There are a wide variety of production rates, formulas, and industry standards that can be applied to the bidding and estimating of educational facilities within a school district. As with other types of cleaning, the only true rates are based on what you can accomplish with your staff, process, equipment, and budget.
There are no industry production rates that will apply in every situation, as there are simply too many variables to take into consideration. The safest approach is to break down each building and facility into micro areas, and bid and staff each area or building based on actual—as well as changing—needs. Following are some guidelines that may be helpful.
The most common production rates for public schools are 1,500 to 2,500 square feet per hour; in private schools the market is more competitive, with production rates topping out around 3,000 to 4,000 square feet per hour.
There is a difference in cleaning grade levels: Elementary schools will be easier and more productive to clean than a junior high or middle school. High schools, although larger in size, will be more difficult and less productive to clean than grade schools, because there are more students and they are hard on the facilities. Private schools are generally easier and more productive to clean than public schools, as discipline is tighter and parents pay tuition.
Production rates are continuing to increase due to new technology, surfaces, better engineering of the cleaning process, and competition. Schools typically do most of the heavy cleaning—such as floors, carpet care, and periodic tasks—during holidays and summer breaks.
Prices per square foot can vary depending on what you are cleaning, the services you are providing, competitiveness of the local marketplace, and other factors. Employee wage rates, profit, overhead, benefits, and geographic location will also impact your billable rates and cost per square foot.
Floor care, carpet cleaning, and other special and periodic tasks can be bid at normal rates or slightly lower depending on square footage, wage rates, and the competitiveness of the marketplace. Other pricing factors include equipment, condition, frequency, and processes.
When bidding on a school district, remember that tasks will vary from daily and routine cleaning to periodic and seasonal restorative project work. Also be ready for unexpected incidences, such as fire, floods, vandalism, getting a soccer ball off the roof, killing a gopher on the playground, cleaning up vomit and blood, changing light bulbs, and unclogging toilets. These tasks and more can all be in a day’s work for a school custodian.
Not every contractor or employee is suited for this market; security, background checks, health and safety, image, appearance, professionalism, and teamwork all play an important role in meeting the changing expectations and demands of the K–12 market.
As a building service contractor, it is your job to identify and meet these needs, even if they change minute to minute. Flexibility is required on everyone’s part to get the job done and keep customers happy. In this market, everyone is your customer, from students and teachers to parents, administrators, government agencies, and the public.
Editor’s Note: Excerpts from this article appeared in a previous issue of CMM.