Choosing a house cleaning service is a big decision. You need to treat the process like an interview, because that is what you are doing. You are hiring an individual or house cleaning service to enter your most private and intimate space, and work with your most valuable possessions. You need to look at more than the cost per visit and evaluate the overall experience that your house cleaning provider can offer you.Make sure you take the time to evaluate your house cleaning provider, and make a choice that meets your individual needs.
Is the house cleaning service you are evaluating bonded and insured?
This is a very important question to ask. While your property insurance does extend some protection to you against an individual being hurt on your property, that is usually very limited, and in most cases only up to $10,000. In most cases that might be enough, but insurance should be carried by a professional home cleaner to help mitigate your risks. At the minimum they should have a general liability policy, workman’s compensation, and full coverage auto. Workman’s compensation is the one that could be the most expensive for them to carry, but is the one you really need to think about. If someone is hurt in your employ without this insurance you could be on the hook to not only pay for their injuries, but lost wages as long as they are unable to work. Hiring a house cleaner should be headache free, and a good service provider will provide copies of coverage upon request.
Bonding is a guarantee against acts of dishonesty by the service provider, and those in their employ. While these types of bonds are not typically worth the paper they are written on, a good provider will have this coverage, and meet the steps needed to keep this coverage in force. A provider who has a bond is more likely to screen their employees thoroughly, and have a theft and loss prevention policy in place.
Will your new house cleaning service offer a guarantee?
Most service providers don’t have a formal written guarantee of any kind. The good companies will. Ask for a copy of their guarantee, it should at the very least be accessible from their website. A strong guarantee will provide you with a thorough re-clean of items found to be deficient in your scheduled cleaning if you contact the provider within a specified time frame, usually 24 hours. Another thing good service providers can guarantee is your day of scheduled visit. If you are scheduled to be cleaned every other Friday, your team will be there on that day guaranteed. No one likes it when they have the house all ready and the cleaning person fails to show up as promised.
How do they pay their employees?
You want to avoid paying people under the table, whether it done intentionally by you or through a company, because ultimately you can be found liable for taxes owed to the IRS if you exceed a threshold of household services and taxes are not paid on those services by the service provider. This also helps avoid choosing a company that might pay its employees substandard wages, and abuses other employment practices such as hiring undocumented workers. All of these things can be financially and socially damaging to you as an end result. Choose a company that pays its employees properly and pays all federal and local employment taxes. They may charge a little more, but you can guarantee that you won’t be on the hook for their bad behavior.
How many people will they use to clean your home? Will it be the same people each time?
This does not seem like an obvious question, but if the answer is one, who is there when they are sick, and you have a really stressful weekend coming up with lots of people coming over, and now you have an entire house to clean on top of everything else you could barely manage to get done. Pick a company that sends the same people each visit, and they work in a team of at least 2, but preferably 3. That way, even if one is sick at least one of the team members that arrives that day will have cleaned your home previously. It also helps prevent cancellations. Teams of 3 are best of all so that your cleaning team will be in and out of your house in no time flat. When companies use individual cleaners, that person can be in your home for almost half the day for a typical home. For many obvious reasons, this is less than ideal.
What type of cleaning solutions will your house cleaning provider use? Will you need to provide anything?
You should look for a company that provides all of the cleaning solutions, supplies, vacuums, everything. That way if you run out of something, you aren’t running around looking for supplies. Again the point here is that you want a transparent experience that is hassle free. Also ask about cross contamination policies. A good cleaning service will have color coding and policies in place that avoid contaminating clean surfaces.
Also ask if your service provider will “go green” with the cleaning solutions that are used. There is a broad spectrum in the shades of green, but there are much better options that traditional bleach, ammonia, and various petrochemicals. Demand better.
How will your house cleaning provider screen the people who will clean your home?
A good company will have a process for hiring new people. That process should begin with an application, a phone interview, and finally an in person interview. Reference checks and prior employment verification are a must. Federal and local background checks should be conducted. A social security trace with an identity verification and credit check should be conducted, as well as determining if they are eligible for employment in the US. Motor vehicle and driving history should also be screened. This is all the minimum you should ask for, a 7 or 10 panel drug screening should also be included in a complete background check. All of these screenings are meant to be a way to weed out the most obviously undesirable candidates. It is not perfect, but does provide a place to measure how hard your service provider is trying to protect you, their new client.
How much will they charge & what’s included? This seems like an obvious question, but do not leave it open ended. Ask for a quote for your initial cleaning and for ongoing service. That way you are both on the same page. A good service provider will also provide you with a place to verify what is included in your cleaning service. A link to a website should suffice, or in a service policies handbook. It just needs to be spelled out so that again, you are both on the same page.
These questions are meant to get you started in the process, and help you avoid costly mistakes. I hope you learned something you will be able to put to immediate use when choosing a professional to clean your home.