Drake's Blog


Determining the cleanable square footage for a janitorial bid

Ask Drake

Grand Master Janitor

With the truly, humbling success of CleanlyRun (aka CleanGuidePro), we’ve received a lot of questions (from companies all over the world) about a variety of topics in the janitorial industry. Allow me to share yet another one of them with you.

Hi Drake: I’m new to the cleaning business, and I have a couple of questions. Does “lot size” mean “square footage”?  And how can I find the square footage of a building without measuring, but rather searching the business information?

CleanGuidePro blog post image

Answer:  First, thanks for growing your new business with us! I’m glad you asked about these metrics, because it’s knowing the cleanable square footage that is key for your janitorial bid.

First, lot size is the size of the land, rather than the size of the building that sits on it. Total building square-footage is the actual size of the building, which may or may not be the same number as the total cleanable square footage.

You can get the total facility size in any number of ways: from your potential customer (e.g. pre-bid info pack), by counting ceiling tiles (2′ x 2′ or 2′ x 4′), or by using a measuring wheel or fancy laser meter.  However you derive this figure, it would be due diligence to double check it on the local property appraisers website.

However, your client may not need you to clean every square foot of their facility. For instance, a medical facility might restrict you from cleaning rooms that contain special equipment. So you can determine the cleanable square footage by scheduling a Pre-Bid Walkthrough.

I think of janitorial bidding as an art as well as a science, and it took me a long time to hone my bidding skills and determine what produced the most consistent and accurate results for my business. It always came back to starting off with the exact cleanable square footage for the job. In my experience, when I took on a job without knowing the exact area that I’d be cleaning, too much guesswork often caused me to lose money on the job. In some cases, I was essentially paying someone to clean their building.

So decades later, that’s why we designed our online bidding system, CleanlyRun Janitorial Bidware, based on the expectation that every effort has been made to get the proper figures for the cleanable square footage. For me, this is a basic requirement to bid a job.

And don’t be afraid to politely ask the client for a little more time for due diligence during the walkthrough. I’ve never had any prospect tell me no when I’ve asked to walk the building on my own in order to make some calculations, review some areas and/or take additional notes. It helps you tremendously and lets them know that you’re thorough.

CleanGuidePro Successful bidderDrake


Top Ten Tips – The Pre-Bid Janitorial Walk Through

In over 25 years in the cleaning business, I’ve participated in many (pre-bid) janitorial walk through groups and I’ve witnessed numerous bids that were lost before they were even presented.

The pre-bid walk through is your chance to shine. Make that happen by following these top ten tips:

  1. Look the part, dress professionally. Shirts with company logos are perfect and project a positive image. Or at least wear a nice shirt. Shine the shoes, comb the hair, iron the pants, etc. No shorts or flip flops. Leave the lip rings at home. And, oh yeah, If you’ve got a neck tattoo, wear a turtleneck. But all kidding aside, perception is reality… If you don’t present a professional business image, no one is going to entrust their building’s image to you.
  2. Be prepared. Have more than one working pen. Have a small working calculator and a pad for notes and calculations.
  3. Silence your phone, or better yet, turn it off. Your ringing phone says to the person who is showing you around their facility, on their time, that this walk through is not that important to you.
  4. The Be-attitudes: Be professional. Be polite. Be nice. Be friendly. Be thankful. Be yourself.
  5. Do a little homework beforehand. View their website, do a Google search. Know a little something about the facility that you’re bidding on. It always helps.
  6. Read any pre-bid package information extensively. Don’t ask questions that someone took the time and effort to spell out for you. Don’t be “that guy/girl” that asks – in front of multiple bidders – “um, who provides the trash bags, you or me?”. How will you feel when the facility manager responds, “That’s in the pre-bid packet you received. Did you not read it”? And what do you think the facility manager will be feeling about you?
  7. Do ask questions that aren’t spelled out in a pre-bid packet. Like, who provides the paper goods, trash liners, soaps, etc.
  8. Listen carefully to what your prospect says during the walk through. Take notes. Let them tell you what they’re looking for in a cleaning company. Like, “the last company never changed the can liners” or “they wouldn’t take care of issues quickly”, etc. And make sure that you take care of this customer if when you get the winning bid!
  9. Ask your prospect to let you walk the building on your own after the walk through to make some calculations, review some areas and take some notes. It helps you tremendously and tells them you’re thorough. I’ve never had any prospect tell me no.
  10. After the walk through, thank your prospect. Tell them that you appreciate the time they took to show you around. It’s amazing how many people fail to do this properly.


Now head over to your CleanlyRun Janitorial Bidware account (or free 30 day trial account) and continue to put your best foot forward… In just a few minutes, you’ll be guided through the creation of an extremely professional and accurate proposal that’s ready to deliver to your (impressed) customer.