How to Bid Janitorial Jobs – The Importance of Production Rates

Let’s get this out there: commercial janitorial work is not overly complex. As mentioned in previous posts, the cost of direct labor (wages) accounts for 75-80% of most janitorial budgets. Furthermore, by adding in the cost of labor related items (e.g. payroll taxes, benefits, uniforms, screenings), the total overall labor cost approaches 90% of most janitorial spends. As such, it is safe to say that the primary emphasis should be placed on estimating the cost of labor when developing a janitorial services budget.


Janitorial Labor Math

The direct labor calculation seems to be somewhat straight forward: Hours required to complete the janitorial tasks (man-hours) x Wage rates.

However, it’s the “man-hours” portion of the equation that requires a bit more consideration. More specifically, developing a good estimate of the total man-hours required to effectively complete all tasks requires experience and expertise. Miscalculating man-hours can have a significant impact on the quality of your janitorial work.


Production Rates – The Key to Estimating Man-Hours

There are two methodologies for estimating total man-hours to complete the scope of services – macro and micro methodologies. Each method has its strengths, and most reputable vendors use a hybrid approach when estimating man-hours.

Micro Methodology – This methodology requires a vendor to have some building measurements and other building data. For example, in this methodology, a vendor might like to know the total square feet of each flooring type (e.g. carpet, hardwood, VCT, ceramic tile), number of restrooms and fixtures in each, number of break areas, total square feet of cleanable space, etc. The vendor will use this information in combination with industry standard production rates to calculate estimated man-hours to perform each task. Here is an example of using production rates to calculate man-hours:

Total square feet of carpeted space = 35,000 sq. feet
Production Rate: Full Vacuuming, with standard backpack vacuum = 10,000 sq. ft/hr.
Estimated man-hours required to vacuum all carpets = 3.5 hours

The vendor will repeat this calculation for each task (e.g. dusting and wiping surfaces, dust mopping and damp mopping floors, emptying trash, cleaning restrooms and break areas) to estimate the overall facility man-hours requirement.

Macro Methodology – This methodology requires a vendor to consider their experience working in similar facilities. For example, a vendor that serves several medical practices might indicate that the overall production rate for similar medical facilities is 2,600 sq. feet/hr. Here is an example of a macro calculation:

Total cleanable square feet = 80,000
Medical facility production rate = 2,600 sq. feet/hr.
Estimated total man-hours required to clean the entire facility = 31 hours.


How Should You Bid?

When you first start bidding accounts, I would recommend using the micro methodology. This will give you a good foundation, understanding from the ground up how jobs are priced. As you gain a greater comfort level, you can move to the macro methodology. However, when you encounter large or unique jobs, a combination of both methods may be necessary.


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