New Commercial Cleaning Contract – Do You Charge an Initial Cleaning Fee?

We started a new building this weekend and it’s a really nice contract. The building is old but it has recently been remodeled. As far as size goes, it’s in the sweet spot for us. Just under 35,000 sq.feet which is where we like to be. We are no longer accepting large cleaning contracts and this is a good fit.

Unfortunately, the building was in rough shape and very dirty. The previous service had been doing a terrible job and left us a mess to catch up on.

This is very common when starting new cleaning contracts and I’ve been asked many times, do you change an initial cleaning fee?

The short answer is usually not, but each client is different. Starting a new cleaning contract is challenging. Unloading and organizing your supplies, equipment and learning your way around the building takes a great deal of extra time. The first few visits are a complete loss with labor cost running high. Why wouldn’t I charge an initial cleaning fee?

If the client is expecting an initial fee and tells me so, then I will charge one. But usually, we don’t to keep a competitive edge. If a decision maker is reviewing 3 or 4 cleaning proposals, and mine is the only one with an initial fee, it could lower our chances of getting the contract.

On the other hand, if I include one, it could also be used as a negotiating tool with an offer to waive it if they sign within a certain time period. My thinking on this is long term. We plan to keep each new contract for as long as possible. The initial costs are part of doing business.

There are some situations where the building is in such poor condition, that we must charge extra to cover our labor or specialty services. This does not happen often but when it does, it’s a must or we don’t take the deal.

What are your thoughts about charging an initial cleaning fee?

Remember, if you are looking to start or grow a commercial cleaning business, we can help.

Scott Gibbens

Scott Gibbens is the founder of Professional Cleaning Group, LLC. Scott enjoys helping people from all walks of life start and grow their own cleaning business.

8 Responses to “New Commercial Cleaning Contract – Do You Charge an Initial Cleaning Fee?

  • Scott,

    I agree with you that having any form of an initial fee upfront would probably make it harder to land some contracts. I figure you have all your costs built into your quote so an upfront would not be needed. I know if I was shopping for a cleaning service, the one with no upfront costs will get my business.

    Nice Post,

    • Scott Gibbens
      10 months ago

      Thanks for the feedback Marc. It’s nice to hear confirmation of my approach. I was calculating the labor cost of our new account start for this weekend. I took a real beating, but long term we will be fine.

  • Hi Scott. Congrats on the new contract.
    I believe that having an initial cleaning fee is a good thing in cases where the job is rough, but charging half the clients a fee and having the other half for free is not a very good practice as some clients can feel that they were overcharged.
    That said, if you have a policy that clearly states when you charge it or not is a good way to avoid any misunderstandings.

    • Scott Gibbens
      10 months ago

      Hi Marcelo – thanks for the feedback, we are on the same page with this.

  • I’m not in the cleaning business yet but I can tell that you are a really an honest guy and you enjoy what you are doing. I bet there are thousands of people in the cleaning business that still have no idea if charging an initial fee is good or not. However, your article soon clears that problem up. I suppose it all comes down to the business owner/person in charge whether they want to do it or not. It’s probably down to personal choice more than anything. Anyway, thanks for this helpful post!


  • Scott

    I think it makes perfect sense to have the initial cleaning fee in your contract. New clients like to negotiate, and as you pointed out, waiving that initial fee is a great bargaining chip for making the client feel like they got a special deal.

    • Scott Gibbens
      9 months ago

      HI Jeff,
      That’s a good point, thanks for the comment.