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How to Hire a Housecleaning Service and Avoid Costly Mistakes

Ten Reasons to Hire a Housecleaning Service

  • Get back valuable time
  • You have more leisure time
  • No more arguments about whose turn it is to clean
  • Encourages family to keep things picked up
  • Weekly cleaning keeps your home free from allergens
  • Weekly vacuuming removes dust mites from carpets
  • Weekly vacuuming extends the life of your carpet
  • Professionals use the best, safest chemicals
  • Cleaning technicians are continuously trained to know the most up to date methods
  • Peace of mind

➀ Evolution of Housecleaning services

Fifty years ago, if you were one of the lucky few who could afford someone to clean your home, you asked your neighbors or someone at the hair dresser’s for a recommendation.  The answer would have been the name of an individual who made her living cleaning other people’s homes. Chesapeake Va, Chesapeake Virginia, Norfolk VA, Norfolk Virginia, Virginia Beach VA, Virginia Beach Virginia Then, if she was really good, you would have to wait until she had an opening in her schedule.

In the early eighties that all began to change.  In many towns, an enterprising person would hire a few cleaners and send them out to clean.  This was the beginning of the modern day housecleaning service.  With many households made up of two working adults, many more of them could afford to hire someone to clean.  In many cases this was a necessity as opposed to a luxury.

A few years later, big cities and then smaller towns experienced the arrival of franchise operations.  These businesses sold their procedures and techniques to local people who wanted to get into the cleaning business without reinventing the wheel.

When local entrepreneurs noticed franchises moving in, they opened their own housecleaning services without the benefit of a national franchise to fall back on.

After the new millennium began, these entrepreneurs from all over the country came together to form The Association of Residential Cleaning Companies International.  ARCSI gave small companies the benefit of networking with each other.  This became a way to ask a question on something and avoid the trial and error portion of growing your own business.

Making the Hiring Decision

First you and your family should check the budget and decide if hiring someone to clean your home is the right answer.  You still have the choice of hiring an individual who is recommended to you by a friend, hiring a franchise organization or hiring an independent housecleaning service.

When you hire a housecleaning service, there are huge differences among the three choices.  An individual means you can count on having the same cleaner every week.  That is unless she is sick or her kids are sick or she is on vacation.  A housecleaning service will send you a substitute team if your regular team is unavailable thus avoiding a missed appointment.

An individual does not carry insurance or bonding.  If something is broken or damaged in your home and your cleaner is not insured, you or your homeowner’s insurance will be paying for the repair or replacement.

An individual is most likely operating “under the table” which means she is not declaring her income or paying any taxes.

Years later when she goes to claim social security, she will say she worked for you.  Then YOU will be billed for her back FICA and Medicare employer contributions.  If she does pay taxes, then you must file a form 941 every quarter to send the FICA and Medicare (7.65% of her earnings) to the IRS.

A franchChesapeake VA, Chesapeake Virginia, Norfolk VA, Norfolk Virginia, Virginia Beach VA, Virginia Beach Virginiaise operation most likely works in teams of two or three.  They are often more expensive than an independent service.  The franchise will have a glitzy website and is required to split its profits with the national organization.  So local dollars are being lost to the community when you hire a franchise.

An independent service works as individual technicians or teams of two or three.  They are local and all their profits and payroll stay in the community.  They have the leeway to be flexible to your needs.

Should You Hire a Housecleaning Service Online Without Speaking With their Office?

The internet has completely changed the way we shop.  Custom Maid was founded in 1985 when the way you found a housecleaning company was to let your fingers do the walking in the Yellow Pages.  Now we automatically go to the internet.  Many companies have streamlined their process of acquiring new clients so that it is possible to book your jobs right on their web site without ever speaking with a human being.  It’s pretty impersonal.

At Custom Maid, we have a great web site but we have opted not to do everything online.  You can read about what we do on each cleaning.  Our staff photos are available there so you can see who may be cleaning your home.  You can fill out a contact form that will alert our friendly staff that you would like more information and we will call you back quickly.

The personal touch matters to us!

→We want to get to know you, so after your initial phone call, one of our representatives will visit your home to meet with you.  Cleaning someone else’s home is a very personal service to perform.  While we certainly have a standard list of tasks that will be done each visit, we are happy to customize that list to fit you and your home.

Sure, it takes just a little longer, but as part of your due diligence when you hire a housecleaning service (at a time when you are probably not there) don’t you want to meet them first?

Ten Factors to Consider When You Hire a Housecleaning Service

We’ll explain the following factors shortly, but you should find out the following things before you hire a housecleaning service:

  • Do they have liability insurance?
  • Are the employees bonded?
  • Are they licensed in your area?
  • What, exactly do they clean?
  • What happens if something in your home is broken or damaged?Chesapeake VA, Chesapeake Virginia, Norfolk VA, Norfolk Virginia, Virginia Beach VA, Virginia Beach Virginia
  • When hiring employees, do they do a background check?
  • Is drug testing a part of hiring?
  • How are new employees trained?
  • How will you recognize the cleaning team?  Are they uniformed?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the representative on the phone or in person?

Licensed, Bonded, Insured

You see the above phrase in the web sites of all kinds of businesses.  On the surface, it sounds simple, but what, exactly does this mean to you?

All legitimate businesses must be licensed by the community in which they have their main office.  This shows that they are paying their annual business taxes, money that the city uses to maintain services to its residents.

Insurance is very important to you when you hire a housecleaning service.  There are many scenarios that could come into play.  If your beautiful porcelain vase slips out of the hands of your technician and shatters, you want to know that it is covered by insurance.  If a technician uses the wrong chemical on your marble shower and it becomes cloudy, you need to be sure it will be repaired.  What if your child trips over the cord of a vacuum and is injured?  Will the insurance cover medical costs?

All of the above scenarios are covered by the general liability policy that your housecleaning service should carry.  Ask for a copy of their Certificate of Insurance.  This is a document that will come from the insurChesapeake VA, Chesapeake Virginia, Norfolk VA, Norfolk Virginia, Virginia Beach VA, Virginia Beach Virginiaance agent.  It will show the dates that the coverage is in force and the limits of the policy.

Another type of insurance is workers’ compensation insurance.  This will take care of an employee of the cleaning service if they fall down your stairs, or slip in the tub and are injured.  If the cleaning service does not carry this policy, then your homeowners policy would be asked to cover the injury.  

Bonding, or third party dishonesty insurance covers theft.  If you are missing something and think the housecleaning service may be at fault, then call the service.  They will take down the information and ask you to file a police report.  When the police investigate, the service will be co-operative.  If an employee of the service is convicted of the theft, then the policy or bond will reimburse you for your loss.  An important point is that the policy does not cover accusations, only convictions.

When You Hire a Housecleaning Service, Be Sure You Can Trust Them

It is crucial that your new housecleaning service does background checks on potential new hires.  At Custom Maid, we have been using Intellicorp to investigate applicants for years.  Before a new employee goes into our clients’ homes, they must first pass a drug screening.  We have a zero tolerance policy on both positive drug tests and any criminal record.Chesapeake Va, Chesapeake Virginia, Norfolk VA, Norfolk Virginia, Virginia Beach VA, Virginia Beach Virginia

When our team of technicians arrives at your home, they will be in uniform.

We take training very seriously at Custom Maid.  Many housecleaning services will just send a new employee with an experienced team for a couple of days and consider them trained.  We have three senior, long time employees who are designated as trainers.  Our training is on the job, but the trainer stays by the side of the trainee for at least three weeks.  The trainer does not do any cleaning; she already know how to clean and the trainee needs the practice.  She guides the trainee, answers questions and encourages the new hire.

Get to Know Your New Housecleaning Service

When you and your family finally reach the tipping point and decide to hire a housecleaning service, it is important to get to know them and even more important for them to get to know you.  That is one of the reasons that Custom Maid will make an appointment to come out and meet you and get to know your home.

In many neighborhoods, there are a handful of floor plans that make up all of the homes.  You might think that just because you tell a service that your home contains 4 bedrooms, 2 and a half bathrooms, living room, dining room, family room and kitchen and is 2400 square feet that they will automatically know exactly how long it will take to clean that home and therefore, how much to charge.

Fancy services that quote you a price online and allow you to book your schedule may be slightly more convenient.  But do they really have an accurate picture of your home?  My next door neighbor lives in a house with a floor plan identical to mine.  There is a HUGE difference between the two dwellings.

Their house has three adults and a teenager plus a dog.  They are jammed into a two bedroom townhouse of about 1800 square feet.  On the other hand, I live alone with no pets in an identical house.

An algorithm created to give instant pricing will only know basic facts, not realities of everyday life. Therefore, their algorithm calculates the average length of time it expects a team of technicians to be at your home and applies an hourly rate.

At Custom Maid, a representative will meet with you at a time that is convenient for you and take a quick walk through the home with you.  She will be looking for things like how much furniture and collectibles you have.  Is your home packed with furniture or sparsely furnished?  Do the kids pick up their stuff?Chesapeake Va, Chesapeake Virginia, Norfolk VA, Norfolk Virginia, Virginia Beach VA, Virginia Beach Virginia

The walk through will give you the opportunity to sit down at the kitchen table with either Janet or Susan.  You can discuss your expectations.  Tell us what your hot button issues are when it comes to a clean home.

You have the chance to point out the lovely teapot that was a gift from your favorite aunt.  It may not be particularly valuable when it comes to price, but you would be devastated if anything happened to it.  Just let us know where you keep it and how you want us to handle it.  Some clients opt to keep that item inside a hutch or a cabinet.  Others instruct us not to touch the teapot.  Custom Maid’s cleaning technicians are trained to be very careful  and gentle with all your precious things.

Now that we have gotten to know you, Janet or Susan will give you a firm price.  Custom Maid will give you a ballpark price on the phone before we come out for the walk through.  If our ballpark is not comfortable for you, then we don’t want to waste your time.

Along with a price, you will receive a written list of all the tasks we will be performing for you on each visit.  Think of it as our promise to you.

The tasks that are on our list are things that we feel should be taken care of in your home on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  It does not include things that are done less frequently.  That w

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ould be, for example, cleaning the inside of your oven or refrigerator or maybe washing baseboards.  We will provide you with a second list of these less frequent tasks.  You have the option of adding any of them as needed, for an additi9onal fee.  All you will have to do is call the office ahead of time.

Your pets are an important part of your family.  If they are friendly to strangers, then it will be fine for them to have their run of the house while we clean.  Our technicians are pet friendly.  If the pets are not friendly, then we will  ask that they be somewhere else while we clean.  That can be the backyard or garage, a crate or spare bedroom that is not normally cleaned and has the door closed.

How to Keep the Cost Down When You Hire a Housecleaning Service

At Custom Maid we understand that when you decide to hire a housecleaning service, you must sit down with your family and go over the monthly budget.  Perhaps you have your heart set on weekly service, but your budget tells you that bi-weekly is what you can afford.  Actually, we have found over the years that our technicians do such a thorough job that a bi-weekly cleaning is just fine.  We also offer an every four week schedule.  If you opt for that extended plan, then you should consider that you will want to clean the house yourself after about two weeks.

Another way to economize is to eliminate a room or two from our cleaning list.  Perhaps you have a guest bedroom that no one ever goes into.  Maybe, like me, you have a spare bedroom that you think of as the “junk room”.  When I need to get something out of sight, I throw it in there.  It would be impossible to clean this room.  Many families that have teenagers or college students still living at home feel that they are able to clean their rooms themselves.

Needless to say, you save money off your total charge for every room you omit.  If you do this, then we will give you a separate price on each omitted room.  That way you can add it any time you need to.

Custom Maid offers one more way to save on your housecleaning service.  As a weekly or bi-weekly client, you may choose to pay six months in advance.  At the end of the six months, we will give you a FREE cleaning.

Custom Maid Wants You!

Give us a call at 499-8568 or go to the “Contact Us” page on this website and fill out the brief form.  This will get you started on the road to leisure weekends and a clean, healthy home.  We look forward to becoming a necessary part of your household and can’t wait to welcome you into the Custom Maid family!

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