Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


I need some assistance in pricing commercial cleaning services for a car dealership with 5 buildings. We just started cleaning the smaller 3 buildings which equal almost 6800 square feet. We are currently charging $.25/sq. ft. for cleaning 3x/wk (this takes us about 2 1/2-3 hrs each time). We are about to bid on the remaining 2 larger buildings, and I need some help for quoting a price! The 2 larger buildings total around 20,000 sq. ft. and will need to be cleaned 6x/wk. Cleaning includes trash removal (we supply the bags), sweeping, mopping (90% is ceramic tile), cleaning multiple stall restrooms in each building, weekly dusting of desks, cleaning breakrooms including appliances (weekly), reception areas (daily), cleaning windows (weekly), and high/low dust monthly. We supply all cleaning products. Right now itís just my daughter and me cleaning the smaller buildings as a part-time job, but I will be cleaning full-time (quitting my current full-time job!) if we get the bigger buildings. I am not sure how to quote a price for the bigger buildings. Should I keep the $.25/sq. ft.even though we will be cleaning 3 more times a week on the larger buildings? I have seen online that typically more square footage equals a lower per sq. ft. price, but if I am cleaning it more frequently, how does that make sense to lower the sq. footage price? The areas are heavy traffic, with the floors being the worst and most time consuming! We are not really in competition with anyone (the current cleaning crew is terrible), as my husband works at the dealership (my cleaning company), but I donít want to insult the management with an outrageous quote. Any help would be great!


You donít say if the 25 cents a sq. ft. is the weekly price, monthly rate, or the annual. Obviously, that will make a difference.
Let me run with what I think you are saying and we can look at the numbers.
If your charge is weekly, you are getting $1700 (.25 x 6800) for the 9 hours a week service. That tallies to $189 an hour!!!.
I canít believe the dealership would pay that, so letís use that price as a monthly charge. That gives us a $392 a week payout (1700 x 12 / 52). That figures out to be $44 per hour, unless the phrase ďtakes us aboutĒ means that the two of you spend the 3 hours together for a total man, excuse me, woman hours of 18. (2 x 3 x 3). That would drop the hourly charge to $22 per woman hour.
That is not really high and you have the option of staying close to the 2.5 hour time which would make the hourly charge closer to $27 (2.5 x 2 x 3 = 15) ($392/15) due to spending a person-hour less each of the 3 nights.
Are you with me so far?
Now letís look at production rates. If you are cleaning 6800 sq.ft. in 5 person hours, your rate for that is 1360 sq. ft. per hour. (6800 / 5). That is low and you could buy a used auto scrubber or an inexpensive Kaivac Omniflex to cover the ceramic tiles floors more rapidly and reduce the time, thereby increasing your hourly rate without charging the client more.
Now, letís tackle the larger buildings with the understanding that you may need to accelerate your cleaning times so the price stays reasonable.
Using your current production rate (low) you will need 15 person-hours to cover the area each night. (20,000 / 1360). At the $22 per hour charge, you will invoice $1980 a week ($22 x 90) (15hrs. x 6=90) or $8580 each month.
If you stay with the $.25 figure for the increased area and service frequency, you come to $5000 (20,000 x .25) for the monthly invoice. The added work will, using the 25 cents figure, drop your income to $12.83 per man-hour. (5000 / 390 hr/mo.) Can you live with that? More appropriately, can they live with more?
Now, you can play with the numbers and see how production rates affect your income.
Letís talk about increasing your production. Look into ways of getting the floor cleaning time reduced as mentioned above. Consider reducing the window washing from weekly to monthly unless there is heavy resoiling due to closeness to the street or prevailing winds.
Do the breakroom more often to limit the buildup there. I have cleaned car dealerships and canít imagine them not trashing the breakroom in a week, making the cleaning far more time consuming than necessary.
Use a wider dustmop or a backpack vac on the tiles before wet work.
If they are not unhappy with your current rates, you can stay close to them by speeding up your production. Work with your numbers so the cost stays reasonable.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor