Consistently securing new clients is as important in the cleaning industry as in any other service-related field.

That’s why cleaning business owners are always looking for the best ways to bid on new contracts and find long-term clients.

In order to make the most compelling bid, you’ll need to learn about the client and their needs. You’ll also need to calculate wages and costs, and then choose a solid janitorial bidding formula.

Preparing in advance and asking enough questions upfront will help you avoid bidding too low or pricing yourself out of competition. If your bid doesn’t factor in all of your costs, you might not make a profit on that job. On the other hand, an artificially high bid might take you out of the running when compared with other vendors.

Drafting the perfect bid involves striking a balance between offering competitive rates and having healthy profit margins.

Here’s how to get started.

Tips for drafting accurate, winning cleaning bids

Tip 1. Do your homework

In order to prepare a successful bid, you’ll need to get to know the clients, their needs, and expectations.

This starts by understanding their business and industry, as well as the specifics of the property.

For example, is this a commercial office with low weekend traffic? Or is it a high-traffic retail space that requires daily, showroom-ready cleaning?

The best way to achieve this is with an on-site visit, where you can ask questions, take a tour, and hear directly from your prospective client.

Pro tip: If you have clients in similar industries, your knowledge of how they operate can help in drafting a new bid. You can also use this to your advantage by showcasing your experience during the tour.

Tip 2. Be as detailed as possible

Next, you should process all the information that you’ve collected from the client.

What details do you need to prepare a bid? Here’s a simple checklist to get you started.

  • Property type, business name, and address
  • Your main contact, including who can be reached after hours
  • Hours of operation
  • Current cleaning vendor, and why they’re looking for other options
  • Size of the property
  • Notable surfaces and equipment that need cleaning: floors, windows, countertops, restrooms, and so on
  • Timing for contract to begin
  • Client expectations (listing these out in your bid can help reiterate back to them why you’re the right choice)

The first thing you’ll want to do with this information is use it to calculate the total cleanable area. Here’s a formula to help you do it:

Total cleanable area formula

You’ll also need to determine how often each segment of the facility needs to be cleaned so that you can calculate the staff and supplies needed for keeping the property clean.

It’s a good idea to account for the equipment that will be required, as well. Do you need to rent equipment or will you be purchasing specialized cleaning supplies for this client?

If the client has any other special demands, make sure you get those written down and reflected in your bid.

The more comprehensive your bidding preparation is, the more accurate your offer will be.

Tip 3. Don’t overlook the level of effort required

Let’s say your crew can clean an agency’s office in an hour. That includes emptying bins, vacuuming, and some surface disinfecting of a 3000 sq. ft. facility.

Compare that with a high-touch pediatric clinic that requires sanitizing almost every surface.

While the actual square footage might be similar, the production rate (the amount of space you can clean per hour) is drastically different.

Before you can provide a bid for a cleaning contract, you’ll need to determine your cleaning production rate.

If you only look at square footage, you could be underpricing your jobs.

What you’re essentially deciding here is how intensive the cleaning job will be. Does it require thorough detailing on a frequent basis? Or is this a surface-level job that’s a little more standard?

Note that it’s very common to have areas that require different levels of effort within a single facility. You’ll want to break down the facility by area and calculate a separate production rate for each area.

You can compare with your other clients to assign a low to high production rate to your bid calculations. This will allow you to create a more accurate estimate of the time and effort required.

A low production rate might mean can only clean up to a couple thousand square feet in one hour. While a high production rate means you can cover a lot more ground, perhaps up to 5000 sq. ft. in one hour.

This number will come in handy when it’s time to run your bidding formula.

Tip 4. Choose staff members and calculate costs

It’s essential to determine which staff members will be responsible for cleaning the facility before making a bid. These people will need all the necessary skills and experience to meet the client’s demands.

You’ll then want to determine how much it’s going to cost you to pay your staff members for cleaning the property. It’s also wise to consider scheduling, as you want your staff costs to be as accurate and feasible as possible.

Basing hours and rates off of team members who already have a full schedule is a waste of time and calculations.

Finally, go back to your earlier step where you compiled details, and add up your labor costs with other expenses, like supplies and equipment.

Tip 5. Reference past jobs using accurate time tracking data

Maybe you’ve gotten this far with manual record-keeping and calculations.

But there’s another way to prepare bids using accurate records of time and costs of past jobs: use a time tracking app.

With a GPS-enabled time tracking app, your crews can move from client site to client site and you’ll have accurate, automated time cards with a wealth of information to reference.

Set up geofences around your client properties that trigger the app to start and stop tracking time or issue reminders, as crews enter and leave the area.

This first-hand data is better than any industry stats you might be able to find online because it can give you a true estimate of the time required.

Many apps offer a free trial so you can see all the information it compiles, which make bids even easier to complete in the future.

Time tracking for cleaning crews

Write accurate bids using detailed time tracking data

Tip 6. Decide on a bidding formula

The last step is to decide which bidding formula you’re going to use.

Some cleaning businesses use a price per square foot calculation that looks like this:

Area-based bid estimate formula

As mentioned earlier, this might cause you to underbid more labor-intensive jobs. However, for some companies with similar clients, this calculation may be enough.

Alternatively, you can use the formula recommended by the Janitorial Store, which looks like this:

Production-based bid estimate formula

Let’s break this down.

You’ll first need to calculate the time needed to clean the facility by dividing the total cleanable area by your production rate. This will ensure you’re factoring in effort and not just area.

Then, multiply this number by your hourly rate, and the result by the number of times you’ll be cleaning the facility every week.

Please note that to stay competitive, you may need to lower your hourly rate as you increase frequency. A once-a-week job might have a higher rate than a site you visit five times a week.

Finally, multiply this by 4.3 (the average number of weeks in a month) to get your monthly bid.

Tip 7. Review your bidding process regularly

The bidding formula and production rate you use for one contract might not be suitable when you’re bidding on another job. That’s why you’ll want to review your bidding process, production rates, and bidding formulas on a regular basis.

This will ensure that you’re always using the approach that wins contracts and brings in a profit.

You’ll also want to assess the profitability of your contracts regularly. This will enable you to improve your pricing model over time.

Additionally, remember to review your pricing on existing contracts on a yearly basis. The costs for providing your cleaning service might increase over time, so you’ll need to adjust your pricing accordingly.

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