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ICAN/ATEX: How Should I Bid A Yearly Contract?

Many cleaning professionals visit the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN) Ask the Experts (ATEX) page for insight. They deliver advice to help you perform your job.

Wednesday's QuestionICANATEX Logo

I am bidding on a large building that's 74,000 square feet, which is mostly carpet except one floor that has 11,000 square feet of VCT that needs to be stripped, waxed, buffed, and sealed quarterly. I don't know how to price this. The other 66,800 square feet is mostly cubicles. This will be a yearly contract. I need help because this is the largest job by far. We can do the work, but need help with the price.

Wednesday's Answer

The pricing will depend on what needs to be done and how fast you can do it. However, to determine that, we will need to fix some issues.

  1. When we subtract 11,000 from 74,000 we get 63,000, not the "other 66,800" for cubicles. Was that a math error or one of measurement? It will make a difference of 3,800 square feet of carpet you may or may not have to clean.
  2. No one, and I mean no one, strips and seals a floor quarterly in this day and age of modern finishes. Doing so is expensive, environmentally irresponsible, and totally unnecessary. If the owners or managers insist on this schedule, they are not the sort of people for whom you want to work. Explain to them how to save money on floor maintenance by using modern finishes and methods.
  3. And while we are at it, waxing floors hasn't been a maintenance method since the 1950s. We now use metal-interlock copolymer finishes (or the like) that last and last with modern maintenance procedures, and eliminate the costly buffing once used with paste wax and steel wool pads. Make certain you are not getting locked into an antiquated floor service program from the 60s and price accordingly.

Now as to pricing, again, it depends on what you are expected to do—although a cleaning contractor should know without being told—and how quickly and effectively you can do it. As a ballpark figure, say that you can do the job at the rate of 3,000 square feet per hour. The 74,000 square feet will take about 25 man-hours each cleaning, not considering project work, such as carpet cleaning and high-speed burnishing. If you can place four cleaners in there as a team, you can probably do the job in six hours. 24 x US$10 per man-hour = $240 x 5 = $1200 per week in base labor. Add your labor burden and the other costs of doing business. Add your profit.

That is only an example and your numbers may vary considerably, but you can see the method. Get some times, translate them to wages, and put them into a monthly format for billing.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor

View additional Bidding and Estimating questions and answers from ICAN/ATEX here.

Posted On November 10, 2015
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