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Sunday, November 29, 2015


How do I estimate by square foot? Is there an average rate? I'm operating in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.


I think your approach is backward. The best way to accurately estimate costs for a job is to know from experience how much square footage of a certain type of facility you can clean in a given amount of time, and then apply your labor costs, business costs, and desired profit to those numbers.
Once you know the production rates that apply to your operation, you will be able to translate that into a sq. ft. price that may work well for that type of cleaning environment in the future.
First, survey the building. How many sq. ft. are cleanable? What surfaces are present? Carpet? Resilient tile?
Next, determine how much time you will need to spend on each operation. How long to do litter basket pickup? How long to do dusting and damp wiping. How long will the vacuuming take? Rest rooms? And don't forget about supplies and paper products, as well as peroidics such as window cleaning and floor and carpet care if they are included.
Third, add up all the numbers to determine the total labor-hours and calculate your labor costs. Don’t forget to add in the labor burden costs of taxes, insurance and benefits, etc.!
Fourth, add in your overhead and profit costs.
Fifth, Divide this number by the cleanable sq. ft. and you will have a monthly sq. ft. charge.
This, if accurate, may be used in the future for similar work, but beware of the “variables” trap! Not all buildings are the same and many factors affect the labor and equipment costs.
For example, if you can clean a 10,000 sq. ft. building in 3.5 hours, your production rate is a little less than 3000 sq. ft per hour. If you charge $760/ month, your sq. ft. charge amounts to $.076 per sq. ft. per month.
This will just about cover labor costs, leaving you with the need for adding extra charges to pay overhead, yourself, and show a profit. You may end up with $.12 / sq. ft., or $.14 / sq. ft., or another figure. There is undoubtedly an average you can calculate for your operation, but it should be based on your real-life experience, not on what others are charging or some imaginary industry average found in a book, article or computer program.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Associate Editor