How To Price Commercial Cleaning Jobs

How to Set Prices for Commercial Cleaning Jobs Without Missing Important Costs


Figuring out how to price your commercial cleaning services isn’t just about crunching numbers. It’s a strategic move that needs a deep understanding of your costs, the unique services you offer, and the market you’re in.

This guide will help you understand the ins and outs of pricing in commercial cleaning. It offers insights, a real-world-type example, and advanced strategies to help you navigate this important part of your business.

Part 1: Understanding Pricing Basics

Different Ways to Price

The first step in mastering pricing is understanding the different ways you can charge. In commercial cleaning, you can charge based on the size of the area (square footage), by the hour, or a flat fee. Each of these methods has its own pros and cons, and the best choice depends on things like the size of the property, the type of cleaning tasks, and how much work is involved.

Square footage pricing is often used for large spaces, where the cleaning tasks are pretty much the same across the area. Hourly rates work well for jobs that need specialized cleaning tasks or when the amount of work isn’t totally predictable. Flat fee pricing can be a good choice when you know exactly what the job involves and can accurately estimate the time and resources it will take.

Going Beyond the Basics

While understanding the basic pricing methods is important, mastering pricing requires a deeper understanding. It involves knowing the details of each pricing method, knowing when to use which one, and being able to adjust your pricing strategy for different situations. For example, while square footage pricing is straightforward for large, uniform spaces, it might need to be adjusted for spaces with different cleaning requirements in different areas. Similarly, while an hourly rate might seem straightforward, it requires a good understanding of how long different cleaning tasks take and how to adjust for unexpected complications.

Part 2: Things That Influence Pricing

The Size and Type of the Building

The size and type of the building are big factors that influence the cost of commercial cleaning. Larger buildings often have a lower cost per square foot, but the overall cost is higher because of the larger area. Certain types of buildings, like medical facilities or manufacturing plants, may need specialized cleaning and thus cost more. Understanding these details and knowing how to adjust your pricing based on the building size and type is a key skill in commercial cleaning pricing.

Overhead Costs: The Hidden Factor

Overhead costs, like marketing, travel, insurance, rent, and the cost of cleaning supplies and equipment, often go unnoticed but play a big role in pricing. These costs need to be included in your pricing to make sure that your business stays profitable. A common practice is to add 20-25% to the base cost (explained below) to cover these overhead expenses. However, this percentage can vary depending on the specific overhead costs of your business.

Labor Costs: The Backbone of Pricing

Labor costs are a key part of pricing in commercial cleaning. They include the wages of the cleaning staff, taxes, and other employee-related expenses. Calculating labor costs accurately requires a good understanding of how long different cleaning tasks take, how many employees are needed for a job, and the total labor hours required for a job.

Part 3: Adding a Profit Margin

After calculating all the costs, a markup or profit margin should be added to the total cost. This is the amount added to the cost to ensure profitability. A common markup in the cleaning industry is around 30%. However, this can vary depending on the specific circumstances of a job and the overall profitability of your business. Understanding how to calculate and apply a profit margin is a crucial skill in mastering pricing in commercial cleaning.

Part 4: Unique Insights and Non-Obvious Strategies

Pricing as a Marketing Tool

Pricing isn’t just about covering your costs and making sure you make a profit; it’s also a powerful marketing tool. The price you set for your services sends a message to your potential clients about the value you provide. A higher price can signal high-quality services, while a lower price can attract clients who are more cost-conscious. Understanding your target market and aligning your pricing strategy with your marketing strategy can give you a competitive edge.

The Power of Value-Based Pricing

While cost-based pricing is the most common approach in commercial cleaning, value-based pricing can be a powerful strategy. This involves setting your prices based on the value you provide to your clients, rather than just your costs. For example, if your cleaning services help a business maintain a clean and healthy work environment, leading to increased productivity and reduced sick days, this adds significant value to the business. Recognizing this value and reflecting it in your prices can help you command higher rates and increase your profitability.

The Importance of Regular Price Reviews

The costs of running a commercial cleaning business can change over time due to factors like inflation, changes in labor costs, and changes in the cost of cleaning supplies and equipment. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your prices to reflect these changes is crucial to maintaining profitability. This requires keeping track of your costs, monitoring market trends, and being willing to adjust your prices as needed.

Part 5: Putting It All Together: A Comprehensive Example

Let’s look at an example that ties together all the key takeaways. Suppose you’re running a commercial cleaning business that specializes in office buildings. You’re approached by a client who wants you to clean a 10,000 square foot office building once a week.

First, you decide to use a square footage pricing structure. You know from experience that buildings of this size and type typically cost around 10 cents per square foot to clean. This cost is your base cost, which includes labor, cleaning supplies, and equipment depreciation:

  1. Labor Costs: This is the cost of the cleaning staff’s wages who will be performing the cleaning tasks. It’s calculated based on the number of hours it takes to clean the specified area.
  2. Cleaning Supplies and Materials: This includes the cost of cleaning solutions, tools, and other materials used in the cleaning process. It can include items like detergents, disinfectants, mops, vacuum bags, gloves, etc.
  3. Equipment Depreciation: The wear and tear of the cleaning equipment used is also factored into the base cost. This could include machines like vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners, floor polishers, etc.

So, when we say the base cost is 10 cents per square foot, it means that these direct costs (labor, cleaning supplies, and equipment depreciation) associated with cleaning a square foot of space amount to 10 cents.

So, the base cost calculation would be:

Square footage * Cost per square foot = Base cost

10,000 sq ft * $0.10/sq ft = $1,000

Next, you consider the overhead costs. You know that your overhead costs typically add about 25% to your base cost. These costs include marketing, travel, insurance, rent, and general administrative costs.

The overhead cost calculation would be:

Base cost * Overhead percentage = Overhead cost

$1,000 * 25% = $250

The total cost is the sum of the base cost and overhead cost.

Base cost + Overhead cost = Total cost

$1,000 + $250 = $1,250

Finally, you add a profit margin. You decide on a markup of 30%, which is added to the total cost.

The profit margin calculation would be:

Total cost * Profit margin percentage = Profit

$1,250 * 30% = $375

The final price is the sum of the total cost and the profit.

Total cost + Profit = Final price

$1,250 + $375 = $1,625

So, the final price for the job would be $1,625. This price reflects the costs of the job, includes a profit margin for your business, and aligns with the market rates for commercial cleaning of office buildings. It’s a price that ensures profitability, covers your costs, and provides value to your customer.


Figuring out the right pricing strategy for your commercial cleaning business involves understanding your costs, the value you provide, and the market demand. By considering the size and type of the building, factoring in overhead and base costs, and adding a suitable profit margin, you can set prices that ensure profitability and competitiveness in the market.

Remember, the pricing strategy should be flexible and adaptable to different situations. It’s also important to regularly review and adjust your rates to ensure they reflect your costs, market demand, and the value you provide. With the right approach, you can set your commercial cleaning business up for success, even in a competitive marketplace.

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