Advice on Writing Cleaning Tender Specifications

With procurement support and training for schools, academies and Trusts diminishing, I have decided to try and plug the gap in this blog and related webinar by looking at how you can write a fit for purpose specification to help you run your tender processes more efficiently and effectively.   In the third of our series of blogs on writing tender specifications, I am focusing on detailed issues around cleaning.

For information on more general hints and tips then please take a few minutes to read “General Advice on Writing Tender Specifications.” I have also written a blog on specific issues on writing catering tender specifications that you may find useful. So moving on to the specifics ……

You will need to go into a lot of detail, specifically the different areas in your schools and how often they need to be cleaned be it daily, weekly, monthly, termly or annually. This can be nuanced when you have your successful bidder but it’s really important that you go round your school with your successful bidder with the specification. You need to check that it is fit for purpose. If they want to make changes then they must discuss what these changes are so that by the time you finish the initial mobilisation process, you have a fit for purpose spec and everyone is very clear on who is responsible for what, where, and when.

Measurements for all the internal floor areas in total square metres or feet. It’s really critical to include this as bidders will generally base their pricing on internal floor areas or productivity ratios. If you do not provide it, it’s highly likely that the labour costs in the bid will either be too much or too little.

Bidders will look at the actual size of the area they will clean and then, on the site visit, they will look at the flooring and its quality to decide what sort of productivity ratio there is. If you are in a brand-new school with big wide corridors, there is every possibility that contractors will use modern equipment. If you are a very small primary school, with more difficult floors and narrow spaces to clean it is likely the productivity ratio will be much lower.

If you don’t have scale drawings, you might be able to give them a net capacity assessment, remembering to add corridors, stairwells and toilets, but removing things like IT cupboards and storage areas that don’t get cleaned. 

In the worst-case scenario, you could use a DEC certificate if you have one, but this is a last resort as it only provides a summary.

Specialist floor coverings, if you have these, please include them.

Is internal and external window cleaning required. If so, how many windows do you have and are there any difficult to reach areas that might, for example, need a cherry picker in order to access them. 

How much deep cleaning do you require and when?

If, you need washroom consumables and/or feminine hygiene products, you need to provide a full breakdown of the products, the type, the brand, if necessary, the quantity, the collection frequencies.  Remember, bidders are trying to price and if there is ambiguity you’ll not be able to make a fair comparison.

DBS and safeguarding requirements. Be very clear on your requirements. Most schools require an enhanced DBS to be in place and the safeguarding is generally provided by the contractor. However, if you want them to do your own school specific safeguarding training, you should make them aware of that. 

And finally…….

Give yourself plenty of time. If you are running a PCR compliant tender, allow yourself six months, for the tender itself, and three months to prepare for it. 

If you are running a lower threshold tender, i.e. below the PCR threshold, then allow at least three months to run the tender and three months to prepare. While the running of the tender might be simpler, writing the specification will be just as complex as a PCR compliant tender.

I hope you find this helpful. Don’t forget to listen to my webinar on this subject which covers off the general as well as the specific detail on writing a specification. It also contains some very relevant questions about the process and upcoming legislative changes that will affect the way you procure services.

Our next blog will focus on IT Services. If this is something that you are looking at then keep an eye open – it will be worth it!

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