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Friday's Ask the Experts: Bidding & Estimating

July 02, 2010
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Friday''s Ask the Experts question from a cleaning professional on the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN) "Ask the Experts" page: I am just moving my business into commercial work. I am bidding on a 150,000 sq. ft. office building. My workers can work at a rate of 3000 sq ft per hour, but they want the bid priced "per square foot". I don’t know the going rate or how to figure it. Most of the work will be daily cleaning; however, there will be weekly stripping/finishing and buffing of lobby areas as well as monthly carpet cleaning. There will be semi-annual strip and refinish of resilient floor areas. Is there a base and then another price for the floor care added? I have submitted several bids and been too high by just going by my usual hourly rate. My workers are great and do good work and I know if I can just win a bid my new clients will love the service. I live in the San Diego area.
The answer:
If your workers can cover 3000 sq. ft. an hour, you can do the building in 50 man-hours. If you were to charge $22 a man-hour, the rate for one cleaning would be $1100. Five days a week would amount to $5500 per week. The annual charge for basic cleaning would come to $286,000. Divide that by 12 months for uniform billing and you get 23,833 per month. Divide that by the sq. ft. and you get $.16 per sq. ft. per month or $1.90 per sq. ft. per year.
That is how you do the math, but I suspect that my example is using higher numbers than you can charge in real life and secure the job. Basic work is probably going to be closer to $.10 per sq. ft. per month, and may be even lower in your city.
Even so, you still have to charge enough...
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor
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