Customers that ask for detailed estimates

Im kind of sick of big companys treating us window cleaners as hourly employees.

I went out to give a bid on a huge business complex in an industrial area and the property management said "our maintenance crew of 12 is being overwhelmed and we wanted to outsource the window cleaning. We need you to provide…

  • cost per window
  • how many men you will be using
  • how many hours per man and how long it will take you."

What these mofo’s are really trying to say is “we aint looking to pay anyone more then $15 an hour to clean windows”

I am pretty damn sure these guys dont ask the plumber/electrician/hvac or heavy equipment contractors for the same details.

This was my 3rd experience over the past year with this type of client so unlike the first two times I kindly shook hands with the client and said that I dont think this job would be a good fit for my company.

Personally i think they need an idea of how long etc, so they can get the extra guys themselves and pay them the minimum wages. After all you have said they are already finding it hard with the amount of guys they have, they need to know how many to take on and gauge that with how much it costs to outsource.

I doubt they actually have an interest to take a specific window cleaning company on.

Keep in mind that a lot of larger companies operate on a different fiscal year, typically July of one year to June of the next. The department heads have to submit budget proposals prior to each new fiscal year. In their proposals, they have to account for the projects they have to complete, the projects they would like to complete, how many man hours for each project, what percentage those man hours will take away from production, etc… These proposals also include how much will be down in-house by people from their department, how much will be done in-house thru multi-department labor sharing, and how much will be outsourced. They literally slice-and-dice everything from different angles so that they can get as much money as possible approved for their given department.

Their need for you to do some of their homework is because they truly don’t know/understand what is involved in window cleaning. (I have personally experienced facility managers who actually think that windows can just be powerwashed.) That they are telling you that their crew of 12 doesn’t have time tells me that they ((probably)) need your data in order to justify you doing the job to higher ups.

As for their $15/hr employee way of thinking - Yes, it is part of their job to think that way. Perhaps your data shows that them using in-house labor is going to cost them WAY more time/money/etc… than they’re comfortable with. The trick lies with you turning that to your advantage.

FWIW: Yes - they do this with other outside trades as well. Most larger facilities have an in-house HVAC tech, for example. Because the trend (for years) has been to make do with as little as possible, that tech probably doesn’t have the time to replace all of the air filters on a monthly basis and so an outside vendor will be scheduled for that monthly maintenance. Same goes for pest control, roof leaks, fork lift maintenance, etc… Regardless of which path they choose (in-house vs outsource), it all gets analyzed on paper.

Hope this helps in the future.

sounds to me like they are looking for a window washer, not a professional window cleaning service provider - The question is, which are you and do you charge accordingly???

I feel the same way about these big companies sometimes but I had one not long ago turn into a $1200 job. The guys that they normally use in house used their pressure washer and took a bunch of paint off a building because they had no idea what they were doing. After that the company called me and said "When can you start?"
Wish these estimates always worked out like this.

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Taking all interest on it merits, there is no harm in playing ball and hoping that any interest is genuine.

There is no need to be specific in your equations or answers, as we know not every clean will require the same attention (but tell them this! You can always go back to them and ask some specifics in return for what type of service they require, and how often etc…) - sometimes it’s simple, sometimes the weather and other factors has thrown up some stumbling blocks.

It will cost $400 per service based on a regular/one off whatever… So you use 2 guys, it can take 2-4 hours depending on factors such as weather and outside factors causing. Based upon 180 panes, you can divide the panes by approximate time to get the panes per hour or whatever… and get any other figures they ask for.

Ask more questions whilst at the site - I’ve found this more beneficial - the type of service they are after, issues they have with current contractors/staff, you can then tailor an quote on the angles they are looking for (aside from price).

You are dead on my friend, I was talking to my brother today who runs a plumbing company and he pretty much said exactly what you said, he said he has only had one client do it that way and it was a university. He says the university is a PITA because its almost like a game and you have to fight for your money and then justify every penny before/during and after the job is complete. so ridiculous.

The funny thing about it is that we, as business owners, do the same thing. We look at each job, calculating the man hours, equipment costs, travel time, insurance, taxes, etc… Then we analyze the $/hr or $/window. And we do this forwards and backwards. If we don’t, then we’re essentially flying blind. Sometimes it is simply our ability to do the paper-work that lands the job.

Reminds me of an account I was negotiating last year: The price was already agreed upon. The last detail was for the client to decide the “when” for “every 4 months cleaning”, at which point they asked why I was suggesting a June, October, February rotation. When I explained that their building was to the East of farm land and a 4 lane highway; That I would do the cleaning after Spring plowing/planting, after the Fall harvesting, and at the end of Winter road grime all blowing their way, the client just looked at me with the biggest grin and said “Wow!! You REALLY think about everything!” That’s when I said “I wouldn’t be much of a business owner if I didn’t.” :wink:

Ask them how long it’s taking them now and how many guys do it.

Tell them you’re looking for a long term relationship.

It could take one of their people all month. That means your guy can get the work done in 3 days and you could charge $1200/month.

$3000/month is $36k a year they could hire in house for that amount.