How To Write Your Best Janitorial Estimate
Landing a janitorial cleaning bid is a multi-step process. By now, you’ve likely taken a walkthrough of the space you are bidding on and are coming up with an estimate of the total cost.
To write a good estimate, you’ll need to be aware of the size of your job, the service to be performed, your production rate, and what supplies you’ll be using.
This article will walk you through the important cost factors you should be including on your janitorial estimates to help you increase your profits.
Supply And Demand
The first step in assessing your costs is to find out how much competition is in your area.
If you are the only janitorial service, you can charge whatever you feel is best. However, if there are numerous janitorial services, you’ll need to decide on a competitive pricing structure that allows you to be part of the competition.
To find out what the other guys are charging, call them and ask for a quote.
After you know their prices, you can engage in undercutting, which is simply making your prices lower than theirs to gain new business quickly.
Once you’ve established several long-term clients, you can gradually raise your prices to match the competition.
Janitorial services are unique in that they don’t have a standard charge method because the type of cleaning services vary from job to job.
Some janitorial cleaning jobs are charged by the square foot. Typically, cleaning a 20,000 sq. ft. office could run around 5-10 cents per square foot, or $2000-$4000 a month. In this case, you could choose whether you want to charge by the square foot or by the month in your estimate.
However, that figure is for basic nighttime janitorial services only. If your client wants their floors stripped and waxed, that could be as much as 50-70 cents per square foot in addition to your base rate.
Facilities such as medical plazas that require special levels of cleaning might be billed by the hour instead, so don’t feel like charging by the square foot is your only option.
Additionally, some janitorial services charge by the room or the visit for smaller jobs. An extremely small office where you only have to empty the trash and vacuum might be around $20-$30 dollars per visit.
Adding Additional Services
One way to increase your profit margin is to upsell your client on additional services.
We already briefly mentioned stripping and waxing in the previous section—this is an example of an upsell you could recommend. You wouldn’t be stripping and waxing the floors every time you clean the facility, but it could be an add-on that you do once every quarter.
Another example of an add-on to your janitorial bid is window washing. You can read our full article on window washing proposals to learn more about offering this service.
This service pairs great with janitorial work because you can easily incorporate it into your cleaning routine, it doesn’t require heavy equipment or cumbersome supplies, and you can charge by the pane of glass, which makes figuring your costs easy.
Just remember to count the windows during your walkthrough so you can incorporate them into your estimate later.
You could also recommend things like dusting, carpet shampooing, or checking the filters in the HVAC system as add-on’s to your basic janitorial cleaning service.
Make the decision on what you want to upsell on a case-by-case basis. Take notice of areas you could improve upon during your initial tour and utilize them later when writing your estimate and contract.
Supplies And Equipment
In this line of work, you will be bringing many of your own supplies to the job. This can get expensive when you’re paying out pocket, so remember that you can bill your client for most of your supplies.
In Route’s Estimator, the “supplies, materials, and equipment” tab, you can choose between recurring costs and one-time costs.
A recurring cost would be something like paper towels, trash bags or cleaning solutions—things that you use on every job.
A one-time cost might be a piece of cleaning equipment you need to do the job, like an electric floor buffer for strip and wax projects.
Route provides handy drop-down menus with different supplies to help you build your estimate quickly.
There is also a box below the supplies and materials tab that allows you to add in your markup.
The industry standard for janitorial supply markups is 8%, but you can decide how much of a markup you want based on your total costs and current finances. Anywhere from a 15% to 50% markup on your janitorial bid is not unusual.
In addition to your supplies, the other key factor that will influence your price is your labor.
Knowing your production rate is crucial to writing the best bid possible.
Your production rate is the average time it takes you to clean different buildings. It is important to know this average because it will tell you how much labor you need and how long it will take you to do different jobs.
Second, knowing your production rate will help you assess where you stack up against the competition.
Go into the field and time your team across a variety of settings. This could mean timing them in low, medium, or high density offices or timing how long bathroom fixtures take to clean.
Compare these averages to your competition. You can find production rate charts online to assist you.
Once you know your production rate, you will be able to easily assess the rough cost of a job before you sit down to write the estimate.
Janitorial cleaning bids are tricky and the competition is often high.
In order to stand out and make a profit, you need to be accounting for all possible cost factors in your estimate.
Start by assessing your competition by calling them and asking for a quote. This will help you decide if you should undercut your prices to gain new business quickly.
Decide what charge method you’re going to use. For some jobs, it is ideal to charge by the square foot, while others it makes sense to charge by the hour.
Consider upselling your client on additional services, like carpet cleaning or stripping and waxing. This allows you to charge more and showcase your portfolio of services in your janitorial cleaning proposal.
Account for your supplies and equipment and select a fair markup. Some of your supplies will be one-time costs while others will be recurring costs. Most of these charges can be billed to your client.
Lastly, take some time to accurately find the production rate of your cleaning team. Knowing the average time it takes you to do different jobs will make pricing your services way more efficient.
Refer back to this article to gut-check your estimates as you write more janitorial cleaning bids. Every time you land another job, your estimate writing skills will be improving along with your profit margins.