! As any good bid manager for cleaning tenders will be able to tell you, showing that your company has a thriving, adaptive environmental policy is really vital to scoring well in the quality section of your tender submissions.

As the cleaning sector generates so much waste (through packaging, consumables, product waste, rubbish disposal and so on) it is imperative that you show the Buyer that you are taking measures you reduce your carbon footprint through waste reduction. A realistic way of doing this is by putting in place a realistic recycling scheme, working with your supply chain to reduce packaging and showing how you work with existing clients to promote recycling and reduce waste to landfill. Getting your Environmental Management System accredited to ISO 14001 would be a huge boost to your tendering efforts.

  • Staff benefits

Good treatment of staff is imperative to all businesses, but when it comes to the cleaning sector you can really score well by showing a Buyer that you don’t just meet the bare minimum employment standards. Let us be honest; cleaning has a bad reputation for paying minimum wage, often zero-hour contracts, for what is widely considered to be a ‘low-skill’ job role.

However, as anybody who has ever worked a cleaning job can tell you, this is far from the case. Cleaning is a physically demanding role that requires staff to observe Health and Safety legislation, display time management skills and produce a high-quality service that benefits multiple end-users.

Bid managers for cleaning tenders often advise clients that showcasing how you recognise cleaning staff in questions concerning staff management, and how you give them a better-than-average employment package, can be the difference between scoring a ‘good’ mark and an ‘excellent’ mark.

  • Quality management

When tendering you will usually be asked to explain what your quality management system is. In short, you are being asked to explain what your internal procedure is for making sure that the service you are delivering is monitored, audited and maintained to a suitably high standard. Our internal bid management team specialise in the cleaning sector and highly recommend attaining an accreditation such as ISO 9001, which will show Buyers that you can be trusted to uphold quality standards on their premises/site.

So, how could a Bid Manager help your cleaning business?

There are many reasons why a cleaning company might feel that sourcing an external bid writer is the right move for them, such as:

  • Procurement know-how. The procurement process can be obscure even to those who work within it every day. Having a specialist bid manager can smooth the tendering process significantly, ensuring that your tendering efforts are given the optimum chance to succeed.
  • Cleaning sector tendering knowledge. Many bid managers have their own specialisms or general areas that they have a lot of industry knowledge for. One of our internal bid writers has extensive, hands-on experience of the cleaning sector, as well as experience of writing winning tenders. Bid managers like this can bring significant insight to tenders for a cleaning company and are often able to offer insights and advice they themselves have gained through sector-specific experience.

In Conclusion

Cleaning tenders aren’t easy. And they’re becoming even harder to win thanks to increased competition and quality standards. However, by spending time to craft your response and quote accordingly you can create a solid submission. And by remembering to provide as much detail as possible, to provide past examples wherever possible and to include evidence of official accreditations, you can maximise your chances of success.

If you’re struggling to win cleaning tenders, would like to start tendering for contracts but don’t know how or don’t have time, or just need some advice, guidance or a second pair of eyes, contact our team of procurement experts at Hudson Succeed today. Our friendly and knowledgeable Bid Writers will be delighted to help you in any way we can, to push for success with those all-important cleaning tenders.

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