How Do I Choose the Right Cleaning Service?

How Do I Choose the Right Cleaning Service?

Cleaning Articles & Guides

I’ve been in the cleaning business for many years and I know people can be confused about the various options for finding a cleaner. So what are the pros and cons and how do you choose the cleaning service that is right for you and your home?

I’ve been in the cleaning business for many years and I know people can be confused about the various options for finding a cleaner. So what are the pros and cons and how do you choose the cleaning service that is right for you and your home?

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What Different Types Of Cleaning Service Are There?

Cleaning Articles & Guides Mrs Mopp Blog Spot

In our busy and eventful lives, it is not uncommon to hear about people having a cleaner, window cleaner or gardener to help them in their homes. These are not people who have gazillions in the bank; these are every day working people who value their free time in their schedules. People just like you and I.

But with so many cleaning options and services available what is the best one for you, your home and your budget?

The Four Ways to Hire A Cleaner And The Pros and Cons of Each

pros-cons

1. The Sole Trader

By the very nature of the name, this is an individual that works by themselves for themselves. A sole trader cleans to make a living for themselves. Sole traders charge from £7 – £11 per hour. Personally I would suggest paying a private cleaner around £7 – £8.50 per hour (area dependant) as paying the higher rates of £9 + per hour does not seem justified to the value add a sole trader can bring compared to a business or franchise.

Pros

  • One dedicated cleaner for your home
  • A flexible arrangement about what work will be undertaken
  • A cheaper rate, so would suit those with a smaller budget

Cons

  • If your cleaner is sick, goes on holiday or breaks a leg what will you do? There is no back up with a sole trader.
  • You are responsible for ensuring the cleaner has insurance and references. Who is responsible if an item is damaged?
  • The cleaner doesn’t always turn up, or do the agreed hours – familiarity can breed contempt.

2. The Cleaning Business

This is a business that employs 1 or more people to clean. A cleaning business, for the sake of this article, is privately owned and run. A cleaning business provides employment and aims to make a profit on the services provided. A cleaning business will charge between £8.00 – £15.00 per hour depending on its size and services offered.  I would suggest looking at the rate in comparison to what that business gives you in return. If the cleaning business does not provide quality checks or have a customer care procedure, why would you pay more for it, than say if you had a sole trader giving you the exact same service at a discount?

Pros

  • A dedicated cleaner and a back up if your cleaner is not available
  • A cleaning schedule of what will be done in your home and procedures for the work
  • A back office function for any queries, complaints or questions.

Cons

  • Cleaning businesses can have a high staff turn over due to the nature of work, this is throughout the cleaning industry. You may always have a cleaner, it just may not always be the same one.
  • A cleaning business should have a contract and this may impose terms on you for a notice period, lock out charges and cancellation charges etc.
  • A cleaning business can seem less personal than a sole trader due to the fact there may be a chain of command or there are multiple sites.

3. The Cleaning Franchise

These are businesses that have been bought, by an individual, for the brand and the proven profitable business structures a franchisor has developed. When you deal with a franchise you will be dealing with a person who has invested money in a company to learn their techniques and their processes. The franchisee will follow set procedures for quoting and executing the work they do. The cost of a franchise to clean to clean per hour is a bit of a black art to master, as they do not tend to quote by the hour, they tend to quote by the clean. I have quoted against many franchisees over several years and still it intrigues me when I am given their price as to how they reach it. For a three bed, two bath standard home you should expect to pay £40 – 58 per clean – the clean make take 3 hours, 2 hours or 1 hour depending on the number in the team and the equipment used.

Pros

  • The business model is tried and tested, as opposed to a living-it-learning-it cleaning business
  • The customer experience, branding and marketing should be second to none
  • The equipment and materials used will always be  good quality

Cons

  • Can be more expensive than all three of the alternatives
  • A badly run franchise is the same as any badly run business regardless of the fancy systems the individual invested in
  • Contractual obligation – some franchise businesses can have contracts that lock you in for 3, 6 or 9 months – not good if you don’t like their service or have a personality clash with your cleaner or the franchisee

4. The Cleaning Agency

A cleaning agency is a little bit like a recruitment agency, they are the middle men. A cleaning agency tends to be a office based business that will leaflet drop an area advertising for it’s cleaning services and, at the same time ,recruit in the local job centres and local publications for self employed cleaners to fulfill the work. With a cleaning agency you will pay between £9.50 – £13.00 per hour depending on the area and the company you deal with.

Pros

  • A cleaning agency is a nice blend of sole trader and cleaning business – if your cleaner leaves their job, you can call for another one
  • The price range falls in between the business and sole trader
  • As with a sole trader the work is agreed between client and cleaner giving greater flexibility

Cons

  • As a client you have to make two payments – one in cash to your cleaner, on the day, and one of an administration fee, paid in advance, by direct debit to the agent
  • Agencies tend to have an extremely high turn over of staff due to the fact that cleaners cannot get enough and/or consistent hours – do you want you keys swapping hands with people not connected to one and other bar the agency they are registered to?
  • This business model, in my opinion, does nothing for its fee and does not give any value add other than finding a cleaner for you. The agency does not take responsibility of your cleaner is sick or on holiday for example, that is for you, the client, to arrange with your cleaner – you could just as well deal with a sole trader direct for the same service without the payment hassles?

I hope you have found the information useful and if you have any comments or thoughts, I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading – Mrs Mopp x

 NEXT WEEK: What To Look For In A Cleaner

I need some help in my home… now what?

Cleaning Articles & Guides Mrs Mopp Blog Spot

Modern life is busy – we have demanding jobs, demanding relationships, demanding children and demanding social lives. So how do we “have it all” and stay on top of this game called life? Well, just as in business, there comes a time when you need to delegate the jobs you just don’t have time for/are no good at/take you an age to do/you don’t have the skills for etc. by employing some outside help.

So, before you start to drown in your martyr-dom of trying to do everything… take your underware off from the outside of your trousers and look for some help!

Do you drown in the demands on your time? Maybe time for some outside help!

 

There are many ways that we can all relieve the stress from our daily lives by hiring other people to take on the burdens for us; there are life organisers, like Tick It Off, who will take on anything you have going on; from de-cluttering tasks, to organising a party, to organising your home office or schedule, to returning your library books. There are pet groomers, pet walkers, gardeners, window cleaners, child minders, painters, repair men and, of course, cleaners.

So now that we have admitted to our self we need help, what are the next stages?

1. Do your research

Weather you are looking for a dog groomer, a life coach or a cleaner you need to do your homework. With the wonderful world of the online web, you don’t even have to leave your chair to do this! Use search engines to type in what you are looking for and in what area, then have a look at several websites (also check out any Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Google+ etc sites they may have). How does their online presence look? What types of things do they post about? Do they have a large following? Do they have recommendations or testimonials online about their business? Do they interact with their audience?

You can find out a lot on a person/business from the internet – does the business you are looking at relate to you? Do you like how they write/interact? Do they provide value to their online visitors?

2. Have 3 quotes

So you’ve looked online, there are a couple of websites you like the look of and their Facebook profiles seem to be exactly what you are looking for. Now what?

Make contact. Call them, email them or submit a website query form – How did they answer? How long did it take for someone to come back to you? Did they sound friendly and keen for your business?

Next, invite them to your home – personally I suggest seeing the top 3 you liked the look of online. Try and see the prospective businesses on the same day, if you can, so that the meetings stay fresh in your mind and are easier to compare. Ask all to bring copies of their insurance, their references and evidence of their work if applicable, then…

3. Interview the potential business

Any personal service worth their salt should be able to answer any question you throw at them regarding their services. Don’t be afraid to draw up a list of questions so that you don’t forget or get caught up with the sales pitch without actually finding out if that service fits your needs. Some questions I would suggest are as follows;

1. How long have you been trading?

2. What did you do before this business?

3. Who does the work, you or do you have staff?

4. How do you train and vet your staff?

5. Have you ever had to claim against your insurance?

6. How do you monitor your quality?

7. What do I do if I ever have a problem or am not happy with an element of your service?

8. How do I pay you?

9. What makes you different from your competitors?

10. (The million dollar question) Do you have references I can contact who will validate your service?

Just as you would at work – get the best people for the job in your home

 

Now that you have looked at the businesses online, had 3 quotes to compare and interviewed each business inside-and-out, you should have all the information you need to employ your outside help. So, make that call, offer that work to the service business and then go and sit down with a cup of tea and decide what you are going to do with that free time you have just given yourself…

 

Will a cleaning agency suit my needs?

Cleaning Articles & Guides Mrs Mopp Blog Spot

In this final part of “What cleaning Service will suit my needs” we will be looking at Cleaning Agencies.

What is a cleaning agency?

A cleaning agency is very similar to your typical recruitment agency – the agent finds, interviews and vets the workers and then “sells” the workers time/skills/trade to employers who may need them on a temporary or permanent basis.

This is true of a cleaning agency – With a cleaning agency, like a franchise, an individual can buy the licensed rights to use the brand name of the agency. The agency will heavily leaflet drop a set geographical area, then place ads in jobs centres to finds the cleaners to undertake the work, which they then sell to a homeowner, in chunks of the cleaners time, off the back of their leaflet campaign. Cleaning agents that you may have heard of are Maid2Clean, BellaCasa and Dolly Char and they are an ever increasing trend in the cleaning sector.

The cleaners are not employed by the agencies and are self-employed individuals, responsible for completing an annual self assessment and their own taxes and insurances. The homeowner will have to leave the agreed hourly rate in cash for the cleaner every time they have a clean – the homeowner will also have to pay the agency a fee every week by direct debit or standing order to pay for the services of the agency. The homeowner will be locked into a contract for a minimum of 3 months with a cleaning agency and please note, the agents fees are payable weather the homeowner has a clean or not that week!

The Pros of using a cleaning agency

  • The homeowner does not have to place an advertisement, interview and reference a potential cleaner, as after a brief telephone call of requirements the agency will send a cleaner to you
  • The homeowner is able to design their own cleaning rota for their home rather than with a cleaning business or cleaning franchise who will have their set standard cleans and deeper cleans
  • If you do not like your cleaner or the standards are not good enough, you can replace the cleaner with a telephone call

The Cons of using a cleaning agency

  • Even though the agency say they will interview and vet a cleaner, many times they will not physically meet the cleaner and handle all inquiries over a telephone, as more often than not the agents office is not based in the locality of the cleaning work
  • You as the homeowner are still responsible for interviewing the cleaner in your home and vetting them again for your piece of mind (written in 3 agency agreements I have had the pleasure of reading)
  • You as the homeowner will be responsible for the design and implementation of your cleaning rota, along with the quality control aspects of your clean
  • Like with a Sole Trader (which is what these cleaners are with the added cost of paying an agent) how do you know what training your cleaner may have had? How good is the cleaners insurance? Do they even have insurance? What happens if a cleaner falls and hurts themselves in your property? What happens if a cleaner spills bleach on your new rug?
  • 2 costs – cash to cleaner, direct debit to agency… very messy and complicated
  • The costs work out quite expensive when broken down as their are the two costs for the cleaner and agency as well as the cleaning materials and equipment as cleaning agencies DO NOT supply any
  • Cleaning agencies tend to have an even higher employee turnover than both a cleaning business and cleaning franchise as there are no employee schemes or training and the hours of work offered can be spasmodic and often not worth the cleaners time to travel to
  • There is no come back for the house owner – Not happy with your clean? Would like to talk to someone about it? Well with a cleaning agency you will be directed to talk to your cleaner directly or the agency will just replace… going on holiday or your cleaner going on holiday? It is up to the house owner to arrange cover for that period… Cleaner ill or broke their leg? It is up to the house owner to arrange the cover – The agent does what for their money?????

As a cleaning business owner, and obviously working within the cleaning industry, cleaning agents are not my favourite flavour of cleaning service available as I, personally, do not feel they give a value added service to either the homeowners or the cleaners involved and the only party that benefits is the agent – they offer no training, no quality control of cleans, no back office support and no structure.

If you, as a homeowner, want to be in control of the rota and the quality, then you could hire your own cleaner direct as that is what an agent offers, with a weekly cost! If you want an uninterrupted service look at franchises or cleaning businesses and if you want to just make a phone call and hire/fire a cleaner then perhaps an agent is for you but please before you make any decisions, read through all the posts in this section to see which one would suit your home, family and pocket best

Please feel free to add your comments or questions

Next blog post: How to complain about your clean

Will a sole trader suit my cleaning needs?

Cleaning Articles & Guides Mrs Mopp Blog Spot

What is a Sole Trader

 

A sole trader, also know as “one man band”, are normally individuals that work alone and have a self employed status. The sole trader will undertake all cleaning and ironing work within your home usually. The sole trader would be responsible for a self assessment annually, paying their own taxes and national insurance contributions and for their business insurances. Should the sole trader start to take on employees, they must be registered with the HMRC as an employer so that the appropriate  taxes may be paid and have their insurances amended to cover more than one individual.

The Pros of using a Sole Trader

  • Flexibility of work undertaken within the home
  • Flexibility of price as the sole trader has minimal overheads – the general rate for a sole trader is typically £7 – £8.50 per hour, although some self employed cleaners do charge up to £10 per hour.
  • The relationship between client and cleaner can sometimes be more personal as the cleaner can almost become an extension of the family as it will always be the same cleaner at the home

The Cons of using a Sole Trader

  • If the cleaner is not registered as self employed with the HMRC and is working “cash in hand” for the client, weather the client is aware or not – this changes the relationship to an employer/employee relationship and if investigated the client may be fined for not registering as an employer by the HMRC  – It places the homeowner in a difficult position as they will been seen as the employer and investigated for the correct legal trading status, tax and PAYE affairs
  • The cleaner may have minimal level insurance or no insurance at all – When interviewing potential cleaners always ask for a copy of their insurance details and would also recommend calling the company the insurance is held with to validate the policy to ensure your home is protected against damage, spills or breakages
  • If the cleaner is sick/on holiday/breaks a leg etc. the client would have no cleaning service
  • If the cleaner decides to quit or close their business the client would have to go through the process of advertising, interviewing, vetting the cleaners references and designing a rota for a new replacement cleaner
  • If the client is unhappy with the clean or the service the client would have to confront the cleaner directly to resolve the issues

Check list for a employing a self employed cleaner:

1) Does the cleaner have references you can telephone to ask about the cleaners service, reliability and standards?
2) Can the cleaner supply the client with a copy of insurance details?
3) Can the cleaner supply proof of self employed status, such as government gateway number or proof of employer status by way of their employer code?
4) Does the cleaner sub contract out work when on holiday/poorly – Who to? Who’s insurance is the replacement cleaner covered by?