Seldom does a day go by that someone doesn’t ask me about pricing and production rates for the cleaning of commercial buildings. Sometimes they ask about pricing a small space or building, and other times they ask about pricing for hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of square feet.
There is an almost endless list of variables in each building that needs to be, or should be, taken into consideration when calculating a realistic price or production rate for cleaning services. An important and overriding factor is how you go about doing the work. How you workload the building, equipment, and processes used to clean it have an equal or greater impact than other variables on determining the amount of labor and costs required to get the work done in a way that meets the cleaning specifications.
Pricing is generally determined based upon the knowledge of the person(s) preparing the bid, and workloading exactly how cleaning workers will be assigned to service the account.
Bidding and estimating and workloading are actually two separate, but directly related, functions that are best done together. A salesperson often prepares the bid or estimate, and then the job of workloading the space is often handed over to an operations manager or supervisor to prepare for and/or actually start the account.
A more productive approach is to have the salesperson work with the supervisor or operations manager during the bidding process to determine how to best staff and workload, as well as determine what equipment and processes would be the most productive to use for the prospective account. When this is done, there is less of a chance that there will be a conflict, and there will be less confusion about what the person bidding the account had in mind when he or she came up with the price and budget.
When these two critical elements of the process don’t work together or communicate, the operations staff will often say there is no way to complete the work at the given rate or within the given budget.
Purchasing and using the right equipment for each account is critical when it comes to holding the line on labor costs, and being competitive and efficient in completing the work. There can be tremendous differences in costs and production rates for every item used in an account, whether it is a mop, vacuum cleaner, floor machine, or autoscrubber. If you don’t know and compare the productivity rates and return on investment (ROI) for every purchase made when bidding and setting up an account, you are not being as competitive or as profitable as you could be.
In today’s competitive marketplace, you need to engineer each work assignment. Employees must be trained on what tasks to perform each day, how long they should take to complete, and what is expected as an end result of doing the work. They also need to know what they should not do each day, as every step and task takes time and costs money, and there is no need or room in the budget to complete tasks that are not necessary or included in the specifications.
Most workers who want to do a good job will tend to do more than they should or do things that aren’t needed, both of which waste time and money. Training, scheduling, and monitoring daily tasks are critical for meeting production and quality standards, and cannot be left to chance if the goal is to have a profitable and smooth-running operation.
Set your expectations high when it comes to production and quality for each employee. Employees will rise to the occasion if they know what needs to be done, as well as how and when to do it. If you don’t provide this information, the work will expand to fill the time that is available, and when this happens, production rates go down and costs go up.