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Monday, December 22, 2014

Question

We are in the process of submitting a bid against other cleaning services to clean a Public Library with an area of 11,000 sq. ft. We normally just clean homes, but when got "wind" of an opportunity this size, we, of course, welcomed the chance to submit a bid and possibly "land" the account. The facility has 3 floors with 5 restrooms total. The contract calls for mopping some hardwood floors, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning of restrooms. The contract would for one year and the cleaning would be done on a weekly basis. Since this will be our first big job of such a large magnitude, we would appreciate your helping us with an estimate to clean such a facility. We are in a small town in Pennsylvania with a population of approximately 6,000 people, and around here, are NOT used to paying a high price to outsource cleaning. Whatever advice and help you can give us would be greatly appreciated.


Answer

Letís start with the time you need to spend in there. Is 11,000 sq. ft. the actual area of the spaces you will clean or is it the gross area (length x width) of the building? Use the actual figures from prints or on-site measurements to come up with the correct number so you donít bid to do more space than you need to.
Now, what is your production rate in each task in this sort of facility? Keep in mind that you are doing everything one time a week (probably the weekend) and you have 5 or 6 days of soil accumulation. and no second chance to catch it before the next opening. This will slow you down somewhat because you will have to look closely at every surface to assure you donít miss dust, litter, grit, etc.
Letís assume you can do all the tasks in there at the rate of 2000 sq. ft. per hour. The math shows you will need 5.5 man-hours. Remember, this is just a demonstration example. The faster you can work, the less time you will have to spend, so you must be sure of your numbers.
In the rest rooms, many use 3 minutes per fixture as a guide to the total restroom service time. You will be dealing with a weekís worth of use, so this may be hard to cut down. 15 fixtures times 3 minutes = 45 minutes. You get the idea.
Is there an elevator to make moving among the floors faster and less risky than using stairs? Is there a nearby water source and a place to store cleaning supplies and equipment securely? Will you be taking these items from vehicle to facility and back?
You donít have to make big money on this job. If you are in an area that does not support cleaning services at $40 per man-hour, donít bid that high.
On the other hand, donít price yourself so low that you must cut corners to survive, make this a breakeven job, or, worse, lose money. Leave that to less informed services.
You and only you know what the market is there in PA and you need to price accordingly. Making $15 to $20 per man-hour and getting the job is better than bidding $40 per hour and not getting the work at all.
If you have a large staff and lots of overhead, the higher rates are certainly better, but I suspect you are working from home with most of what you earn going to yourselves. Just remember the self-employment tax and all the other outgo when you work for yourself, and price so as to give yourself some true income from this work.
I see no reason you cannot take this on successfully, but please do the calculations before offering a price that you are stuck with for a year.

Lynn E. Krafft. ICAN/ATEX Editor
lekrafft@juno.com