10 Secrets to Hiring a House Cleaning Service!

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hire a cleaning lady

I started a cleaning service company here in my home town of Toronto back in 2006, it’s called Clean My Space – who would have thought!? Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about this industry and I wanted to answer a question that I get asked a lot: How do I know which cleaning company to hire?

Whether you want to hire a cleaning service to help you with a one-off task, an annual spring clean, or something on a more regular basis, there are a few things you need to inquire about before you make a decision.

Bringing someone in who isn’t part of a formal cleaning service company carries with it a host of risks. “But, it’s cheaper to hire an under-the-table cleaning lady for cash!” is something I often hear. Funny enough, I always advise people to hire that cleaning lady if price is their main concern, and if things go well, keep her close. But, when things don’t go well, that’s when you bring in a service company. Sure, it’s more expensive, but there are many, many benefits, you get from bringing in a professional company. So, here are ten things you should consider when you’re looking to hire a cleaning service company.

1. Get Referrals From Family & Friends

Start by asking friends and family who they use – referrals give you an inside look at what a company is all about – not just what they say on their website (let’s be honest, a company can write anything). Companies can make themselves sound amazing, credible and experienced, but a referral from a friend or family can paint a different picture and carries more weight.

2. Take Online Reviews With a Grain of Salt

Happy people don’t tend to write as many reviews as unhappy people who feel compelled to shower the world with their terrible experiences. Remember, oftentimes, those reviews are people using it as an opportunity to vent, blow a story out of proportion, or try to damage the reputation of the company. If a company has ALL terrible reviews, that’s definitely a red flag, but if they have mostly good reviews and a few bad ones, that’s pretty average. No one is perfect.

The other thing to watch out for is a company with a perfect score. I know companies who pay clients to write reviews for them, so of course, they’re going to be 100% perfect. Regardless, a good rule of thumb is to avoid a company with all perfect scores, avoid the company with all terrible scores, and find the ones with really consistent high scores.

3. Bonding, Insurance & Worker’s Compensation

Does the company have the ability to cover the costs of any damage done to your home, any theft, or if an injury occurs on your property? If they don’t have this coverage, you could be on the hook for money, items stolen, property damaged, or an injured worker. A company should be willing to tell you if they have this coverage and provide copies of their policies at your request.

Now, be aware that this adds to the cost of operating a service company, which is why the rates are higher per hour or per job. However, this level of assurance is valuable, especially when you’re letting someone into your home, and could ultimately be on the hook for something that goes wrong – remember, we live in a litigious world!

4. Experience, Affiliations & Accreditations

How long have they been in business for? Does the company have any awards, accreditations, or affiliations with professional organizations? I like to look out for this because it makes me feel reassured that a company is trustworthy and concerned with their reputation.

In my company’s case, we have won three awards and we are a member in excellent standing with the Better Business Bureau. These are things we’ve worked hard to obtain and tout proudly as a company. It shows our staff, clients, and potential clients, that we have done everything we can to offer exceptional service. To give this a bit more context, there are a few companies here in Toronto that have a bad reputation and simply close down and re-open under another name. So, checking in to these affiliations lends credibility to a company’s desire to remain in good standing with their customers.

5. Service Offerings

Does the company take requests or offer a fixed service? How detailed will they get? Depending on what you want to be done, inquire as to what level of service is offered. If you can customize it and hire someone to come and tick a bunch of things off your to-do list, or if you just get the same service each visit irrespective of what you want to be done, or, if you can do a combination. Companies offer a variety of options; none are right or wrong, you just need to find what suits your needs and your lifestyle.

6. Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Be sure to ask about breakage, damage, and satisfaction guarantees – a company should stand behind its work and its workers. If you’re not happy as a client, what are they prepared to do for you, how will they make it right?

It’s just a fact of life – things will break. The way we’ve always handled it is to be highly responsive, sincerely apologetic, and fix anything, at any cost. This sounds crazy, and I know many companies don’t do this. They tell the client to claim it under their own homeowner’s insurance policy, or chalk it up to an unavoidable mistake.

If you’re not happy with the cleaning, what will the company offer you? A touch-up? A free cleaning? Nothing? Companies have different policies about this so find out what recourse you have if you’re not happy with the level of service you’ve received.

7. Employees vs. Contract Workers

Find out if the staff are employees or if they’re contract workers. Typically, contract workers don’t enjoy the same benefits as employees do, nor do they have the same type of oversight. While they’re generally cheaper to hire, they are often times inconsistently trained and are not as reliable because the fact is they’re “replaceable” to a large extent – by that I mean that there is little to no investment in their actual work product by the company outsourcing the work, so they can quickly move on to another contractor while having lost little to no investment (training, taxes, benefits, etc.).

An employee has a better set up than a contract worker does, and the company has more input and oversight over that worker (and more investment), which ultimately means they are more accountable to their employer. Employees also pay taxes and have taxes paid on their behalf by the employer, which supports the province or state and country you live in. These two categorizations and the laws surrounding them will vary from country to country. In Canada, I know the rules inside and out, and our staff are employees because it is better for them (sadly, more expensive and less profitable for us!), and better for the country.

8. Understand Who You’re Hiring

Who is actually coming into your home and how are they references checked? Is it a bona-fide service company with a consistent roster of employees, or is it a sharing-economy company with random people popping up? Remember, when you hire a cleaner, you’re letting someone into your most sacred space which houses your most valuable things; potentially when you’re not home! Who can you really trust? Ask the company how, and if, they interview and background check their staff, do they do background or criminal checks on their staff, and how they plan to schedule you in with the same cleaner as often as possible.

9. Cleaning Supplies

Do they use their own cleaning supplies and tools, or do you have to supply your own? We require our clients to supply their own and, of course, help them determine exactly what they need. We sell kits or provide them with a shopping list based on their specific requirements. I believe that a mop should be used in one house, or else the crud from house A will make its way over to house B.

Further, each house has different needs; pets, people, finishes, and whatnot. I’m a big proponent of using the right products and tools on each surface, and I believe it is better to provide your own to reduce and minimize cross-contamination and potential harm to surfaces.

10. Terms of Service

Find out what the policy for cancelling or changing your service is. This policy should be in place so that you don’t get slapped with any surprise fees. Many companies charge a cancellation fee because it can be hard to reschedule cleaners at the last minute, and the company has to cover off their lost wages. So, if you know this information, you can better plan and prepare for any scheduling issues.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

47 COMMENTS

  1. You’re right about saying that I should get referrals from friends who hire home cleaning services. I think I’ll look at online reviews and see if they’re worth trusting. I’ll make sure to look for bonding and insurance so that I’ll be protected from liabilities as a customer.

  2. I like the tip that you gave to choose a cleaning service that is referred to you by family and friends. My wife and I have been talking about finding a cleaning service to help us with our home while we are getting it ready to sell it. If we do, I will be sure to look for a cleaning service that is referred to us.

  3. So over the weekend as I waited and anticipated for my service, I arranged things around the house, some light cleaning and laundry so that when the cleaners come everything will be in their right place and all they have to do is clean. I think everyone has these thoughts so that the cleaner may clean easily and have the only job to clean the house.

  4. You make a great point to make sure that whatever company you hire to clean your home has a breakage, damage, and satisfaction guarantee. My mom has been wanting to hire someone to come and clean her house before a party, but she doesn’t really know what to look for when she is hiring someone. I will be sure to forward this article to her, so that she can have a guide as to what to look for in a cleaning company.

  5. I like the tip that you gave to choose a cleaning service that is referred to you. My wife and I have been talking about finding a cleaning service to help us keep our home looking nice while we are selling it, and it would be important for us to be confident in who we choose to hire. If we decide to find a cleaning service, I will be sure to look for referrals.

  6. I like how you mentioned that when looking for a home cleaning service, you should start by asking friends and family for referrals because it will allow you to have an inside look at what a company is all about, and not just what they say on their website. My kids are always making messes, and with my job, it’s hard for me to have a lot of time to clean, so I’ve been thinking about hiring a house cleaning service, but don’t know how to go about finding one. I will definitely keep your great tips and information in mind when trying to find a suitable house cleaning service to reduce my stress and keep my house in great shape.

  7. I like the tip that you gave to choose to get referrals from family and friends to help you find a cleaning service. My wife and I have been talking about finding a cleaning service to help clean our home for when we put it up for sale, and it would be important for us to know that we can find one who we could trust. If we decide to hire a cleaning service, I will be sure to get referrals from family and friends.

  8. This is a very well thought out article! You’ve hit everything spot on! You want a company that has the liability insurance to handle any problems that arise, does it’s due diligence on their employees, and can provide references from happy customers. I’m looking to expand my business, and this has given me some extra things to think about. Thank you!

  9. I like the tip that you gave to choose a cleaning service who has a reputation. My wife and I have been talking about finding a cleaning service for our windows, and it would be important for us to know that we can trust in who we choose to hire. If we decide to hire a cleaning service, I will be sure to look for one who has a good reputation.

  10. I think its good to a home cleaning services professional, coz at this way we just need to look after and Pay them, So its really helpful for working women as well as tired house wifes…and the best part is that, cleaning professional have some special equipment for cleaning, So they can be cleaning very well more than any housewife!

  11. Melissa, Thank you for sharing this article. We have recently started our own cleaning company and you share some great ideas as to what a potential client might think about. It will definitely help us dial in a plan to make sure we handle some of these concerns before they arise.

    Best wishes!

  12. These are really very amazing tips to hire a reputable cleaning company. The people who hire cleaning company for first time, doesn’t have much knowledge that which things are necessary to be cared before hiring a cleaning company. your given tips are really very useful for such type of persons.
    Thanks!

  13. We have recently started our own house cleaning business and came across this article. I really appreciate you taking the time to educate us on this! It really helps us to know what our clients may be looking for and how to offer the best service we can. Thanks a ton!

  14. Thank you for this wealth of information. I am starting a cleaning service and I was initially worried that I wouldn’t get customers if I didn’t have any reviews, but I can now see that I have a better chance of getting new customers through word of mouth. Thanks for sharing this!

  15. I found this article useful as I am starting to build my own cleaning service. It has great insight on what a potential customer will be looking for and what I should be looking to offer new and even the exisisting clients I have. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  16. We have recently started our new house cleaning servicing business and came across this website. Really appreciate you taking the time to actually educate us on this.

    I would never have thought to think about what to do in order to become a better house services business to customers. We are going to make sure we tick of all the 10 secrets of how to hire a home cleaning service so we can begin to grow our business.

    It’s never fun to write about this but we grealty appreciate the time you put into educating us. Thanks a ton

    • I agree with you Jac. it is nice to have run in to this precious website with a wealth of information i take all the help i can get as i am getting started with my own cleaning service here in st paul, MN.
      Thank you for sharing appreciated.
      Joe

      • Good luck with the new business!
        It’s always a good feeling when you are starting to get your business up and running. Especially when you can use the wealth of info on this page to help grow it.

  17. Thank you for suggesting that you should check if the service offers fixed services or if they will take requests. My husband and I are wanting to find the right cleaning service to help us get our house ready for a big family event coming up. I’ll have to do some research and find the best cleaning services in the area.

  18. As there are plenty of ways for hiring the cleaning service but from my view the best way to hire the cleaning service is taking the reviews from the friends and relatives or the internet as it is the best ways to collecting the reviews from various groups of people that are available on the web.

  19. It makes sense that you would want to research who you are hiring. Knowing that they are trusting and if they do background checks on who they employ would make it easier to choose a company. I am sure that my sister would want to know this because she has shown interest in getting a residential cleaning service.

  20. Hey Melissa! We are a new house cleaning company in the Dallas, TX Area and we really found this breakdown very inspiring and informative. This isn’t just good info. for customers to have – it is really good for cleaning companies to know how to correctly market themselves and cater to their customer’s needs.

    Thanks again for the great post 🙂

  21. What really caught my attention is when you mentioned that we must look at the reviews of the previous clients. And yes, I definitely agree that no one is perfect and we can not please all. There would be times that the feedback or review would depend on their mood at that time.

  22. Thank you very much for sharing the content with us. This is really a very helpful content.
    I am a regular visitor to your site Because the content of your blog is very helpful, so I try to read them regularly.
    Hope you will publish some more content with cleaning tips.
     
    Best Regards

  23. Many individuals connect predictable cleanings with expanded cost. In any case, when you focus on a predictable calendar and build up an association with your cleaner, they can clean your home all the more rapidly and will be adaptable in different ways that will spare you cash.

  24. Now days its very hard to get right cleaners, These tips are very useful, people who need a professional cleaners. Much appreciated that you wrote this kind article.
    thanks

  25. That seems like a good idea to ask if the company has done background checks on the staff to make sure that the people they use are trusty. I don’t have a lot of time anymore, and my toddler makes a pretty big mess. I’ll just need to find a residential cleaning company to come out and make everything look good.

  26. Thank you for pointing out that you should consider if the company takes requests or just offers fixed services. My husband and I are wanting to hire a cleaning service to come and clean our house weekly. Hopefully, we can find the right service for us.

  27. I appreciate your comment about how you should looking cleaning services that have a lot of experience in the cleaning industry. I also like how you said that they should be insured as well. My husband and I are looking into carpet cleaners for our home that are reputable.

  28. I stumbled across ur site n I was in. I also own my own cleaning company in New Orleans for BnBs n vacation rental homes thruout NOLA. I have much to learn from you starting tonight. I c a spike in productivity n less time especially days like today 2 flips n 2 standard. There’s gonna be no more sometimes 3 to 4 hours in one property. Thanks for being there to teach n suggest

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