Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Southeastern VA
Here's what I do:
I do in-person estimates - I've gotten burned on phone estimates. I go out to the house, meet the owner(s), look around (check baseboards, ceiling fans, bathrooms, etc), and ask lots of questions. I give them an estimate based on what they want and how long I think it will take me to do it all. Some people want things like cabinet fronts wiped down and the inside of the microwave cleaned; some do not. I've found that most first-time cleans take between 10-12 man-hours (so, 5 - 6 hours with two cleaners, for example). Let's say you charge $30 per man hour - you can tell them that the first cleaning is going to cost between $300 - $360.
I charge hourly for the first maintenance cleaning too so I can get a feel for how clean they keep it between cleanings and how long it is going to take. If it takes 3 hours w/one cleaner, for example, then I know it would be $30 x 3 = $90. After the first maintenance cleaning, I give them a flat rate (so, in this case it would be $90).