How do you price your cleaning services? Everybody has their opinion about what works best, but opinions are like kittens – people are always giving them away for free.
You will hear terms such as by the square foot, by the job, and by the hour.
So which is correct?
All of them, depending.
Volume vs. Profit
Many professional cleaners assume that underpricing the competition will guarantee them more work. This no-job-is-too-small approach is a bad idea. Really bad. If you yearn to labor for lousy money, then it's the right approach for you.
You are providing a much needed service. You are not selling televisions, and you're not in the business of mass production. Adopt the Walmart philosophy when providing services and you'll attract customers who expect Walmart prices. There is more work available than you could ever take on, and you can only do so much. You cannot mass produce yourself, right?
If you want to make $75,000+ per year providing professional house or office cleaning, your job is to provide quality services for upscale customers. Work for clients who can afford to pay what you deserve. That will make the critical difference between making $10 per hour and $35. In other words, providing prime service for upmarket clients will enable you to run a profitable business.
By the hour
Getting paid by the hour is not a good option to offer the client. They will try to work the deal to their own advantage. It's human nature. They will compare your hourly fee with theirs, and unless they make a comfortable living, they may decide they don't want to pay you more than they make.
We recommend that you don't even mention the idea of hourly wage. When discussing fees, keep the conversation focused on the total amount for the job. Bear in mind that for the purpose of accurate business accounting, you will consider your actual hourly wage.
Most cleaners will tell you that the hourly wage tends to go up significantly over a period of time. This is because the more you do it, the faster you get at the job, and also, the clients stop paying attention to what you are doing. They tend to pay close attention to the first job, then relax when you have earned their trust. I have worked cleaning jobs that took three hours at first, but one year later the same job took me one-and-a-half hours. I doubled my income per hour. Yes, there is an art to doing this right. It is just as clean as the first (probably cleaner!), but you get faster and better at it over time as you practice that particular job.
By the job
Our method is to conduct a walk-through on your first meeting with the new client. Take copious detailed notes, politely dismiss yourself, then go away and calculate the job. Never calculate in front of the client during the walk-through. Always call them back with your estimate. We have over a dozen criteria that you want to detail on each walk-through.
It confounds me how many cleaning professionals calculate every job by the square foot. This is a limited approach which we don't recommend.
10 things that square footage will not tell you:
Significant information is missing when bid hourly. Perhaps that's why these particular cleaning pros always seemed miserable to me. Their jobs are nothing but unwanted surprises and drudgery.
Square footage can be helpful, however. Bear it in mind when considering your price from a larger perspective.
Do not project your values on the prospect
It is never wise to project your personal values onto a potential client. You may find it hard to believe that someone would pay $35+ per hour to have their house cleaned, but you must realize that is only your belief. Your clients have their own beliefs about value and price, which may vary greatly from yours.
I have been paid as much as $60 per hour to clean homes. Bear in mind, some people's $60 is similar to your $1. Wealthy people living in upscale neighborhoods simply have a unique set of values around money. Be wise and take advantage of the difference between your values and theirs.
We have designed an entire Action Plan to help you assess values and bring home the highest pay possible. The Action Plan looks into all the various archetypes, including Longevity, Class Status, Self Esteem, Associations, Habits, Bargain Mentality, Guilt, Tax Incentives and Branding.
Cleaning Bids and Estimates
Giving bids and making estimates on your cleaning jobs is an art and a science. The more estimates you make, the better you will get. There is no one correct way, because you're dealing with people. People are not all cut from the same cookie cutter. Go out and give bids until you've evolved a method that works well for you. You will get better at it the more you do it.
We have a custom approach that involves calculating all three – the square footage, the hourly (for your purposes), and the specifications of the job. We will teach you how to conduct a thorough walkthrough and calculate the needs of the job and the needs of your business, which gives you a range of prices with which you can then negotiate.
Pricing your cleaning service is something you should pay close attention to. Professionals use a careful and realistic system for assessing each job, and a method for formulating a range of negotiable bids.