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Your Guide to Finding a Computer-Based Bidding System
By Mario J. Alvarez — posted 10/11/2010
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Perhaps you've wondered from time to time, how did I lose that janitorial bid? Have you ever won a janitorial contract, only to find out that you severely under-bid the contract, and you find yourself working that large and time-consuming account with a smaller net profit than you earn from many of your smaller cleaning accounts in your portfolio?

Well, if you haven't already considered looking for some type of cost-effective janitorial bidding software, perhaps it's time to consider including a cost-effective bidding program as part of your tool kit.

Searching the Internet
Searching the Internet for affordable cleaning services software or janitorial software with janitorial contract bidding and sample janitorial proposal features can be confusing. It is important to realize that if you search for "cleaning services software" and "janitorial software" as search terms, you will find results for sites whose products are designed primarily to help you determine employee workloads, schedule and track employees, and in some cases, allow you to manage supplies for each account you have. However, often these sites do not provide products dedicated to janitorial or cleaning services bidding and contract proposals.

Be certain to include "bid software" or "bidding software" in your search phrase, along with the words "janitorial" or "cleaning" in the search phrase. This will help you narrow your search for the proper cleaning contract software that includes these two key bidding features.

Software Features
First, look for software that is easy to use. Usually this will be simple spreadsheet software, or more automated query-database programs. Generally, the spreadsheet program will provide you with more flexibility in tailoring janitorial bids to your business, but may require slightly more initial set-up.

Remember, once most of your bidding data has been entered correctly for your first cleaning contract bid, much of the work is done. Copies of the program files can be saved and reused for bidding on new cleaning services contracts by making a few key adjustments to the figures in your spreadsheets. Although it is often a little less automated, spreadsheet bidding programs are usually much less expensive than other programs. To find cleaning services bidding spreadsheet based programs, try searching for the phrase "janitorial spreadsheet software."

Make sure that the software site you land on provides a clear description and examples of the screen displays or spreadsheets that are used in the program. This will help you better understand how you might use the program and what type of a learning curve you may be in for. Remember, most vendors will tell you that their software is easy to use.

This is because they developed it, and as with numerous products that are sold every day, such claims help to market the product. Excel-based spreadsheet programs have one distinct advantage over other bidding programs in that anyone who has basic Microsoft Excel skills can generally learn it quickly. Also, if you're not proficient at entering data into Excel, it's most likely that someone you know is—so ask for help! As always, remember to save and back-up your files

Second, it's a good idea to ensure that the program you are considering has the following features or capabilities:

  • Capable of making custom janitorial bids, prepared with detail and precision
  • Spreadsheets or program account files can be saved and modified at a later date
  • Capabilities for inclusion of overhead data into your bid
  • Capabilities for inclusion of janitorial supplies cost data into your bid
  • Capabilities for inclusion of work loads for various cleaning tasks into your bid
  • Capabilities for including production rates for cleaning tasks over a full range of cleaning areas (i.e., square feet) into your bid
  • Includes a custom bid summary sheet for each customer or account
  • Provides an editable sample janitorial proposal template with the bidding program
  • Provides charts/ tables to help you find the correct production rate or workload factors.

 

Home cleaning or janitorial bidding software that contains these features will provide you with the most flexibility in preparing precise residential and commercial cleaning bids.

Cost
If you are a large commercial cleaning concern looking for an effective bidding program and you don't have employee scheduling and tracking software already, you may be best served by selecting a commercial cleaning services software package that includes all of these features. For example, look for a system that includes employee scheduling and tracking as well as bidding capabilities and janitorial contract proposal samples or templates.

Generally, these combined packages run hundreds of dollars to start, but may offer you the flexibility and control you need to manage large numbers of employees and accounts and prepare new janitorial bids—all from one program. A more cost-driven alternative would be to shop for a more moderately priced employee scheduling and tracking program and then select a cost-effective janitorial contract bidding software separately. Reliable spreadsheet-based programs can be bought online for a fraction of more comprehensive janitorial software packages.

If you are a solo or small commercial janitorial service, you may not need employee scheduling, tracking, and supply allocation features. However, in order to stay competitive and to ensure that you minimize the risk of incorrectly under- or over-bidding for a cleaning services contract, you should consider investing in a cost-effective cleaning services bidding program to help you prepare more precise bids for small, medium, and large cleaning contracts you wish to bid on in the future.

 

Related Video
Check out this video where Steve Spencer discusses contractor bidding tips. Watch it now.

 

Mario J. Alvarez is freelance small business development author. He currently specializes in writing about the effective use of the Internet as a tool for small business development. You may contact Mario with relevant questions regarding this article at m.j.alvarez.business.development@gmail.com

Mr. Alvarez recommends the following Web site for further research on janitorial software: www.janitorial-and-home-cleaning-business-systems.com.