Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Saturday, August 29, 2015


I am bidding a job that did not provide sq/ft. Itís 5 nights a week of carpet cleaning using 2 guys, 8 hours a night. How do I approach this? This is my first bid ever. What are the things to include in the bid? Only thing I know are supplies/material/labor. Are supervision cost/other fees to be included?


Obviously, you will want to include all business related costs in your pricing so that the job is self-sustained; that is, its pricing covers all the expenses related to it by itself and does not rely on other work done in other places so that you make a profit.
Now, as to figuring out what you must charge, without knowing the area you are cleaning (which you can and should measure for yourself, even if they did give you numbers), how do you know you will need 80 man-hours to do the work? On what do you base that production time?
Letís say, for example only, that you can, with your present equipment, clean 286 sq. ft. of carpet per man-hour. Hereís the breakdown:
Vacuuming 1000 sq. ft. with a 14Ē upright 20 minutes
Spray pretreatment with pump sprayer 10 minutes
Shampoo with 17Ē rotary 60 minutes
Rinse extract with 12Ē wand on portable unit 120 minutes
The total time needed for 1000 sq. ft. is about 3.5 man-hours. Forget that you have two men there; we are talking man-hours which stay the same for one or ten. With two men (or women) you will be able to double your carpet area coverage each night since the tasks are split in half (almost), but the labor stays the same for the production rates you are capable of delivering using the above (imaginary) equipment.
Your production rate is, therefore, around 286 sq. ft. per hour. Now, that amounts to 22,880 sq. ft. of carpet cleaning done in that week of work. 4576 sq. ft. each night.
If one man were doing the whole job by himself, the coverage would drop to 2288 per night. Because two are working together, the prep work and support services can be done by one with the other concentrating on the extraction, so that you end up with the above figures.
So, my original question to you returns. How do you know you will need 80 man-hours to do this job?
In case, I have misunderstood the situation and you are in there week after week doing carpets as part of some enormous on-going cleaning effort, you can invoice simply based on your labor and supply costs with something tacked on to cover the overhead and supervision and profit you need. However, you will still need to have some idea of your production rates to keep labor costs down. If your people could be cleaning 500 sq. ft. an hour, but are hovering around 300, you would desire the former rate, if only because you invested in the equipment allowing for that and donít want your labor costs to eat up the profit.
In either case, measure the size of the project and get some idea of your production rates so you can price profitably.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor