Going Out To Tender For A New School Cleaner Should Not Be Hard. Follow These 6 Steps To Avoid A Lemon.
Finding the best school cleaning service is extremely important. The school cleaning company you choose can make you the hero or villain in the eyes of your staff and colleagues.
If you pick the right company delivering exceptional service, you’ll be a superstar among school staff. All of a sudden the cleaning is done right, complaints from teachers stop hitting your inbox, and you’re free to do your job without the daily distraction of managing a cleaning contract.
If you pick the wrong company, get ready for the daily complaints from your colleagues and teaching staff. You’ll become the villain among the Admin team and always be associated with poor-quality cleaning. It’s hard to get anything done when you’re constantly passing on cleaning feedback and having to manage the contract.
Commercial school cleaning companies can vary in quality. As you know, schools are high-risk environments. Business Managers and Bursars should ensure at a minimum the cleaning contractor has processes and safeguards in place to mitigate key risks:
- Cleaners are police checked and hold current WWC cards
- Time and attendance system to ensure cleaners are showing up to clean your school
- COVID-19 vaccination records and compliance
- Policy’s for chemical storage
- Key register and security
Price can also be a consideration for most schools, especially if budgets are set in advance. Before you start the tender process, do some quick research. It can help to find out how much other schools’ budget for cleaning services and what companies they use. By comparing other schools’ spending and service patterns, you’ll be able to determine if there’s room for improvement on your own campus.
Reach out to your community of school bursars to find out if they can recommend anyone.
Then after deciding on a budget, choose 3-4 reputable companies that specialise in school cleaning and send them a request for tender document. We have a free template you can use to save time and easily get prices.
How Often Should You Change Providers?
It’s important to review your school’s cleaning arrangements on a regular basis. Your current contract cleaners may have become complacent — how long has it been since they did the little extras?
From time to time, you also need to look around for pricing that fits with your enrolment fees and levies. As enrolments grow, so does your annual fee intake (and visa-versa). You may need to amend your cleaning arrangements year-to-year, to align with changes in school composition. Apart from your time, it doesn’t cost anything to ask for new tender submissions.
In fact, it could save your organisation a lot of money in the long term. In Perth, the most common length of cleaning contracts is three years, usually with an option to renew.
There are many reasons why schools would employ the best professional service provider to maintain the hygiene and cleanliness of their premises. Having quality, professional cleaning done regularly means that you fulfill your legal obligations as a school and your duty of care to the students.
It also helps to preserve your facilities in a way that minimises maintenance costs, for instance plumbing and painting. On top of that, your school can provide learners, parents, staff, and visitors with a top-notch service. It also means that you can preserve a high level of aesthetics that will reflect the school’s ethos and standards. Overall, employing a good cleaning company contributes to your facility’s positive reputation.
Allow Enough Time for the Process
Giving enough time for the tendering process to play out is vital to achieving a good outcome for your new cleaning contract. From the beginning you must allow both yourself and the service providers sufficient time to work through the tendering process effectively. Rushing the process can lead to problems down the line. We suggest budgeting about twelve weeks at a minimum.
This can be broken down as follows:
- Two weeks for project preparation and notifying the service providers
- Two weeks for the providers to give a response
- Two weeks for you to evaluate the tenders, submit recommendation reports and give feedback
- Two weeks “standstill period”
- Four weeks to mobilise the service provider who was successful in obtaining the contract
1. Create a tender request document
When creating your document, ensure that you have clearly defined the evaluation criteria. This will help with compliance later but will also assist you when you’re evaluating the tender submissions. The requirements must be tailored to the needs of your particular school, so try to avoid a “one size fits all” regime.
Provide accurate square meterage of the property so that the service providers can decide on the number of staff they’ll need to use as well as the amount of cleaning equipment, chemicals you might need. It will give them an idea of time requirements too. Remember, the size of your school will have a direct impact on the cost of the service. Always include key performance indicators in the document. These will help you manage the service when the contract is awarded.
2. Determine the requirements
Be very clear what your requirements are. Will you require cleaning services during the school holidays? Do you need the company on-site every weekday? What areas of the property will they be responsible for? Will they be responsible for waste removal?
3. Select between 2 and 4 cleaning companies
It helps to ask other schools in your area for references. This will help narrow the choices down. You don’t want to be inundated with piles of tender documents. We suggest you pick between two and four recommended companies.
4. Conduct a site visit
Every educational facility is unique, so it’s crucial to let the service providers visit the school so they can get a proper understanding of what is required. Schedule the visit in advance and have all the service providers come for site inspection on the same day at the same time. This will give them all the same experience when seeing the school. Provide an opportunity to ask any site-specific questions, and confirm that all service providers receive the same answers at the same time.
5. Receive and assess tender responses
Suppliers often submit difficult-to-interpret financials with their tender. When you review them, make sure you are clear about how they’ve been calculated and what they must include and exclude. Also, make sure the costs are completely transparent.
6. Make a decision
This will either involve choosing to remain with your current cleaning services provider or swapping to a new cleaning company. When making your decision, remember to find the correct balance between the quality of the provider and a competitive price. Don’t just settle for the cheapest contractor you find. That said, focusing on quality alone will push up your costs significantly. The trick is finding the middle ground between these two factors. The best supplier will be one that can give you the service your school needs at an affordable price.
Bear in mind that the consequences of choosing the cheapest bid instead of the best value one are complex. For one, it creates unfair competition among employers and contributes to adverse labor conditions for the cleaners themselves. Be aware that the lowest bidder might not be obeying wage legislation, social contributions, or tax obligations. All too often, shortcomings in quality is a sign that personnel and cleaning infrastructures are reduced to save on costs. Broader implications are also possible, such as unethical or even illegal practices.
What to Look for in a School Cleaning Company
Which levels of supervision are available?
You need to find out if the service provider has established processes in place. Ask how often they complete inspections, and who carries them out. Check if the company leaves dedicated supervisors on-site and if so, for how many days a week.
Communication is key to a good working relationship. Establish who the company will communicate through and what means of contact they’ll use. Do they have an after-hours contact in case of emergency spillages and so on? Also, ask how flexible they are regarding school events like sports days and parent events. Are they prepared to be flexible as cleaning requirements change?
Safety and transparency
As a school, you’re responsible for the students’ welfare, safety and transparency while they’re on school property. You need to know if the cleaners who will be coming onto your premises have had full background checks carried out. Ask about the company’s staff turnover and if the service provider GPS tracks their workers?
The cleaning company is legally required to provide you with details of their insurance policies. Are staff insured for injury, and is there extra insurance in place for items like access cards and keys? Make sure that their salaries are in line with legal requirements and that they are committed to Occupational Health and Safety standards. You should also ensure that the company has policies and procedures in place in case of accidents or other unforeseen incidents.
Consider Using a Procurement Consultancy
Procuring a new cleaning service for your school takes time, effort, and a good knowledge of the marketplace. Because of these reasons, institutions often appoint a procurement consultancy to secure cleaning services. Despite incurring further fees, this is an option well worth considering.
The consultancy can make sure that any forthcoming contract is beneficial for both parties. They’ll also work with your organisation to check that specifications are accurate for your school’s requirements and that levels of cleanliness are specific to the education sector. A procurement consultancy may even save your school some legal challenges by supplying correctly-authored framework agreements and tender documents.
Some consultancies host site visits, and will often handle the question and answer session with service providers. They can then evaluate the tender returns and provide you with feedback. Additionally, they will also advise you about the best choice of cleaning service company.
We hope this article gives you a better idea of how a sound tendering procedure allows you to evaluate your facility’s priorities. Armed with this information, you’ll be equipped to select a bidder that not only offers a competitive price but also demonstrates the skills necessary for providing a service that matches your school’s needs, specifications, and requirements.