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How to Correctly Price Your Janitorial Bids

Including Bidding Calculators and the Old-fashioned Way

Putting Together a Janitorial Proposal

Determining a fair price for commercial cleaning services is perhaps the most critical part of your marketing process. You never want to be too expensive – we all know this is a competitive business. But you also never want to be too cheap – we all know this is hard work! So how do you ensure your pricing is accurate? This article will help you learn what information you need to determine pricing in your janitorial proposal.

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Step 1: Gather the right info

There are a ton of janitorial bidding calculators available on the internet. But just like with any tool – what matters most is what information you put into the program. If your info is too general or just “guesstimates” then even the best janitorial bidding software programs will only give you a ballpark idea. Our sales people are trained to bring back everything we need to know in order to determine an accurate estimate. So which information do you need?

Firstsize DOES matter. I’m talking square feet. Take accurate measurements of all the areas you’ll need to clean. Offices? Break rooms? Restrooms? Exam rooms? Hallways? Storage areas? Make sure you ask your contact for input on which areas you’ll be accountable for. Some office and facility managers even know the square footage of the office. But beware of the person that thinks they know. Always be sure and take your own measurements to compare just in case. The best method for determining square feet is to have a laser and take accurate measurements of each area you’ll need to clean. You can also count drop ceiling tiles (usually 2’x2’ or 2’ by 3’) or even pace off and count your steps. But PLEASE write down each measurement. It’s almost impossible to remember that PLUS all of the customer’s specific needs. Chances are you’ll forget everything the second you walk out the door. And, oh yeah, don’t forget to make a note of which type of flooring each area has. We all know that mopping hard surface flooring can take at least twice as long as simply vacuuming a carpeted area of the same size. And if the area is open it will be quicker to clean than a bunch of smaller offices.

Second – which tasks do you need to accomplish each visit? Some customers are extremely particular and have very high demands. They’ll want everything accounted for each time. I’m talking desks, partitions, interior glass, etc. Other people just want to know that those items are being addressed periodically and they don’t expect ‘white glove’ service every time. But it is critical for you to have a detailed understanding of what your client expects. That way you can price your janitorial proposal correctly. And always make sure your janitorial contracts have every task listed in writing – not only what needs to be done but how often it will be done. That way there is less room for confusion and problems once you’re up and running with a new client.

Third – what type of client are you speaking to? It’s usually a lot easier (and faster!) to clean a normal office than a medical facility, daycare or school. When pricing out your estimate it is very important to take the type of business into consideration. Even if a daycare says the teachers will help tidy up the rooms after the students leave you might build in extra time just in case they “forget” or don’t really do it at all. Same for a medical facility. Proper sanitation and disinfecting is obviously very important in those types of environments and the cleaning time needs to reflect that. When we price these types of proposals we always ‘round up’, knowing that our clients will expect and demand near perfection every visit.

Janitorial Bidding Is Confusing

Step 2: Compiling the Bid

Now that you’ve gathered all the information you need to create your bid – how do you determine the time you’ll spend cleaning each visit? There are a variety of commercial cleaning bidding software programs on the market. Try a few of them out to understand which system you’re most comfortable with. Or, if you have a bit of experience already you probably have a pretty good idea of how long a place will take to clean as soon as you complete your initial walk-through. So how do you determine the price? Most of our clients want a flat price per month, so here’s how we do it. Let’s say you estimate an account will take 2 hrs to clean. Multiply 2 hrs times the number of times per week it will be cleaned. Then multiply that by 4.33, which is the average number of weeks per month across an entire year. This will result in the total time you’ve estimated you’ll spend cleaning this account in the entire month. Next up – multiply by your hourly rate. This will depend if you’re in a big city or small town and a variety of other factors. And don’t forget your mark-up. Charging just enough to pay your staff means you will actually be losing money. You need to account for payroll taxes, supplies, equipment, insurance, time spent supervising and anything else that goes into cleaning this client. Now you should have your monthly price!

Almost done. Now what about cleaning chemicals and equipment? Those need to be included unless the client will provide. How about consumables such as toilet paper, can liners, hand soap, paper towels, etc? It is important on your initial meeting to understand who is expected to provide those. If the client wants you to bring them then you’ll need an understanding of what types of products they want (brands, etc) and how many people (employees, guests, etc) use the facility each day. Work with your local janitorial supply company to come up with a good estimate (that includes some profit for you, too!). Make sure you include all variables, a nice profit for yourself and sales tax (if applicable in your market).

More? Yep! Who said this was easy? How many bathrooms and fixtures does your client have? Even though a bathroom might be small it is very time-intensive to clean. You should build in 2 minutes per fixture (sink, toilet, urinal mirror). Bathrooms are the source of more than 40% of complaints in the commercial cleaning business, so it’s important these be done properly by your janitor custodian staff each visit. Interior glass? Building windows? Vents, door and picture frames and other high dusting items aren’t typically done each night but you’ll need some time every few weeks for them. What about carpet shampooing, buffing and other periodic floor work. I always recommend pricing those items separately from the per visit or per month price if you can. It all adds up and you need to account for every task in order to remain profitable and competitive.

Step 3: Deliver that Proposal!

Don’t forget that even the perfect price won’t get you too far if your proposal does not look professional. There are plenty of templates available online so start there and customize to your potential client. Consider logos, pictures of the facility or your team and information on your insurance. And don’t forget that cleaning checklist we already mentioned!

Good luck and happy cleaning!