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Wasn't sure where to post this question being that I am in new construction cleaning. I am having a hard time getting responses from builders to clean for. What is the best way to advertise or win bids from builders? Also what is the difference between bids and proposals? Can I just sent bids or propasals to builders through the mail without speaking to the builders first? I know this is a lot of questions but any help I can get would be much appriciated!!! Also I am in Rockford IL if anyone may be interested :)
 

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A bid and a proposal... Well there isn't much difference EXCEPT the detail of the writing. A bid might simply say "Clean job as per specification in prints dated Jan 1st, 2005. $5,000." SOmetimes there are bid packages supplied by the general contractor/builder when a specification is detailed in the prints, and all the contractor/builder wants is a bottom dollor price. In this case lowest bidder usually wins the contract.

A proposal might say
"We will remove constructiond ebris from the exterior and interior of the job site.
We will double mop the interior of the building, first with water only then with medium duty cleansers.
We will sponge all walls and surfaces, including counter tops, shelves, window sills etc...
We will wash all windows.
We will vacuum all carpets

This will cost $5,000."

As far as finding builders... www.thebluebook.com order that book for free and start cold calling and direct mailing builders in your area.
 

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Thank you so much I was hoping for a response!! Thats what I was looking for. I didn't think there was much of a difference in bids and proposals. Thanks again
 

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I'm in my 6th year of biz. I haven't had any luck or responses sending out cold-call brochures or the like wiothout having a in-road or a contact at the potential client. I find word-of-mouth works and actually visiting sites and speaking with whomever is in charge is even better. Usually developers will take a few minutes to listen to you, but are pressed for time and tend to shuffle you to someone at the home-office.

I would start by saying "Hi--I'm ______. I do cleanups---are you satisfied with your current cleaning service? If yes, leave them your card then scoot on out to the next one.

One thing about developers/builders (at least where I'm at near Detroit suburbs)---don't work for them! My experience: They want everything for a fraction of what is really worth then you have threaten to put a lien against their properties to get paid and that can take 3-4 months. You might get paid quickly in the beginning but eventually they will take longer and longer to pay. It's all a game to them. My advice: You can make much more money without the hassle and the overhead (insurance, for one) cleaning private homes.

Here's a horror story: I was interviewing with a builder (before he ripped me off) and the cleaning service owner was summoned by him about a scratched window her employee damaged while cleaning paint overspray off the window. His verdict: She was to pay him $2,000 cash to replace the entire window.
 

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Glass can be polished clean as if the scratch was never there.

BTW for direct mail to work best it should be sent with frequency. Send one letter every other month to the same list. and by all means feel free to cold call the same list of people. That's three contacts. They will remember you. Now use the same lest and send out postcards every 3 months.

Direct mail is a method of advertising which takes dedication.
 

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earthwerks said:
You can make much more money without the hassle and the overhead (insurance, for one) cleaning private homes.
I agree with you. The moms around here take really good care of the cleaning ladies. That's gotta' beat messing about with builders. Cleaning houses and cleaning new construction are totally different businesses despite their similar appearances. When you clean someone's home it's a "lifestyle" service and if you're any good you're very highly valued. When you clean for a builder you're just a neccesary evil in the process of him delivering a structure to the end user.[/QUOTE]


earthwerks said:
Here's a horror story: I was interviewing with a builder and the cleaning service owner was summoned by him about a scratched window her employee damaged while cleaning paint overspray off the window. His verdict: She was to pay him $2,000 cash to replace the entire window.
Really bad things have been known to happen to guys like that. They think they're the real deal, the big cheese, until some poor slob they stiffed, who's just trying to find a way to scrape together another weeks pay, shows them
how random life can be. I've found that builder's generally care about their subs about as much as they do their customers. Pretty good correlation there I think.
 

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earthwerks I just moved from detroit subs to Illinois what city do you live in?, I was 10 miles west of pontiac. I started my business out there and now I am starting it out here in Rockford, IL. I did used to work for a construction cleaning company in michigan and there wasnt much of a problem with anyone damaging things. I thought being insured would cover anything we break. I really enjoy cleaning new construction homes much more than residential. I have worked for many builders who we quite nice the supervisors of the subs we nice too. I love seeing the outcome of the houses when I am done with them. Thanks everyone for your responses!!
 

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guliegirl said:
earthwerks I just moved from detroit subs to Illinois what city do you live in?, I was 10 miles west of pontiac. I started my business out there and now I am starting it out here in Rockford, IL. I did used to work for a construction cleaning company in michigan and there wasnt much of a problem with anyone damaging things. I thought being insured would cover anything we break. I really enjoy cleaning new construction homes much more than residential. I have worked for many builders who we quite nice the supervisors of the subs we nice too. I love seeing the outcome of the houses when I am done with them. Thanks everyone for your responses!!
Funny--I grew up 10 miles east of Pontiac in Shelby Township! I moved downriver to Flat Rock back in 1981. And my aunt has a cleaning biz in Shelby too (about 30 employees). My aunt would give the things that her employees broke--like satuary, priceless antiques, etc. (her clientel is Rochester Hills/Troy)
She paid for things out of her pocket because once you get more than a few claims your policy is cancelled, and the next underwriter you go to get new insurance pulls a claim history on you. In Mich. they can sur-charge you for new biz by as much as 40% more than what you were paying. Have too many claims and you won't get insurance at all (I have NO claims but insurers AND agents only want the cream-of-the-crop. Agents get a $ hold-back plus a 10% commission if their insured doesn't have a claim--read: no risks--and that's what is happening here with the work I do--excavating---which my policy costs me 38% of my gross income) The other insurance market that is fast becoming hard to get insurance for is snow plowing--which I also do.

I'm extremely happy for you that you haven't been screwed by builders (not to be negative but it only a matter on time)---it's a rare tale to hear of that. And I fully agree about the post about builders take care of the subs about as well as they do their customers.
 

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Grumpy said:
Glass can be polished clean as if the scratch was never there.
There were minor scratches on many other windows in the house the builder was willing to overlook. But this was a deep scratch about 4-5 inches long made by a single-edge razor blade at the top of an arched window. When the sun hit it it looked like a prism!
I'm sure it wasn't intentional, and I don't blame the builder---wasn't his fault, not like he was trying to get something for nothing (this time anyway :D). The cleaning service scratched it, they are liable for replacing it, simple as that---but I'm sure the employee didn't pay for it--the poor cleaning sub had to.
 

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earthwerks said:
Funny--I grew up 10 miles east of Pontiac in Shelby Township! I moved downriver to Flat Rock back in 1981. And my aunt has a cleaning biz in Shelby too (about 30 employees). My aunt would give the things that her employees broke--like satuary, priceless antiques, etc. (her clientel is Rochester Hills/Troy)
She paid for things out of her pocket because once you get more than a few claims your policy is cancelled, and the next underwriter you go to get new insurance pulls a claim history on you. In Mich. they can sur-charge you for new biz by as much as 40% more than what you were paying. Have too many claims and you won't get insurance at all (I have NO claims but insurers AND agents only want the cream-of-the-crop. Agents get a $ hold-back plus a 10% commission if their insured doesn't have a claim--read: no risks--and that's what is happening here with the work I do--excavating---which my policy costs me 38% of my gross income) The other insurance market that is fast becoming hard to get insurance for is snow plowing--which I also do.

I'm extremely happy for you that you haven't been screwed by builders (not to be negative but it only a matter on time)---it's a rare tale to hear of that. And I fully agree about the post about builders take care of the subs about as well as they do their customers.

Wow I was born in Wyndotte and lived in Flat Rock when I was like 2. Crazy. I lived in Highland Milford area most of my life.
I have a question it seems hard to get insurance when first starting out as a business. Why is that? and I am not sure how being bonded works. how much does that usually cost and is that something you can include with the regular insurance or is that seperate?. I hear most builders require you to be insured 1 to 2 mil.
The lady I worked for seemed to always pay us on time. She had contracts with Centex, Toll brothers, Westminster Abbey and some other pretty big ones, I can't remember. She did have some problems with centex paying on time but no major problems.
When I did go off on my own the first builder I got took a long time to finally pay me for just one house I did. The other builder I had payed the day we did the job He was really cool. I am sure I will run into problems!! I am first consumed with trying to get contracts with builders I haven't yet got any its quite frustrating because I love to clean new homes. I hate to cold call people I feel like I would be bothering them and they probably get those calls all the time............
 

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earthwerks said:
The cleaning service scratched it, they are liable for replacing it, simple as that
No it's not that simple. I stated previously that glass can be polished using diamonds to completely buff out al scratches. My point is that it did not need to be replaced.

Here in Chicago there are things called "Taggers" who take abrasives like sand paper or lava rocks and purposely write their nicknames in every piece of glass they can find, like store fronts or car windows. (I'm saying this for the benefit of people who live int he suburbs and don't knwow hat grafitti is).

A few years ago I had the pleasure to speak with a person as he was removing such scratches from a bank window. I watched for abotu 15 minutes because I was very curious and there was ZERo visible signs that any scratches ever existed.
 

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We have a guy around here that calls himself The Glass Doctor, I'm told that he can do everything except fix broken tempered stuff. I see him all over the place, he also polishes aircraft windscreens and windows.
 

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Small world idn't it!!
Wow that makes you a G-E-N-U-I-N-E Downriver Rat!

Worst-case scenario: When you worked for someone else, they may have "shielded" you from the money problems they may have had trying to get paid---crap flows downhill as they say so if you knew what may be really going on money-wise the first impluse is to bail-out and find something more stable. On the other hand they have connections (family or otherwise) that kept the money coming in. Builders have a tendancy to reel in a hungry fish and see how they squirm when it comes to paying---a test of sorts---which is uncalled for. Those are the kind of guys I "up" the price to just for the extra hassle.

1-2M is average--though I hear some want as much as 3M. A friend down the street was one of three defendants in law suit where a traler he welded on came loose an killed someone. He didn't have anything to do with trailer coming loose (he made a folding gate for the back) but he was sued anyway. They all lost the 3M judgement split three ways. He wasn't insured for that kind of work and is now going bankrupt, and divorcing his wife for legal reasons (just on paper) Insurance is just like the service we provide---a necessary evil. Murphy's Law really applies here: Don't have (the right) insurance--you'll wish you did.

Insurance agents first want to protect THEIR own interests: commission and hold-back for no claims; just like the family dog who races out to get the newpaper for dad and expects a pat on the head, an insurance agent is just the same--only his pat on the head is in the form of $ and it comes from the insurance co if they bring in risk-free clients. That said, they only want those customers who pose little if no risk; by you just starting out you are like a high-risk teenager who has no driving experience---regardless of your age. When I interviewed with my first insurance agent I told them that this was my first time going off on my own BUT (and they want hear this part) I had extensive experience working for others going back many years so this was natural leap for me to be on my own. The more info you tell them and they feel comfortable knowing "you"--the one on who their commission and hold-back depends--the less --literally---your premium will cost you. Don't make the mistake I did by having unproven/unrealistic numbers of proifit you'll make. They asked me how much I thought I would make that coming year and I told them a high number (I had no clue what they were doing was laying a trap to increase my premium which is based on a percentage of payroll). Three years later I found out that they can only charge me for what my personal income "payroll" is (which is my total bills I spend on myself not the business bills). Plus I'm a sole-proprietorship which is a little different if I were a corporation premium-wise.

If you have employees, which I don't, then the premium is based on the number of employees--more employees means more people that pose a risk. That's why I work solo---it takes me more time butif I screw up the only one I can balme is me and have to pay the price--not the employee who says "oops" and quits and leaves me with the mess and price to pay.

Cold-calling: You have to go out there and sell yourself and the company--almost like dating (I'm single so I can relate). Rarely will they come to you---AND if they do come you--the first thing I ask them is 1. How long have they been in business? and 2. Who was doing the cleaning before? And why are they doing it now (most likely they weren't getting paid so now the company is looking for other hungry fish to eat--and spit out).
 

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About a year ago there was a thread on jlconline.com about scratches on window glass. I think the cionsensus was to (1)never use razor blades to clean glass and (2) have a disclaimer that you as a cleaner would not be responsible for scratched glass (if they want you to scrape the windows).

Scratching glass in a CENTEX house is one thing. Scratching $100,000 worth of glass in a more expensive house is another. Having the scratches buffed out might be ok for the CENTEX crowd but it won't fly on the high end jobs if you can see the buffing work when the sun shines through the window in a particular way.
 
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