A reader writes: “In one of your workshops you mentioned “incidentals” in bidding a contract. I still am confused as to what is included. Could you please clarify?”

In the session you were referring to, we spent about an hour or so talking about a subject that I normally take two to three days to cover and still feel that we did not hit all the points effectively. Developing a good estimate requires analyzing the specifications closely to make sure that you are providing the tasks in the correct frequency (think times per year) to satisfy the customer. I have seen well-meaning building service contractors overload a contract by listing each and every task they could possibly think of to make sure they had the time to actually cover it.

Upon closer scrutiny, they admitted that in too many cases, the worker probably would not perform each of these tasks as often as they priced it out. They also would use inflated time standards that were not realistic. This type overloading usually costs them the opportunity since their competitors will simply use a percentage for “incidentals” to cover a lot of these tasks that will be either performed as needed (note inspect and do) or simply put on a rotating quadrant schedule that allows the worker to perform the task less often but often enough.

I remember working with a BSC that insisted of allocating 30 minutes per day to clean some display cases that were high profile and certainly needed to look good all the time. The reality was that less than 10 minutes per day would work just as well. They had approximately 60 display cases scattered in different buildings on different floors. With this same mindset, they applied their same principles to all of their other “incidentals.” Of course, they did not get the contract and the vendor that did seems to be keeping the display cases looking great.

Over time, you need to develop your own percentages for incidentals or actually allocate a reasonable amount of time and frequency to fulfill the specifications. Remember that all time standards need to be adjusted up or down based on the standards and tasks being performed. Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.