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How to Bid on Cleaning Contracts

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Cleaning and maintenance companies are hired by a large variety of commercial businesses to perform cleaning services at agreed-upon intervals. Some businesses may require nightly cleaning, while others may only require these services bi-weekly, or a few times a month. Depending on the business, the scope of work may vary from simple vacuuming and mopping to comprehensive cleaning of the entire building. These contracts are usually awarded based on a system of bidding, where the lowest qualified bidder is awarded the contract.

Understand how to bid on a cleaning contract. Many companies bid based on the square footage of a building, while others may calculate prices based on the specific tasks involved in a project. Square footage pricing is based on experience, and will be a more successful method for those with some experience in the industry. New cleaning companies should focus instead on hourly rates. This means taking into account the tasks that must be completed, calculating how long they will take, and multiplying the number of hours by the hourly rate of employees. This amount should then be extended out based on the length of the contract. A small percentage should be added to cover other costs, including overhead, tools, supplies, and profit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for a cleaner in 2008 was $11.30.

Know what factors to look for when preparing a bid. To prepare an accurate bid, it's important to understand exactly what level of cleaning detail the potential client is looking for. Determine whether floors should be mopped, vacuumed, swept, or polished. Ask about cleaning restrooms and kitchens, including who will provide restroom supplies like toilet paper and soap. Should the corners of ceilings be dusted, or just the walls? Clarify whether desks should be cleaned in office buildings, and whether cleaners should clear the desks or leave them as they are. A clear scope is the key to accurate pricing.

Explore local bid opportunities. Visit area businesses and ask for an opportunity to bid on cleaning or janitorial services. Business owners who currently have no cleaning service, or are unhappy with their current contract may give you an opportunity to bid. Make sure you understand what services they will need and how often they will require your services before you prepare your bid.

Find federal and state bid opportunities. The Federal Business Opportunities website has thousands of federal agency jobs that companies can bid on. These jobs are located all over the country, and range from very small offices to enormous building complexes. The state bid opportunities website lists additional bid opportunities, organized by state. Because these bids take place online, you will not have the opportunity to visit the job site, in most cases. It is therefore important to read all bid information and instructions very carefully. Links to both of these websites can be found in the Resources section of this article.

Prepare your bid. You can use a free bid template (see Resources) or create your own on company letterhead. The most important part of creating a bid is ensuring that it is organized exactly as indicated in the bidding instructions, if applicable. Include the date, the name of the project, and the client's name and address. Detail the scope of work you plan to perform, including such things as windows, vacuuming, restroom maintenance, and other tasks. It is critical that the client can easily and accurately compare your bid to others based on the scope. List the schedule you will use for cleaning, including frequency and time of day. Finally, provide your price, as well as all of your contact information.

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.

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