A majority of building service contractors — 52 percent, to be exact — are interested in entering the educational cleaning market, according to a 2013 Contracting Profits survey of BSCs. Interest in this market has been growing, particularly since the recession, when budget cuts turned what had been bread-and-butter office building clients into a low-margin segment.

Also suffering from budget cuts, many public school districts and private schools have been transitioning from in-house custodial departments to less-expensive outsourced building services.

This has opened up an opportunity for BSCs to enter the educational market at unprecedented levels. Eager to make up the economic downturn’s lost profit margins and further differentiate themselves from the competition, cleaning contractors are increasingly targeting schools. The number of BSCs with a strong presence in the schools market increased from 17 percent in 2012 to 21 percent in 2013, according to the CP survey.

But contractors who are new to this market need to approach these accounts from a different perspective than they do any of their other customer market segments. BSCs might find themselves totally unprepared for not only the bidding process and school-specific cleaning regulations and specifications, but also the need to have a well-oiled operating structure.

“There’s a general assumption that if you can clean an office building, you can clean a school,” says Dave Frank, president of the American Institute of Cleaning Sciences, Highlands Ranch, Colorado. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything about it is different.”

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Before Cleaning Schools, Research The RFP