The Quote

I wish I could tell you that there’s simple formula for quoting a job – something like: Square Footage x $.15 = Monthly Charge. But there are too many variables to consider for this formula to be accurate. Not every office of the same square footage, seeking the same frequency of service, is exactly the same in the time you will spend cleaning it. You will have to consider the following variables:

• Number of employees (desks & cans), that occupy the space.

• Frequency of Services per week / month.

• Type of business.

• Age of office and building materials.

• Age and material of furniture.

• Amount of vinyl tiled flooring.

• Extras included in monthly charge.

• Intensity of service expected.

• Flexible window of time allowed for cleaning.

• Distance from your house.

• Promotional value / proximity to other potential work.

• Your knowledge and speed at cleaning.

Number of employees (desks & cans), that occupy the space. The company with the office space of 1,150 square feet can have as many desks and wastebaskets as the space (or municipal code), will allow. Big difference in time when cleaning a 3 occupant office of the same square footage compared to one with 10 occupants. You would have to charge more if the later is the case.

Frequency of Services per week / month. Very important variable An office that is cleaned 5 days per week stays a lot cleaner than an office cleaned once per week. An office that is cleaned 5 days per week takes less time per visit than an office cleaned once per week. You must adjust your per-visit rate accordingly.

Type of business. Is it strictly executive, or do some areas have tool boxes or tool belts sitting on the floor? If the carpets seem heavily soiled, is there a soiled carpet path that leads straight to a particular office? Is there a display area that seems to get numerous outside visitors? Aside from observing the type work a company does, reading the carpet oftentimes is a clear indicator of a company’s traffic and the possible increase in your time spent.

Should you charge more? Tough call. Sometimes, the messy company is more tolerant than one demanding meticulous service.

Age of office and building materials. Worn tile, carpeting, washroom fixtures with eroded chrome, never cleans like new and re-soils very quickly. Does the office manager understand that it will never look like new again? Or do they have unrealistic expectations?

Age and material of furniture. Old furniture is a pain to clean. Thick lines of dust seem to have molded themselves into the seams of upholstered chairs. Wood desks & furnishings may require more service than laminated. Certain casters on chairs may be creating havoc to floors or carpets. Do a lot of furnishings have glass tops? The more laminate there is, the quicker an office is to clean.

Amount of vinyl tiled flooring. The more vinyl tiled flooring there is the more time you’ll be putting in. And then there’s the equipment expense While you’re going to need the equipment eventually, it would be nice to grow gradually with a low initial outlay. If there is sufficient vinyl tile in the office that requires weekly machine polishing, without purchasing a used buffer which will certainly go beyond $100 in cost, you’ll have to rent at $25.00 per week. You would be forced to charge separately for floor services in a way that breaks even with the rental cost, making your money and profit only on the other cleaning categories given to the company.

Extras included in monthly charge. Instead of charging separately for services like carpet cleaning, floor renewal and window cleaning, many businesses like to see it included in the price. As a promotional, you also may want to offer some of these same services at no additional charge only because many companies of smaller size are not willing to pay for them anyway, or may wait forever to have them serviced allowing the place to look rundown despite your best efforts.

Intensity of service expected. Is the person you’re dealing with very demanding? Do they expect perfection? Is the office condition worthy of this perfection? If they demand perfection and seem to be gruff about it, charge more.

Flexible window of time allowed for cleaning. All of my post-1970’s work has provided me with a key. This allows me a 12 hour window to clean the facility on the night it is to be serviced. Companies that won’t give out keys will expect you to clean it at a specific time before closing with many occupants still at work while you’re attempting to clean. You’ll have to excuse yourself to each remaining occupant as you try to clean. You may have to wait because they’re still on the phone with a client. You will feel watched. The office manager may ask a cleaning favor. You’re sure to spend more time, whether because of the inherent slowdowns or because you don’t want them to see your actual speed at cleaning. Definitely charge more if you want this stressful, time restrictive, type of work.

Distance from your house. Advertise to every available center in your town and within a 10 mile radius. But be expected to take-on a 20 mile radius to find work. Beyond that distance will start to balloon your budget with fuel costs and time spent. Unless you have no choice but to travel or have located great businesses beyond the 20 mile radius, you should factor these additional costs into each company’s monthly charge, something like 5% for every 5miles beyond the 20.

Promotional value / proximity to other potential work. Does this company have the potential to generate many more like it? Are you willing to keep the cost at a level favorable to this account in order to sign it up and begin wooing others. Of course, you don’t want to go too low in the price or the company might think there is no way you could possibly provide the quality services they’re looking for.

Your knowledge of and speed at cleaning. And finally, just how good are you – how efficient and knowledgeable – skillful? A pro, working alone, with many years under his belt can probably make 30 to 40 dollars an hour by accomplishing the same amount of work in less time than a beginner who will only be able to make 20 dollars an hour. And, no, you cannot charge more to compensate for your inexperience and slowness.

Still, we can formulate a list that gives one an idea of what to charge for a range of square footages. This will be based on $30 per hour according to the time that a experienced professional could do it in. If he can do it faster, than he profits more. If a beginner can only make $20 per hour doing the same work, he will have to develop his or her efficiency skills to speed it up to $30.00 and hour.

Another way to calculate it is $1.00 every two minutes. In every place you bid, all you need to know (with a little visual practice), and with all the variables factored in, is how many minutes you think it will take you to clean the office per visit, divided by two, to arrive at the price per visit. The per visit price is then multiplied by the number of cleaning visits per year divided by 12 months.

An example would be of a space of 1,000 square feet, to be serviced once per week, with fairly neutral variables, cleaned by an experienced professional in 40 minutes, divided by 2, which equals $20.00 per occurrence. Once per week is 52 times per year which is then divided by 12 months: $20.00 x 52 / 12 = $86.66. My tendency is to round off to the nearest 0 – 5. Our price for this is $85.00 per month.

The chart to the left uses the same above formula to arrive at its conclusions. The minutes in the chart are divided by 2, then multiplied by the number of visits per week, multiplied by 52 weeks, divided by 12 months to arrive at the monthly charge

Let’s apply this method to set a price for the office we recently toured. We offered our customer the choice of a checklist proposal or one that is spelled-out. The customer chose the simpler checklist system having helped us fill it out during the tour of their facility. We left a copy of the checklist with our client in case they wish to make changes.

The other advantage of leaving a checklist with the office manager is to get them involved and keep them anticipating something new and positive for their office.

The space we’re bidding on, again, is 1,150 square feet. The only area of vinyl tile is the kitchenette which is only two-thirds the size of a washroom, a space that will rarely require a floor machine. The single washroom has a floor of 5 square inch ceramic tiles as does the entryway vestibule. The rest of the facility is entirely carpeted. There is some soil and spots on the carpet, it is in good shape and will clean well just by using a rotary carpet shampooer. The furniture is laminated as are the countertops. There are several visible cobwebs which is costing the current service the job as well as dust and soil in back off and on the base of the toilet. The liners look like they’ve been the wastebaskets for months – soiled and torn.

Other than that, the office looks fairly easy to clean, something we can refer to as Variable-Neutral, except that this company is situated in a desirable office center that makes this account have strong promotional value. Because of this, we have decided to include many of the extra services like carpet cleaning because we know that after a good initial cleaning, this carpeting will only require the occasional bonnet-buffing. My quote for this work will reflect that of the price-list minus the promotion rebate. The monthly charge will be $200.00.

Pulling-up our convenient minute-based-pricelist, you’ll notice that there’s a 20 minute difference between every 1,000 square foot. For every 100 square beyond 1,000, you’ll have to add 2 minutes.

If the account is serviced three visits per week and is 1,100 square feet, we will add 2 minutes. The 30 minutes for 1,000 square feet becomes 32 minutes for 1,100 square feet. Since the account we’re bidding on is 1,150 square feet, we need to add an additional minute making the total minutes per visit – 33. We can simplify it further by adding one minute for every 50 square feet beyond the base minutes.

Remember, we are charging $1.00 per every two minutes (or $0.50 per minute). Our total minutes per visit for this bid is 33 which we must divide by 2. 33/2 makes our per visit rate $16.50. We multiply the number of times the visits per week, in this case $16.50 x 3 = $49.50 per week. To get our annual price we multiply $49.50 x 52 = $2,574.00. To arrive at the monthly charge that we will be entering on our proposal and billing the customer each month, we divide our annual total of $2,574.00 by 12 months = $214.50 per month.

But because this account has strong promotional value, we will rounded this off by $14.50 to offer a bid of $200.00 per month. That is the figure that will appear on your proposal. You can bring-up when presenting the proposal to the office manager that you arrived at a cost of $214.50 per month, but rounded it off to $200.00. But I wouldn’t bring-up that you’re using the account for its promotional value. Make it appear that you’re working hard to keep the price within their budget.

In some cases, especially with desired approval from the office manager, the checklist can serve as your proposal to a small company. But in most cases, you’ll have to go the distance to prove your knowledge and professionalism. You will need an impressive many-paged proposal.

Chapter 12__The Proposal