Use a bid estimate to determine the best pricing structure for your cleaning services.
Last updated: July 30, 2016
Question from HBT reader: I am starting a small home cleaning business. What rates should I charge? Should it be a hourly rate or a base pay rate? Do you have a cleaning bid sheet so I can give accurate estimates?
Charging customers a rate for the whole job is often the best way to go. Doing so places a premium on your professional expertise. Charging by the hour puts undo emphasis on your labor and will not reflect your worth as your skills and efficiency increases.
It’s also possible that charging an hourly rate could led to disputes with the customer over actual time you spend on a job and the perceived time a customer feels a job should take.
How much should you charge?
There is no hard and fast rule. Market conditions and the cost of living in your area play a role. With a little research into your competition and an understanding of your operating costs, you can find a figure fair to both you and your customers. Generally, small cleaning operations earn the equivalent of between $15 to $40 per hour and more.
So, if you feel that your time is worth $30/hour, estimate how long you think a job will take based on the individual customer’s needs and your initial walk-through of the home. Bid your total job rate on your estimate of time from the walk-through.
You can get a feel for the time it takes to clean a home by simply using your own home for a practice run. Do all the tasks you would perform on a customer’s home and make a note of the time it takes to clean each room.
To help your first estimate go smoothly, you can download a free bid estimate sheet using one of the links below. You can customize it to fit your needs.
Get a Free Bid Estimate Sheet
- Plain Text Format
(suitable for most computers)
- Word Format
(for PC’s with Microsoft Word)
- WordPerfect Format
(for PC’s with Corel’s WordPerfect)
With this bid estimate worksheet you’re essentially ready to begin working. Going to the next level, you can prepare a whole suite of materials with a bid estimate packet. This would include things such as your business card, an introductory letter, list of cleaning materials you use, terms and conditions, customer references, and your insurance certificate.
On a final note, be aware that the first cleaning of a home is often more labor and time intensive than subsequent cleanings, you may want to build a 10% or 20% premium into that first cleaning of a new customer’s home.
Many new cleaning businesses make the mistake of undercharging when first starting out. So, be sure to plan your operating costs appropriately and charge accordingly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. He is the founder of HomeBizTools and the publisher of Straight Talk, a syndicated column that offers a unique perspective on today’s business issues.