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Re: School Cleaning

Posted by Musicman (Musicman), 3 January 2004
Hi Shelyer. I have experience of tendering for (quite a lot) and winning (not many) contracts for cleaning schools. In this environment (certainly local authority schools) the clients want a Rolls Royce service for the price of a Mini.

For a supposedly learned type of establishment they display an alarming lack of intelligence.

In their defence, schools are restricted by tight budgets and if the money was available for a higher standard of service they would divert the funds towards employing more teachers, buying books etc.

You can introduce whatever changes you like but the only way to make any worthwhile cost saving is in reduction of the labour cost, as this element will represent roughly 65% of the total charge.

The two key ways to effect such a reduction are to cut the number of hours going into the cleaning, or drop the wage rate. The first affects quality, the second will be almost impossible - and if you tried it you would probably end up cleaning the whole school on your own.

In your post you mentioned changes to customer expectations and if you are to provide a service for less money this is perhaps the area to focus on.  

Explain that you can provide a service for a lower cost but that the standard of cleaning will not be as high.

When invited to tender I often submit 2 bids - the first a compliant one that meets the specification, and a second 'alternative' bid based upon a reduced specification, which in turn offers a more 'cost-conscious' price.

To be honest, tenders take up a lot of time for little reward, and more often than not I end up sending them back with a 'thanks, but no thanks' note; my view being 'let some other sucker have it'.

As far as innovations are concerned, from experience they can make a minor difference but, as with any new product, they come at cost - which tends to negate the benefit anyway.

Maybe 'The Caretakers' who contribute to this forum regularly could come up with something?!
Posted by (, 4 January 2004
My ears are burning... Grin

Yes, it's a fact of life in schools that money is often in very short supply. Most caretakers have become miracle workers when it comes to doing work with little or no cash.

I run my own cleaning staff, about 16 cleaners for 1200 kids. The work load is heavy, we really get our monies worth out of them, but they are a great team. But the main area I have found savings is in the equipment you buy and the methods of work.

When I took over from the original contractor, I ditched every bit of cr@ppy equipment they had. I bought all new high quality colour coded equipment. It really doesn't pay to buy cheap stuff.

Portion control on the main chemicals is a must. No glug glug methods in my school.

In fact, I took advice on what we use and killed 2 birds with one stone. The previous contractor had cleaners lugging equipment all over the school which wasn't good for the cleaners or the equipment.
Cleaners also regularly left bottles, sprays and equipment all over the school. We collected arm fulls every night when locking up. Stores also went walk about from dishonest cleaners.

We changed areas and working methods. We have just 1 product now which is used diluted in spray bottles and in buckets for washing floors.

We don't use polish as it makes floors slippery and is really only any good on real wood. Being a new school everything is laminated or synthetic wood these days and polish can make that look smeary.

We don't use glass cleaner. We use 3M High performance cloths. I was very sceptical at first, but the rep showed me this product, smeared Lipsol grease all over a door glass, threw a cloth at me and said remove it. With just a couple of wipes, it came off. These cloths are not cheap at 5 each, but staff sign for them and wash them out themselves every now and then and some have been in use for 2 years now and still going strong. I did a review of these cloths when I first started my site HERE

We buy the staff the highest quality mop heads. We never use bleach in our school and boil them up once a week. Yet again, some mop heads are over a year old and still as good as new.

My way of thinking is, the less products you have, the less cleaners have to lug around, the less likely they are to leave stuff around and there is less to pilfer. I issue restricted amounts of all products and equipment to staff and keep it under lock and key.

They key to saving cash is to train the staff well to respect and look after your equipment. We often have training sessions and when staff learn that all the changes in working practises benefit them by making their job easier, you soon win them on your side and get them working with you.

I've only covered a few ideas here that have saved me money, I've not even scratched the surface. But it can be done. I'm proud of the fact that I have saved 30% for my school compared to what our school used to pay out to a private contractor.

I know it's hard to make ends meet in schools, I have to produce something from nothing every day in all aspects of my work, but it can be done. Whether it's worth doing is something only you can decide. It does take a different way of thinking!
Posted by Majestic (Majestic), 4 January 2004
I  clean the external  windows of my local high school . When I went to have a look at the job  I was told to ask for  the supervisor, when I went I asked to speak to the caretaker and was told they are called supervisors . I am pleased with the price I got for the cleaning of the school , and they are pleased with the job that I do. you can see what the deputy head said about my work at
I have been asked to give a price for the cleaning of all internal windows, and at this time of year it would be a good job to get . Cool

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