A reader comments: “We have the opportunity of bidding on a school system with 20 elementary, junior high and high schools in a county in the same state. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach this opportunity?”

My initial response is very carefully since this is a rather complicated contract that requires you to work outside your basic service experience. From our discussion you do not have much experience with route work and other than a couple of day care centers you have not experience in servicing schools scattered over many square miles of a county outside your current trade area. We noted that the total square footage of these schools is greater than your current square footage being serviced.

First of all, you need to see if there is sufficient time before the bid is due to visit EVERY site and make extensive notes of current conditions, labor force (current and available in area), verify square footage, floor types (carpet, VCT, terrazzo, wood floors, etc.), rest room fixture count, cafeteria/kitchen, auditorium set up, day porter requirements, local principle expectations, after school activities (ball games, other events), total school days, total vacation days and access to sites for project work. I suggest you develop a spreadsheet to capture most of this information and invest in knowledgeable staff who can provide meaningful data. I recommend against coming up with a $ X.00 per square foot price based on unverifiable sources.

Secondly, you need to review your current staffing and management team to determine the feasibility of successfully taking on all these sites the same day/week. Will you have enough lead time to bring in your equipment, hire/train/retain custodial staff and provide the expected service from day one?

Try to do your homework and anticipate additional issues that may occur.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net