How to Bid Cleaning Jobs: Guide for Janitorial Businesses

Everyone has an opinion. Let’s take a look at what works, what doesn’t – and why.

Price per Square Foot

Some say pricing an office cleaning job is as easy as multiplying the total size (cleanable sq. ft.) of a building by so many dollars or cents per square foot.

While this fast and easy approach may seem attractive, as in many things, the ‘devil is in the details’.

For example, you can’t use a figure like $0.10/sq. ft. when bidding 5x/ week cleaning and then simply turn around and think you can use the same $0.10/sq. ft. figure for pricing a 2x/week job; at least not if you hope to set competitive yet profitable prices.

While this may seem obvious, one ‘wonders and worries’…
how many new or inexperienced janitorial businesses have made that costly mistake?!

Interestingly, large, experienced building service contractors who share similar expense and profit percentages in their financial reports may be able get away bidding every large Class A office building based on a set price per sq. ft. figure.

But, small local janitorial business quoting on heavily-used plant office and restroom areas in small manufacturing facilities, expecting to do the same – should think twice.

Since One-Size-Fits-All Methods Rarely Work…
Price/Sq. Ft. Probably ISN’T Right for You

Again, some well-established janitorial businesses, those with large numbers of employees – may share similar financial expectations for expenses, overhead and profit; utilizing similar cleaning procedures and equipment and incurring similar labor costs based on those procedures and equipment.

Plus, they may share the same approaches to implementing training, or structures for organizing management.

This may allow them to feel confident using one or a few set price per sq. ft. rates when large office cleaning jobs go out for bid; knowing they have a track record of taking on jobs of this size – and then delivering services that meet client expectations for quality and their own expectations for profit.

But, in reality, most cleaning businesses are small and mid-size companies, who bid on many different kinds and sizes of buildings (i.e. church, restaurant, school, medical, day care, office, auto dealer) often requiring less than 5x/week service.

Effectively pricing these wide ranging kinds of jobs calls for something quite different than using a one-size-fits-all price/sq. ft. figure; we recommend a much different approach called task-based work loading.

In task-based work loading, an average cleaning time per visit is calculated using
task-based production rates, reflecting the custom requirements of each area of the building.

We recommend detailed, task-based work loading because it builds the office cleaning quote from the ‘ground up’; first calculating an average time/visit from the unique job specifications of each area of the office facility.

Then, after determining a monthly hours figure based on the cleaning frequency, the process of multiplying by a ‘loaded’ wage rate (including payroll taxes) and factoring in overhead and profit to determine monthly price can be performed; this markedly improves the chances of setting competitive and profitable prices for most cleaning contractors.

Educated Guess, Guesstimate

Others suggest you should rely on your own experience, simply guesstimate how long you think it will take to perform the office cleaning in a building, and then determine a price by multiplying the resulting total hours/month ‘guess’ by your company’s hourly billing rate.

But, here again, that quick, general advice can leave many cleaning business owners, especially ones with little or no experience, understandably uncertain about their time (labor hrs.) estimates for jobs, and therefore at a real disadvantage – and risk.

The reality is, the kind of cleaning projects janitorial companies quote on can vary greatly in important factors like size, frequency and difficulty, as well as, in the nature of the cleaning (i.e. professional office vs. industrial/manufacturing, restaurant vs. church).

This guesstimating approach is not reliable or scalable.

Not reliablein that guesstimates are often ‘off’ more than they’re ‘on’ because of differences in task requirements, areas, difficulty, building type, density, ease of access etc.

Not scalablein that even if they could somehow, painfully and eventually, develop a way of estimating labor hours (time) needed for a wide variety of building types and work requirements, they may still be leaving themselves and their company vulnerable.

Since Guesses Aren’t Reliable or Scalable,
Educated Guesstimating Probably ISN’T Right for You

For example, if the owner of the cleaning business ever plans on having someone else handle the bidding responsibilities, they would need to successfully transfer all of the bidding knowledge it took them so many years and mistakes to learn – to someone else; not an easy task.

And, in the worst case, what if something unforeseen happens to the cleaning business owner, leaving those left behind to run daily operation – with no easy, systematic way to estimate how long a job should take or determine how much they should charge.

For cleaning businesses serious about growth, stability and long term viability, bidding and estimating responsibilities should not rest solely on one person’s shoulders.

Instead, cleaning companies need a reliable and easy-to-use bidding system, the kind
task-based work loading can deliver.

‘Overall Building’ Production Rate

Finally, others insist you can use an ‘overall building’ production rate to calculate the hours needed to deliver office cleaning services. Here, the idea is to take a one-size-fits-all figure, like 3,500 sq. ft./hr., and then simply divide that figure into the overall size of the building, say 14,000 sq. ft.

The resulting hourly figure, 4 in our example, is then used to calculate a monthly total labor hour requirement, which is multiplied by an hourly billing rate to determine the monthly price.

But simple answers, while attractive, can often be misleading and even worse – costly.

Well, let’s take a closer look at production rates; the building blocks of effective bidding and estimating. There are two basic kinds of production rates in cleaning:

The first are ‘overall building’ production rates. These production rates suggest you can ballpark how many sq. ft. of an office building one person can clean in one hour (performing an entire set of what some may refer to as ‘standard’ cleaning duties) and then divide the resulting figure into ‘total building size’ – to arrive at cleaning time (hours) needed per visit.

The only problem of course, and it’s a big one, is buildings differ greatly in:
1) which tasks clients want done, 2) frequency of those tasks and 3) difficulty

This makes it hard, if not impossible, for most small and mid size cleaning businesses to use a single ‘overall building’ production rate with any confidence the time/visit calculation will be reliable or resulting price – competitive yet profitable.

Since It Doesn’t Reflect Differences in Tasks, Frequency and Difficulty,
‘Overall Building’ Production Rate Pricing Probably ISN’T Right for You

In fact, even those few, large building service contractors who take the time to develop not one, but a small set of ‘overall building’ production rates to reflect different building types, are still at risk.

That’s right; those business owners still miss out on the important drilling in process (customization) to the client’s unique cleaning requirements (by area), which can often be the difference between winning and losing a commercial cleaning job.

The second are task-based production rates, such as how long it will take to dust or edge vac a specific number of sq. ft. They are often shown in minutes/1,000 sq. ft. and can be effectively used to perform detailed task-based work loading.

In summary, task-based work loading using task-based production rates is a
much better approach for most cleaning business owners

The exception to this may be those very few, very large, very experienced building service contractors who are prepared to handle the significant operational and financial challenges associated with using a one–size-fits-all ‘overall building’ production rate.

Task-Based Work Loading

We recommend task-based work loading to most cleaning businesses when bidding office cleaning; this ‘ground up’ approach calculates and uses a custom cleaning time/visit as the proper starting point in the process of setting competitive and profitable prices.

This average cleaning time per visit is determined by adding all the individual times needed to perform all the cleaning tasks required by the prospective client in each area of the building.

Task-based work loading uses specific building data such as size of areas (i.e. room dimensions), floor types (i.e. carpet, tile) and fixture counts (i.e. toilets, sinks)

Following the work specifications, a cleaning time/visit is calculated using a combination of:

1) multiplying the sq. ft of each area by the associated production rate for each task (i.e. min/1,000 sq. ft) scheduled to be performed in the area, and/or

2) multiplying fixture counts by the time required to clean those fixtures (i.e. minutes/fixture);

Following the cleaning frequency schedule for all tasks, even periodic or detailed office cleaning tasks can be factored into the average cleaning time per visit and reflected in the price.

YES, Since Bidding Based on Actual, Custom Task Schedules By Area WORKS,
Task- Based Work Loading Probably IS Right for You!!

Having a calculated cleaning time per visit allows small and mid size janitorial business owners to move forward confidently, figuring their total cleaning hours per month, as well as factoring in wages, taxes, overhead and profit to determine their final monthly price

In summary, cleaning business owners who start the bidding process by calculating an average cleaning time using task-based workloading are miles ahead of competitors who simply use a one-size-fits-all price/sq. ft., mere guesstimating or an ‘overall building’ production rate.

Fortunately, there is a fast, easy and convenient janitorial bidding software and app that uses
task-based work loading to bid office cleaning jobs… offers first-time members a free 30 day trial to all of its cleaning business software including CleanGuru Bidding, today’s most popular janitorial bidding software and mobile app which uses task-based work loading. Plus, be sure to check out our sample cleaning proposals and video blog.


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You're welcome John, glad you found it helpful. Dan, CleanGuru Support

John Ray Broussard

Great stuff thank you


Thanks Lashonda, Dan


Keep on working, great job!


You're more than welcome Brightone, and thanks for your kind words. We look forward to having you with us. Wishing you all the best, Dan, CleanGuru LLC

Brightone Banda

This knowledge is awesome. I will work very hard and ensure i acquire this software. Once again thanks for your kind consideration for us who are just finding out foot in the cleaning industry.

Mia Evans

I find it interesting when you said that commercial janitorial cleaning services would have to effectively price the kinds of services they are able to offer, because every facility would have different needs which means that there is no one-size-fits-all price for them. I can imagine how true that is when it comes to getting their estimates first, and this means that the company definitely has to visit an establishment before they can even provide something. And this can be a good factor to check if a company is someone you can trust, they should be able to give you the estimate without going to your establishment and seeing the condition of it firsthand.


You're welcome Alice, and I appreciate your kind comments. Dan, CleanGuru PS Plus, congrats on your new venture, wishing you much success with your new bookstore!

Alice Carroll

Thanks for pointing out that task-based rates can also be a good option when it comes to hiring commercial janitorial services. I'm interested in looking for a good service like that because I plan to open my own bookstore soon. Planning out the maintenance of the establishment early on would be a good idea.

Emily Skinner

Excellent information. I’d like to learn more from you.


Hi Kenneth, First, exciting to hear of your plans to start your own cleaning business. While a lot of work, I still believe running a janitorial company can be a very satisfying and profitable endeaveor. I will be sure to email you a free pdf copy of my book, which includes many of the strategies by business partner Tony and I used to grow our cleaning business. As you can imagine, it’s a good idea to have an detailed marketing strategy with multiple steps that build one on top of the other to attract clients to CALL YOU, to ask for a bid! However, here are a couple ‘keys’ steps: 1. Decide on who you want to clean. Rather than a broad, shotgun approach, we suggest cleaning businesses target a certain type of building or customer ( i.e. medical and professional offices that require 3-5 nights per week cleaning that can be performed in the evening after 5 PM.) 2. Once, you determine who you want to clean, we suggest you build a list of companies that meet that criteria. There are many ways to do this. For example, online business list sites can be helpful in doing this. 3. Next, you can call each location to determine the name of the person or persons responsible for hiring the cleaning service at the buildings on your list. 4. Then, we recommend you begin to send a series of powerful direct-response marketing pieces to the attention of the decision maker (the person in charge of hiring the cleaning service) at the businesses on your targeted list, following a preset schedule. Plus, we offer a FREE 30 Day Trial Membership to all new members! PS Kenneth, I'll be sure to email you free copy of my book; it'll be attached as a PDF. Hope you find a few ideas you think would help you grow your business.

Kenneth Hall

I want to start my own cleaning business and need help doing it


Thanks Akande, great to hear! We'd be happy to show you how easy it is to use and answer any questions you have. Please just call me at our office 888-531-4878 or leave us a number to reach you. Thanks Matt, CleanGuru Support For now, here is some basic information about our bidding program: Bidding - is our online and mobile app for bidding commercial janitorial cleaning and residential maid service jobs. The Janitorial module gives you a calculated cleaning time, recommended price and ready-to-deliver proposal for cleaning jobs for cleaning frequencies ranging from one-time to seven (7) times per week. You can choose from a menu of pre-set types of buildings ranging from office, schools and medical buildings, to banks, churches and manufacturing facilities. We offer additional 'modules' to help on bidding on a variety of cleaning type projects ranging from Construction, Window, Move In/Out, Carpet, Maid, Tile and Disinfecting. These modules provide price recommendations only, while still giving you customized, professional proposals. We offer four (4) different monthly Bidding Plans; Basic, Deluxe, MAX and MAX Plus!. 1. Basic - $49/mo. giving you access to one(1) Module...and our popular Express loading feature! 2. Plan - $69/mo. giving you access to three (3) Module... and our popular Express loading feature! 3. MAX - $89/mo. giving you access to ALL eight (8) Modules... and our popular Express loading feature!. 4. MAX Plus! - $119/mo. giving you access to ALL eight (8) Modules, our popular Express loading feature, Plus Inspecting App, Plus Coaching Video Series! AND, as a first time member, you will receive your a full 30 days of access absolutely FREE!


I would like to learn more about the bidding software


Thanks so much Sherry, glad you find CleanGuru to be a valuable tool in growing and managing your cleaning business, Dan

Sherry Hazel

This software is an Excellent tool to getting approval for your services. Our customers love the timing and professionalism This software makes it convenient to keep track of your contracts,schedules, and employees so that you can get the contracts gladly signed by customers. And the customer service is great! I have had someone contact me within hours for any questions! Awsome job CleanGuru!


Hi Policia, thanks for your interest in our bidding software! We'd be happy to show you how it works and set you up with a FREE 30 day Membership to see how it can help when it comes to pricing and preparing professional proposals for cleaning jobs. You can go directly to to see lots of FREE demos, or give us a call at 888-531-4878 M/F 9/5EST. Look forward to hearing from you, Dan


I’m am very interested in this service. I would like to obtain more information on bidding.


Hi Jennifer, please give me a call at 888-531-4878. I'd be happy to help. Plus, you can try everything we offer for 30 days for FREE to make sure it's a good fit for you business, Thanks Matt, CleanGuru Support 888-531-4878.


I would like more information on how to bid. Ok


Hi Gabreal, we have a bidding software program you might find very helpful in calculating a per visit cleaning time, determining a monthly price and preparing a professional bid proposal. As a first time member, you could use the CleanGuru bidding program for a 30 days absolutely FREE to generate as many bids as you would like - to see if you like it and if it's a good fit for your cleaning business. In using it, you'll be able to enter how often the cleaning is to be performed (frequency) as well as any detailed building information you have, such as area/room dimensions or sizes as well as fixture counts for bathrooms. You can watch free demos at, and if you decide to try our software and have any questions as you begin to use it - just let us know, we'd be happy to help, Matt, CleanGuru Support 888-531-4878

Gabreal Whitten

Hello, I am needing to submit a bid to a company that is indoor baseball/softball area. It is roughly 5000 sqft and it has 2 bathrooms and office area. How would I go about estimating this?


Hi Andrea, you’re right - the current COVID 10 pandemic is sometimes making it difficult for cleaning business owners to get all the detailed building data they need to create meaningful cleaning programs and appropriate monthly prices to charge for those cleaning programs. However, here are some ideas you may want to review; some of and see which may be helpful/useful for the job you’re wanting to bid on: 1. Consider asking for a detailed blueprint of the building to be cleaned. While not all businesses maintain these kinds of useful drawings, many do. From there, using a rolling measuring tool, set to the scale listed on the blueprint, you can often get, not only good measurement estimates by area, but also important info like - item counts (i.e. bathroom fixtures, lunchroom tables etc). NOTE: Copies of blueprints may have been enlarged or reduced, so make sure it’s an original and that the scale listed is 'true'. Ask your prospect if they could take a few minutes to label floor (carpet, wax, non wax, wood) types throughout the building. You could provide them multi-colored highlighting markers, so they could clearly identify the various floorings directly on the blueprint. This may be a bit time consuming but knowing floor types can be valuable in accurately generating cleaning times when work loading the job in Janitorial. 2. Could you arrange with the person in charge, maybe in this case an office or property manage, to see the building(s) either - 'before or after regular business hours; allowing you time to ‘see’ the building when there are few or no occupants inside; while following all necessary safety precautions/requirements such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing 3. If a blueprint is not available and the building owner is unwilling or unable to arrange a physical visit/tour of the facilities, a detailed process of questions asking about everything from sq. ft. to be cleaned and difficulty of cleaning - to fixture counts and difficulty levels by area can be helpful in learning the building info you need to create a meaningful cleaning proposal for the work requested. Hope these ideas help, Matt CleanGuru Support


I have a bid that I need to complete for a government facility, due to COVID I can't do a walk through. Any suggestions on how to perform this bid so I won't underbid the job.


Hey Kelvin, in our software we help cleaning business owners calculate an average cleaning time per visit for office cleaning/janitorial jobs. From there, the time can be multiplied by a 'loaded' wage rate, meaning one that also includes a provision for payroll tax and overhead - to estimate an average monthly cost for the job. Profit can then be added in to determine the monthly price for the client. However, if you were simply asking what cleaning businesses charge per hour for their services, it really does vary a great deal. Residential cleaning/Maid services may charge for example from $25/hr - $45/hr, while commercial cleaning/janitorial/office cleaning companies may charge their clients $15/hr - $35. I say 'as and example' because while the wage ranges given may be helpful, it really does depend on what kind of cleaning is being provided, as well as the cleaning company's specific expenses and profit requirements. Hope that helps, Matt, CleanSupport

Kelvin J Lloyd

Well how much would be a great price to start with per hour?


Thanks Andrew, great to hear! We'll try to contact you, and you can call us anytime with any questions (or if you'd like a FREE demo and/or FREE 30 day trial of CleanGuru software). I'd be happy to help, Matt, CleanGuru Support 888-531-4878

Andrew M Ramsey

I would like to learn more


Hi Imoh, that's great - we'd love for you to try out CleanGuru for a full 30 days for FREE. You can sign up anytime at If you have any questions, or would simply like to have us help you get started, just call us at 888-531-4878. Thanks, Matt, CleanGuru Support

imoh celestine

I would really like to try it out


Hi Debra, you can sign up for a FREE 30 day trial at in a matter of minutes. Just click on the green FREE Trial button at the top of the page. And, if you have any questions or would like me to walk you through the sign up and give you a short demo, just let me know. I'd be happy to help, Matt CleanGuru Support 888-531-4878

Debra Kelley

How do I access the free trail?


Need more information and how to bids for cleaning jobs