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When bidding a cleaning account, labor is always the biggest expense. In order to determine your labor expense for a cleaning account you'll need to figure out how many hours it will take to get the job done.

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In order to determine the number of hours it will take, you'll need to break the job down into production rates by task. Using a cleaning rates production chart will be helpful in figuring this out. A cleaning production rate is not foolproof, but it will give you an average time per task under normal circumstances.

No situation is ever really "normal", so it's helpful to understand different circumstances that could affect a "normal" cleaning production rate.

Square Footage. Perhaps the account you're bidding on has 2500 square feet of vinyl flooring that needs to be mopped. The standard production rate for mopping is 5000 square feet per hour, so that 2500 square feet of floor should take 1/2 hour to mop. However, you need to ask yourself some questions. Is the vinyl flooring all in one large area? Or is it broken up into two floors, with 4 restrooms, a breakroom, copy room, computer room, and utility room? Do you think it will still take 1/2 hour when the floors are scattered throughout the building? This may not be a "normal circumstance" so you need to take that into consideration.

Task Frequency. How often are tasks being performed -- once a day, once a week, once a month? Keep in mind that by lowering the frequency of a task, you're not necessarily reducing time and expense for the customer. Emptying trash 2 days a week versus 5 days a week doesn't really save much time and will affect your production rate. If your bid calls for emptying trash in a busy office twice a week, you may find overflowing trash cans, which will slow your workers down.

Number of Occupants. If you're bidding on a small office building with a few employees and very little public traffic, your production rates will probably soar. However if that same sized building has lots of employees crammed into numerous cubicles, and they get a lot of public traffic, then production rates will go down due to more people occupying the building.

Equipment. If you give your employees the wrong equipment, or give them equipment that has frequent breakdowns, then your production rates will be affected. If your building has wide hallways and open areas, they'll get more accomplished with a wide area vacuum, or a backpack vacuum versus a 12" upright vacuum.

Area of the Country. Buildings located in climates that have snowfall or lots of rain will have more maintenance required due to snow, salt, sand and dirt getting tracked into the building. Climates with high humidity can also affect production rates for hard floor care and carpet cleaning, as drying times are much slower.

Customer Standards. One of the most intangible variables in regards to cleaning production rates has to do with customer standards. Is your prospective customer primarily interested in price? Then perhaps the "normal" production rates will be accurate. However, if your customer is dissatisfied with the current cleaning contractor because the quality of service is not there, then your production rates could be affected because you'll want to make sure your employees are spending enough time on each task.

Keeping these circumstances in mind when walking through a building and bidding on a new cleaning account will help you "massage" the numbers the way they should be for this particular bid.

Copyright 2006 The Janitorial Store

The Cleaning Services industry like any other services business is a people oriented business. Your front line to back line team members need to be committed to providing excellent service to both their internal and external customers. It is vital that as a Cleaning Business owner your team is instituting an approach during the hiring process that will increase your chances of finding the right people to service the accounts you support. I have found that there are four steps your Human Resources team can take to find "winners".

The first step is to conduct an initial screening whether by phone or face to face. The purpose of this screening is help maximize your hiring team's time by eliminating candidates that are not a good fit to work within your cleaning company based on pre-defined criteria. Examples of pre-defined criteria may be cleaning experience, job stability, legal documentation, etc. Why have a candidate complete an application if based on the screening process you identify that he or she is not a good fit?

The second step is if the candidate passes the screening process and completes an employment application you then want to provide tests and action exercises to test their responsibility and commitment. Let me share an example. One approach is to mention to the candidate that he or she has passed the screening portion of the hiring process and the next step is to interview face to face. You ask the candidate what is a good day and time for them to call you in order for them to find out if they will be interviewed or not. Make sure you push the call back at least five days out and not the next day, in order to not make it so easy and convenient. You both agree that the candidate will call you back on a specific day and specific time. If the candidate does not call you back on the agreed upon day and time or calls you 15 minutes late or 30 minutes late, then this is an initial representation of how they may be in the future. Some of you may say, wow, this is to extreme or ridiculous. Let me just tell you, when someone is interested in the job and committed to working with your cleaning company they will call you on the exact day and time agreed upon. Now this system is not 100% full proof, but it is helping one view initial candidate characteristics and tendencies. You may want to implement other action exercises or tests, this is but an example. Be creative.

The third step is to validate employment. Many cleaning companies are quick to hire without doing their due diligence. It is not a race. If you plan accordingly and establish a transition plan with your customer there should be no reason you are racing to find talent. You owe it to your cleaning company and your customer to validate employment history and references in order to make sure what the candidate is listing on the application is accurate and correct. It also helps you obtain feedback from a former employer on why the candidate left and on their previous work performance.

The final step is to conduct a thorough background check. Many cleaning companies may have their own system in place or you may want to look at contracting this service out. There are many companies that provide this service and specialize in servicing the cleaning industry. The pricing is affordable and it is definitely worth the investment. Remember you are competing with other cleaning companies and at the end of the day you want to make sure you are hiring winners and not losers. How powerful is it if the customer requests proof of the background checks and you can present a professional, accurate document highlighting your process and results.

I encourage you to look at your cleaning company hiring process and compare and contrast. Identify what is working well and where they may be areas of opportunity. The goal at the end of the day is to find the right people to be a part of your organization and make it a win-win for all parties: company, customer and team members.