Should I bid by the hour or by the job?
Bid by the hour if you are just starting your house cleaning business. This will give you a chance to figure out how fast you clean, and how long it’s going to take you to clean a clients house. It’s easy math. Figure out much cleaning supplies cost, and how much you are spending on gas and car repairs to get to and from work. The combination of your expenses will give you a good idea of what it costs you to do the job.
Balance that by the number of hours you are working, and minus your expenses. Factor in your taxes and then determine if you are okay at your current rate or if you need to re bid the job.
Hey Angela, I just started a house cleaning company and I got a call from a lady who wants me to come bid a house cleaning job. Should I charge by the hour or by the job?
Congratulations on your first lead. The first job you bid and close is always the hardest.
The reason you’ve been called is first and foremost because a lady needs her house cleaned. The fact that she called you suggests that either you did a great job marketing, or that someone who likes you referred her to you. Way to go!
What she needs to know next, is does she like you? Does she trust you? Does she think you’re capable of doing a good job? And can she afford your services?
Now you have to go bid the house cleaning job and sell yourself.
If you do a Google search for cleaning service rates in your area you may be able to get a good feel for what providers of house cleaning services are charging. If you are an independent house cleaner, the going rate across the country is $25-$45 per hour depending on the geographic location, and your skill level.
Having said that, many companies will argue that you should charge by the job not by the hour. If you own a cleaning franchise, some of your ongoing expenses include: national advertising, franchise fees, workers compensation, vehicles, vehicle registration, vehicle insurance and repairs, uniforms, vacuums, cleaning supplies, employee training, payroll, and lots of other overhead. And if you are to turn a profit, you have to charge by the job. Otherwise, lazy employees would work slowly and milk the hourly rate rather than working efficiently to get the job done.
My Personal Recommendation
Since you are the business owner, and you are the one I assume who will be cleaning the house, I recommend you charge by the hour. Start at $25 an hour. This is the lower end of the scale and in any market, you should be able to pick up lots of clients. It’s a safe bet for both you and the client.
Because you’re new and just getting started, this gives you a chance to prove yourself to new client who is willing to take a risk on you. It will also allow you to determine how long it’s going to take to clean the house.
Cleaning the house depends on a variety of factors such as:
- How many rooms are there in the house?
- How many open spaces need to be cleaned? (Hallways, stairways, entryways, laundry room, basement, walk in pantry, landing, balconies, sun rooms, porches etc.)
- What shape is the house in? (Immaculate, tidy, lived in, cluttered, messy?)
- Are there pets? (If so, how many? And what type?)
- Are there kids? (If so, how many? And what ages?)
- Are there live-ins (if so, what is the status? Elderly parents, weekend custody visits, boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbors, cousins, sometimes college students, one room renter etc.)
Charge By The Hour
Charging by the hour will allow you to block out your schedule in 3 or 4 hour time slots and regardless of the condition of the home and the variables above, you only have a set amount of time so go do an awesome job and see how far you can go.
At the end of your first cleaning, assess how much longer it will take you and come up with a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly house cleaning services plan.
There is an entire section (How to bid house cleaning jobs, setting cleaning rates and free estimates) in my book: How to Start Your Own House Cleaning Company. There are also lots of other great ideas in there to consider as you start your house cleaning business. Check it out.