Finding a Good Domestic Cleaner – Part 1

Maintaining the work/life balance nowadays can be hard. Family commitments, irregular working hours and long commutes mean that when you do get some precious ‘down time’, you don’t want to be spending it dusting light fittings or removing handprints from the windows. Hiring someone to help around the house is no longer looked upon as a commodity for the privilged few, but rather as an astute method of delegation.

Coming home to a clean house…sounds ideal, but many people either make the mistake of just plumping for the cheapest rate they can find, or not being aware of the part they need to play in the cleaner/customer relationship. These 2 mistakes are setting you up for miscommunication issues and stress – which is not why you got a cleaner in!!

In Part 1, we’ll look at points to consider when finding a good domestic cleaner. Part 2 will summarise the differences between a company, franchise and a single cleaner working alone; followed by working out the all-important price! Part 3 will cover what you can do on your part to keep the working relationship with your cleaner a happy and harmonious one – plus what you should and shouldn’t expect from them!

Where can you find a good domestic cleaner?

So you’ve decided to hire a domestic cleaner who will keep your home ship-shape using natural methods. But where on earth do you find one?

  • Word of Mouth/ Referral – This is undoubtedly the best method to use if you can – ask around your friends/family/acquaintances to see if they can recommend anyone. If you’re not going to be around when the cleaner comes (and this is a good idea), then trust is going to be the most important factor. Having someone on recommendation helps you start on a positive note when it comes to trust, as you then already know somebody who has had a good experience with them. Cleaners/cleaning companies also love referrals as it saves on advertising costs. Travel costs are increasingly important in cleaning businesses, so you may be able to negotiate on price if you can be flexible with days & times and have an appointment next to someone further down the street.
  • The Internet – A simple Google can bring up what you’re looking for; generally the bigger companies will have much more professional websites, though this is not always the case! If you can email an enquiry over do so – how long before you receive an email or a phone call back? This will give you an idea of the level of service you are likely to expect from the company or person in the future. You can also try sites like Yell & Qype, where other customers may have left reviews, though many of these can be fake.
  • Local Publications – Check any local publications that come through the mail, local newspapers etc. The quality and amount of advertising will give you an idea of the size of the outfit and whether they seem reputable.

Hopefully you will find someone in your area who will fit the bill – give them a call and arrange to meet. Whether using a company or a single cleaner, somebody should always come over first to do a ‘walkthrough’ of the home so they know what does/doesn’t need doing. From this visit, they can quote you an accurate price and you can ask any questions you may have. Here’s a handy checklist…

  • Do they actually use natural products? – Many cleaning companies nowadays will advertise themselves as ‘green’ or ‘eco friendly’; however when you do a little digging, you an discover that the only difference between them and their Flash-wielding cousins is the price! Ask what brands and products they use – a lot of ‘eco friendly’ products may not be tested on animals, but they are still full of chemicals. Some are approved by the Vegan Society, some are not. See if the cleaner’s products meet your preferences for the price you are prepared to pay. You may also want to ask about vacuum cleaners – if they bring their own, do they have Hepa or similar filtration systems? Do they use separate vacuums for pet and non-pet households?
  • Are they insured? – Again, whether company or sole trader, the assurance that your cleaner is covered for both damages to your possessions and to themselves whilst in your home is important.
  • Can they provide a reference? – If dealing through a company this doesn’t really work as there is no guarantee of the same cleaner every time, but don’t be afraid to ask a single cleaner if one of her existing customers could give you a quick call or email.
  • Do they offer a keyholder service? – If you’re not going to be in, it’s much easier to leave a key with the cleaner so they can let themselves in and out. Are they insured in the case they lose your key? How and where do they store the keys – does the cleaner hold onto it or is it picked up and returned to the office after every appointment?
  • How do I pay? – It’s usually cash, cheque or electronically. Some companies will take credit card payments. Do you get invoiced or pay on the day?
  • Who provides the cleaning supplies? – Many single cleaners simply use what you have in the cupboard to keep their service charges low. This can also be useful as then you know exactly what products they are using. It may not be so useful if you get a cleaner who is a bit ‘product-happy’.
  • Will they clean This, That, but not The Other? – Different customers want different things; what do they provide for a standard clean? Can they do extras (eg. inside ovens, venetian blinds, inside the fridge) and what cost are these?   Do they offer a cleaning checklist so you can fill in what you want done or the cleaner can fill in what tasks they have completed?
  • Can they provide a copy of their Terms & Conditions? – These should be given to you or be able to be viewed online. They should cover all their polices such as cancellations, and how they operate their service.

Next we will look at the pros and cons of hiring a domestic cleaner from a franchise, company or independently; then how to come up with a realistic time and price for your clean!

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