Commercial proposal butterflies …

nervous salesman

Question: How can I develop (and price) a proposal for regular, zoned maintenance cleaning?

Steve’s Solution: “Divide and Conquer” using two free SFS forms!

Hi Steve,

Ok, so an office building called today with around 20,000 SF that they want cleaned!!! NICE! This could be the big commercial account that I’ve been looking for!

Steve, can you help me figure out how to write up the proposal for this building? What I really want to do is pitch one of your regular, zoned “Stay Beautiful” maintenance cleaning agreements where they pay me a set monthly amount. Instant cash flow!

I did read your “How to Sell Commercial” Special Report which set me up nicely for the approach but it’s basically the proposal part of it that I am a little nervous about.  Can you help me?

Nervous but Excited in Fresno

Dear Nervous,

That is wonderful news!  A few big monthly or even weekly commercial accounts can give your business a great “cash flow back-bone”!  So let’s get to work!  First, have you downloaded my “Commercial Carpet Analysis” form yet?  If not, go here right now and print it out:

Commercial Carpet Analysis

(I’m waiting … )  OK, got it?  Let’s review how to use your “CCA form”:

First section- “Questions for contact”: This is pretty self-explanatory.  You’re just getting to know them AND forcing them to make an investment of their time by answering Valid Business Questions.

Second section-  “Exterior generated soiling”: Here is where you start analyzing where their dirt comes from.  You can say something like this to your prospect:

“You see, Charlie, carpet does not get magically dirty.  The soiling comes from either outside the building or is generated internally by the actions of its inhabitants.  The purpose of this walk-through inspection with you is to analyze where the dirt that is affecting your carpet appearance is coming from.  Then I’ll take this data and structure a proposal that will give you the maximum appearance for your carpet maintenance dollar.” (Man, I am soooo smooth!  Even better, it all happens to be true!)

Third section-  “Interior generated soiling”: Same concept, Nervous.  You are involving them AND learning where their “soiling sources” are coming from.

Fourth section-  “Carpeted areas summary”: Now this is where you get (forgive me) “down and dirty”.  Here you and your prospect will analyze which areas get a) the highest use and b) have the highest “appearance priority” in the mind of the building manager PLUS you will consult with them on how often they feel each “zone” should be cleaned.  Wonderful!  Now that you have their input you should …

Ask them for their “Fire Escape Egress” drawings of each area/floor.  Or just take a photo of each floor’s map by the elevator. NOTE:  By law every commercial establishment is required to post these and have them on file.  Now just go through and measure each area and note down any special factors such as furniture to move, unusual soiling, etc.

Now the work begins.  You should know exactly what your production rate is for each type of carpet and soiling level.  (NOTE:  If you haven’t been keeping a “cleaning diary”, start doing so immediately using my Production/Profit Analysis Log HERE.)  Just analyze how long it will take you to clean each zone and then multiply by the amount you arrived at on how much you need to gross per hour when you worked your “5 M’s” with Chuck Violand on Monday at SFS.  (Add in a little bit for the most persistent “M”, our old friend “Murphy” as in “Murphy’s Law”! Things do go wrong out there!)

Now take this amount and multiply it by the number of times per year that you and your contact decided it needed to be cleaned.  Great!  Now you have a yearly amount for “Zone A”.  Do the same for each zone so that at the end of your calculations you have a yearly amount for the entire building based on a reasonable cleaning frequency for each area.  Wow!  It was a lot of work, wasn’t it?  But wait, you aren’t done yet!

Now take this total yearly amount of all zones and divide by 12 to arrive at a pro-rated monthly amount for all the work based on the frequencies you have calculated.  Now stop and do what I call a “reality check”.  Does your gut tell you this is too low?  Then bump it up a bit.  Remember it is better to make “too much” rather than “too little”.  (Even though if you have been religiously filling out your PPA Log your numbers should be spot-on.)

Depending on the job, Nervous, you may want to do several versions of this proposal with your preferred schedule and price in the middle.  (People always tend to choose the middle option when they have a choice.)  With other accounts it might just muddy the waters.  Your call. (Nobody said this was going to be easy!)  Type all this up on your letterhead and then color code the Fire Escape maps with a different highlighter color for each frequency.  Property managers love visuals and you should too.

Now go see your contact.  If they are wavering offer to do a free demo cleaning in their worst area.  Your only request is they actually be on-site to actually see you doing the work.

Let me know how it goes and my very best wishes!


P.S. I also happen to feel you should dress up for commercial work sales and presenting the proposal but we already bickered over this in your SFS seminar!  You make the decision.  After all, it is YOUR family’s financial future at stake, not mine!

2 thoughts on “Commercial proposal butterflies …”

  1. Steve

    Many of the contacts in the commercial carpet cleaning industry like descriptions of the type of method used to clean the carpet and this is obviously because the contact has no idea of the methods. What is the best way in a proposal to describe the type of method that is most beneficial to their carpet?


    Brad Donley
    Donley Services

  2. Brad,
    This is always a difficult answer. I doubt if when you go to the doctor you discuss which of the stethoscopes are best suited for you. As you stated most of these people have no clue which method works best in a particular situation. As a matter of fact most cleaners in our industry use one method and believe that everything else is a step down.

    As the chairmn of the IICRC carpet committee and vice-chair of the S100 revision I have spent a lot of time describing the various methods. After this pompous buildup of my background I will state that there is no miracle method only different tools for different carpet.

    Now that I have completely circumnavigated your question I would recommend to use the description of methods as stated in the S100 Standards. Explain that you will be using different methods as required to keep their carpet looking as good as possible within the budget limitations.

    Remind them that a proper maintenance program is about a lot more than an annual HWE. Maintenance of parking areas, sidewalks and entryways with a proper walk off mat program will save them plenty of money and extend the life of their carpet. At that point vacuuming, spot removal, interim and restorative cleaning will complete the program.

    I believe that if you explain the overall maintenance program in a confident manner they will recognize your professionalism and not be as concerned about the details of methods.

    Now I have to run as I am calling my dentist to find out what type of drill he will be using on my appointment.

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