If I had a dollar for each time I hear about how “cheap” a cleaning lady would be I am speaking with potential clients about professional cleaning services, I could skip the professional life and be sipping drinks with umbrellas poolside in Fiji. The fact of the matter is that if you are truly looking to save money and avoid problems, you should use a professional cleaning service because using a private cleaner could cost you much more in the long run.
So here are a few big questions to ask yourself when you are trying to decide what type of service is best for you:
1) Are you ready to be an employer?
If they determine that you are the cleaner’s employer, you may be required to withhold and pay their Federal Income, Social Security and Medicare taxes. (See IRS for more information). It sounds great — you hire an individual who will charge less than a cleaning company and all you have to do is provide the cleaning products and supplies for the cleaner to use, right? Well, maybe, but the IRS may require you to supply Publication 926 for Household Employees and Employment Verification Form I-9. If the cleaner is a contractor (1099 worker), they must provide their own business license, cleaning supplies and products, and hopefully, they are also licensed and bonded.
2) Does the cleaning company you’ve hired have employees or contractors?
Before you hire a house cleaning service, ask if their cleaners are employees or contractors. If they are contractors, the cleaning service you hire doesn’t need to provide liability insurance (in case something is broken or stolen at your house), and in most cases, they can’t even ensure how the job is done — only the end result.
3) Is your property insured against theft or damage? Who will pay for cleaning mishaps?
Things happen. Objects can break, cleaning products, if used incorrectly, can damage surfaces and it is even possible that something from your home could go missing. Even worse someone could be hurt on your property when working for you, leaving you liable for large medical bills and legal headaches. Your key as a homeowner is to make sure that you are prepared and covered for every possibility that might occur. The best way to do this is to work with a reputable company, check their references and ask to see their certificate of liability and workman’s compensation. Private cleaners that you might hire probably don’t have this and it will leave them, and you open to potential costly issues.
4) If someone is out sick, will your house cleaning still get done?
If you book with a single service provider there is no back up. If they are ill you are out of luck even if you have 20 guests coming over that night for a party and were counting on them. If they have a family emergency, take a vacation or even if their previous job runs late, you pay the price. So while you may save money in the short term what is the cost of reliability? Professional cleaning services usually run multiple teams and canl make last minute adjustments to cover their client’s cleanings even if their own staff has issues. And you can bet that if a cleaner is unreliable they will be weeding them out before they get to you.
5) How good are they, really?
I get people walking in to apply for positions with my company all the time. And when I sit down to talk to them and review their experience I often ask: “So why do you think you are qualified to be a professional cleaner?” “Because I like to clean my own home and I keep it very neat.” That’s not the answer I am looking for. There is a HUGE difference between cleaning your own home and professionally cleaning a client’s home. Speed, efficiency, thoroughness and ability to listen and adapt to your client’s needs are paramount in our industry. And there are techniques and cleaning methods that have been utilized and passed down through years of experience with our staff that benefit our clients. I can train a willing and enthusiastic potential cleaner in these methods, I do it at my company’s expense – not yours. And you can bet your kitchen sink that if they do not meet our training standards they will NOT be released into your home to clean for you. Do you think your private cleaner is doing self assessments and training to improve what they do? A professional cleaning service should screen, train, test and hold all employees to the highest standards. Customer satisfaction surveys are performed on cleanings by any reputable cleaning service to ensure their customer’s satisfaction on an ongoing basis. Retraining is ongoing and continuous investments in procuring the best equipment and cleaning supplies for your home is standard operating procedure. Solid professional house and business cleaning services have this ability due to size and economies of scale. These practices are not what you will typically find with a small private cleaner.
So while you will perhaps save on the per hour charge of a “private cleaner” are you really getting all that you need from that relationship? If the answer to any of these questions is “no” you may want to take another look at having a professional cleaning service take over the cleaning of your home or office. It will most likely safe you time, money and headaches in the long run.