National Pro Clean Corp.

More Bidding Questions

Home | Custodial, Janitorial, Carpet and Floor Care Training | Site Map | Starting a Cleaning Business | Free janitorial, custodial, carpet and floor care training | About Us | Janitorial Bidding Software | Cleaning Management Software | Cleaning Performance Handbook | Get more cleaning contracts | Contractor start up training | Carpet Cleaning Training Program | Start or Expand a Carpet Cleaning Business | Floor Care Training Program | Cleaning Training Videos | Contact Us | Janitorial Bids | Applying CIMS tm | Shopping Cart

Become an expert at bidding janitorial and office cleaning contracts

Office Bidding

Q. How do I bid on 12 branches of a local bank. The size ranges between 2,000 to 4,000 Sq Ft. They want service 3 times per week. There is some distance involved.  

A. You are probably looking at 1-2 hours production time per branch plus travel time which you need to pay if it is route work. So basically, your pricing math will be to take your labor, payroll expenses, all supplies and overhead and then add a reasonable profit (maybe 20%-30%). Our newest edition of JanBid allows you to add travel time and a gas surcharge to cover all of your expenses.  

Q. How do I bid three buildings in Houston, Texas. They are 10,000, 12,000, and 20,000 sq. ft. respectively, all done five nights a week. What is the charge per sq. ft. for nightly cleaning in this area, and what would we charge for a three times a week service?  

A. There is a large range when it comes to bidding office buildings. In Houston, your competitive range could start at 10 cents a square foot per month and go up to 18 cents. It depends upon your travel time, type of account (a call center, medical building, or executive suites), soil conditions (light, medium, or heavy), accessibility, density of occupants (one person per 100 sq. ft or 500 sq. ft), current housekeeping duties by employees (none or considerable), building use, and detail of the cleaning specifications (full dusting nightly or weekly).

Houston shows a current janitorial labor rate of $7.51-$8.30 an hour which is very reasonable. Many contractors would add 15-20% to the cost per time when reducing the cleaning frequency from 5 days down to 3 days.

Our JanBid software takes all the guesswork out of bidding. You then create a sliding scale to project production times, costs, and profits. On each building you clean, you should track: production times, the reasons for those production times, your hourly billing rate, price per square foot, and your net profit. From this data you can more accurately project future bids.

Q. How do I bid a 10K sq. ft. medical facility?  

A. First, I would assess a difficulty factor. Take into consideration things like magazines in each office that must be straightened, frequency of dusting of windows, blinds, and such, access to dumpsters, ease of moving thru the building with trash cans and vacuums, the number of small employee restrooms, the necessity of handling medical waste, etc. Using these challenges I would determine if the cleaning times would likely be slow, medium, or fast. Your production range would probably run between 2,300 and 3,200 sq. feet cleaned per hour (cleaning times are slower for less than five times a week).

Compute your hourly billing rate by totaling payroll, payroll costs, chemical, equipment, overhead, and profit. If, for example, your payroll and all expenses including overhead total $15 an hour, you add profit by subtracting the desired profit figure from 100 and then dividing the $15 by the remainder. So, if you chose a 30% mark up, you would divide $15 by .70 to arrive at $21.43 an hour. Also, consider if you must add travel time or supervisory time, calculate how much, and add this in at the applicable rates.

Finally, I would price out additional charges for all floor care, carpet care, window washing, paper goods, and specialty cleaning of things such as microwaves and refrigerators. Bidding is actually a lot more complicated than this, so I would suggest purchasing our JanBid software. It will crunch all the numbers for you and take into consideration dozens of variables.

Q. If we charge ten cents a square foot to clean a 20,000 sq. ft. office five day a week, what would we charge for 2 or 3 days per week?  

A. Reducing the cleaning frequency from 5 days a week to 2 will result in extended cleaning times. After all, the customer has carefully and thoughtfully saved up soil just for you. There will be more trash, higher soil loads in the rest rooms, more scraps under more desks, and generally more buildup.

Many contractors will increase the nightly cleaning cost to offset additional labor when frequencies are decreased. It would not be unreasonable to add 15% to the cleaning time when frequencies are reduced from 5 to 3 and 20% when frequencies are decreased from 5 to 2.

So, if you reduce the weekly cleaning frequency from 5 times to 3, this will mean you would subtract 2 days a week from your billing (40%). However, you would then normally add 15% to the nightly cost. If your 20,000 sq. ft building was running $2,000 a month, a 2 day a week (40%) reduction would bring your price down to $1,200. By adding 15%, your billing would then re-adjust to $1380.

A reduction from 5 to 2 would incur a 60% reduction, but a 20% increase for the extra cleaning effort. Since buildings will vary in demands, you will want to track the changes in cleaning times in your buildings and develop your own formulas. Actually, JanBid software will handle all this for you in just a few seconds.

Q. How much do I charge for janitorial in rural Georgia? 

A. My guess is that rural Georgia would see competitive billing rates in the $16-$20 range for nightly janitorial and 12-18 cents a square foot, depending upon all the variables that can impact pricing and profit. Floor care and carpet care would easily go for triple the janitorial hourly billing rate.

The challenge is to accurately project your production times and multiply that times an hourly billing rate that includes your labor, expenses, and required profit. The best formula to use for this is based on past performance. Recorded production times and expenses from past or present projects are good to have when projecting prices for future work.

Square foot pricing can be misleading unless all the variables are taken into account. For example, does the janitorial bid pricing include paper goods, window washing, carpet cleaning or spot cleaning, partial cleaning on given nights, and special detail work? Since customer needs are different, so are the cleaning specifications and the price per square foot.

In addition, there are the cleaning variables to consider. For example, on floor stripping there are considerations such as: coats of finish or build up on the floor, discoloration, condition of baseboards, size of rooms, size of job, fixtures and obstructions, furniture to move, required coats of finish, color of tile, cost of supplies and productivity capability of equipment, etc.

Accurate pricing relies on a sliding scale, taking into consideration the variables by adapting to the size and difficulty of each job. It is important to know all of your costs including labor, supplies, and overhead. But, it is also important to know the going rates so you do not price yourself out of the market.

One typical “market price” survey is to make a trip to a neighboring town. Take your business cards and knock on doors inquiring about prices in that city. Janitorial rates are more difficult to obtain, but many retail stores will volunteer the prices they pay for the cleaning of windows, carpets, and floors.

Our JanBid software links you to the Bureau of Labor Statistics which shows the current janitorial labor rate in most every city. The hourly rate can change every fiscal quarter. It then adds in all of your expenses to project a competitive and accurate hourly billing rate.

Q. How do I refigure a government contract when the go from 5 days per week to 1 day per week? 

A. Experience has taught all of us that reduced cleaning frequencies result in increased cleaning times. In your case the increased cleaning time would be similar in going from APPA level 2 to an APPA level 1. Each of the 5 levels (increasing upwards) adds 15-%-20% more time. Our Cleaning Management Software will show you all the comparisons for various cleaning frequencies.   Also there are health risks by allowing surfaces to go unclean for an entire week. Recent outbreaks of MRSA prove that employees in any work environment are susceptible. Health and safety are at risk and this can increase absenteeism. A cutback in cleaning frequencies could result in employee illness which in the long run will cost the employer more.

Q. How do I calculate cleanable square footage in a building and separate out the carpet?  

A. Each building has its own makeup of carpet vs. tile and measuring every single square inch is the most accurate. However, the busier you get, the quicker you will learn to calculate bids without taking a lot of time. Prospects are impressed with accuracy, but unimpressed if you take an hour to calculate a small bid.

A fast and efficient method is to use a roll tape measuring wheel. A digital unit tends to experience battery failure at the wrong time and has a limit in measuring large buildings. As you measure, observe the carpet and soil conditions. Make notes of furniture you must move, special spots, and conduct a thorough pre-inspection. At this time, you also want to point out carpet damage, so it does not become a personal liability after you finish the job.

If you were to measure an office bay and then subtract all the carpet under the desks and file cabinets, you would likely find that the same room takes just as long to clean (by going around all the office furniture) as it would to clean it vacant. The same cleaning formula holds true in measuring and subtracting the wall thickness of every room. The reason is that you must intentionally slow down to avoid scraping baseboards or banging adjacent legs, obstructions and furniture. Electrical, computer, and phone cords must be dealt with and you must cut in around computers and other small items placed under a desk. In other words, you lose substantial momentum in an occupied office.

The quickest way to measure a medium size office facility that contains around 10% tile is to first measure wall to wall - to obtain gross square footage. Then measure the rest rooms, break room, and any other tiled, concrete, or non-used rooms. Subtract that total from the grand total of the carpet and you have the cleanable square feet. I even leave in the square footage of small concrete storage rooms or tiled janitor closets as it is often heavily soiled outside the door of each closet. (I observed in one building that the floor outside the custodial closet was the heaviest soiled area in the building and required six cleaning passes to get it in shape).

Now, if a customer checks your square footage against the amount of carpet purchased, they will find it very close - as overage is added to the carpet installation order. The customer may divide your square footage by 9 to compare with how many square yards of carpet the office contains. In many cases, the question of cleanable square feet and price per square foot does not come up, and that is fine.

If a larger building contains individual departments with different cleaning frequencies, measure and price them separately.
Also, consider offering detailed pricing for interim maintenance. Our JanBid software has an individual breakdown of carpet from all types of hard floor surfaces. It then instantly gives you deep clean pricing of carpet, interim cleaning, burnishing, scrub and top coat and deep strip estimates. It takes into consideration your production time, chemical usage, and profit.

Click for details on using JanBid to do all the work for you.

Q. How do I calculate larger janitorial contracts?  I want to expand from 2,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet.

A. If you are satisfied with the price per hour that you are earning on the current 2,000-4,000 square foot jobs, then you can easily calculate a sliding scale. First, divide the monthly fee on the 2,000 square foot building by the exact square footage. Then, divide the monthly fee you receive on the 4,000 square foot building by the exact square footage. If both buildings are similar and cleaned five days a week, you will have your base rate for the monthly square footage charge.

For example, if the 2,000 square foot building paid $380 a month for five days a week that would equal $.19 a square foot. If the $4,000 square foot building paid $520 a month that would equal $.13 a square foot. If you are bidding a similar building, cleaned five times a week (just three times larger), you may consider bidding at $.12. The larger the building, the lower your square foot price must be to remain competitive.

There are many other variables to consider when pricing your bids.
If a building requires six days a week, you would add 16.7% to the price and for seven days add 28.6% to the square foot price. If the cleaning expectations and specifications are different, you must also compensate for that in your price. Cleaning demands can be affected by several variables including density of people, condition of building, layout, interruptions, cleaning equipment and skills, etc. Pricing by the square foot assumes you have kept records on other jobs to identify the variables, cleaning specifications, hourly earnings, and production times.

Check out JanBid, it takes away the hassle, guesswork and hours of crunching numbers and gives you an accurate bid in just minutes. There is nothing like it.

Q. How do I quote on cleaning a school?
A. I would recommend using personalized workloading software specific for schools such as Cleaning Management Software that we market. It is available on a download with a 30-day free trial. It also projects chemical usage as well. The school RFP should have plenty of details to construct manpower coverage. Once you know the FTE (full-time equivalent) demand, the math becomes easy. One caution is to have a tight definition for non-cleaning expectations. Don't let chair setups at midnight catch you by surprise.

Q. How do I bid a 6000 sq. ft. building?

A.  Most experienced bidding experts will agree there are no pat formulas. There are just too many variables to consider. For example, how many times a week is the building cleaned, what is the general usage of the facility, how many employees do they have, is it cleaned while occupied, are the cleaning expectations for an extremely thorough cleaning, or is it average or light cleaning, can a touch up be performed instead of a deep clean on certain nights, do they want you to wash windows, deep clean carpets and handle floor care, do they want you to supply paper goods, do you have knowledge of your expenses and overhead (such as chemicals, equipment, office supplies, insurance, etc.) do you know your anticipated labor costs, is there considerable travel time involved, do you have anticipated profit levels?

Your production time and fee must adjust to all of these concerns. That is why cleaning variables necessitate a sliding scale. With all of this in mind, your production rate will likely vary from 2,500 to 3,500 square feet per hour for standard nightly cleaning. If your total labor cost was around $10 then your billing rate might average $20 an hour. At 3,000 square feet per hour, your cleaning time would be 2 hours X 21.6 work days or $864 a month. However, trying to suggest a price sight unseen is dangerous, so it is best to work with a mentor who can help you initially master this often challenging aspect of business start up.

JanBid can do it all for you.

Q. How much should I charge for a day a day porter if I must pay them $9 an hour?

A. By adding your total hourly overhead rate to the $9.00 an hour you will know your hourly break-even point. For example, if payroll costs are 20%, you will add $1.80 an hour more to produce your true labor cost ($10.80/hr.). Then, add all of your other expenses in the same manner.
Your final hourly rate should cover things such as travel time and the amount of management time required, so you may want to include an additional 4-5 hours a week for supervision, training, QC, etc.  If you supply approximately 60 man hours a week, then a 16%-25% markup should earn you a good profit and yet be a competitive price.

JanBid can do it all for you.

Q. How can I compete with those low bidders?

A. It's perplexing to see how some contractors bid so low and still stay in business. I suspect if they really knew in advance how little they would net, they might reconsider.
So, here is a tip. If you know the price is way below where it should be, suggest a partial clean several nights a week. A partial clean omits dusting, spray-and-wipe, and detailed vacuuming. Generally, this can reduce the price 25%-35% on a given night. There is bidding software that calculates this for you.

Secondly, always calculate your projected monthly net income on every bid. Determine how many hours it will take you to service the account (train, inspect, bring supplies, etc.). Ask yourself if this hourly rate (monthly billing divided by monthly management hours) will earn your desired monthly income. There are some jobs you cannot afford to do.

JanBid allows you to automatically bid at three different levels of cleaning. 

Q.  How do I determine square footage pricing and production rates for janitorial rates?

A.  The leading mistake new contractors make is to assume that one size fits all. For example, your cleaning production rate can run 1,000 sq. ft per hour on a small account cleaned twice a month. An account that is 3,000 to 4,000 square feet cleaned once a week might run in the 2,000 square feet per hour range. A 7,000 square foot account cleaned three times a week might average 2,800 square feet per hour. A 50,000 square foot contract cleaned five times a week might run over 3,500 square feet per hour.

You must consider the cleaning specifications, cleaning frequency, size of the building, density level of occupants, use of the building, and several other cleaning variables to project your production rate. A large number of heavily used rest rooms will slow down your productivity. You can itemize each cleaning task in the building or use bidding software that does it for you.

Depending upon size, you will likely find small buildings starting at 20 cents a square foot per month and going down to 6 cents for large high-rise office buildings. Carpet and floor care and window washing is normally quoted extra by the square foot. Your mark up above all expenses might start at 70% and dwindle down to 7% on a million square feet. With this in mind, it is best to invest in training programs, seminars, or software that will coach you on how to adjust for each building.

Q.  How do I calculate the price per square foot on a building that is 2,600 sq. ft invoiced at $260 a month?  How do I adjust prices for 5 days, 3 days, and 2 days a week cleaning?

A.  To make a uniform industrial comparison, normally a building is calculated by the square foot on a five-day a week schedule (monthly price ÷ total cleanable square feet). However, in your case you are cleaning only once a week. So, you have two options: extend the price as if you were cleaning 5-times a week, or calculate the price per time.
Your cleaning price per time ($57.69 ÷ 2600) is .02218 per square foot. But, my observation is that your cleaning rate (2600 ÷ 2.5 hours) is only 1040 square feet per hour. This rate is about 1/2 of what most contractors would clean at. I wonder if you are cleaning venetian blinds, buffing floors, and washing windows each time. This project work is not normally figured into your janitorial production rate. And it is usually billed extra.

Secondly, if you were to clean this building 5 times a week, more than likely your production rate would run 30% - 50% faster. At your current rate, and by extending your price to project 5 times a week, your price calculation is theoretically correct at .48 per square foot per month or $5.76 per sq. ft. per year.

I would work on estimating your weekly cleaning time for just a standard janitorial clean (minus any project work, changing light bulbs, cleaning refrigerators, buffing floors, etc). Then, use your adjusted cleaning time as your standard for similar buildings with similar cleaning conditions.

Q.  How do I bid 200,000 sq. ft.?  Some of the areas are open 7 days a week.

A.  If all of the city offices represent 200K, I wouldn’t think every office would be open 7 days a week. You would first total up the square footage for 5 days and then 7 days. Next, you would separate out distinct buildings that are above or below the norm in cleaning times. Those with a lot of traffic, such as police, would clean much slower. Review all the variables such as soil conditions, use, occupancy load, cleaning specifications, etc.

Next, establish a production rate for each type of building and total up the monthly man hours. Calculate the monthly hours for your day porters. Then, you would add all of your expenses and, finally, desired profit. You can locate two Internet online paper calculators to determine paper usage and then phone your local distributor for pricing. Keep in mind, many government contracts require three references for buildings you currently clean that are approximately the same size.

Q.  We were asked to do a bid on an 8500 sq. ft. building. It only has 1 unisex bathroom with a toilet, shower, and sink. It has one kitchenette and approximately 20+ cubicles. It is mostly carpet. We have to include semi-annual carpet cleaning of heavy traffic areas. My question is: Should we do 2 separate bids, one for cleaning 2 days per week and one for carpet cleaning? We charge $35 per hour. What should we charge for a government building? They want this by the square foot. $35 per hour. What should we charge for a government building? They want this by the square foot. We charge $35 per hour.

A.  On a daily basis, I help contractors with their bids across the U.S. In your case, $35 an hour will likely price you out of the market for a government bid of 8500 sq. ft. On the other hand, you should earn considerably more per hour on the carpet cleaning.

Without knowing more about the building, all of the cleaning challenges, use, density of occupants, exact cleaning specifications, your expenses, etc. it is difficult to give exact numbers. I’ve seen bids that included regular cleaning of blinds, inside window washing, cleaning chairs and so forth. If your production time for twice a week standard janitorial cleaning was 2200 sq. ft per hour that would take you 3.86 hours a time. At $35 an hour, that would run $135 a night or $1169 a month. The price per square foot would run 13.75 cents.

My guess is other bids will probably come in 20% below this. I would put it all on the same bid, but itemize the carpet. It will probably go for around 14 cents a square foot per time if the carpet is heavily used and you have some furniture to move. If you have existing buildings, be sure and crunch the numbers to see what your production rates are and if 14 cents on carpet works for around 7,000 sq. ft (or whatever the cleanable net comes to). Hope this gives you a starting point to work with.

 JanBid will crunch all the numbers for you.

Q.  We just bid a large building but did not secure the contract.  We were wondering why.

A.  There are factors unrelated to price that become part of the equation. There could be situations where a close friend or family member is bidding against you. Guess who will likely win the contract? Also, things like your references, quality assurance program, safety program, aseptic cleaning procedures, and overall sales presentation could be determining factors.

Landing bids is a numbers game and don’t expect to win every one. If you bid the contract for $5700 a month with 15 hours a night, six times a week, your bid comes out to $14.62 an hour. If you landed the bid at say 20% less or $11.69 an hour, I am not sure that you would want it at that price.

Customers, who decide only on the lowest price, remain loyal to the company who will submit the lowest bid the next time around. Besides, if you land every bid you submit, it could indicate your pricing is too low. The important thing is to remain in contact with each prospect in case they become unhappy with their original contractor.

Our Contractor Training and Certification program will provide all the help you need to land more contracts.

Q.  How do I convert price per square foot to an hourly rate for project work?

A.  First, you will need to know your current production rates for carpet and floors. Here is one formula you can use: If you charge, for example, 25¢ per square foot for strip and finish and your production time is 333 sq. ft. per hour, you first determine that it will take 3 hours to finish 1,000 sq. ft. (1,000 sq. ft. divided by 333). That 1,000 sq. ft. would be billed out at $250 (1,000 times .25). When you divide $250 by the three hours it takes to complete 1,000 sq ft, you are billing out $83 an hour.

Likewise, if you charge 14¢ a sq. ft. for hot water extraction and clean at 700 sq. ft. per hour, your hourly billing rate is $98 (700 x .14).
Without adequate records on previous jobs, you will need to estimate your production times. This will depend upon soil conditions and buildup, furniture to move, strip-ability of the floor finish, clean-ability of the carpet, access obstacles, size of equipment, and skill levels of the cleaning crew, among other things.

Check out JanBid, it eliminates the hassle, guesswork and hours of crunching numbers and gives you an accurate bid in just minutes. There is nothing like it.

Medical Bid

Q. How much should I charge for a 15,000 sq.ft. EMS facility including 1 main lobby, 15 offices, 4 class rooms, 1 break room, 1 conference room, and 3 male rest rooms and 3 female rest rooms. I must provide staff to finish weekly and detail monthly cleaning within a 4 hours’ time frame. Weekly cleaning includes trash removal, vacuum all carpets, dust and mop linoleum floors and baseboards including entrance, hallways, rest rooms, and gym. Wash and disinfect rest rooms and restock. Detail monthly cleaning- main lobby, conference room, and classrooms sweep and mop entrance, clean interior and exterior glass, high dust removal from ceiling fans, clean window/glass partitions and window sills, dust blinds, disinfect door knobs, telephones, and light fixtures, sanitize phones, clean legs of all chairs and conference table, dust television, spot clean walls around light switches, door frames and glass partitions, clean all appliances and tables and chairs in break room, restock detergent, hand soap, and paper towels.

A. If you are bidding an EMS (Emergency Medical Service) for once a week clean, that will be a slow clean. In fact, I would perform the deep cleaning once a week in a medical setting, to prevent buildup and accrual of stains and spills. So, if you factor in the deep clean once a month and add it to a weekly schedule you might be in the 2,200 sq. ft. per hour range + or – 20%. The list you have given shows a great amount of detail. If it took you 7 man-hours to clean and you charged $25 an hour that would come to $175 per time or $780 a month. You will need 2 cleaners to meet your time limit for completion.
You must assess all the cleaning variables to determine the difficulty and amount of increase or decrease for the numbers shown here. Consider investing in training programs and software available to help you learn the exact process.

Motel Cleaning Price

Q. How should I bid a motel cleaning of 30 rooms, by the hour or a flat fee? 

You run a high risk of incurring unexpected costs when bidding by the room or giving a flat fee per month. There are too many variables. It takes less time to clean a stay over because you don't pull the sheets. That ratio can change from week to week, and who will eat the extra 20% labor per room? You have a time loss when moving from one end of the facility to the other, when there is a Do Not Disturb sign. There are always interruptions for special services. Proposing an hourly rate takes the unpredictability out of the equation.

Bidding large medical center


Q. How do I bid an 80,000 sq. ft. medical center in the South, which is cleaned 5 days a week, and we need one full time person on Sunday for 8 hrs. It has 54000 sq. ft. of vinyl flooring, 5000 sq. ft. of tile & grout and the rest is carpet. It has 200 employees and we have to supply the trash bags for the entire building as well as the soap, toilet tissue, and waxy bags for the eight restrooms. Also, during the day we have to provide a porter from 8 to 5 in case the tenants need anything.

 A. The difficult challenge is to assess customer expectations and calculate daily traffic loads. Another consideration is that you likely have a dozen private restrooms and dozens of exam room sinks to clean each night. You will also need to find out the details on emptying medical trash and cleaning counters.
On a medical building this size you could expect a production rate of around 3,200 sq. ft. per hour + or – 15%. If your labor rate was $10 an hour and your expenses near national averages, along with a 25% profit, you might be just over $19 an hour. So, if your nightly cleaning time was 25 hours, that would be $475 a night. That would also include all cleaning supplies, expenses, and overhead. Sounds a little high, but keep in mind you have a large amount of hard floors to keep clean, including nightly wet-mopping.
Next, you would total up your day porter hours and multiply that times your billing rate. The account will want to see the monthly total on the bid, including the day porters. Check with your local Jan/San distributor to see if you need to add another 4% for consumables. A lot of hand washing goes on in a medical setting (or you would hope so). Your supplier should have a paper usage calculator based on the number of employees and visitors.
Carpet care around 14 cents a square foot and floor care at 2 cents to buff and 30 cents to strip would be a good starting add-on point, on a building this size. Again, the variables will determine if the projected costs would be increased by 15%, stay at the norm, or if you would subtract 15%. You will be the best judge of that, or check out the CMI bookstore for bidding software that will calculate bids with greater accuracy.

School Bid 

Q.  How do I bid for two schools in the Denver area? One facility is 44,000 sf, around 600 kids, and the other is 80,000 sf. around 1,300 kids. They need one custodial person during the day for 8 hours (cleaning the lunch room, taking out the trash, cleaning the kitchen and restrooms). What is the hourly rate I should set for 1 person, 8 hours a day? Next, they need 2 people at night to vacuum, clean the restrooms, spot clean walls, take out the trash, disinfect all the door knobs. I estimated it will take 2 people around 5 hours a day, = 10 man-hours How much is the weekly rate, not hourly, that I should ask for? 

A.  In Denver (at the time of this writing), the average janitorial pay is around $10.50 an hour. If your payroll expenses (labor burden) ran 16%, overhead (including ALL expenses) 15% and your desired profit was 25%, you would have $18.68 an hour. You did not mention who is to supply the cleaning equipment and chemicals.
You would want to enter your own expense ratios to supersede the above rates and to arrive at your exact hourly billing rate. Then, you multiply the hourly rate times the daily hours, and then times the number of days per week or per month that you plan to bill out each time.

Once a week office cleaning bid

Q. How should I bid 13,000 sq. ft. of office space, 23 offices, 4 conference rooms, 1 large meeting room, 1 lunchroom/kitchen, 4 bathrooms, 18 cubicle work stations, 1 elevator, 1 stair case, and common area? The job is 5 days a week.

A. Among other things, your building survey must identify: the work station density (number of employees divided into the total square footage), the building use (including the inclusion or exclusion of internal housekeeping during the day) and the cleaning specs (frequency of deep cleaning vs. partial or spot cleaning). You have the square footage and frequency, and some data to calculate WSD (work station density). If there are 23 offices and 18 cubicles, then there could be a work station density of 317 sq. ft. per person (13K divided by 41). This means the layout is open as opposed to compact, thus increasing cleaning speeds.
The CMM bookstore offers a bidding software package that takes this data and converts it to a production rate. Not knowing the building use and condition, it would be difficult to arrive at an exact answer. The range could be 3000 sq. ft. per hour and up to 5000 sq. ft. per hour, if the cleaning specs are relaxed. The higher rate can be obtained with a partial clean 4 nights a week, without dusting and a traffic lane touch up for vacuuming.
If your production rate calculations arrive at, say, 3200 sq. ft. per hour, then it would take 4.06 hours per night which two people can easily knock out in an evening. On the other hand, occasionally you run into a facility that demands white glove cleaning each night. Everything is polished, all details are cleaned, and the facility must be immaculate. In that case, your production rate could be down to 2400 sq. ft. per hour. A comprehensive cleaning variable score/survey is the key to accurate production rates.

Click here to learn more about bidding

Click for JanBid details

Bidding a telemarketing facility 

Q. Two of us clean a telemarketing office 3 times a week. We have been paid $800.00 a month for about 5,000 sq feet. 62 cubicles, but we are not required to dust. 7 single fixture restrooms and a small breakroom. 8 small management and sales offices. About 70 trash cans. All is carpet except restrooms. The office is moving to a 10,000 sq. ft. building with 120 cubicles, 2 restrooms with 3 stalls each, etc. The operation’s manager wants to limit the increase in cleaning cost. One thought he has is to drop to 2 times a week. I, however, don't think it will save him that much due to the added soiling between cleans. I do feel it is not in my best interest to increase the cost so much that I lose the contract. What do you feel is a fair price increase for the larger area? Of course, windows, carpet cleaning, and such will be billed separate. All paper products, waste can liners, are provided by them. I have a janitor’s closet to keep my supplies in, so no need for packing them in and out. I hope this is enough info to get your thoughts. I also telemarket for this company during the day. I got hit with $867.00 self- employment tax. Should I be figuring that into the mix somewhere?

A. Your current price is $61.54 a night ($800 ÷ about 13 cleanings). If you clean the building, say at 2,000 sq. ft. per hour, it would take 2 ½ hours a time. Your production rate should be slow for a telemarketing center due to the high workstation density with heavy use and the fact it is not cleaned nightly. If it takes 2 ½ hours to clean, then your hourly gross earnings would equal $24.62 an hour ($61.54 ÷ 2.5 hours).
When the customer doubles the size of the building, it would be normal to incur a slight increase in productivity – maybe 5-10% (especially if the occupant count is lower initially). However, by only cleaning two days a week, and assuming no one is there to empty trash, clean restrooms, or vacuum, it would not be unusual to see at least a 20% increase in nightly labor to catch up on the extra work.
If a 10K building was priced at your current rate, you would have $1,600 a month ($800 X 2). If you increased the cleaning labor 20% for skipping one day, your price would be up to $1920. If you cleaned the building 5% faster, your price would decrease to $1824. Then, if you discounted for fewer cleanings, or 2 times a week instead of 3 (33% monthly reduction in frequency), you would be down to $1223.
I would tweak the numbers, since the new price seems on the low side. In the end, it must be win/win for you and the customer. And, I would still shoot for your $24.62 an hour which sounds about right for a building that size and cleaned fewer than 5 times a week. In addition, if you were hit for an $867 bill on self-employment tax for the cleaning of this account, then you might want to consider an increase of $72 a month. If the customer would consider staying at $1600 a month for 3 times a week, that would be ideal. At least, I have given you several formulas to work with until you make your final decision.

Pricing the cleaning for a dentist office 

Q. How do I price the cleaning of a dentist office?  Once a week, 6 exam rooms, 1 bath w/2 vanity sinks, vacuuming utility closets (2), break room, and dusting picture frames, sterilization area sanitized, and vacuuming foyer/waiting area. It's well under 10,000 sq ft. 

A.  First off a disclaimer. We receive several requests each week for help on janitorial bids. However, without actually touring the facility, we can only make a ballpark guestimate. It is much safer to purchase bidding training manuals, take courses, or purchase janitorial bidding software so you can identify and adjust to all the cleaning variables. Without proper knowledge, it is like trying to locate travel directions by reading a map in the dark.

Your description appears to represent a thorough clean once a week, which would include a lot of detail work. The production rate would probably be around 2,000 sq/ft per hour. If you check with local maid services for once a week cleaning, you will probably determine the average hourly rate is $20-$25 an hour. To make your final calculation, adjust your production rate to where you think it should be, divide that into the exact square footage. This will give you the hours per time to clean. Multiply this times your desired hourly billing rate and then times 4.33 to arrive at your monthly cost.

Bid for apartment common areas

 Q. What is a competitive bid for vacuuming and general cleaning of hallways in apartment buildings. Average 70 apartments in the complex with three floors, so about 210 hallways.

A. I have seen hallways of owner occupied condos clean at over 7,000 square feet per hour. However, many of the halls were not even soiled, and only required policing with a carpet sweeper. On the other hand, a heavily soiled apartment building might take twice as long if it is misused, with soiled stairwells and smudged door glass. So, you will need to determine where this property lies within that range. If it is cleaned daily, the labor will be less per time than if it is cleaned every-other-day.
In your city, the janitorial labor rate is currently running $9.94-$10.93 an hour. Your payroll expenses, company expenses, and desired profit would likely double your labor costs, once you determine the man-hours. Keep in mind that a profit margin has to be slim whenever a building owner already has minimum wage workers on staff.
It is unlikely you will be competitive with a triple labor mark-up. Keep in mind, that cleaning variables and percent of markup should be carefully weighted and plotted on a progressive curve for soil load, access difficulty, travel time and current availability of skilled labor and productive equipment. 

Pricing to clean large building twice a week

Q. How much should I bid on a two story corporate office building that is 44,000 sq. ft.? It will be cleaned twice a week. All carpeted areas vacuumed. All VCT tiled areas cleaned and mopped (refinished as needed.) Thorough cleaning of all restrooms and all three kitchen and break areas. Empty all trash cans, and I am responsible for supplying my own cleaning equipment and supplies. Also, how much should I charge for strip and refinish VCT? 

A.  For twice a week cleaning you might run in the 12-15 labor hour range per night. Keep in mind, all the trash, dust, and scraps will be waiting for you from the three days the building was not cleaned. It would not be unusual to see a 20% increase in nighty labor when cleaning a building that is skipped 40% of the time. BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) categorizes properties as Class A, B or C. Since the tenants are paying considerably more for a Class A building then a Class C building, the cleaning demands are normally much higher.

With stringent requirements, the nightly labor will run higher, so be prepared to calculate your labor based on a sliding scale. This can be accomplished by factoring the cleaning demands, work station density, building use, and layout.

Our bidding software uses a sliding scale for carpet and floor work as well as janitorial tasks. Carpet may run $.14-.18 a square foot and floor strip and finish could run $.30-.40 for a building this size in your area. The cleaning variables must identify and quantify the amount of furniture to move; size of rooms, size of equipment that can be used, color of carpet, soil load, and finish build-up on the tile. Your current production rates can become a leading indicator of labor times. Once you pinpoint labor costs and add your expenses and desired profit (probably in the 20-30% range), you will arrive at your monthly charge.

Medical Bid

Q. I need guidance on pricing a 2000 sq ft Dialysis Center cleaned 6 days a week. Carpets are cleaned quarterly, the same with the floors (stripped and refinished). Also, customer would like the windows washed. I have tried talking to several persons who have well established janitorial services and I am getting several different prices. I don't want to under or over bid.

A. Bidding software is becoming the leading way to go when calculating accurate quotes. Prime concern would be the factoring of all the cleaning variables, including excessive travel time. So, for a ballpark bid you could estimate around an hour each time and you could price it with your local labor hourly rate multiplied times two or three. However, when allowing only an hour for labor, it is common to use a minimum trip charge. It is unlikely someone will want to drive and clean for an hour for much less than $20. If you were at $15 labor per time, then a double markup would be $30 for your minimum or $45 for a triple mark up. A dialysis unit usually requires a thorough and detailed cleaning.

Carpet cleaning in your area probably goes for 14-18 cents and floor stripping 30-40 cents for a small building. But, again, a minimum for carpet cleaning would normally average around $70-$100 and floor strip job minimum might average around $150. However, I would only strip once a year, and scrub and recoat three times. Figure 3-4 minutes per window per side times your calculated hourly billing rate. But, without knowing all the cleaning variables and exact specifications, these are only guestimates.

Pricing for a fitness center

Q. The owner of a fitness center thinks he's paying too much for the cleaning service and is considering a new quote. The facility has 21,200 SF. Basic cleaning (restrooms, showers, trash, vacuum, doors and cardio equip.) needs to be performed 7 days a week. It should take one person 2.5 hours a day to complete the job. Being a novice in estimating prices, how much do you think I should charge a month? 

A.  With limited knowledge of the facility, layout, and cleaning specifications, I can only offer a few suggestions.
It would not be humanly possible to offer a complete cleaning of a fitness center and cover the tasks you mentioned in 2.5 nightly labor hours. That would require a production rate of 8480 sq. ft per hour. Instead, to do a thorough clean you would be looking at 2,600 to 3,200 sq. ft. per hour or 6.6 to 8 hours a night.
If you were satisfied with a 25% profit and ran industry averages for expenses, you would likely be at $16-$19 an hour in Mass. So, depending upon the strictness of standards, you might be at $3,200-$4,400 per month. If you must clean the exercise equipment as mentioned, then you will lean toward the high side. And, if there is a cafeteria with tables and floors to mop, and racquetball courts that require nightly wiping of the walls, labor costs will be higher. However, if gyms or racquetball courts make up a large portion of the square footage then, your price could be lower. Carpet extraction, floor maintenance, and window washing should be extra.
Keep in mind that servicing a facility late at night, 7 days a week, is demanding for a crew.

Bidding Apartment Cleaning 

Q.  I need help with a bid to clean 700 apartments at an apartment complex. The apartments range from 483 sq. ft. to 677 sq. ft. Very thorough cleaning when tenants move out. An average of 40 apartments to clean a month.  

A.  Without an in-depth survey, it is difficult to be specific, as your request states. In the Midwest we usually see cleaning prices from $120-$240 for smaller apartments with the volume you are looking at. The range has to take into consideration your cost of operations and overhead, desired profit, skill level of workers and their pay, and especially the required cleaning specifications.

There are many variables, such as the time to remove and clean light fixtures, moving out the stove and frig and cleaning behind them, cleaning and refinishing bath and kitchen floors, etc. Do you spray and wipe windows on the inside or remove the screens, one window and then clean both sides? Is the property low-income where occupants have a sparse income to keep their apartments clean and tidy?

All of these factors (we have listed eight) become part of the pricing range. Your goal is to estimate the overall conditions of the units when vacated and then plug in a number somewhere on the scale. Once you have a price in mind, normally you itemize it for efficiency, one bedroom and two bedroom units based on square footage categories. When you divide your cleaning price by the total square footage, you arrive at the price per square foot. If there are three basic size units, then you submit 3 standard prices.

Carpet cleaning usually runs 12-15 cents a square foot depending upon soil level and access. Again, customers prefer a set price for efficiency, 1 bed and 2 bed units. Carpet repairs, red-stain removal and pet damage must be charged extra. Smaller apartment cleaning normally doesn’t generate high net revenues. This is because your pricing must compete with minimum wage workers that they could hire in-house.  With JanBid, you can wrap up all the pricing in just a few minutes.

Bidding floor care 

Q.  I am bidding the floor care maintenance for about 25 convenience stores that I manage, ranging from 750-1500 sq. ft. of flooring that will require cleaning. I need the VCT to be buffed and polished every 6 weeks and I need the carpets steam cleaned every quarter (back offices). The carpets range from 100-500 sq ft and the VCT ranges from 500-1200 sq ft. I need to know what I can expect to be charged per sq. ft. for each of these surfaces, on average, so I can properly evaluate these bids. Obviously being a convenience store, the traffic and wear & tear on the floors is moderate to heavy. 

A.  Normally, when an account is relatively small, the potential contractor must take into consideration a minimum trip charge along with travel time. In your area, we often see minimums for regular route work in the $69-$89 range. Without volume, the minimum could run considerably more. A good cleaning and propane buff might only take 40 minutes, but the travel and set up time would preclude bidding by the square foot.
In the case of carpet care, if the contractor was already there, expect to see a minimum on carpet of around $49.
However, keep this in mind regarding floor care in a convenience store. Floors cannot be buffed indefinitely without the floor finish eventually disappearing. It is unlikely it could go more than six months without a scrub and recoat. This would probably take 3-4 hours and run $150 - $250.
During the selection process, ask about references, experience, equipment, crews, capabilities and insurance coverage. Remember, the cheapest is not always the best.
JanBid has an accurate and fool-proof process for bidding floor care.

How to bid large government contracts

Q.  I need help bidding janitorial cleaning services for 7 days a week at several city facilities in California. Approximately 200,000 sq. ft. are involved. What would be the best way to bid, by sq. ft. or man-hours? We also need to supply all paper goods and keep three day porters on site all week. 

A. If all of the city offices represent 200K, I wouldn’t think every office would be open 7 days a week. You would first total up the square footage for 5 days and then 7 days. Next, you would separate out distinct buildings that are above or below the norm in cleaning times.

Those with a lot of traffic, such as police, would clean much slower. High use/high occupancy buildings might clean at 2,500 sq.ft. per hour where low usage/low density areas might clean close to 4,000 sq. ft. per hour. Review all the variables such as soil conditions, use, occupancy load, cleaning specifications, etc.

Next, establish a production rate for each type of building and total up the monthly man hours. Calculate the monthly hours for your day porters. Then, you would add all of your expenses and, finally, desired profit. You can locate two Internet online paper calculators to determine paper usage and then phone your local distributor for pricing. Keep in mind, many government contracts require three references for buildings you currently clean that are approximately the same size. I wouldn't try bidding on something this large without using JanBid.

Pricing for Porters

Q. Can you give me some suggestions on a bid for an office building. They have requested a quote as a per hour/porter rate. They need one porter from 2:30 pm-10 pm and an additional porter from 6:00 pm-10 pm. I will be paying the porters $9.00/hour. What would be an appropriate rate to charge the building per hour / porter?

A.  By adding your total hourly overhead rate to the $9.00 an hour you will know your hourly break-even point. For example, if payroll costs are 20%, you will add $1.80 an hour more to produce your true labor cost ($10.80/hr.). Then, add all of your other expenses in the same manner. Your final hourly rate should cover things such as travel time and the amount of management time required, so you may want to include an additional 4-5 hours a week for supervision, training, QC, etc.

If you supply approximately 60 man hours a week, then a 16%-25% markup should earn you a good profit and yet be a competitive price.

Bidding Residential Cleaning

Q.  What should we charge for one time residential cleaning, and what should we charge for one a week residential cleaning? We start our employees at $9.00 per hour, and I have been charging $28.50 per hour, 4 hour minimum. Is this way out of bounds?

A.  You will need to establish your hourly billing rate to return a reasonable and required net profit. This is part of the pricing strategy needed to stay in business. With that said, I know of some residential contractors there in Arkansas who charge a few dollars an hour less than you do, with a $50 minimum. That doesn't mean you will always be too high on your pricing.

Somewhere between a double and triple markup (of labor cost) usually turns a good profit and yet remains competitive. Weekly work may need to be closer to a 2 1/2 markup, while one time can usually exceed a triple markup.

Here is another pricing strategy that I teach in my contractor training programs. As a small contractor, if you desire to earn, say, $60,000 a year, and your net, after all expenses, is 33%, then you must bill out $180,000 gross to net that $60K. If you can run crews 6 hours a day (actual job time), 5 days a week, then you must bill out $115 an hour.

This would compute to approximately 4 workers at your current price.
If you have excellent references, a professional bid package, and good sales skills, expect to close 30% of your price quotes or more. If you are unable to close at least 30%, then your pricing or marketing program may need a tune-up.

JanBid Estimating Solutions

Click to return to Free Cleaning Advice

Return to navigation bar

Click to view JanBid