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Bid Writing for Winning Cleaning Services Tenders – The Ultimate Guide!


Written by Chris Turner


Feb 02, 2023

Worth over £55 billion annually, UK cleaning services offer a fantastic opportunity to Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to increase turnover and branch out to new buyers. Supporting the UK government's commitment to award 1/3 of contracts to SMEs annually, there has never been a better time to expand your cleaning business through public procurement.

What are Cleaning Services tenders?

To demonstrate the scope that cleaning services can cover, popular types of services include:

  • Office cleaning
  • School cleaning
  • Window cleaning
  • Decontamination
  • Pest control
  • Graffiti removal
  • Street cleaning and sweeping
  • Gritting and snow clearing
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Cleaning products
  • Personal care and hygiene
  • Laundry services

Offering so many delivery options, cleaning services contracts are an ideal way for SMEs such as yours to expand at your own pace, concentrating on the types of delivery that really matter to you and your business.

To put it simply, a cleaning service tender is an application to provide a cleaning service to a company, kind of like a job application. Your application will be specific to the scope of works required and you will be scored based on how closely you can deliver what the buyer is looking for.

Tenders are scored on the principle of being the “Most Economically Advantageous Tender” (MEAT), with the highest bidder being awarded the contract. Having the MEAT does not necessarily mean that your solution, product or service is the cheapest option, however. Being the MEAT can mean that your company can prove instances of added value through social value commitments or innovative offerings. Basically, proving that you are worth your money.

Contract values can vary from under £5,000 through to multi-million pound deals, and everything in-between. After reading our advice and talking to our experts, you will be in the best place to expand your cleaning business into the lucrative public sector.

Check out our experience winning facilities management and domestic and specialist cleaning services here.

We know that the tendering process can be confusing, which is why we want to help you get ahead of the game and put you in the best place to win your next bid. For more information on the tendering process, check out our "What is a Tender?” blog.

Where can I find cleaning service tenders?

Cleaning services contracts can be put to either private or public tender:

Private tenders: Allow buying organisations to invite certain suppliers to apply for their contract. This means that the supply pool is small, if existent at all. Private organisations can choose to directly purchase services from suppliers without advertising the opportunity at all. This means that if you aren’t in the with the right group, you are missing out. What’s more, private tenders often massively disadvantage SMEs due to them having less brand awareness.

Public tenders: Are taxpayer funded services that are procured for public use. This means that they are for use by public services, rather than private organisations. Opportunities for public contracts are posted on the UK Government’s Find a Tender and Contracts Finder websites. These are updated daily and require constant monitoring to ensure that, due to the volume uploaded, any cleaning tenders are not missed.

Instead of taking time and resources away from running your cleaning SME, we recommend a free-to-use service such as Tender Pipeline where opportunities from the government websites are combined in to one easy-to-search place. Make full use of Tender Pipeline’s alert system, where you can set up automatic email alerts whenever an opportunity that matches your criteria is listed. Tender Pipeline is updated daily, providing you with unmissable and relevant contract opportunities straight to your email inbox. What’s more, you will have access to past and upcoming opportunities to make sure that you are always in the right place at the right time.

Click on the links to sample the cleaning tenders and facilities management tenders currently live on Tender Pipeline.

What are cleaning services frameworks?

Rather than bidding for a direct award where there is only one successful supplier (or as otherwise specified), frameworks are a list of suppliers from whom the public buyer can choose to award contracts to. They can choose to either directly award a framework supplier, or they can choose to put the opportunity out to tender between the framework suppliers.

As such, when you are bidding for a framework, you are not bidding for contract award, but rather for a place on their successful suppliers list. Framework award doesn’t necessarily guarantee you contracts, but it certainly does narrow down the pool of competing suppliers for any opportunities that come up during the framework lifetime.

Another key point is that frameworks are fantastic for business exposure. The kinds of buyers who will have access to this list of suppliers are buyers who are looking to procure cleaning services. Think of it as a concentrated pool of cleaning services buyers and suppliers.

Framework award follows the same winning criteria as the tendering process, being the MEAT. Frameworks are trusted providers of suppliers to big-name, big-spending buyers. The suppliers that they list to their buyers are the best solutions at the best price. Remember, this does not necessarily mean that they are the cheapest, but that that they can most closely provide the kinds of services required that meet the needs of/anticipate how to improve the buyer’s requirements for the most justifiable price.

Frameworks award placements to several suppliers at a time, rather than directly awarding just one. This means that bidding for framework placement gives you greater odds of visibility verses traditional procurement methods.

For more information on frameworks, check out our handy framework blogs.

Where can I find cleaning services frameworks?

There are several cleaning services frameworks, each varying in size and scope. Below are 5 of our recommended frameworks for cleaning services SMEs to consider joining.

Note: Some framework opportunities mention ‘lots’. This is where the opportunity is split into parts, each varying in requirements, for example covering geographic areas or differing in scope. Each lot will award a specified number of suppliers, but this may differ between different lots within the same opportunity.



Crescent Purchasing Consortium(CPC)

This framework currently features 5 live cleaning contracts.

  1. Building cleaning
  2. Cleaning equipment supply and maintenance
  3. Facilities management services
  4. Janitorial and cleaning supplies
  5. Kitchen equipment maintenance, deep cleaning and ventilation ducting services

Each split into between 5 and 16 lots, this means that there are 51 current opportunities that can be tendered for.

Read more about the CPC here!

Commercial Services Group

Offering an in-depth view of contract opportunities, the Commercial Services Group allows suppliers to see the list of current suppliers on live contracts.

This will allow you to get a measure of your competition and align your service offering accordingly before you write your bid.

Scope out the competition and get tender-ready by making use of the listed contract start/end dates and the list of sectors from which their buyers procure.

Crown Commercial Services (CCS)

The government framework for commercial services, CCS is a huge framework with a diverse offering of cleaning services tenders.

Our in-depth blogs on CCS and their Facilities Managementframeworks detail the kinds of cleaning services that are procured through the CCS.

All opportunities list:

  • Contract start/end dates
  • The number of suppliers per framework
  • The value of individual lots
  • The names of current suppliers
  • Instructions on how to buy
  • Details of any extension periods

South East Consortium

The South East Consortium is a community foundation established in 2020 dedicated to delivering residential/housing sector services.

Within this scope, opportunities for facilities management, such as estate cleaning, are listed for tender. Demonstrating the scope of the estate cleaning contract, this includes:

  • Cleaning of general needs and Homes for Older People Schemes (HOPS) – communal areas, stairwells, chutes, bin stores, external areas and lights
  • Cleaning of pathways and parking areas – including litter picking on adjacent grassed areas
  • Cleaning of communal outbuildings
  • External and internal communal window cleaning
  • Cleaning void properties

This framework allows for contracts to be awarded through either direct award or mini competition:

Direct award is as it sounds. Similar to private procurement, the contract is directly awarded to one of a small pool of suppliers. Only suppliers who have achieved framework placement are eligible for contract award, and there is no further tendering action required.

Mini competition is a smaller version of the tendering process where suppliers listed on the framework are invited to tender. This means that you will put together a bid for the contract (like you did for framework award) and bid against other listed suppliers for the contract.

Education Buying Group

An example of a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS), the Education Buying Group isn’t strictly a framework (find out why here), but it is an excellent route to consider when looking to expand your SME through public procurement.

Rather than being a closed method of procurement whereby opportunities to join a contract/framework are limited to when opportunities come to tender, the DPS is a constantly open network of suppliers and buyers that can be joined at any time.

Of course, MEAT standards still need to be met to join these systems, but being an ‘open market’ gives you the greatest chance for visibility to buyers.

The Education Buying Group is a DPS centred on procuring goods and services for the education sector, meaning that the types of cleaning contracts listed will reflect this.

Are cleaning services contracts right for my SME?

The only way to judge whether cleaning services are right for your company is to consider your position against our key considerations:

  • Are you actively looking to expand your SME’s brand awareness and revenue?
  • Does the contract you are bidding for align with your current service offerings and business plan?
  • Have you signed up with resources such as Tender Library to ensure that you leave enough time to research and write your bid? (Or alternatively, do you have a bid writing team in place to write your bid for you?

If the answer to any of the above is ‘yes!’ then get in touch with a member of our friendly bid writers for more information on how Thornton & Lowe can help you win cleaning services contracts.

Polish up your bids with our bid writing top tips for cleaning services tenders

Thornton & Lowe have been winning cleaning services bids for SMEs like yours for the last 14 years. In this time, we have spotted some common requirements in cleaning services tenders, which we have noted down below to give you a head start in your bid writing success:

  • Environmental management is key: Buyers want confidence that the supplier they award will abide by their environmental policies and not use any chemicals that are outside of legislative/best practice. Common accreditations that are asked for include ISO9001 for Quality or ISO14001 for Environmental Management. Emphasising your accreditation, or even just alignment to these accreditations, shows that you are a compliant supplier who can be trusted not to use any dangerous or illegal chemicals.
  • Interaction with the public: Depending on the specific type and sector of cleaning services works, you may find that your works require careful and considered interaction with the public. This will cover everything from training staff to be courteous to members of the public they encounter, through to following the appropriate health and safety precautions to maximise public safety.
  • Health and safety: Make sure that you have a robust Health and Training Policy in place that details your procedures, training and accident reporting processes in place. Buyers want complete confidence that your company provides sufficient health and safety measures for your staff, and that you have an action plan in place to ensure the safety of the public/their staff in areas being cleaned.
  • Access out-of-hours: Depending on the types of services provided, you may be required to provide your services outside of the buyer’s operating times. To prevent any issues of no-access, for example, being locked out, make sure that you have a plan in place to ensure clear lines of communication with the buyer and that areas/hours of access are mutually understood.
  • Evidence is key: A great way to prove the quality of your service delivery is to demonstrate how you have delivered similar services/overcome similar challenges/achieved customer satisfaction through examples. You will need to tailor these examples to the scope of the contract, but make sure that at every stage you are looking to prove your previous experience to the buyer.
  • Waste reduction: A hot topic to public sector buyers, you cannot underestimate the value of carbon and waste reduction. Public procurement uses taxpayer money to pay for the services that they procure. As such, the suppliers that they pay must follow government and local council initiatives towards reducing carbon emissions and minimising the amount of waste sent to landfill. When bidding for public contracts, always remember that it is not just the service you are providing, but the social value benefits of choosing you.
  • Supply chain and procurement: The public procurement process has been designed to be as ethical and rigorous as possible. This ensures that successful suppliers are compliant, experienced and will provide a high-quality service. Maintaining high standards, your buyers will also want proof that you are selecting your supply chain, staff and subcontractors on a considered and ethical basis. You may be required to prove that your company does not engage in human trafficking, that your staff are trained to the required contract standards, and evidence any checks you do to ensure the ethics and ability of your supply chain comply with the Buyer’s standards.

How Thornton & Lowe can help you win Cleaning Services contracts

From (cleaning) rags to riches, make your cleaning tenders pay with the help of Thornton & Lowe.

For more information on how Thornton & Lowe can help win you cleaning tenders, check out our history of winning contracts for school cleaning and building, maintaining and cleaning public toilets. Just a small sample of what we do, our testimonials speak for themselves!

“Totally Local Company and Thornton & Lowe have worked together now for close to three years. We have successfully secured multiple business wins as a result of this partnership and we have a number of projects ongoing.” Adam Parker, Totally Local Company

“Thornton & Lowe have always been on hand to deal with our requests quickly and efficiently. Having a large bank of material to reference is also a huge benefit, it allows us to respond to opportunities extremely quickly” Jon Mills, Danfo

We know that our clients have what it takes to win, and we champion the SMEs that make it happen. With a success rate of 75% and 90% client retention, get in touch and let us be the voice that wins you cleaning services contracts today.

Take a look at the other blogs in our Ultimate Guides series here:

Ultimate Guide to Grounds Maintenance Tenders

Ultimate Guide to Catering Tenders

Ultimate Guide to Professional Services Tenders

Ultimate Guide to Health & Social Care Tenders

Ultimate Guide to Dental Tenders

Ultimate Guide to Thornton & Lowe's Bid Writing Training

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