banner ad

Bidding and Estimating – Rebidding – Do It

Nobody like to have to lower their price, but if you want the job and the customer says “Sharpen Your Pencil” if you want the job that’s what you do. I’ve always figured it’s better to be on the inside looking out, than to be on the outside looking in. When you’re the one with the contract, at least there is some money coming in and there is hope that income can be increased through extra projects and that over time, things will improve and previous service levels can be restored.

The Good News

Looking at it from a positive point of view, at least the customer didn’t cancel the account or simply award the work to someone else. You were given an opportunity to take a second shot at the account. Both of which are good news. Count your blessings, get over it and move on. (more…)

Bidding and Staffing Snow and Ice Removal

Snow happens and ice make it worse. If you service areas that are prone to wet and freezing temperatures chances are part of your specifications and responsibilities for the buildings you serve will involve ice and snow removal. Planning for bad weather events will help you respond quickly, efficiently and profitably. If you live in Hawaii, or the South, consider yourself lucky and skip this article. At this time, weather trends indicate warmer climates and less severe winters in most locations.


Ice and snow removal deals with shoveling, plowing, applying ice melting products and possibly salt and or sand. Disposal is also an issue, where are you going to put the snow once it is removed, will it be piled high, hauled off site or melted on site. There are usually specifications that tell us when, where and how to remove snow and which ice melter to apply where and how often. Along with this will be quality assurance guidelines that define schedules, expectations, desired results and possible penalties for non-performance. Having these details in place and in writing, along with color coded maps or blueprints of assignment areas helps prevent confusion, misunderstandings and make everyone’s work easier when attempting to deal with changing environmental conditions that we can’t control due to the whims of mother nature.


Cleaning and Maintaining Building Exteriors

When we think of servicing building exteriors, we normally think of dumping trash cans, picking up garbage and cigarette butts and sweeping the sidewalk within 10 ft. of the entrance. Today’s customers have much broader exterior cleaning needs that can include: roof top gardens and parks, interior atriums, landscaping, patios, pet areas, balconies, decks. athletic fields, pools and spas as well as parking garages & lots, streets, sidewalks, walking paths, gazebos, fire pit and barbecue areas, beaches, ponds, lakes, windows, and the actual building façade. Service expectations can range from daily/routine policing and cleaning, to periodic maintenance and restoration. (more…)

Pricing Paper, Plastic and Soap in Commercial Accounts


Pricing the cost of paper, plastic and hand soap can be challenging and financially risky if you don’t have a formula or historical basis for accurately estimating past or future use. The safest approaches are to let the customer order and pay for these products or to provide these products as extras or pass through cost with a slight markup cost (2% – 5%) for handling, purchasing and stocking.

If the customer is requiring these items to be included in the cost, bid or square foot price, ask them to provide or allow access to use and costing data from the current suppliers. If they are not forthcoming with this information, you will need to add an error factor (8% – 10 %) into your price to assure that you don’t lose money on providing these products.

As a last resort, your distributor or paper sales person should be able to assist you figuring out which products may fit current dispensers and in calculating pricing and use information. If you can’t use exiting dispensers there will costs associated with swapping out dispensers. An emerging trend in new, remodeled and public and heavy use restroom, is to eliminate paper towels and replace them with electric hand dryers. (more…)

How to Bid a Facility Using Only Sustainable Product and Procedures

Forward thinking companies and contractors are adopting sustainable cleaning process and products as the only way of doing business and have found this to be a good operational and marketing strategy. Other companies have taken a wait and see approach and have not been willing to make a commitment to change, especially if it means an increase in costs. There is a large segment of the market, primarily the low-price contractors and customers, who don’t know or don’t care about sustainable cleaning and have no interest in changing the way they do business. Early adopters of sustainable cleaning include health care, education and local and federal government agencies. There are also geographic areas, primarily the West and East Coast states that have more interest in sustainability, with Central and Midwestern states having little or no interest in sustainable products or cleaning.

In the early years, sustainable cleaning and products were provided at premium prices, and in many cases, there are still slightly higher costs involved in the purchase and use of sustainable equipment, products and supplies. The difference in costs has continued to shrink and there is often hidden saving to be found during the implantation process. (more…)

Cleaning Schools, Public and Private K-12

Pricing, Production Rates and Cost per Sq. Ft.

There are a wide variety of production rates, formulas, and industry standards that can be applied to the bidding and estimating of educational facilities. 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 that must be considered. The safest approach is to break down each building and facility in to micro areas and bid and staff each area or building based on actual, as well as changing needs. Here are some guidelines that may be helpful: (more…)

Bidding Stadiums, Arenas and Sport Venues

Stadiums arenas and sports venues come in many sizes. It is not a job that can be approached haphazardly, but demands planning, preparation, communication, coordination and the ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances and requirements. The concepts outlined here are the same regardless of the size of the facility.

Primary factors impacting cleaning:

  • Type of Event
  • Attendance
  • Set-up & Tear Down Requirements
  • Cleaning Shifts
  • Weather

Break down of shifts:

  • Pre-event Cleaning
  • Event Cleaning
  • Post Event Cleaning
  • Next Event Scheduling



Warning: These are only guidelines based on my experience and the information I have been able to collect. The only true and accurate time standards are based on your staff’s performance and experience. (more…)

Bidding and Estimating – The Impact Technology

When it comes to being competitive in the marketplace. Technology has the potential to be a game changer. There are multiple ways you can apply the impact of technology to reduce costs without a loss of quality. I find that technology and better processes can allow you to reduce costs while improving the quality of the service you provide. Validating the numbers, you see being used in the marketing of technologies impact on cost reduction can be difficult to confirm.

Let’s take a look at some of the areas where technology can impact your ability to increase production rates and reduce costs.


You can’t operate a cost-effective department or business today without taking advantage of the benefits that computers and associated software bring to work place. Tracking of costs, bidding, communications, timekeeping, and quality control are just a starting place when it comes to the aspects of cleaning that are now much easier, faster and more accurate when processes are computerized. Taking it a step further requires that you do as many of these processes on a smart phone, the notebook and desktop machines are quickly becoming old school and far less productive than the phone in your pocket. (more…)

Bidding Condo and Apartment Markets

Pricing and Production Rates

There are multiple ways to estimate, bid and price multi-family residential cleaning services, the most common are:

Flat Rate

A set fee or flat rate is charged based on the size (number of bed and bathrooms and or square footage, plus any extra services that are requested or needed). Prices range from $125.00 for a studio or one-bedroom unit, to $300.00 + for a 3, 4 or more-bedroom unit. Costs are dependent on the services provide, painting, carpet cleaning, and maintenance repairs are normally an additional cost. Items can have a flat rate also, stove $45.00, Refer $20.00, floors $15.00 for kitchen, $10.00 per bathroom, $10.00 – $25.00 for a shower stall, windows $3.00 – $10.00 each, outside only, 2.5 times the cost to include inside glass, carpeting $40.00 –$65.00 per room. (more…)

Bidding and Estimating Heath Care Cleaning

There is opportunity and good profit in the cleaning of health care facilities. This includes Dr., dentist and other professional medical offices and buildings. Other locations that require similar levels of service include labs, pharmacies, dialysis centers, and research, medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Larger facilities include hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living and hospice centers. Closely related locations include daycare, child development centers and health clubs.

These facilities require a more precise level of cleaning than basic office buildings, because of issues related to regulation, liability, medical treatment, contamination, and infection control. Other concerns include hazardous chemicals, sharps (needles and glass), plus the collection and disposal of various types of medical waste. Patient confidentiality, noise levels, hospital acquired infection rates (HAI), and patient surveys are important issues in health care facilities. The responsibly and risk inherent in these accounts should not be taken lightly due to the possibly of death, illness and liability if proper procedures are not followed. (more…)