10 Tips to Lower Contract Cleaning Costs

Posted on June 2, 2016 in Cleaning


Contract Cleaning Costs

1. In-house cleaner or contract cleaning services?

A general rule of thumb is to use a contractor if you have more than 15 staff as this will lower the overall contract cleaning costs.

If you have a good in-house arrangement then stick with it as long as you can. If your in-house cleaner is very reliable, provides their own holiday cover, and buys their own chemicals, they are gold-dust!

If, however, they are unreliable and high-maintenance, they are probably causing you extra work. Remember too your Health and Safety responsibilities towards COSHH, Risk Assessments and Method Statements.

Always ask your neighbouring or adjacent businesses to see if you can piggy back on their arrangements.

If you have 15+ staff, use a contractor, but take note to the points below.

2. Establish the right number of days

The Operation Cost Cut advice is as follows:

  • 1-5 staff in your office – one day per week
  • 5-9 staff – 2 days per week
  • 10-15 staff – 3 days per week
  • 15+ staff – 5 days per week

3. Establish the right number of hours

  • In large open plan offices, a cleaner should clean 2,000 sq ft per hr – depending on the cleaning specification.
  • In large cellular offices, a cleaner should clean 2,500 – 3,000 sq ft per hour.
  • In offices less than 5,000 sq ft you should expect more like 3,500 sq ft per hr.

Cleaners generally don’t like working for less than 1.5 hrs as it outweighs their transport costs – unless, of course, they do 2-3 jobs in a row.

4.  Should you reduce the cleaning specification?

If you want to cut the cost of your contract cleaning services, here are some great ways to reduce the specification:

  • Vacuum Reception/Entrance, Meeting Rooms and high profile areas daily. All other areas vacuum weekly. A lot of companies are now doing this.
  • Use central bins, not bins at every desk.
  • Toilets and kitchens need to be cleaned daily if possible, but vacuuming (see above), dusting and other tasks can be rotational.
  • If you have more than 15 staff, install a dishwasher. It will save labour time. If you have less than 15 staff, ask your staff to wash their own crockery.

Tell the cleaning company how many hours YOU want, and ask them to put together a specification accordingly. Otherwise, they will generally err too high.

5. Daytime or out of hours?

If you can bear the interruption factor, daytime is best. Why?

  • You can see the cleaner is doing their full hours.
  • You don’t need to give out keys and security details.
  • You save on electricity.
  • You can manage the relationship with the cleaner more directly, and they feel more valued.

What you need to guard against is cleaners who like a ten minute chat with you every day!

6. Managing annual increases

The longer a cleaning company retains you as a client, the greater percentage margin they tend to make. Look very closely at annual cost creep and benchmark the costs with alternative quotes. Chances are that your contractor will match your most competitive alternative cost.

7. Look for transparent pricing

Always ask for a breakdown of weekly cost and be clear on the hourly rate of pay for the cleaners and how many hours you are paying for. Check that the mark-up (overheads, management and margin) on fixed costs is no more than 30% for small contracts and 10% for large contracts.

Generally, 10 hours per week should be around £120 + VAT, or £10 + VAT per hour. 50+ hours per week should be around £10.50 + VAT per hour.

8. Value a good, long term relationship

Go to tender at same time every year (no more than 4 companies), but if you find a great company, stick with them unless they are too expensive, and use the tendering process for benchmarking only.

Every time you change contractors there is always a bedding-in period and a new relationship to be made with the management. Having a good relationship with the same manager is very valuable.

Remember, if you change cleaning company, the cleaner generally has the right to TUPE across – meaning their employment is automatically protected. In reality, this mostly only transpires in large contracts.

9. Reduce window cleaning frequency

This is a quick and easy way to reduce costs. Go for 8 or 12 weekly, or even 17 weekly cleaning. Never do 4-weekly, unless you have a high profile frontage or showroom. The difference perceived by the human eye is negligible.

Internal windows and the insides of external windows should be cleaned every other or every third visit only.

10. Managing the extras – hygiene, consumables, carpet cleaning, deep cleans etc.

For carpet cleaning, high level cleans, deep cleans and one-offs, always get a quote (or three, if possible) beforehand, as cleaning companies will go big on mark-ups for these if they know that no-one else is quoting against them.

Remember, they may well also be subcontracting and taking a 20% mark-up which increase your overall contract cleaning costs.

Ask for Method Statements and Risk Assessments where possible so you are safeguarded against poor practice. A claim by a cleaner against the cleaning company may result in a costly vicarious liability against you!

For more information please call 0845 604 1288 or visit our commercial cleaning section at Protech Clean Solutions.