How do I start bidding commercial?

Hey guys, I’ve only bid residential before. I’m not sure how to start with commercial, I couldn’t find another topic about my specific question on here.

I’m insured. I don’t know what to include in a proposal. Should I be specific in how often I want to do the work and the price, or do I let the business decide that? I’m total noob on this topic and I don’t even really know if there is anything much different than residential.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks guys!

Storefront or commercial?

Is there a difference on how to treat them? Again total noob at non-residential.

I have a bank in mind right now. I would like to do both storefront and commercial though.

In how to treat them, no. But commercial will pay more.

Cold calling is the number 1 way of getting storefront and commercial. The key is to get them on a schedule.

Storefront is usually the lowest price. You’ll probably be looking at $2-2.50 per pane inside and out and you’ll need a $15-20 minimum. Routes and scheduling are VERY important. But you’re also looking cleaning them every 2 or 4 weeks. Note that I said “4 Weeks” NOT monthly. There are 13 - 4 week periods in a year. And you want to be able to line up your 2 week jobs with the 4 week jobs which help your routes. Try to sell every 2 weeks for busy stores and restaurants and every 4 weeks for offices, automotive shops, or less busy stores.

I usually bid commercial with the same pricing as storefront. $2 first floor, $3 second floor (no ladder), $4 third floor etc. Commercial usually has more glass. So instead of driving from job to job, you can camp at a single job for half a day or day and make good money. I love hotels. I try and sell commercial every 4 or 8 weeks. Large commercial might want it only once or twice a year (hotels)

Oh, and I might pad the estimate based on my own experience. Just because a large commercial rings up at $800 doesn’t mean it’s not going to take me $1000 worth of time.


Great tips, thank you!

Oh and on storefronts expect to get told “no” a lot. It’s a numbers game. The more you bid, the more you’ll get. I’ve bagged sales 2 years after bidding because my estimate, card and/or brochure was professional.


As a service provider you really get to decide how often you want to do the work, it more about how often the customer wants it done.

I agree, cold calling is the ONLY way I’ve landed commercial jobs. Granted it’s about a 15-20 to 1 ratio of bid coming through. But within the last 2 months I’ve gotten, 5 bank locations, 1 Recreation Center, 1 Hospital, 1 Clinic, 1 County Courthouse all from cold calls. The hardest part for me at least is talking to the right person. You can call Joe Minimumwage and if you say "I was calling to see if you’re currently open to bids for exterior window cleaning (this location has janitorial staff that “cleans” the inside). Well that person may simply say “oh we already have someone that does it”. However, if you talk to the right person they will almost ALWAYS take your bid or at least be open to the bid because it’s an opportunity to save money.


As far as how to bid, my two cents is give them options. Unless they are specific how they want the bid.

I give commercial (not store front) a bid in/out for 2 and 4 times a year. If it’s obvious they have not been staying up with keeping them clean, I charge more for the initial clean. Commercial in my area will not do monthly or bi-monthly even on the lobby glass. They usually have a janitorial company that does weekly or more often, cleaning. That usually included windex and paper towel of the entry ways to get smudges and fingerprints. It may or may not be the same in your area, so ask them.

I usually make a quarterly a bit cheaper in per clean price, than a bi-annual. Usually that is a 5% discount.

Also do NOT forget to lay out payment terms, if they have not already told you when they expect to pay. I do NOT allow more than 30 days from completion for payment. Include your penalty for late payment somewhere in the bid, and if you offer a discount for payment within 7 days.

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actual pricing starts about 3 minutes in.


Thats really helpful, thank you!

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I am looking for more store front and commercial jobs to keep working in the winter. You say cold calling? Do you mean actually calling them or walking in the storefront? May I ask what your pitch is? Also, how do you know who to ask for that handles the window cleaning? What about emailing them a proposal? I really want to line some work up this winter and want the most efficient way to get some more customers.Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

Just walk in and take it.


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Very good advice.
For hotels and other buildings like nursing homes, do you initially contact them via phone or in person?
is your approach always “Are you accepting bids at this time”? Or do you take ownership and ask when can I start? LOL