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The Art And Science Of Pricing

Although the use of carpeting as a floor covering in commercial buildings has declined over the last 10 years, there is still a lot of carpet to be cleaned in most accounts.

Depending on how the service agreement is written, carpet cleaning may be included in the monthly price or sold as an as needed or as scheduled extra, at a set dollar amount or on a cost per square foot basis.

In some accounts, carpet cleaning may be removed from the basic cleaning service specification and contracted separately with a firm that specializes in carpet cleaning.

Not all carpet cleaning processes are equal in what they do or how long they take.

Technology as well as customer expectations are continually changing with growing emphasis on green, sustainable processes and products that are safe, healthy and environmentally friendly.

Variables that Impact Time and Cost

  • Is it a big job with thousands or tens of thousands of square feet, or a small job of several hundred to a couple of thousand square feet?

  • Is there anything special, out of the ordinary or unique about the job that will take more time? (access, security, hours, location, soiling, etc.)

  • Are you doing interim cleaning or deep/restoration cleaning?

  • What level of soil and spots are present? (light, medium or heavy)

  • Is pre-vacuuming or pile lifting or pre-spraying and agitation required?

  • Are you doing the work yourself, hiring employees or using sub/independent contractors?

  • Is it a one time job or a repeat job that you can do several times per year and will likely lead to additional work?

  • Are there add-on services that will provide additional profit opportunities?

Evaluating Your Costs

What are your costs for the following:

  • Profit (20 percent to 400 percent or more, markup on labor and supplies)

  • Overhead (10 percent to 40 percent markup/labor and supplies) (15 percent to 20 percent common)

  • Labor and staffing (40 percent to 75 percent of the cost)

  • Chemicals (2 percent to 5 percent of the cost)

  • Fuel (2 percent to 6 percent of the cost)

  • Equipment (2 percent to 8 percent of the cost)

  • Supplies (2 percent to 3 percent of the cost)

Bidding And Estimating Strategies

  • Cost per square foot
    • Commercial 4 to 25 cents per square foot for wet extraction, 3 to 15 cents per square foot for low moisture interim processes.
      • Note: Larger commercial work is often bid at a cost per sq. ft. that is half or less than rates charged for residential jobs of 1,000 to 1,200 square feet.

  • Time and materials
    • Set rate per hour and cost of supplies, $20 to $65 or more per hour, $100 minimum.

  • By the hour
    • $30 to $70 or more per hour per person.

Production Rates
Listed below are average production rates for various systems and processes.

Keep in mind that production rates can and will vary widely based on operator skill, carpet soil condition, obstructions present as well as the type of system and wand or cleaning head being used.

  • Hot water extraction: Truckmount with wand: 600 to 1,400 square feet per hour.

  • Hot water extraction: Truckmount with rotary wand: 800 to 1,500 square feet.

  • Hot water extraction: Portable/box unit with wand: 600 to 1,200 square feet.

  • Hot water extraction: Pull back/self-contained unit: 800 to 1,800 square feet.

  • Hot water extraction followed by bonnet cleaning: 400 to 500 square feet per hour.

  • High flow extraction rinse with auto dump and fill: 1,500 to 2,500 square feet.

  • Encapsulation: (planetary head, 18- to 20-inch) 1,500 to 2,000 square feet per hour.

  • Encapsulation: (with cylindrical brush, 18-inch) 1,000 to 1,250 square feet per hour.

  • Encapsulation: (dry foam with cylindrical brush and vacuum) 24-inch machine, up to 12,000 square feet per hour.

  • Encapsulation: Walk behind 12-to15-inch machine: With cylindrical brush: 500 to 1,200 square feet per hour.

  • Walk behind extractor: 1,800 to 4,000 square feet per hour (depends on machine, process, width, obstructions, soil level and other factors).

  • Riding extractor: 5,000 to 15,000 square feet per hour (depends on machine, process, width, obstructions, soil level and other factors).

  • Rotary shampoo: With 17/20-inch/175 rpm machine: 1,000 to 1,500 square feet per hour.

  • Rotary Shampoo and extract: 17/20-inch/175 rpm machine: 400 to 500 square feet per hour.

  • Spin bonnet: w/17/20-inch/175 rpm machine: 1,500 to 2,500 square feet per hour.

  • Dry absorbent powder: 750 to 1,500 square feet per hour.
    • Absorbent material cost per square foot 2 to 7 or more cents square foot.

No Magic Answer

There are many factors that enter into determining the final pricing for a carpet cleaning or any job for that matter.

Things like a discount for a large account, regular programmed service schedule or traffic lane maintenance versus a one time job, are all factors that need to be taken into consideration when pricing each job.

The only true numbers you can count on are those based on your actual experience and performance.

Determining the best price for each job is a combination of art, science and experience.

Posted On June 17, 2013

Bill Griffin

President of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc.

William (Bill) Griffin is the president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. and president of the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN). ICAN is a nonprofit association comprised of industry professionals providing free consultation services through the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) and their Ask The Experts page. Comments and questions about bidding and estimating are encouraged: (206) 849-0179 or WGriffin@CleaningConsultants.com.

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