Short Version: Research, a bit of perseverance and asking the right questions.
As the demand for cleaners increase, I wrote this in the hope some may glean some practical tips on finding a cleaner and what to ask and look out for in a cleaning service.
Initial Advice - before you start looking.
- Don’t start looking when you’re desperate. Where possible, give yourself time to get in the quotes and speak to the different cleaning services. This is especially important for holiday let owners, I strongly advise you to start teeing up your cleaners for the following season just as soon as the current one ends. These cleaners get snapped up and locked down very quickly.
- Look for a domestic cleaner towards the end of September beginning of October. Lots of cleaners are laid off after the holiday season has ended, if it’s worked carefully and you show flexibility you will probably be able to keep your cleaner when the new season starts up again the following April.
- Change contracts with the season. this is a good time to change cleaning contracts again because there are experienced cleaners looking for work and cleaning companies have their pick of staff and are easily able to find staff for any new positions that need to be filled.
There are basically two approaches to finding a cleaner, personally I would use a bit of both. There is The Personal Approach and The Remote Approach.
The Personal Approach: Talking to people.
- Speak to your local estate agents. These guys have their finger on the pulse regarding local cleaning companies and the cleaners who they contract out themselves. Estate Agents have multiple cleaning companies they call on for both small and large jobs. These cleaners are more likely to be flexible as they have to be for the agents.
- Speak to your friends, family, work colleagues, other small businesses, you will be surprised how many actually use domestic/cleaning services, if not they may know someone who does and where the hidden gems lie. There’s nothing that tops a sincere personal recommendation, once you have that personal recommendation, do ask questions and probe for more information to see if they meet your cleaning requirements.
For micro or small businesses ask your local businesses as they usually have strong recommendations either way on their current cleaners. Personally I think it’s better to employ locally or as close as you get as this brings down the cost of cleaning.
This is due to travel cost as your smaller cleaning services would have to add fuel and time to travel on to quote if they live further away.
- Network events are also a great source of info, even if it just something as mundane as finding out what cleaning services other networkers use and whether they are any good, drop it into the conversation you will be surprised the info you can get.
The Remote Method: Searching Online.
- The usual google search methods apply, look-up ‘Cleaning Services Cornwall’ for example and plow through all the cleaning companies.
- If there is one that catches your eye and you cannot get through on the phone, make sure you drop a text/email. Why? Because cleaning services in high demand are busy but are totally worth the extra effort, and are more likely to get back to you and quote.
- Gumtree is great for individual cleaners and the smaller cleaning businesses, though be warned it can be hit and miss.
- Facebook – Lone cleaners and smaller businesses may not have their own website but showcase their services here. Instagram is a great way to find cleaners as they post their work and you can get a feel for their business pictorially and the type of work they do.
- Lastly, there are ‘find a service’ web sites where the businesses pay for leads, it’s handy as a consumer to be able to get lots of quotes, but as I’m sure you are aware cheaper is not always best, so do your research and ask the proper questions.
The Different Types of Cleaners
There are two main routes you can go down, the Self Employed cleaner or a Cleaning Company. What a dilemma, there are pros and cons to both. I know which one I would go for, but I’m definitely biased but we will give a fair review!
The Self-Employed Cleaner
- On the whole usually local in your immediate area
- Dealing with one person
- Easy to contact
- Hourly rate, on the whole, a lot cheaper as fewer overheads
- Personal relationship direct, no red tape.
- No holiday/sickness cover
- Health and Safety not as rigorous
- Having to deal with negative issues directly with the cleaner
- Hit and miss with the standard of cleaning
The Professional Cleaning Company
- Cleaner trained and sourced for you
- Holiday and sickness cover
- Cleaner on a probationary period (so if does not suit you can ask for someone else)
- If you are not quite happy, any issues dealt with by the cleaning company and put right.
- Generic high standard of cleaning due to in-house training standards.
- Approved and safe cleaning products
- Terms and Conditions Guarentee
- The cleaning rate is usually much higher due to overheads e.g, training, uniform, holiday pay, health, and safety, etc, especially if VAT registered.
- Some (not as) of the bigger companies are impersonal and may send out a different cleaner each week so standard may fluctuate.
- Some (not as) may run their business on a self-employed cleaners
Questions to ask your cleaner/cleaning service
- Do you have insurance? Cleaning services under 5 staff should have at least Public Liability Insurance.
- Do you charge by the job or an hourly rate?
- What is the job/hourly rate?
- Are cleaning supplies/equipment included, this can make a difference of a £2 an hourly on an hourly rate.
- Is it a pickup and drop service as and when required or does it have to be contracted.
- What flexibility is there?
- Do you cover holiday and sickness if required?
- Are you prepared to do a work trial? This is to see if they are a good fit or get the right member of staff.
Most cleaning services will probably want to meet up to see the site first, which would be a good time to size each other up and see if you can actually do business together.
I wish you well in finding your perfect cleaning service! The key is, once you have your cleaning service, is communication from the outset and stating clearly from the beginning your requirements written down if possible. I cannot stress enough if you are unhappy and it’s not quite right to get it out there and speak up!
Also, if you need a place to start and are based in Cornwall, take a look at our cleaning services.