A cleaning business owner asked the following question:
"I do both commercial and residential cleaning, but I'm having trouble pricing residential cleaning. With homes there can be such a difference in the time it takes to clean one particular house. I have been trying to price the houses by time but there are times when the cleaning may take a little longer than expected and then we end up with no profit. How can I figure this out?"
My friend, Debbie Sardone, The Maid Coach answered:
Hang in there! Residential cleaning service is too labor intensive to run if you're not making good money at it. Here are just a few suggestions, I hope they help:
1. If you can define it precisely, you can price it accurately. Clearly define what exactly you do for the price. Anything outside that list is priced separately or not done. People will accept whatever you put in writing. If it's not in writing (or clearly communicated) their expectations are open ended for your fixed price.
2. Most lost profits are on first time cleans. You have other issues going on if you lose money on your repeat work (the weekly, bi-weekly cleans). Pricing first time cleans pose the greatest challenges for lost profits and customer disappointment. My pricing system, "Cracking The Dirt Code - Pricing Jobs Profitably" is simple to implement and will help you double and triple your sales instantly. One key principle is to realize there's "old dirt" and "new dirt". First time cleans almost always have "old dirt" no matter how "clean" the client insists the house is. Old dirt will take double to triple the time to clean off. Period. If you count on that, you'll by right at least 80% of the time!
3. Measure the subjective. You really can measure, define, and sell your first time cleans profitably more often or every time with a little bit of practice and a few basic principles that apply to every job. You can stop losing money and reap the rewards of this very lucrative business. Based on your past experiences begin now assessing every job on a 1 thru 10 dirt level (1 is very clean, 10 is filthy, 11 is "walk out" conditions). You can go back through months or years of old paperwork for practice. Put a number on each job that you recall. "the Jones house was spotless, they get a one, the Smith's were very dirty they get an eight, the Hendricks' were filthy I'll give them a 9, etc.). You will begin to see a pattern emerge. Once you are able to see patterns you can develop pricing patterns as well!
If you're interested in learning more about Debbie's answer, check out her class, Cracking the Dirt Code.