Boost Your Cleaning Business: Accurate Work Hour Estimation Techniques

Estimating work hours required to complete a scope of work is the first and possibly most important step in developing proposed pricing. This article explores several steps, sources of information, and methods to help you make an accurate estimate of work hours.

Request for Proposal Document

The Request for Proposal (RFP) is an essential starting point for developing a work hour estimate. For example, if the prospective customer’s RFP states that two full-time employees are needed, this is crucial information to consider.

Ask the Contact Person

Another valuable source of information is the person giving the facility tour. Ask questions like, “Do you know how many people your current vendor has on-site?” or “Are most of these people full-time or part-time?” or “In your opinion, does the current vendor have enough people to perform the work?” These questions can provide key insights and lead to additional fact-finding.

Work Hours Calculation – Facility Measurements and Other Data

Workloading is estimating work hours by gathering building square footage and other data and applying them to a defined scope of work. Here are some methods for gathering building measurements:

  • Google Earth/Google Maps: Use measuring tools to obtain area measurements easily.
  • Pacing Off: Measure the building by pacing off its sides, both inside and outside. A typical step is typically around 3 feet.
  • Ask: The building contact person may know the building’s square footage or have drawings with measurements.
  • Measuring Tool: A laser distance measuring tool is useful when time permits.

Work Hours Calculation – Micro and Macro Methods

Micro Methodology

This method uses specific task production rates to calculate the estimated work hours for each type of task. Sources for production rates include:

  • The Official ISSA Cleaning Times and Tasks
  • SmartStaffing Bidding and Estimating Guidebook
  • APPA’s Operational Guidelines for Educational Facilities

Macro Methodology

This method involves studying work hours data for similar facilities to establish building/space production rates. For example, you might study actual work hours in existing medical outpatient facilities to develop an Outpatient Medical Facility Production Rate Range of 1,800 sq. ft/hr. Adjust as needed based on density, facility age, etc.

Work Hours Calculation – Example

Medical Outpatient Facility: The facility manager states the facility is about 25,000 square feet. Google Maps measures it at just over 28,000 square feet, with 3,000 sq. ft. not cleaned. The building is a bit dated, with small exam rooms, 50% carpet, and 50% hard surface floors. Using the macro methodology, estimate the hours by dividing the cleanable square feet by your outpatient production rate: 25,000 sq. ft. ÷ 1,800 sq. ft/hr. = 13 work hours (rounded).

Additional Considerations

As you wrap up the work hours estimate, be prepared to tweak your numbers based on factors like efficiency gains from specific equipment, the age and density of the facility, and the expected standards set by the customer.

Estimating work hours is key to nailing down your pricing. By tapping into different sources and methods we’ve covered here, you can make sure your estimates hit the mark.


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