Everyone likes to have a clean house, but not everyone has the time, the ability, or the ambition to tackle the arduous task of house cleaning. Hiring someone else to do the job is the simple solution to this problem.
Hiring a house cleaner is a process that should be approached systematically. It’s important to find a good fit; the right person can make your life much easier, but the wrong person can spell disaster. Your home is your castle, safeguard it by making a thoughtful search for your cleaning person.
What to Look For in a House Cleaner
A professional house cleaner needs to have some very specific traits: honesty, a strong work ethic, excellent listening skills, maturity, and the ability to get along with lots of different types of people. Most importantly, a house cleaner should actually know how to clean. The process of screening candidates should include an assessment of these traits.
But first, you’ve got to find a prospect or two. Simply asking friends if they know of anyone who fits the bill might lead to finding the right person. If none of your friends can recommend anyone, local online or print classifieds often have a “services provided” section that house cleaners typically use for advertising. Craigslist, bulletin boards, and local free papers are other places to look.
Arrange a Meeting
Once you’ve got a line on someone, contact them to ask about their availability and what they typically charge. These are the first issues that can make or break the deal. If their availability doesn’t mesh with what you need, or if they charge more than you’re willing to pay, there’s no deal to be made.
If you come to acceptable terms on these points, a face-to-face meeting is the next step. Set up a time for the candidate to visit your home in order to give you a chance to discuss your needs as well as their qualifications.
Spend a little time preparing for this meeting. Think of a few carefully-worded questions that will help you to get a sense of the potential cleaner’s abilities and attitude. Your questions should be simple and respectful; an interrogation is not necessary and will scare the person off.
Appropriate things to ask include how many years experience the person has, their typical routine on a job, their attitude toward and responsiveness to feedback from clients, and whether the person considers him/her self to be a hard worker. Asking for two or three references (preferably other long-term clients) is a good idea as well.
Also think about what results you expect from a house-cleaning routine so you will be ready to explain to the candidate what you would like them to do.
Get to Know Them (a Little)
When the cleaner arrives for your meeting, show them through the house and discuss what specific tasks you consider important. Each person has a different idea of what constitutes a clean house. The cleaner should be able to break down a roster of possible tasks that clients typically like to have done, and the two of you would at this time hammer out the details of a cleaning regimen that will make you happy.
Ask the questions you’ve prepared either as you go along or at the end of the tour. Try to get a feel for the person’s character and temperament. Trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about the person, it’s perfectly ok to simply tell them you’ll have to think about it and show them to the door.
The meeting should take about fifteen to twenty minutes. By the end of that time, if you’ve asked good questions and had a well-prepared discussion about your expectations, you ought to know whether this is your house cleaner or if you need to keep looking.
The final details to consider, if you decide to hire the prospect, are things such as:
What day and time will they begin?
House cleaning jobs are usually done on a regular basis, such as weekly or every other week, and on the same day of the week each time. For example, you might agree that the cleaner will come over every other Tuesday morning at 9:00 and work until 1:00.
Do you provide supplies or do they?
If you provide supplies, ask if they have preferences with regard to products. If you have specific requirements about which products you prefer to be used on your surfaces, now is the time to talk about them.
What form of payment do they prefer?
Cash, check, Paypal? Better to know beforehand.
What’s their cancellation policy?
This works both ways. If you need to cancel for some reason, how much notice does the cleaner expect? What happens if the cleaner gets sick or can’t make it for some reason? This is also the time to discuss the best method of contact for each of you, for example texting or calling or e-mail.
Other things to consider might include whether the cleaner takes breaks (and if so, are they paid or unpaid), whether the cleaner will bring a lunch or if you’ll be expected to provide it, what method of entry the cleaner will use to get into your house if you’re not home, and whether your pets are allowed outside unsupervised.
If you’d prefer the cleaner not go into certain areas of the house, this is the time to say so. Iron out as many details as you can think of so the job will go as smoothly as possible on day one and each time thereafter.
If you’ve never before faced the prospect of hiring a house cleaner, these tips will lead you in the right direction. Your cleaning person should be someone you trust and can have a good relationship with (hopefully a lasting one). It takes time for a cleaner to become familiar with your home and your specific needs. Ultimately a long-term employee will do the best possible job.
Don’t hire anyone you’re not comfortable having in your home. Once you’ve settled on someone, be polite and respectful, but don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re not happy with the job they perform. A good house cleaner wants to know what will satisfy each and every client. Bear in mind, it might take a little time to establish a routine and get things into shape.
When you’ve hired someone else to do the heavy lifting, cleaning day should be your favorite day of the week. Taking the time to carefully search for the right person will net you this result. So take your time, conduct a well-thought-out search, and know that time spent searching for the best person to suit your needs will pay off in peace of mind, as well as a clean home.
Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.