The bid process can vary greatly depending on whether it’s a public or private school or district. Private schools operate within their own frameworks while public entities usually have sealed bids and an open-book type of process. Public schools generally allow BSCs to apply to get on the bid list for the next bid process, says Mahanay. A district may need to prequalify your company.

“Once you are notified of an impending bid process, you should show up for all meetings and walkthroughs, bringing your most experienced operations personnel to help with getting the bid right,” Mahanay says. “Underbidding a school contract is a nightmare you never want to have.”

BSCs may be able to access the current school cleaning budget, but it may not accurately represent the facility’s specs and costs if the school or district is transitioning out of the in-house process, Mahanay adds. Specs also vary greatly between schools and districts, depending on the flooring types, finishes, the age of the buildings and the types of foot traffic within the facilities.

“Some smaller, inexperienced companies just aren’t capable of handling a huge RFP,” says Andrew Rosen, vice president of sales for Commercial Cleaning Corp., Trenton, New Jersey. “It could take a week just to read through the paperwork.”

Mahanay recommends BSCs start with smaller customers, like a small private school. The RFP process is going to be less complex than one for a large public school district, and if they do win the bid, the account can help them build their experience and portfolio while they learn the ropes.

“And don’t step into the schools market without some management and supervision staff who have strong previous experience in this market,” Mahanay adds.

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