None of us like to lose a bid to a competitor that we know cannot perform the work at the price they quoted based on the specifications provided.  Often they do not have the background to adequately read the specifications and generate a real dollar amount based on the true costs of labor, equipment, supplies, overhead and of course, profit.  Once they start the contract, it is soon obvious that they will have to reduce the tasks/frequencies, adjust chemicals or cut other corners to maintain their profit margins.  

Of course, the customer who reviewed and accepted the proposals and chose the lowest bid may not have any real background in estimating what it really costs to clean their facility.  The usually have a budget provided by another department that states that have X percent allocated for custodial services and their bonus may be based on how close they come or even beat the dollar amount.  Such reward systems, when combined with a lack of knowledge of true costs of choosing the wrong vendor, can result in unhappy tenants, frustration, unnecessary meetings, complaints, threats and finally termination of the incumbent service provider.

I suggest that you always keep files on all proposals and revisit the contract on a regular basis to determine if they are ready for a change or have other needs you can meet such as stripping/recoating, carpet care or other tasks.  Share a newsletter or article that addresses topics such as carpet spotting, rest room odors, etc.  Always have your contact information visible so they can easily reach out to you if and when the need arises.  Use these contacts to reaffirm that yours is a professional service that can reduce their complaints while providing competitive pricing.  

When they are ready for a change, you may have to decide whether to take the contract same terms, price and conditions as the incumbent or re-bid at a higher rate.  One alternative to offer is to take the contract on for 30-90 days and then provide a realistic price based on the actual condition of the site and expectations of the tenants.  The best alternative is to review your original pricing based on the specifications, make suggestions for cost savings and stand by your numbers.  Avoid being too eager and agreeing to provide restorative work that should actually be negotiated so that the site is brought up to speed.  The only thing worse than not getting a contract is to get it at the wrong price.

Be careful of criticizing the incumbent since the people you are dealing with probably chose them in the first place.  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  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