Shopping for Cars & Janitorial Service - Advice for Prospective Customers


Part of the process of selling janitorial services is being able to coach the prospect on how to make an informed buying decision. We often loose bids due to price or some other factor, when in reality we know our company would have been the best choice for the customer. How can we help prospects see more than just price? How can we shape their buying criteria so they shop for and make a holistic decision about their janitorial services? The following article, written by my company's VP of sales, is an example of how you could coach a prospect on buying janitorial services.

Several weeks ago, my daughter, a recent college graduate, was in the market for a new car. When she asked for my help in this process, my first two questions were: “how much money do you have to spend?” and “what type of car are you looking for?” The answers to these questions set us on a path toward finding what would best fit her needs.

My daughter’s car search experience came to mind recently during an encounter with a prospective client. The prospective client contacted me indicating that they were obtaining bids for their custodial services. He also informed me that they would be obtaining bids from other vendors, but that they would NOT be receiving a bid from their current vendor who was doing a poor job. As a side note, “getting bids” is typically code for “we are looking for the lowest price.”

Based upon the service tasks, frequency of tasks, and expectations that they wanted, I used production rates to estimate the number of man-hours required to complete the work, and used our knowledge of janitorial wages in this market to develop our proposed price. The response that I received? “Your price is about 30% higher than our current price.” Well, of course our price is higher than your current price - that is likely the reason that you are dissatisfied with your current level of service!

In other words, this prospective customer told us what they wanted and expected but didn’t have enough money to purchase that type of service. Said another way, they were trying to purchase a Nissan Maxima with a Ford Fiesta budget. Unfortunately, I see this scenario played out time and time again.

There is a better way to achieve the janitorial service results that you desire. Use the steps below and eliminate the frustration that so many companies have with keeping their facility looking and feeling clean.

STEP #1 – DECIDE WHAT TYPE OF SERVICE THAT YOU WANT

There were several items that my daughter wanted on her car – low miles, a smaller SUV, a sun roof, and a couple of specific colors. Likewise, as it relates to your janitorial program, you must identify what you want. Saying “we just want our building to be clean” is like saying, “I just want a good car.” You must be more specific about your service expectations.

Give some thought to your expectations and gather some feedback from others in your organization if needed. Appropriately describing what you want, will assist vendors in providing a more accurate estimate of the man-hours required to meet your needs. If you don’t know how to formulate or articulate specifics, ask a reputable janitorial company to provide some assistance.

STEP #2 – MEET WITH THIS VENDOR(S) AND SHARE YOUR BUDGET

Invite this vendor(s) to tour your facility. Share with them your expectations and share with them your annual janitorial budget. Now, I realize that I lost many of you right here….but stay with me!! If the company with which you are speaking has been recommended by other company(s) in your area, there is an excellent chance that they are going to be honest in letting you know if your service expectations and budget are in alignment.

Your budget number can be a general number, for example: “our annual budget for all janitorial services is around $200,000.” Again, a reputable vendor, who wishes to establish a long-term partnership with you and other companies in your area, will only use this information for your benefit. Consider this for a moment. If you share with a reputable vendor that your annual budget is $200,000, and they agree to do the work as you described from the previous step, does it matter that you may have “left money on the table?” It depends. It depends on how important finding a reliable, consistent janitorial partner is to you.

STEP #3 - NEGOTIATE A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL PARTNERSHIP

Once my daughter had gathered all appropriate information, she began to search the internet for cars. She discovered rather quickly that to meet her budget, she would need to look for cars with a few more miles and a few less features than she had hoped.

If the janitorial vendor that you identified in Step #2 indicates that they are not able to meet your budgetary requirements based on the tasks, frequency of tasks, and service expectations described in Step #1, negotiate some items that will allow you to achieve your goals. There are several ways for you and an honest vendor to achieve your budget and service expectation goals. For example, you might ask the vendor to meet your budget in exchange for a longer service agreement. Or, you and your vendor might discuss ways to reduce the number of daily man-hours by adjusting the frequency of certain tasks from daily to every other day in certain areas in your facility.

In conclusion, finding the right janitorial company is the key to eliminating the frustration associated with inconsistent cleanliness of your facility. I am continually amazed at companies that submit janitorial RFPs, gather “bids,” and then selecting the lowest or next to lowest price, AND then are frustrated that their facility is not consistently clean. Try the steps above and you should be able to find what you want at the price you desire.

By the way, my daughter said, “Dave Ramsey says to wait until you have enough cash to purchase the car that you want. So, I’ll just wait until I have saved some more money.” Smart girl!

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