Software Gives BSCs Professional Edge
It used to be that building service contractors had quite the task ahead when they wanted to put together bid specs. The bid proposal is a contractor’s one chance to get a foot in the door with a new customer, or the opportunity to keep an old one.
But building service contractors need to make sure that they don’t underbid or overbid based on poor calculations or estimates. Calculating bidding components has always been a challenge — one that software has made easier.
Software is available in many forms, from many providers. It has evolved to handle a myriad of tasks for BSCs, including bidding, estimating, workloading, operational management, communication, task scheduling, inspections, audits, work orders, performance reports and compliance functions.
A PROFESSIONAL IMAGE
Bids are generated by calculating labor, overhead, supplies, equipment and other factors, which can then be broken down by square feet or hourly increments. Software programs offer forms that can be filled out as a contractor walks the building — or for the more tech-savvy, the programs can be used on portable mobile devices.
Bidding software will usually require a contractor to enter what type of work or areas the job entails in order to outline the services that will be performed. It also will calculate details such as cleaning times and frequencies to determine cost vs. income, and ultimately, profit.
Workloading refers to the process of determining the cleaning tasks that need to be performed at a given building or account, and calculating the frequency and length of time each task takes. With software, BSCs can simply plug in measurements and data and the sofware will compute how many staff members are needed in the building and how much the job will cost.
Chris Kendrick of Handy Hands Janitorial Service in Mayfield, Ky., looked into purchasing bidding and workloading software a few years ago at a trade show.
“We just wanted something that would help us get our bids together more professionally and when we saw it we just figured it was something that we could use to help our business,” Kendrick says.
The software wasn’t overly expensive, and for Kendrick, who is admittedly not tech-savvy, it was easy to figure out how to use. The company mainly uses the technology for bigger customers, because those specs tend to be more complicated. The more specific and exact a BSC can be with a client on a bid, the better, he says.
“Customers like it because with the economy the way it is now, they want justified prices and we went in and showed them how we arrived at a bid,” Kendrick says.
Not only has the software improved internal operations and efficiencies, it is also a selling point to new customers. It provides an edge, Kendrick says, in this competitive industry.
“It shows a lot of people that you’re professional when you come in with print-outs and software. They like that quite a bit,” he says.
Software allows BSCs to perform many tasks and analyses at once. A major benefit to using bidding, estimating and workloading software is the retention of customer information. After it has been entered in the program the first time, that information can be used for the different applications offered by the software. For instance, after a BSC has finished the bid process, they can later do an inspection using the information that has already been used.
Employees at Red Coats Inc. in Bethesda, Md., use software that offers task scheduling and workloading that includes automated inspections and work orders.
“With the program, once you commit an inspection, it automatically goes out to all the people who are associated with that building, whether it be our managers, property managers, our VPs, division managers — it actually goes all the way to the top,” says Gary Gardini, quality assurance supervisor. “The president of the company receives the copies of these inspections as well so he has an idea of what’s going on and it helps him that he knows how people are doing.”
It used to be that BSCs had quite the task ahead of them when putting together bid specs, doing inspections and estimating workloading. Gardini remembers creating documents and saving information on disks and typing up letters, all things that software programs coordinate in easy and simple ways. The document-and-narrative form of creating bids was quite primitive in comparison to the bidding, estimating and workloading software the BSC now uses, he says.
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