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 Construction site clean up projects can, and when structured correctly will, prove to be the most profitable aspect of a commercial cleaning business.  They can also prove to be the hardest work, the biggest headaches and a scheduling/staffing nightmare. It’s all about communication, documentation and accountability.  New construction cleanup and construction cleaning jobs are available in almost any location.  A business letter from a janitorial service or commercial cleaning company to the main office of the general contractor is how to get the ball rolling.  An introductory letter requesting to have your company placed on their “bidders list”, along with a copy of your insurance and business licenses, construction industry references with phone numbers and some documentation of your abilities seems to go a long way.  But that’s only the first step of many.  A flyer or brochure will easily address your abilities.  Construction site cleaning opportunities happen quickly and will go to the post construction cleaning company with all the paperwork completed and already in place.

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Author - Thomas Anthony

Founder - Facility Support Client/Contractor Communication Team

      How to bid final, post or after construction cleaning is the question most janitorial companies seem to be interested in, but that challenge won’t be addressed correctly until you shake the hand of the Site Superintendant or Project Manager.  The key to working with construction contractors consistently is the contractors perception that you are familiar with their requirements and that you can accomplish them on a strict time schedule and in an uneventful manner.  It would be smart to establish a new d.b.a. with a construction related name (i.e. Sparkle Cleaning d.b.a. Site Cleaning Support).  Go to Home Depot and get a white hard hat ($10.00?) and a reflective safety vest ($10.00?).  Go to an ad specialties store, get a work shirt and have them embroider your company name on it.  Have them letter the hard hat and the vest with the same name also.  Office Depot makes quick “no frills” business cards for about $10.00 for a hundred.  Have some conservative basic cards made.  Jeans and work boots are a must.  On a construction site, the person from Site Cleaning Support with the uniform, hard hat and safety vest will quickly get an invitation to bid.  The person from Sparkle Cleaning, with the “pink flowers and bubbles” business card, will either get punched in the nose or receive the kind of attention they don’t want!  When you visit the site for the first time, look for the construction office trailer.  Identify yourself as a contractor and ask for the Superintendant or Project Manager.  Don’t try to sell anyone else, this is very important.  Only speak with the Super, PM or their administrative staff in the office trailer.  Contractors disrupting the flow of work on a site are a problem, will be asked to leave the site and will not be asked to bid.  Your first statement to the PM should be: “Hi, I’m a cleaning contractor and I’m interested in competing for work on this project.”  Shortly after that you should say: “I know you’re very busy and I won’t take up your time right now, but I do want  to be considered when the time is right.  What’s your turn over date?” and then “Our paperwork is already of file at your office and so I don’t pester you, what would be a good approximate date to stop back?”  Shake their hand, leave a card and maybe a flyer and then get off their site.

     When you start to put together a post construction cleaning company business plan, it’s important to understand the opportunities available with construction site clean up.  More importantly, it’s mandatory to understand the scope of work pending, and the time frames available for that work in the Project Manager’s mind, regarding cleaning on his site.  Basic new structure cleaning is a given and can be addressed in two ways depending on the sites needs.  It can be contracted to be done all at one time or in phases as the site progresses.  Here’s a simple example of three phase cleaning for a residential construction cleanup proposal:

Phase one – “Rough Clean”

A phase one cleaning may be requested by the GC after the framing, plumbing and electrical have been inspected and completed.  This phase may be done before or after the sheetrock has been installed or what is also considered the “dried in stage”.  The phase one cleaning will consist of the removal of large debris and trash, stickers will be removed from windows and the unit will be swept out.  This phase will help prepare for the incoming subs for painting, flooring, fixtures and cabinetry.              

Phase two – “Prep Clean”

A phase two cleaning will be requested prior to the GC’s inspection leading to the final “punch list” for all contractors.  This phase will consist of a detailed cleaning of the kitchen and restrooms to include: sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, countertops and cabinets.  This phase includes removal of any stickers remaining on the appliances, fixtures, cabinets and windows.  Cleaning baseboards, light fixtures, door frames, interior windows, window ledges, mirrors, floors vacuumed and mopped as necessary to prepare for the punch list.  Important note: At this point of the construction process, various contractors may be still returning to the unit to address concerns.  Phase two should be scheduled after their concerns have been addressed.  Phase two cleaning items requested after the phase two cleaning has been completed and approved will be provided at an additional charge.

Phase three – “Punch Clean or Final Clean”

A phase three cleaning during a post construction clean will be requested after the GC’s inspection’s have taken place and no other subs will be entering into the unit.  In this phase, all touch ups will be addressed and everything will be considered move in ready.  The effort will finalize with the garage being swept, carpet vacuumed, floors mopped and any dust still remaining will be addressed.  When this phase is approved, the site cleaning effort for this unit will be considered complete.

     The template construction bid example above is an intelligent way to avoid one of the major pitfalls of the construction site cleaning business.  Addressing a site in “phases” allows the new construction cleanup company to have their completed worked signed off as: “work complete, no additional work required”.  With sub-contractors perpetually returning to a unit under construction to continue their work, the commercial cleaning company’s work is often overlooked.  The Site Superintendent will ask the cleaning company to return and touch up their work over and over again without an offer of payment for the additional work.  The cleaning contractor should have each phase of cleaning signed off as complete and no additional work required by the Site Superintendent.  With larger sites, and multi-unit sites, each unit should be signed off separately and as quickly as possible after completion of the cleaning.  An individual charge for each unit, per phase, helps with invoicing and documents pricing if the Superintendent request’s a re-clean.  Large amounts of money can be made with re-cleans when a site’s scheduling isn’t well planned by the general contractor.

     A construction cleanup proposal can address a lot more then basic cleaning and the rates for construction cleanup project work (i.e. floor and carpet care) may be very attractive.  There is an art to projecting a post construction cleaning business plan and it’s found in the Superintendant’s view of the scope of work and his cost’s therein.  He has a budget projection, and his view of that budget projection, for all his cleaning requirements and it’s broken down by tasks.  Basic cleaning is one task, but he may view it as hiring cheap labor from one of the temp agencies for the rough clean and then hiring a contractor for the final clean.  He also has a budget, and an opinion  of that budget for floor care, carpet care, excess height cleaning and high pressure washing.  Construction cleaning jobs can be contracted hourly or in total flat rate.  Understanding the Superintendent’s view and goal is what counts in writing bidding sites that win.

     Rates for construction cleanup floor care, carpet care, excessive height cleaning and high pressure washing are typically higher than the prices charged for existing structure work.  That’s just the way their budget’s work.  It doesn’t really make sense, because working with a new floor or carpet is quite a bit easier, so this is where the construction cleaning company should make their profit.  When pricing post construction cleaning jobs, you should consider making your general labor charges competitive with the temp agency rate, but project that rate for the amount of hours the superintendent expects the unskilled labor to complete the task in.  This will offer the Superintendent skilled and supervised labor, instead of temp agency labor, at an attractive rate and if you follow the sign-off sheet suggestions above you should still make substantial profit.  Your experienced staff can complete the tasks in a shorter time frame than the Superintendent will be expecting to pay the temp agency by the hour.  You charge by the completed task.  Your competitive general cleaning rates are the hook and the expensive project work is the brass ring.  This can prove to be an incredible windfall due to excessive amount of square footage at some of these construction site clean up projects.

     Pricing post construction cleaning jobs with the intent of making serious profit on the total job, while protecting profit in each individual task of the project, is an acquired skill and should be studied at length.  Learning how to bid final, post or after construction cleaning takes more than reading a sample contract for a janitorial service or a template construction bid example.  Template construction bid examples are available on-line and researching them should be a major part of your post construction cleaning company business plan.  A business letter and janitorial service literature are also available to research for your post construction cleaning company business plan, but it really takes walking the site, speaking with their people in charge, and internalizing the actual work necessary to find your profit.  How to bid final, post or after construction cleaning is a skill well worth taking the time to investigate.

   

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