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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:

 Production Rates (by the room type):

  • 8 – 20 minutes per standard classroom. (if there is such a thing)
  • 10 – 25 minutes per standard restroom. (if there is such a thing)
  • 15 – 30 minutes for a standard shop or art room. (if there is such a thing)
  • 20 – 40 minutes for a standard locker room and shower area ((if there is such a thing)
  • 30 – 45 minutes for a standard kitchen (if there is such a thing)
  • 15 – 45 minutes for standard gym (if there is such a thing)

Production Rates (by the square foot):

1000 to 8000 sq. ft. per hour, depending on process, frequency, incentives, and types of areas being cleaned. The most common production rates for public schools is 1500 to 2500 sq. ft., in privates schools the market is more competitive, with production rates topping out around 3000 – 4000 sq. ft. per hour. There is a difference in cleaning grade levels: elementary schools will be easier and more productive to clean than a Jr high or middle school. High schools, although larger in size will be more difficult and less productive to clean than lower grade schools, because there are more students and they tend to make a mess and are harder on the facilities. Private schools are generally easier and more productive to clean than public schools as discipline is tighter and parents pay tuition.

Cost Per Sq. Ft.

Prices can range from 7 cents or less to 17 cents or more per sq. ft. depending on what you are cleaning, services provided, competitiveness of the local marketplace and other factors. Employee wage rates, profit, overhead, benefits and geographic location impact billable rates and cost per sq. ft.

Industry standard times for floor care, carpet cleaning, and other special and periodic tasks can be bid at normal rates or slightly lower depending on square footage, wage rates and the competitiveness of the market place. Other pricing factors include: equipment, condition, frequency and processes used. (See ISSA Cleaning Times Guide and APPA Guidelines. When using industry production rates, you’ll need to Increase productivity by 12-20% to be competitive. Your competition may not use, be aware of industry recommended standards or guidelines. Production rates are continuing to increase due to new technology, surfaces, better engineering of the cleaning process and competition. Schools typically (but not all) do most the heavy cleaning (floor, carpet care and periodic tasks) during holiday and the summer break.

Cleaning Schools is Different

School districts and private schools have special needs that make them different than cleaning an office building, factory or hospital. Anytime you have children, parents and the government involved, the work is more complicated and emotionally charged. Expertise, cost savings, staffing and a shifting of liability to a 3rd party contractor drives growth in this market. Unions may also be an issue as they can apply political pressure to school boards and government agencies, as well as make it difficult for a contractor to get their foot in the door and be successful without a fight and a lot of problems during and after the transition.

As a service contractor, it is your job to identify and meet these needs, even if they change minute to minute. Flexibility is required on everyone’s part to get the job done and keep customers happy. In this market, everyone is your customer, from students and teachers to parents, administrators, government agencies, and the public.

Not every contractor or employee is suited for this market; security, background checks, health and safety, image, appearance, professionalism and team work all play an important role in meeting the changing expectations and demands of the K 12 market.

Area types include offices and conference rooms, restrooms, classrooms, shops, labs, kitchens and cafeterias, gyms and locker rooms.

Tasks vary from daily and routine to periodic and seasonal restorative project work, along with extras such as fire, floods, vandalism or getting a soccer ball off the roof, killing a gopher on the playground to cleaning up vomit and blood, changing light bulbs and unplugging toilets. These tasks and more can all be in a day’s work for a school custodian.

Some contractors clean part of or the entire facility, while others provide specialty services on regular or on call basis, this includes such things floor and carpet care, window cleaning, pressure washing, disinfection, fire, flood, mold and trauma scene clean up.