The single biggest reason your proposals are read and reviewed
It finally happens. That sizeable, much-needed account you’ve courted for years contacts you with a bid request. You spring into action, arming your best people with a polished, Sears Catalog-size proposal. It  includes every detail about your

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company – your stellar safety record, spotless reputation, glowing references, a list of your anti-depreciation and training programs, evidence of your greenest of green procedures and all the other requisite files and factors designed to put you way ahead of any other bidder.

You and a couple of your best managers cart this volume into the appraisal meeting and skillfully present it to the most decisive looking person across the conference table. Though he can barely lift the proposal, he flips past the first 82 pages and goes straight to your bid price. After all your hard work, the outcome of the meeting rests on one page and one number. 

The Way It Is 
In today’s marketplace, price is everything. It’s different from the old days when loyalty and value held sway. We live in an age in which economizing and short-term thinking are the rule. Your company might provide the absolute best value around, but the bid-price page is as far as the decision makers are going to read. There’s tremendous belt-tightening pressure on purchasing, and the cleaning and facility budget is often the first to take a hit. 

It’s pretty rare these days for purchasing or management to take the time to study the whole scope of your offered value. That type of time commitment and long-term thinking just isn’t the norm anymore. Maybe Clint Eastwood was right when he said, “Well, that’s just the way it is.”  After all, it’s not like those of us doing the bidding are any different. We, too, are trying to get more for less.  And when the ‘low bid’ screws up and needs to be replaced, the same criteria is used to contract with yet another service. And so it goes. 

Merger Mania
Interestingly, nobody seems to be factoring in the long-term costs of such an inefficient process. Changing contracts and contractors is a huge, generally buried cost. Good customer relations and a decent retention record could have a significant impact on both the customer and contractor’s P&L. Of course, today’s business climate with its constant mergers doesn’t make this easy. One account I’ve had for 56 years has merged five times. Though the company continues to get bigger and better, the constant change in personnel makes it challenging to build relationships and communicate value 
over time. 

Site Presence
To overcome this problem, contractors’ top people need to spend more time on site talking with the decision makers. After all, it’s their job to keep their facility running in top form, and you have one of the biggest slices of their budget. It might take a while, but if you are around the place often enough and long enough, you will establish important relationships. In the end, this will most likely be the single biggest reason those first 82 pages of your proposal are read and reviewed. 
I still believe in the old agricultural mantra for success, “You can’t farm from the coffee shop!” Or, as l like to say, “Keep your hands in the toilet!”

Don Aslett is founder of Varsity Facility Services and The Museum of Clean. Known as “America’s #1 Cleaning Expert,” he is a sought-after media source, popular speaker and bestselling author.