In February 2023, the UK’s cleaning market was determined to be worth over £55 billion per year. It’s one of the most frequently outsourced services in the UK and is particularly well-suited to SMEs in the public sector.
This is largely due to the government’s commitment to make the public sector more accessible to SMEs with low-value tenders that are ideal for small businesses that want to take advantage of all the benefits inherent in public sector tenders.
However, it can be challenging to break into public procurement and start winning contracts. The procurement process can be complicated due to fairly strict criteria, as you would expect in government tenders. With a few tips, however, SMEs can come to grips with the various procurement regulations and navigate the public sector like a pro.
We’re going to look at some dos and don’ts of applying for public tenders to make sure you are fully prepared when it comes to bidding on current cleaning tenders.
How to Win Tenders for Cleaning Services
Let’s start with some top tips for cleaning contracts’ bidding dos.
1) Research the relevant cleaning sector buyer
The first thing to do is go through the cleaning tender to see if it relates to your services. It’s no good submitting a bid on a tender for hospital cleaning services when you specialise in office cleaning.
If it looks promising, you need to research the company that published the contract for cleaning services. You can start with the easiest source – the website.
Go through the whole site and familiarise yourself with their services, pain points, USPs, and if it’s available, their mission and values. This will give you a good idea of how to approach the tendering process with their cleaning contracts in mind.
2) Ensure you understand the cleaning tender requirements
This is a more in-depth study of the cleaning contract than the run-through in step one. It’s critical to understand the precise requirements detailed in the cleaning sector tender.
Ideally, you should meet all the requirements in the cleaning contract. However, you might still have an opportunity if you’re only one or two short of meeting the criteria.
For example, if all you need to do is purchase some extra cleaning equipment or develop a new skill or two to qualify for maintenance services (for instance), it might be worth your while to submit bids on office cleaning tenders.
On the other hand, if the necessary equipment is too expensive or the entirety of the office cleaning tender is out of your reach, let it go. There will be plenty of new cleaning contracts for which your company is eminently suited.
If you tick all the boxes, you can start preparing everything you need to bid for the cleaning contract. Ensure you have all the documentation required. You may need to request certain information, for example, financial statements, or obtain customer testimonials to bolster your bid. Give yourself enough time to get all your ducks in a row.
Include examples of previous experience and provide evidence to back it up. The better you can make your business look, the better your chances of winning cleaning contracts.
3) Answer all the buyer’s questions
Information is key when it comes to public tenders and the best way to get the required information is to ask probing questions. Public sector bodies aren’t out to trick you or make you reveal any skeletons in closets. But they must find out more about your business, like your quality control measures and environmental awareness.
Environmental awareness is particularly important in the new Procurement Bill, due to come into effect in October 2024. A key focus for the bill will be social value, which includes environmentally aware business practices.
In the cleaning sector, this can relate to eco-friendly products and the greenness of your supply chain. For instance, do you source materials from companies that use recycled or recyclable packaging?
If you aren’t sure about any of the questions, ask for clarification. It’s far better to ask for more details about the cleaning contract than to make assumptions and get it wrong or leave the question out altogether.
Above all else, answer the questions honestly. The new Procurement Bill places a lot of emphasis on transparency, so it’s in your best interests to be as frank and open as possible when bidding on cleaning sector tenders.
4) Provide all the requested support information
Public sector companies might request tender documentation or other evidence to prove the accuracy of the information in your bid. Cleaning is a highly competitive sector and public procurement buyers must be 100% certain that your business meets the terms of the commercial cleaning contract, and is properly accredited and qualified.
Truth be told, accreditation is not mandatory in the public sector, but it’s strongly suggested that you have one or two to your name.
ISO 9001, for instance, is highly recommended if you’re tendering for cleaning contracts. This is an international standard for quality management. It’s a guarantee that your Quality Management System (QMS) meets certain standards regarding the safety efficiency and efficacy of your operations, processes, and performance.
Another strongly recommended accreditation for cleaning services is ISO 14401, which relates to your dedication to environmental management. This includes things like waste reduction, legislation compliance, and impact on the environment. ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety relates to risk management and onsite safety.
You might also be asked to provide financial documents to prove the stability of your cleaning business and employment policies and procedures to prove safety standards, workplace conditions, and diversity of your staff complement.
5) Get to know key decision-makers in the cleaning sector
It’s well worth getting to know decision-makers and those in charge of evaluating and assessing cleaning contracts. Fostering these relationships can provide insight into local authorities’ pain points and expectations.
It’s not going to win cleaning tenders, but it will enable you to focus your bidding proposal more narrowly and prepare for future cleaning contracts.
Getting to know the decision-makers in procurement frameworks can be especially helpful because the supplier pool is relatively small and you absolutely have to stand out compared to other cleaning companies.
Dos are always balanced by don’ts. Let’s look at the don’ts in the cleaning industry.
1) Don’t miss the contract deadline
Missing the submission deadline is the biggest mistake you can make. It results in automatic disqualification from cleaning tenders.
It’s a good idea to submit your tender a few days before submissions close, because, let’s face it, life happens and things go wrong. There could be a technical glitch on the buyer’s side that affects the submission process, or you might have accidentally submitted the tender before you were ready.
An early start means you have an opportunity to discuss the issue with public buyers to resubmit the bid.
2) Don’t submit a bid that doesn’t meet cleaning tenders’ requirements
Your bid will be disqualified if it doesn’t meet the contracting authorities’ requirements. This is why you must go through cleaning tenders with a fine toothcomb before you begin working on your bid. You’ll be able to tell if your cleaning services don’t fit the bill and sit back and wait for the next cleaning tender alert.
3) Don’t misrepresent your cleaning company
Don’t make any false statements in the bid. Once again, it will be disqualified and you might find that the consequences of misrepresentation make winning cleaning contracts in the future a smidge harder.
Even unintentional or mistaken misrepresentation will result in penalties and possible disqualification. This alone is a good reason to go over the contract several times before submitting it to local authorities.
4) Don’t give up
You’re not going to win all the cleaning tenders you bid on, especially if it’s the first time you’re going through the public sector tendering process. Take heart if you’re unsuccessful and use it as a learning experience. You’ll get feedback on your cleaning tender, which you can use to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.
It’s the perfect opportunity to clean up your tendering process, enhance your strengths (be they office cleaner tenders or otherwise), address problem areas before you bid on live tenders, and prepare for more contracts in the future.
Where To Find Government Cleaning Contracts
It can be tricky keeping track of new tenders and business opportunities as they become available. It’s even tricker keeping track of which cleaning tenders are closing in on their bidding deadline.
Supply2Gov (S2G) provides one platform for public sector tenders that suppliers can access to find tenders specific to their industry; office cleaning tenders, for example.
S2G has a database that boasts more tender notices than the Government’s public sector database. Our platform lists cleaning tenders and other contracts of all sizes throughout the UK and Ireland. All you need to do is register on the website, choose which package you want, and set up email alerts so you never miss another cleaning tender again.
Packages include free alerts from local authorities or contract packages that deliver notifications of more cleaning tenders throughout the UK.