Categories: Pro Cleaning Tips

How To Bid A Commercial Cleaning Contract

How To Bid A commercial cleaning Contract

Many commercial buildings hire janitorial companies to clean on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.  Commercial cleaning contracts offer more stability, and often more money, than many residential cleaning jobs. However, the work is normally performed at night and typically requires a higher degree of specialization and training.  OSHA requirements, such as training courses, SDS, and personal protective equipment (PPE), are also more strict in commercial settings as well.  Bidding these jobs can be tricky and can often be the difference between winning and not winning a job.  Here are some tips on how to bid a commercial cleaning contract.

1.  Cleanable Square Footage

Many large janitorial service companies use a building’s “cleanable square footage” as a basis for bidding commercial cleaning jobs.  A building’s “cleanable square footage” is the total square footage of a building that will require cleaning.  Typically, a building that is 100,000 square feet will have certain areas that will not require cleaning by the janitorial company. These areas may include maintenance closets, warehouses, server rooms, medical labs, and vacant office spaces (normally in multi-tenant office buildings).  To get a buildings cleanable square footage, subtract the square footage that does not require cleaning from the building’s total square footage.  You can use a laser to measure while you are on jobs, but make sure you take detailed notes and position yourself to get accurate measurements or your quotes may be significantly different than your competitor’s quotes.

2.  Cleaning Supplies

Another large factor in bidding a janitorial contract is whether or not the building will supply items such as toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, air fresheners, toilet seat covers, cleaning chemicals, trash can liners, wax sanitary bags, and vacuum cleaners.  Many cleaning companies can make additional income by securing supply contracts for their customers.  Markups are standard if you are not a supplier, so companies can charge 10-20% per order.  Understanding the costs of these items will help you bid more effectively.  Keep in mind, most large commercial cleaning companies purchase in bulk and can get larger discounts than most small cleaning companies.

janitorial costs

Commercial Office Cleaning Checklist 1

3.  Scope of Work

The scope of work is vital in bidding commercial cleaning contracts.  If the scope of work calls for a building to be vacuumed once per week but your bid includes vacuuming 5 nights per week, your bid will be significantly higher than your competitors.  Also, many contracts call for dusting baseboards and blinds every quarter.  If you aren’t paying attention to the scope of work, you could easily factor in those tasks monthly and your final bid may reflect higher costs than your competitors.  Likewise, when bidding an account, ask for the scope of work before scheduling the walk-thru.  If you are on a bid, chances are the customer isn’t satisfied with their current cleaning service.  Show your experience by pointing out obvious areas that aren’t being cleaned as per the current scope of work.

4.  Understanding Your Costs

Determining your costs can significantly increase your chances of winning a commercial cleaning contract.  The more closely you can determine how long it will take to clean a building and the price of the cleaning chemicals and supplies, the more likely you are to make a profit.  Underestimating your costs can significantly impact your bottom line.  Conversely, overestimating your costs can cause you to overbid a commercial cleaning contract.  Make sure you completely understand the scope of work involved in each contract you bid and can accurately estimate the amount of time it will take to complete each task.  Always request the cleanable square footage assessment, but if that is not available, make sure you can accurate measure it yourself.  Also, make sure you are aware of several janitorial suppliers in your area.  Get written quotes on each major items you may be required to supply, such as toilet paper and paper towels.  Find out from each supplier what quantities of supplies qualify for discounted pricing.  Check with your client to see who they currently use for their cleaning supplies.  Often times, your clients may have accounts set up with Staples, Office Depot, Sam’s Club, and/or Grainger, each of which offer janitorial supplies.  It may save your client money simply by ordering cleaning supplies directly through their current vendors.  Find out your client’s current supply usage and compare it to each of the supply quotes you received from the janitorial supply companies.  You may be surprised how much money you and/or your client can save simply on cleaning supplies.
For additional information on commercial cleaning education, visit the International Sanitary Supply Association at  For additional information on commercial cleaning in or around Columbia, South Carolina, click the blue link above.

About the Author

Mike Young

Mike Young owns Palmetto Commercial Services, a full service commercial cleaning company in Columbia, SC.  Mike has attained all 3 IICRC Master Certifications, American Bio Recovery Association CBRT certification, HAZWOPER certification, OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 certification, and multiple crime scene, meth lab and environmental disinfection certifications.  Palmetto Commercial Services has won multiple cleaning awards, including Best of the State 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 Best Cleaning Service, Best of Post and Courier/Free Times 2019, 2020 and 2021 Best Cleaning Company, Best of Columbia Metropolitan Magazine 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 Best commercial cleaning Service, Best of Lexington Life Magazine 2021 and 2022 Best Restoration Service, BBB Torch Award for Business Ethics, Top Rated Local Best Janitorial Service in South Carolina 2019, 2020 and 2021, and SC Best In Business Best Janitorial Service, Best Floor Cleaning Service and runner up for Company of the Year in 2021.  Mike currently writes multiple blog articles for cleaning companies searching for blog-based cleaning service SEO..

Mike Young

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