They want me to bid per hour

So I was just asked by a friend of my family to way windows at the local community college. He is the grounds manager/ maintenance man there. It’s actually the no. 1 tech school in the country and it’s pretty dang big. He wants a quote on inside and out of the entire campus. Needless to say I’m pretty stoked! However, he has told me that he wants me to bid a per/hour for the inside and outside separately. I’ve never bid this way and really don’t want to, and I have a feeling that if I quote them $50 an hour that they won’t really like that… Not sure how to proceed. There are 3 big buildings, each with 400-700 windows on them, about half of them ground level a well as some super Grand entry ways with a ton of Windows. What do you guys usually do in a situation like this? Oh yeah, he also offered the use of their one man lift, so I don’t have to rent one (I’d need one for the entry way), do I offer a discount for that? I’m kinda at a loss for what to do, but this is probably the biggest job a window cleaner in my area could get…

  1. if you use their equipment no need to discount, they are already saving based on no rental.

Using their stuff opens a can of worms but oh well.

  1. I would not bid by the hour or change for them, do you do that to any place you shop?

Either way, just stay on the path with them. And they can afford $50/hr. They can.

  1. personally: do not spend too much time on it. It’s a numbers game, keep putting out quotes

I had this happen in the past I provided them with a quote for the job a set price, and the estimated time and the hourly rate, they picked the set price.


I would say “I’m sorry but that’s not how our prices are structured I will give you a fixed number for cleaning the windows.”


I was thinking about doing this, but I already hit a snag. I guess it seems that he is short on staff at the moment and was looking for me to kind of take on the role of window washer because he doesn’t have anybody to do it. I told him I only give quotes per job and that I was in the process of preparing said quote and have most of the windows counted and that if I did offer an hourly rate then it would be $50 an hour. He responded and said that he thinks he can’t afford me at this time, we’ll be in touch yada yada. I’m still trying to talk to him, but I don’t think he was seeing me as a professional window washer, he was seeing me as a short-term hired man. :confused:

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I know abilities and pricing does differ all around, but I would not want to spend days and days and days on one job making $500 for a 10 hour day when I could be making more than that almost guaranteed on other projects.


Don’t waste the mind space. Let it go and grab some more work.


That is very uncharacteristic for customers to ask for Hourly Rate. It’s not to their advantage to accept an hourly rate rather than a fixed cost. Unless they asked for hourly with ( price not to exceed XX). That type of bidding is typical in " Time and Material " Construction projects. Maybe that is who they are used to dealing with and what they are comfortable with.

If that is what they want - give it to them at your goal or average rate per hour - It lowers your risk.
If they told me that they would only do hourly - not a set price - it would be " music to my ears " !
Lets us know what happens…


Did you mean county? Not country… what country do you live in where the best tech school can’t afford a professional window cleaner?

Either way bid it your way or walk… he’s already wasting your time don’t waste more of it yourself!


It appears that our paper likes to put “Lake Area Tech Ranked #1 in the Nation” as a headline. They had the #1 graduation rate in 2017, hahaha, so yeah, I was deceived by that and just assumed that whatever category they were on the were the best, haha! But Obama DID come and give a speech at the graduation ceremony, so that’s got to count for SOMETHING, right?.. Either way, like I said, definitely not the opportunity I thought it was…

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You’ll probably find a lot of that in your career. It just comes with the territory.


They want an 8 dollar an hour man. His headache…not yours. Thank him for the opportunity, but it really isn’t a good fit at this time. Schools want housekeeping at minimum price. Get a real lead and make the money you desire.
Edit: Here ya go - job listing from school site: Crunched to fit. Look at job postings on school site.
Student Summer Custodians
Job Description
High School & LATI Students are encouraged to apply. Minimum age of 16. Hours are roughly 7-4, but may vary by building. Job Duties are as assigned.
EVALUATION: Performance of this job will be determined in accordance with provisions of evaluation policy and procedures of the board of education
PUBLIC RELATIONS: Presents a pro-active and positive image of the school, students and staff, and fosters the district mission of enabling all students to succeed in an ever-changing world.
Primary Location: Watertown School District Salary Range: $9.35 / Per Hour Shift Type: Part-Time

Just for comparison,
Their pay, $9.35 hr P/T = 15 1/2¢ min
Running a window cleaning business F/T goal of $100 hr = $1.66 min;
($50 hr = 83 1/3¢ min)

Everyone knows there is overhead to hiring an employee. For minimum pay tell them they supply all needed quality equipment and supplies, you’ll just show up and clock in. Oh yea, no worries on insurance either, they will have you covered. :wink:

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For minimal hourly pay, tell them that they also need to provide health insurance, 401-k and two weeks of paid vacation. They will ask “Why?” You can tell them that you provide those things for yourself and that is why you charge what you must.

The size of this job is tantalizing you, but the maintenance rep already showed you that you will be wasting your time. Move on.


If you’ve already put in most of the work to build a proposal, you might as well go ahead and submit a fixed cost quote. For all you know, the amount of time he was anticipating it to take may be much longer than what you’ll take to do it.

Make sure you give yourself a little ‘raise’/cushion in there, and estimate it based on $60-$75/hr :wink:

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Don’t count it out just yet. You got your foot in the door now. You can still get it. The guy thought he was going to get a lower price than whoever has the janitorial contract who subs to the window cleaner. Huge markup.

If I were you, I’d forget about this for now but keep him on your list of people to visit when you are in the area. When you’re shooting the spit, mention the projects you’re on at that point or just completed.

The more you talk about it casually, he’ll begin to see you in a different light.

Someone has gotta be doing them, it ain’t people who work there. They got plenty of things to do without doing windows too.


“I bid jobs with a set / fixed price. That way there are no surprises, and if I underestimate the amount of time to complete the job, you are protected.”

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