Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


Iím going to be bidding on a contract with a child development facility. They said to take a tour of the 7 buildings and the main office before bidding. They wonít be giving specifics as to whatís to be done. Iím sure there will be dusting, disinfecting bathrooms, floors. Iím not sure how often these will need to be stripped and refinished. Also, not sure if itís weekly or daily. Should I bid on sq. ft. or hourly and add 15-20% profit?


Answer #1

Iím not sure you should bid at all until you clear up these concerns.
1) How often will you service what?
2) Will they allow you to keep the floor refinishing out of the custodial contract, so you can charge for what is done when done rather than when scheduled according to an unknown frequency?
3) Actual sq. ft. figures involved in each building and the use of the area.

As to concerns about specifics, you need to recognize the various areas needing cleaning and calculate the time needed to keep them clean. Frequency specs only tell you when to do the work; they do not tell you when it needs to be done. Until you actually get into the project, the frequencies at which things need attention are not known, and even then may change from day to day according to soil accumulation rates and tolerance levels within the facility. Therefore, the failure of the facility to provide any specs is no hindrance at all. Clean what is soiled and move along.

The need for floor maintenance is constant, but how often you will need to strip and refinish as opposed to scrub and recoat or restore and burnish is also an unknown. That is why it should not be a part of the daily or weekly contract work. It should be priced separately by the sq. ft. to be done when wear affects appearance and the need for maintenance is apparent. Areas will not all need attention at the same time and flexibility in the contract will save the facility money.

Your final price will be based on how many man-hours you foresee you will need to do what is required. Add in overhead, supplies, insurance, etc. and pick the profit you desire. We canít suggest what will work for you, nor can we tell what the facility will see as an acceptable price. The key to winning the contract is to project an image of competence and apply enough efficiency in your operation to make the price realistic.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor

Answer #2

Every month I receive emails and phone calls from customers I am helping with their bids, and the prospect is not clear on what they want cleaned. It would be like taking your car to a mechanic because it has a strange noise. You ask for an exact quote but tell the mechanic you donít have time for him to pop the hood and determine the cause of the noise and estimate the parts and labor to fix it.

The only way to make an accurate bid is to first collect the exact net cleanable square footage, and a detailed list of the cleaning specifications and frequencies. In addition, it is critical to understand all of the cleaning variables including the specific challenges regarding occupancy, and amount of or lack of staff help to keep the center clean during the day.

All of the cleaning factors could cause your production rate to vary from 2,200 sq. ft. per hour up to 3,000 sq. ft. per hour. So, if your production rate was 2,500 sq/ft per hour and one of the centers was 5,000 sq/ft, then it would take 2 man-hours to clean on a nightly basis. If you didnít clean it nightly, then your labor could easily run 20% more.

In your region, if your labor ran $10 an hour and your chemical, equipment, and overhead was near the national average, you would likely be at $20 an hour for billing (including a 25% profit). Most floor care is bid by the square foot depending upon the amount of furniture to move, frequency of burnishing and strip and recoat, buildup, and number of coats to apply. If a customer is unwilling to furnish a detailed scope of service, then they force you to walk away.

Gary Clipperton
National Pro Clean Corp.
(719) 598-5112