How to Hire a Cleaning Service

In my 30 + years of experience I have done a lot of estimates for home owners looking to hire someone to clean their homes. I can tell you that many home owners do not have a clue as to what to ask of the prospective cleaner therefore rely on personality and price alone to determine whom to hire. While this methods may work, for a relative few, it can also lead to miscommunication and undue stress for the majority.

While hiring a Cleaning service may seem a daunting task, it need not be so if only a few things are considered before and during the interview process.

1) We recommend a face to face interview in your home so that the scope of work can be discussed while touring your home. It is important to see the different surfaces that are in the home. What is just a counter top to some is a marble counter top to others, and you want to make sure that the person or company that you are hiring knows the difference since not knowing can lead to costly mistakes and damage to your personal property. While a face to face is not possible we then recommend that you make sure to document as much as possible by email to avoid any miscommunications.

2) Make sure to cover the important questions of License (business), bonding, liability insurance, workman’s comp insurance, etc are covered before allowing the interview/ estimate to happen. Then double check at the time of the interview by asking to see copies of proof of each. Do not allow persons or companies who do not have the above to come to your home! They are not protecting you or themselves and that is an invitation to trouble. Legitimate companies will have no problem with showing you these items and even providing for you copies if needed

3) Allow enough time for the interview/ estimate, rushing this process is the #1 reason why there are miscommunications.

4) Have prepared before the interview/ estimate a list of questions that you have for the cleaner/ company. This will help to assure that all of your questions are answered. For suggested questions to ask of a cleaning person or service before hiring

5) Ask for referrals, than check those referrals. Research with the local agencies the length of time that this person or Company has been in business. Look for someone who is established with a history of verifiable work.

6) Ask questions about how surfaces in your home are going to be cleaned, question the knowledge of the cleaner or company to verify that they are knowledgeable in the proper cleansers for each surface. Simple mistakes can often be very costly if the wrong chemicals are used on some common household surfaces.

7) Confirm that the Cleaner/ Company pays all labor related taxes and insurance. If they do not send them on their way, because that leaves you the homeowner having to cover the cleaner for their social security, workman’s comp, etc. One of the biggest reasons for the wide differences in cost in the cleaning industry is that there are so many cleaning who are doing so under the table and with little regard to you, your home, or themselves in terms of accidents and or damage

8) Determine who will be responsible for providing supplies and equipment. In some states if the home owner provides these items they are determined to be the employer therefore they are responsible for injuries to the cleaner if injured while using those supplies or equipment.

9) Does the cleaner/ company put into writing their policies and scope of work? They should. Make sure that you get a copy for your records. Do not however sign a contact. There are no reasons that you should have to agree to any long term of service.

10) Many companies will send out the owner or an estimator to the first meeting if this is the case and you are not meeting the actual person who will be cleaning ask to be able to meet the cleaner who will be servicing your home. Sometimes this may only work for both parties if you, the home owner; agrees to be home for the first cleaning. Look for chemistry or rapport between you the cleaner/ the owner / the company. Observe their level of professionalism. Courtesy, respect, punctuality and the ability to communicate as these are some of the most important attributes a contractor of any sort can have next to their basic competency. No matter how good someone is, if they don’t click with you on these points; don’t continue to work with them. Period.

11) Most important, Communication. Make sure that you have open lines with both the cleaner and the office. Fear not to dialog before and after each cleaning. Remember – positive communication is a wonderful tool. If the cleaner did a great job, tell them that you noticed. A balance of positive and negative dialog tends to be heard much better than a steady diet of only negatives.

12) If you like our work please tell a friend – word of mouth advertising is the best gift that you can give us. If however, there is a problem please; Please; PLEASE address us and afford us an opportunity to correct the problem before you tell others.

12) When making your comparison, compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Just as in any other industry there are the Wal-marts and there are the Sak’s 5th Ave. Purchasing from either, or is fine but just don’t expect Sak’s 5th Ave quality and service for Wal-mart prices, it just isn’t going to happen

14) Last but not least (at least to the cleaner/ company) please, please, please respect and adhere to their policies regarding cancellations and payments. This is a job to them, and they work hard for their money. If you have to cancel at the last moment pay them. Period. They came to work ready to work and your cancellation caused them to not make the money that they expected to make. Cleaning is not like other jobs where a “walk in” client can possibly fill a cancelled position and save the employee from losing their salary for the day.

Theresa Peterson
Quality Cleaning, Maid to Order