How to Price Your House Cleaning Services?
Starting a housekeeping company is one of the easiest businesses you can start. With little or no money at all you can build your cleaning route very quickly and begin earning a salary of between $15 and $35 per hour.
For most people entering this industry, finding clients and knowing how to clean a home is the easy part; however, when it comes to offering a potential client a flat rate price for services, many new cleaners are at a loss. Bidding and estimating a weekly or biweekly service rate is a mystery for those who may be just getting started in the residential cleaning industry.
Hopefully, this article will take the magic out of estimating a price for your clients. Once you have gone out and performed a few estimates using the following information, you will wonder why bidding was ever a source of anxiety for you in the first place: now bidding and estimating will be the easiest part of operating your new company.
First, you will need to establish what the hourly rate will be for you in your particular part of the United States. You will not be charging your clients by the hour; however, you will be using an hourly rate to determine what flat rate to charge your customers. Don’t worry about how much money your competitors are charging-it doesn’t matter! You set your rates, and don’t allow your local market to set them for you. To establish your hourly rate, go to http://www.bls.gov/bls/blswage.htm (this is the United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics website) and scroll down to “Metropolitan Area Wage Data”. Look for the link that says “For 375 Metropolitan Statistical areas (MSAs)” and click on it. Now find your state and click on your area. Scroll down to Occupational Code No. 37-0000, “Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations” and click on it. Scroll down to Occupational Code No. 37-2012 “Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners” and look for the box to the right under Mean Hourly. Take the Mean Hourly Wage for your area and multiply that by 2. This will be your base hourly rate.
Now that you have your base hourly rate it is time to determine how many hours it will take you to clean any particular home you may be bidding on. This bidding method is easy to implement and accurate for 95% of all homes in the United States. You will need to assign a time value for each cleaning task as follows:
Room: 10-15 minutes
Entry, Hall, Stairwell: 5-10 minutes
Furniture: 5 minutes per piece
Room: 5-10 minutes
Full Bath: 15-20 minutes
½ Bath: (no shower or tub): 10 minutes
Shower tile: 10-30 minutes
Jacuzzi & relaxation style tubs: add 10 minutes
Kitchen: 20 minutes
Stove-top: 15-20 minutes
Oven-hood: 20-60 minutes
Room: (sweep) 5-10 minutes (mop) 5-10 minutes
Bathrooms: (sweep) 5 minutes (mop) 5 minutes
Kitchens: (sweep) 10-20 minutes (mop) 10-15 minutes
Entries: (sweep) 5-10 minutes (mop) 5 minutes
Halls: (sweep) 5-10 minutes (mop) 5-10 minutes
Stairs: (sweep) 5-10 minutes (mop) 5-10 minutes
Bed making: 15 minutes each
Interior Oven: 120 minutes each
Fireplace: 60 minutes
Interior Refrigerator: 120 minutes each
Furniture Polishing: 15-20 minutes each
Semi-commercial Stove-top: add 5 minutes
During the estimate ask your client to take you on a walk-through of all the areas in her home that she would like serviced. When you enter an area quickly write down what kind of room it is (living room, bathroom, bedroom etc.) and note the type of flooring that is in the room (hard or carpeted). Ask the client what she would like done as you go from room to room. When you have completed the tour, return to your car and begin assigning a time value based on the information you collected from the potential client. Note: do not add any dusting times for Entries, Hallways or Stairwells. Also, wiping down items in the clients home is included in the dusting time value.
You should have all the areas and specifications written down in an organized fashion.
Living Room (wood floor)
Dining Area (wood floor)
Bathroom (vinyl floor, tub/shower)
Kitchen (tile floor)
Now go back through the list and ask yourself what needs to be done in each area. The living room with hard wood floors should be dusted, wiped, swept and mopped. You will assign a 5 for the dusting/wiping and a 10 (5 for sweeping and 5 for mopping) for the floors, totaling 15 for the area. If an area is unusually large, then you may want to consider assigning the higher-range time value to it. The dining area will be calculated in the same way as the living room. The bathroom is a full bath with a value of 15 plus the shower (if applicable) with a value of 10 and the floor (vinyl) with a value of 10 also (5 for the sweeping and 5 for the mopping), totaling 35. Hallways, entries and stairwells are assigned time values for the floor surfaces only. In the case of our example, it is carpeted, with a time value of 5. The bedroom is 5 for the dusting and 10 for the vacuuming. The Kitchen is 20 plus 15 for the stove-top and 20 for the floors (again, 10 for the sweeping and 10 for the mopping). The grand total for our sample house is 140.
Take your total and divide it by 60; this gives us the decimal 2.33. Multiply this number by your base hourly rate, we will use $19.66 as an example. The amount comes to $45.8078. You will always round up to the nearest part of $5, even if it is only one penny over (example: $45.01). So your total for this client’s home would be $50 per service visit. You should always multiply your client’s rate by 1.5 for the first cleaning (1.5 X $50 = $75). It will always take you longer to clean the customer’s home the first time. This will be your price for weekly and biweekly clients. You could offer a discount for weekly clients; however, I would personally not. If you have a client who requests a one-time-per-month cleaning, a rate of 1.5 times the biweekly rate should be assessed.
This method of bidding works for any home, large or small. You may be shocked with the rates you will come up with, but don’t ever think your price is too high. Look your potential client in the eyes and confidently assert your rate every time. You will likely close 1 out of every 2 estimates you perform.
Once you have built your cleaning route into a fulltime business you may want to start raising your base hourly rate for any new clients you acquire. You can raise your current client’s rates or replace them with your new, higher paying clients (one at a time). Continue this client recycling method until you begin to notice that you are no longer able to acquire any new clients. Now you will know what the absolute top cleaning rate is for your area. At this level you should be earning between $25 and $35 per hour depending on your area.