The cleaning of schools, colleges, and universities is a growing market. Contract cleaners have been targeting these facilities for a number of years and are having fair success in penetrating what was once thought to be an inaccessible market due to unions, state laws, and management’s resistance to change.
There are many different types of educational facilities. They range from private or public day care and child development centers to what are known as K-12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) schools and two-to four-year colleges and universities. Mixed in this group are all kinds of specialty academies, institutes, and organizations offering training in every subject imaginable. Sizes and types of facilities range from a small storefront or church to a mega university with more than 100 buildings and millions of square feet of space.
A number of organizations offer standards and production rates that are often applied to educational facilities; however, as with all such published numbers, they should only be used as a starting place or guideline, as they may or may not apply to how you staff, schedule, and workload the facility that you actually clean or on which you are bidding.
A Range of Requests
Services provided to the education market may include daily and routine tasks, periodic and restoration services, or specialty services for all types of surfaces and facility uses, such as classrooms, offices, labs, athletic stadiums, and beyond. Services can include routine office cleaning, hard floor care, carpet care, windows, and extra services, such as setting up rooms, moving services, fire and water damage restoration, construction cleanup, and other unexpected requests.
Most of the work will be done on the second shift, but it is not uncommon to have some form of daytime coverage in a facility; in larger facilities, third-shift coverage is often provided.
Doing the Best for Less
Educational facilities using contracted services are interested in reducing costs, while at the same time, improving the services they receive. They are often demanding customers that are vulnerable to pressure from parents, community organizations, unions, and politicians. This market can be challenging, fickle, often difficult to please, and unpredictable.
Common production rates in an educational facility range from 2,000-3,500 square feet per hour. A typical classroom, if there is such a thing, will take 10 to 20 minutes to clean. Shops, labs, and art rooms, as well as child care areas, take longer with production rates falling closer to 1,000-1,500 square feet per hour.
Carpet cleaning costs range from a low of 4 or 5 cents per foot to around 15 cents per foot, depending on the size and condition of the area and the cleaning process used.
Floor care, depending on size and what is done, ranges from a few cents per square foot for buffing or light scrubbing, to 30-50 cents per foot for stripping and recoating with three or four coats of finish.
Depending on location, wages can range from slightly above minimum wage to around US$20 per hour, plus or including benefits, depending on where you are located.
Educational facilities can be a good market if you understand their needs and can provide quality and consistent service at a good price. Smaller contractors often target small private schools to start, since larger locations make more demands and require a larger investment in equipment and wages to get the account started and money coming in. These accounts can be slow payers, so be prepared to wait for your money and stay on top of your accounts receivable.
That’s it for this month. Keep it clean out there.