(This article was originally published on 11/21/2017 and updated on 6/22/2021)
A cleaning services proposal is a great tool for driving home how your company is different from the competition — and it’s one many janitorial businesses don’t use to its full potential. This gives you an opportunity to edge out the competition and avoid the race to the bottom. In this article, we’ll show you how to write a cleaning services proposal that wins more contracts without selling yourself short.
The 9 most important Do’s of a winning cleaning services proposal (and 1 major Don't)
First, let’s get that 'don’t' out of the way, because it's a doozy.
Don’t: Focus too much on cleaning
That’s right. If you make it to the point of sending your prospect a cleaning services proposal, then they trust that you have the proper cleaning supplies and equipment and that your staff knows how to clean. And believe it or not, the average person isn’t all that interested in commercial cleaning (strange, we know).
Instead, your business proposal should focus on a few key things that make you stand out to get the prospect excited to hire your team. Carpet cleaning and window cleaning aren't exactly the most exciting of topics, but it's not about what you're selling, it's about why your company is the best choice for that particular cleaning job.
Side note: We know the client getting excited about their cleaning company sounds unlikely, but when Swept CEO Mike Brown ran a cleaning business, he had a client tell him his company was “cool.” A cleaning company? Cool? Mike thought he misheard the person.
So now that we have the “don’t” out of the way, here are nine things your company should do in order to stay ahead of your competition:
1. Do: Communicate why you do what you do
If you’re a business owner and have never heard Simon Sinek talk about starting with “why”, it’s worth the 18 minutes. But if you don’t have 18 minutes, here’s the Coles Notes version:
Most businesses understand the need to communicate what they do.
Example: Janitorial services in Philadelphia.
Some businesses talk about how they do it.
Example: Quality cleaning services with over 25 years of experience
Very few businesses communicate why they exist.
Example: To help clients feel clean, safe, and secure in their space
Sinek lays this out in what he calls, “The Golden Circle”:
What Sinek shows is that shifting the conversation to talk about your ‘why’ can have a huge impact on a customer’s perception of your business.
Using this approach, the ‘what’ you do is simply the proof of what your company believes — your why.
So the question becomes, what is your ‘why’?
The best place to describe your ‘why’ is in the executive summary at the beginning of your proposal. For a great example of an introduction, check out this cleaning services proposal template created by Proposify.
2. Do: Show how you’re different from the competition
Based on research Proposify conducted in partnership with Swept, 48% of cleaning company owners say they have no clear way to differentiate themselves from the competitors, so this is probably the most important “do” on the list. The ways you’re different from the competition shouldn’t live in just one specific section, five pages in. It shouldn’t be subtly hinted at, as if you’re afraid someone might notice you do things differently.
Your differentiation should be woven throughout your whole cleaning proposal, loud and clear.
If you’re not sure what makes you different, think through the various processes in your business that impact customer satisfaction. Do you have low cleaner turnover rates because you treat your employees so well? That certainly benefits the customer, but if this is the first time they’ve hired a cleaning company, you may need to explain how you make it a great place to work and why it matters.
Do you use a unique strategy to ensure a certain standard of quality? We’ve heard of companies who go into each location they service and hide a small coin or object, and the cleaner who finds it while working receives a prize!
Do you use innovative technology? According to a study by Google, 96% of business owners say that the use of innovative technology would influence their decision to hire one cleaning company over another if it improved communication or quality.
3. Do: tell them what your clients think about your services
Believing that your company is the bee’s knees is good (confidence is crucial!), but what’s even more important is what others think about your cleaning company.
That’s why every good cleaning service proposal has social proof sprinkled throughout. Social proof is the use of people’s opinions or actions to influence behaviour. Things like reviews, case studies, ratings, endorsements, and number of customers or products sold (Think McDonald’s – “Over 99 billion served”) are great ways to demonstrate that you can walk the walk.
This is where customer testimonials come in.
Businesses in some industries might be able to get away with generic testimonials from any Joe Schmo, or quoting a client with some level of celebrity status. You know, like Betty White endorsing Snickers:
But the janitorial industry is way too competitive for irrelevant testimonials to have an impact, and it doesn’t exactly lend itself to celebrity endorsements, either.
Your best bet is to have testimonials on hand from a variety of existing customers so that you can tailor your social proof to the business you’re selling to.
For example, if the proposal you’re working on is for a dentist’s office, choose a testimonial from another dentist office that you clean, if possible. If not, try to look for a testimonial that speaks to the same pain points your prospective client described to you in the walk-through.
4. Do: Communicate how your services will impact their organization (or life!)
As a B2B salesperson, it’s easy to forget that even though you’re selling your services to other businesses, it’s a real human being deciding to hire you, and signing the cheque.
In a large organization, the impact of a fresh, clean space could improve team morale, result in fewer sick days, or even increase productivity if employees are otherwise left to do the cleaning themselves. In a smaller organization, the impact could be more directly on one person, such as the administrative staff responsible for ensuring the space makes a good first impression on visiting clients.
Regardless of the size of your prospect’s company, a clean and sanitized space is now more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of thorough cleaning practices and set expectations that will remain in place even after the pandemic is over.
Despite things slowly going back to normal, a clean space can make or break a company’s reputation and help your clients keep their customers and employees safe, so don’t hesitate to mention that in your proposal.
In any case, be specific enough that your potential client can picture what that improvement will look like. For instance, at a daycare, a cleaner space means fewer runny noses and feverish kids — something every child care worker (and parent!) loves to hear.
5. Do: Show your commitment to your clients
How do you communicate just how serious you are about customer satisfaction?
When the founders of Swept ran their own cleaning company (before transitioning into janitorial software) they told clients this:
We’ll pay you to fire us.
Yup, you read that right.
They offered to pay the bill for their client’s last month of services if they wanted to find a new cleaning company. A bold statement, but guess how many times they were taken up on that offer? None.
No matter what your schtick, clearly communicate what the customer can expect when they hire your commercial cleaning company, and what you plan to do to ensure they are happy with your service
6. Do: Follow up
In many cases, your potential client could be receiving proposals from multiple cleaning companies, so you really need to make sure yours gets the attention it deserves. Whether they're busy talking to your competition or they just haven't had a chance to look it over, a gentle nudge never hurts.
In the State of Cleaning Proposals, we discovered that a well-timed reminder not only keeps your proposal front-and-centre, but also helps close the deal. Cleaning proposals with automatic reminders are 43% more likely to close than those without, so don't be shy.
But knowing when to send that reminder is the hardest part. With Proposify, you get real-time metrics that help you track how much time your prospects spend viewing your proposals.
With 41% of winning proposals being signed within the first 24 hours of opening, these metrics are crucial for helping you determine when to jump in to seal the deal.
7. Do: Communicate the next steps
This is less about selling and more about ensuring that the first few interactions in your new relationship as client-contractor are positive — that you start off on the right foot. The most important thing to outline here is how and when you’ll collect payment so that there are no surprises.
Hint: A word of advice — especially to those just starting out — bill at the beginning of the month, not the end. It often takes customers two, three, even four weeks to pay you. Best practice is to charge them on the day you begin working so that you have the cash to pay your cleaners for that period of time. Using the Proposify+Stripe integration, you can request payment directly in the proposal, allowing you to get paid as soon as your new client signs off.
8: Do: Use proposal software
Proposal software might be the single greatest competitive advantage when it comes to winning cleaning contracts. Beyond allowing you to create stunning proposals that will blow your competition away, it also gives you total control and insight over the proposal process. From creation to closing, it comes packed with all of the tools you need to send proposals more efficiently and effectively.
Cleaning services proposals sent with Proposify have an 81% open rate and a 73% higher close rate than the industry average. And with the recent release of Proposify Free, you can create, send, and track professional proposals without committing to a subscription.
Take JAN-PRO for example: thanks to Proposify, one of the largest international cleaning franchises was able to move their entire sales process online at the beginning of the pandemic. Now, JAN-PRO Franchises use Proposify to increase revenue generation while reducing expenses, payroll, and onboarding costs.
9. Do: Use eSignatures
In a time where social distancing and remote meetings are the norm, it’s no wonder why over 97% of closing documents are delivered virtually.
But pandemic aside, delivering and sending paper documents is a huge bottleneck, so if you're not already using eSignatures, now's a good time to start. Besides, they can help you increase close rates by up to 465% and up to 66% faster, among many other reasons.
Some final thoughts…
Now more than ever, securing commercial cleaning contracts is hard work. To stand out from the competition, you need to identify your prospect’s challenges and needs, the reason they’ve decided to hire a new contractor, and how your company can fill that gap. It can be difficult to tie that all together and communicate why they should hire your company, but it’s often the difference between winning the contract or losing out to a competitor.
But the good news is, you have help. With Proposify, you can create beautiful, well-designed proposals that will impress your prospects and get them excited to work with you. Sign up for free and start with our cleaning services template to mop the floors with your competition.