Q. How do I calculate cleanable square footage in a building?
A. Each building has its own makeup of carpet vs. tile and measuring every single square inch is the most accurate. However, the busier you get, the quicker you will learn to calculate bids without taking a lot of time. Prospects are impressed with accuracy, but unimpressed if you take an hour to calculate a small bid.
A fast and efficient method is to use a roll tape measuring wheel. A digital unit tends to experience battery failure at the wrong time and has a limit in measuring large buildings. As you measure, observe the carpet and soil conditions. Make notes of furniture you must move, special spots, and conduct a thorough pre-inspection. At this time, you also want to point out carpet damage, so it does not become a personal liability after you finish the job.
If you were to measure an office bay and then subtract all the carpet under the desks and file cabinets, you would likely find that the same room takes just as long to clean (by going around all the office furniture) as it would to clean it vacant. The same cleaning formula holds true in measuring and subtracting the wall thickness of every room. The reason is that you must intentionally slow down to avoid scraping baseboards or banging adjacent legs, obstructions and furniture. Electrical, computer, and phone cords must be dealt with and you must cut in around computers and other small items placed under a desk. In other words, you lose substantial momentum in an occupied office.
The quickest way to measure a medium size office facility that contains around 10% tile is to first measure wall to wall - to obtain gross square footage. Then measure the rest rooms, break room, and any other tiled, concrete, or non-used rooms. Subtract that total from the grand total of the carpet and you have the cleanable square feet. I even leave in the square footage of small concrete storage rooms or tiled janitor closets as it is often heavily soiled outside the door of each closet. (I observed in one building that the floor outside the custodial closet was the heaviest soiled area in the building and required six cleaning passes to get it in shape).
Now, if a customer checks your square footage against the amount of carpet purchased, they will find it very close - as overage is added to the carpet installation order. The customer may divide your square footage by 9 to compare with how many square yards of carpet the office contains. In many cases, the question of cleanable square feet and price per square foot does not come up, and that is fine.
If a larger building contains individual departments with different cleaning frequencies, measure and price them separately. Also, consider offering detailed pricing for interim maintenance. Our JanBid software has an individual breakdown of carpet from all types of hard floor surfaces. It then instantly gives you deep clean pricing of carpet, interim cleaning, burnishing, scrub and top coat and deep strip estimates. It takes into consideration your production time, chemical usage, and profit.
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