Scope of Services and Requests for Proposal in Janitorial

The following is a guest blog written by noted nationally recognized expert Ron Segura

Scope of Services and Requests for Proposal

When a new management company took over the controls of a mini high-rise condominium building in Chicago, one of the first things the new manager did was review the current agreements the building had with its different vendors. What they discovered was the following:

  • Most all of the same vendors had been servicing the building for a decade or more
  • There was nothing they could point to as an actual “list of services” each vendor was to provide
  • There were no records of other vendors available to perform the same or similar services
  • Finally, there were no proposals on file of any other service providers that might have bid on services for the building in the past

Because of this, the new management company believed its first obligation to the condominium board was to review all the current contracts and then create RFPs (requests for proposals) for each service. The RFPs were not necessarily going to be used to look for new service providers, at least initially, but so that the building had a solid understanding of what services were to be provided by the different service providers.

This can actually be a very complicated process. Very often, if managers are lucky enough to have an older RFPs on file, they can use that as a starting point. However, even these may prove to be only of moderate help. As most managers know, buildings and building operations change over time which means the needs of the facility can change as well.

It’s at this point that many management companies decide the best thing to do is call in a building consultant to help them build a “working” RFP. A working RFP refers to an RFP deigned to meet the facilities needs today but one that lends itself to revisions and adjustments as needs, issues, and challenges change in the future.

Because RFPs are all different and designed for different types of service, the best way to describe how to put together a working RFP is to use an example and one service common to virtually all facilities is cleaning. Whether a building has in-house cleaning professionals handling maintenance work or outsources janitorial duties, it is important that they have a RFP on file.

The RFP will have listed all the cleaning related services needed for the building, which are referred to as the scope of work (SOW). The SOW can be used and referenced no matter who is performing the custodial work.

To develop the most useful SOW for a condo building, the consultant will likely perform many of the following:

  • Meet with the custodial workers and ask them to list all the services they now provide for the facility
  • Audit the facility to determine where the high and low traffic areas are located; this will help determine what areas need more/less attention
  • Find out which areas of the facility are busiest at certain times of the day; cleaning would need to be scheduled when these areas are used the least
  • Outline what services are needed on an “as needed” basis; which are necessary daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis
  • Note what type of hard surface flooring is installed? Some hard surface floors will require more time and attention than others; similarly note what type of carpeting is installed in common areas
  • What are the trash collection and disposal needs of the facility; is a recycling program in place
  • Is a green cleaning strategy in place or does the facility want to transfer to a green cleaning program
  • Include all common area cleaning tasks and how often they are performed
  • Are their ongoing training programs in place? Professional cleaning requires ongoing training and education and should be considered in the SOW
  • Note if there are common area restrooms; meeting rooms; gyms; libraries; laundry facilities and how often these are now cleaned, the scope of cleaning in each, along with how heavily they are used
  • What “preventive” steps the building has taken to keep the facility clean; for instance the installation of high-performance mats at building entries, in walkways, at elevators helps prevent soil from being walked into the building and spread throughout the building
  • How weather conditions impact the building; a facility in dry New Mexico, for instance, would likely have more concerns about airborne dust and soil than a building in Ohio, which typically has damp, raining climate
  • Question building managers and owners regarding their satisfaction with the building’s cleaning and where they would like to see more cleaning attention in the facility.

This last item is very important. Very often it is recommended to conduct a cleaning audit when developing a SOW. The cleaning audit may uncover cleaning issues that are a bigger concern to building tenants than the management company may realize. Tenants may feel, for instance, hallway carpets are not vacuumed frequently enough or, just the opposite, that hallways are vacuumed too often. Because vacuuming is such a time consuming – which translates into costly – cleaning task, this can have a big impact on how much time and resources should be applied to this task.


As you can see, putting together the SOW for the RFP can involve a number of steps, making it a time consuming process. Very often, a qualified consultant can help streamline the process so that it is less cumbersome and moves along much faster. However, the SOW must be thorough in order to ensure the RFP created is workable and will grow if and when the building’s needs change.

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