Proposal preparation is both art and science in that the science requires specific tasks/frequencies and a dollar amount that covers the costs of providing the service as well allowing for an acceptable profit margin.  The science requires that the proposal be based on either third party time standards or internally developed ones that are reliable and defensible when compared to other companies providing similar services.  Some of the third party time standards include RS Means, ISSA, BSCAI, APPA and others based on a person with a stop watch timing the same task several times and averaging the times.  These standards should be based on an experienced worker conducting the same task while utilizing the same or similar tools on the same or similar surfaces with the same or similar frequencies.  

The concept of daily tasks assumes that the task is performed five or more times per week such as pulling trash, vacuuming, sweeping and damp mopping, etc.  If it is determined that the task requires 10 minutes per 1,000 square feet to be performed correctly when performed five days per week, the numbers will change if the frequency is reduced to one day per week.  A subtle variable is that each time the task is performed five days per week, minor areas are covered that when the task is only performed weekly (or even less often) the accumulated small items have to be captured during that one event.  This can be a difficult concept to share with a customer who expects the same time standard to apply regardless of frequency.

The art of developing time standards is that unless the areas are exactly the same including construction, floor coverings, usage, traffic, tenants and expectations, there can be subtle variances that have a profound impact on the total number of DLH (Direct Labor Hours) necessary to service each site.  Interpreting and applying those variances is an art that matures with experience over time.  

Only utilize third party standards until you can develop your own time standards based on your actual experience and data collection.  Use the third party standards as sanity checks to reduce the chance of missing the final number.  

Your comments and questions are always welcome.  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