Looking to hire a cleaning service?
The need for quality residential cleaning services is growing at a rapid pace. Everyday consumers are realizing the benefits of the amount of time gained by hiring a cleaning service.
What consumers find is that they not only regain the time that the cleaning actually takes the cleaning professionals, but that a well-trained professional cleaning team can clean a clients’ home three times faster than the client can. You might ask how that is possible. The answer is that good house cleaning service owners precisely train their teams to be as efficient as possible. They know the best products to use and the correct way to use them. Teams are trained to perform specific tasks in a specific order maximizing productivity.
You will not be investing time and money into cleaning supplies that do not work or that will sit in the back of a cabinet unused. Whether you are considering a cleaning service to regain valuable time or to invest in the value of your home, hiring a service to clean your home is a serious decision.
Many consumers hire cleaning services without asking the right questions and finding out the right information. Not only should cleaning companies be knowledgeable in this industry but consumers should be educated on hiring a residential cleaning service. Customers that know about home cleaning services and what to expect when hiring services will be better customers and receive the best possible service. Customers who have a good understanding of the house cleaning industry will be less likely to get into any unfortunate situation such as being sued by an independent cleaner or audited by a government agency for employment taxes.
Why hire a cleaning service?
People hire cleaning professionals for many different reasons. The number one reason is to save valuable time. The time difference between cleaning yourself on the weekend and having a professional cleaning service clean the way you would is amazing and once you have experienced it you will not go back! It is not difficult to find a good reliable professional service that can meet your cleaning needs. Hiring a good home cleaning service can give you back some of that time. Cleaning services are rapidly becoming not a luxury anymore, but instead a needed service in most homes.
I want to hire a cleaning service to clean my home, what should I know first?
Educate yourself on what it means to be a professional cleaning service. Many independent people will promote themselves as professionals when they actually lack many of the factors that qualify a service as a professional. Many people hire individuals or even cleaning services to clean their homes and are not aware of the correct questions to ask prior to choosing a service.
Questions to ask perspective cleaning service providers:
1. What insurance do you carry?
This means adequate Worker’s Compensation and liability insurance with an insured amount of 1 million dollars or more. Ask to see a copy of their insurance certificate. Workers Compensation is also insurance they should have.
2. Will employees or independent contractors clean my home?
All workers should be employees and not independent contractors. If you pay an independent person to clean your home you could be liable for Medicare, Social Security, and other taxes for them.
3. What steps do you take to hire good people?
Pre-employment screenings of criminal background checks, drug testing, and motor vehicle driving reports are all common actions a professional cleaning service will take to determine a good employees. They also should be checking all job references for past performance. A dishonesty bond on employees is sometimes stated as a measure for good employees. While a bond is a type of employee security for the client it does not carry as much weight as many think it does. It does, nonetheless, show the intentions of a professional cleaning service to protect their clients.
5. What is your employee training process?
Training can vary greatly between services. The least you should look for is standards in place that the employee must pass to be allowed to work in your home. A professional cleaning service should have processes set to determine if the employee is ready or not. Some professional cleaning companies require ongoing training which would allow them to keep up with the developmental and technological aspects of the cleaning industry.
6. What if I am not happy with the service provided? Is there a guarantee?
A professional cleaning service will stand behind their work. While most cleaning services guarantee to reclean for free, a great service will return to fix any issues to your satisfaction and ultimately refund your money if they cannot fix the issue. Make sure you know the fine print of any guarantee prior to hiring a professional cleaning service.
What does the professional cleaning consist of?
Some professional cleaning services do anything from grocery shopping to washing cars, while others are more traditional in their service; keeping it standard with kitchens, bathrooms, dusting and floors. Make sure the service understands your needs and communication is clear on expectations. All good professional services should offer a comprehensive list of services they provide and they should be willing to share that with you. Be sure to clarify up front what is included with your cleaning service.
What are the payment options for my cleaning service?
The standard procedure for payment is a check to be left at the time of service. Consult with your cleaning service to see what payment options are available. Checks and major credit cards are normal payment methods. Payment can be expected at the time of service, or you could be billed for your service. Most services require pre-payment for first-time or one-time services and almost all professional cleaning services require a credit card to be placed on file. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the payment policy prior to hiring a service.
How do I communicate with the cleaning crew?
It is always a good idea to communicate whether you have concerns with the service or if you are very pleased with the service. Do not wait to communicate only when you are dissatisfied. All communicated feelings are good ones! A reputable service will welcome all comments and use them to increase client satisfaction.
What if I forget it is my cleaning day?
Most services charge for appointments missed that are canceled in advance. If the service has a key for your home most will go ahead and clean the home and let you pay later. This is another reason why giving a key is a good idea. Sooner or later everyone forgets. If you don’t give them a key and you do forget it is your day, don’t give them a hard time, pay for the visit and then give them a key.
What do I do about inappropriate behavior?
Your telephone should never be used, your food should never be eaten, your drawers or personal things should be left closed and never looked at. If you feel like anything is inappropriate call the owner/manager at once.
Cleaning service owners go to great lengths to ensure they only send well-trained cleaners to your home. If you experience anything other than this then let the owner/manager know. A professional service will appreciate your concern and feedback.
What if I have a security system?
Cleaning professionals are used to dealing with alarms and various types of security systems. Many times people choose to not give the cleaning service the code to the alarm and inevitably it is left on when the cleaning team comes. Not only is this ordeal nerve racking, it can end up costing you money. You may not get your home cleaned that day and still have to pay for it, plus most local police departments charge a fee for false alarms. If you are dealing with a professional service then you should feel confident turning over alarm codes or keys to your home.
What about my pets?
This is an issue that should be discussed before the service begins. Ensure that your pet is not intimidating or one that jumps up on people. Most good services will match up professional cleaners that are animal lovers with clients with animals. You will need to make arrangements to put animals away or secure them if they will impede the work of the cleaning crew. Also advise them of any animals such as cats that may try to escape quickly if a door is opened. Nothing is more frustrating to a cleaning crew than an escaped animal over which they have no control; it is also very dangerous for the animal. If you have a pet with special needs or that makes a mess, please make arrangements to control these occurrences. Most cleaning services do not clean up after pets and will leave the mess where it was found.
Can I get my oven cleaned?
Most services will accommodate this request. It is rarely included with basic service. Keep in mind that if you have a self-cleaning oven that spray oven cleaner should never be put in it. An experienced cleaning professional will know this. When you call to request this extra service your cleaning professional should ask you to run the self clean the evening prior to the service. If you have a self-cleaning oven and it does not work properly, more than likely it has had oven cleaner used in it in the past.
What if something is broken?
Unfortunately breakage happens occasionally with even the most experienced and consciences cleaning professionals. Do not wait until it happens; discuss breakage up front. Make sure it is clear who is responsible for what, depending on whether it is a small incidental or if it is something of value. A good service will ask you during the consultation if there is anything irreplaceable and will make special note of this in the instructions to the cleaning crew.
What if something is missing from my home?
This is never a good feeling and it is almost always the cleaning person who was last in the house! Try to remain calm, retrace your steps. About 90% of the time, whatever is missing will be found within 24 hours (it happens all the time). However if it is not found, or if the disappearance is obvious, call the owner/manager. Give a complete description of what is missing including important information such as serial number inscriptions, or any distinctive markings. A good service will advise you to file a police report. Please keep in mind, though, that all good managers treat the accused as innocent during any investigation. However, it is not unreasonable to suspend the service or ask for a different cleaning person until it is resolved. Fortunately, with good hiring and background checks a good service will rarely have real cases of theft. Most cases turn out to be simply misplaced items.
Porches, decks, carports, are they included?
Typically most professional cleaning services limit their services to tasks inside the home. If this is a service you require bring it up before the service begins.
What about laundry?
Some services will wash sheets while other will do any laundry asked of them. This is another area that should be discussed before service starts if it is an issue for you. If laundry is a priority, make sure to be clear in your expectations. Also note that a cleaning service typically will have a liability release for you in the event there is any damage to anything being washed during the service.
Are they going to do my dishes?
Very few services will hand wash dishes, pots, pans, or especially knives. Some services will load dishes into the dishwasher; typically they do not unload the dishwasher or put things away. Most people would rather put their own belongings away in the proper place. Also some services will not do dishes at all. Just be clear up front about expectations.
What if someone is injured while cleaning my home?
If you use a reputable, well-run professional service, they will carry worker’s compensation insurance for all employees and any injury will be covered. This is a major difference between having an independent and a professional provide your cleaning service. If you have an individual cleaning your home and there is an injury, you most likely will be held liable for the injuries.
What am I suppose to supply?
Professionally staffed and ran home cleaning services most always supply their own products and equipment. This is mainly for productivity and training purposes. Home cleaning professionals are trained on the products they use. This is necessary in regards to using the product efficiently, effectively, and most importantly safely. A professional service will sometimes determine what the surfaces in your home require and then have you provide the supplies. Make sure you determine how the supplies and equipment works with prior to starting the service.
What if I have chemical sensitivities or want only safer-environmentally products used in my home?
The trend in society is toward more “green”, “environmentally friendly”, “Non-toxic” products for everyday life. There are many products readily available for home use. Many service owners already have in place “green cleaning” programs. Take time to ask what products are going to be used.
What are the difference between an independent contractor and an employee?
An independent contractor is simply one person whom cleans alone. They control all aspects of what they clean, how they clean, and when they clean. They typically do not report their income nor have insurance which covers your home when damage occurs. An employee is a person that works for a business or an individual and is paid wages with taxes, social security, and other withholdings as well as workers compensation insurance. An independent contractor is for all practical purposes in business for themselves. The biggest difference between the two is that the service owner with employees will have more control over the work performed by employees and in most cases will have more knowledge concerning the tools, equipment, and processes for providing the cleaning. Ask the service if they utilize independent contractors or have employees. The homeowner should be aware of the classification of the worker. A homeowner may be responsible for insurance, taxes, etc. not properly paid by independent contractors.
What is an MSDS?
MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) are forms that include all information related to cleaning products and supplies relating to chemical makeup, safety, chemical reactivity. Cleaning professionals are required by OSHA to have MSDS information for all products they use in their services. It is a good idea that homeowners obtain this information for all products they keep in their homes.
What if I am unhappy with the service I receive?
CALL!! Talk to the person doing the cleaning and if that doesn’t work call the service owner. Don’t let it go for any length of time. Call the first time you feel the service is not as it should be. A good service will welcome your comments and do all they can to ensure that you are happy. The only way they will know that you are not a happy customer is if they hear from you. Usually give it two or three cleaning visits to improve. If no improvement is made, find another service. When hiring a new service let them know what you were unhappy about with the last service; that will go along way to ensuring your satisfaction.
What does guaranteed service mean?
Every professional home cleaning service should offer a service guarantee or satisfaction guarantee. If you are unhappy with service you receive, then whatever you are unhappy with should be corrected. If you are unhappy or something was missed, call immediately. Do not wait a day or two when the house will be “lived in”. The service owner/manager should gladly send the crews back as soon as possible to make corrections.
It should be expected that you should only require the service to come back if it is something that was obvious or really matters. If it is something small or incidental, do not have them come back, but rather call the office or leave a note to ensure that it is not missed again. With a guarantee in place, you should be assured good service. If items are repeated, missed, or not performed up to the standards you and the service owner agree on, then it may be time to perhaps discontinue the service.
How do I know who will be in my house?
When you start the service ask who will be doing the cleaning. If it is important to you, ask to be notified when crew changes are made. Ask if it is the same person that cleans your house each time. Some services rotate or change up who does which house and what teams work together. Most try and have the same person(s) each time. Keep in mind that higher turnover rates for jobs in this industry is a reality. A good service operator does everything to keep good employees and checks out new ones thoroughly. If you hire a professional service that takes great lengths to hire the right people and train them you should feel confident about the people they send to clean your home.
Am I supposed to tip the person(s) that clean my home?
While tips in this industry are common it should not be expected. Never feel like you have to tip, and never tip in hopes of receiving better service! Only tip if you feel you are receiving great service. Tips usually range from 10 to 15%. Before tipping, make sure it is the same person or team each time. In the event that you’re a regular person is not there that day, leave a note with their name(s) to ensure the right person(s) get the tip.
Do I have to hand over a key to a stranger?
While it is your house and your key, it is more convenient and secure to let a professional service keep a key to your home. Most cleaning services will charge for the entire service visit if the appointment is not kept due to being locked out or not canceled in advance. Some services use a lockbox were the key is left at your place. (Also, it can be a life saver if you ever get locked out.) A key kept by the cleaning service is the best way for the cleaning crew to gain entry to your home.
How can I be sure my keys are safe when I hand them over?
While it can be very scary to hand over the keys to your home to a complete stranger, be sure you check references and insurance information. Ask how they will protect your key and ensure that your privacy and safety are protected. If the person that takes your key will not be doing the cleaning personally, ask what the procedure is for signing keys out and how long they are allowed out. Ask where the keys are kept. Are they tagged with tamper resistant tags or other means that will deter or prevent duplication? Ask how they are labeled. Ensure nothing that could identify you or your address is on the tag (in case they are lost or stolen). Are they locked up? Is the list kept in a separate place that is locked and secure? How many people have access to them? Any reputable service should be willing to discuss their key security policy with you.