Congratulations! You have finally arrived at the point in life where you are ready to hire someone to clean your house. You have worked long and hard to get here. Just as you have taken yourself seriously to earn the money to hire someone, you should take your search for a housekeeper seriously as well. Here are the questions to answer before hiring anyone.
Should you hire a professional service or a “trusted” employee of a friend?
It is tempting to consider hiring the woman who cleans the home of your cousin Marie. After all, Marie is satisfied with her, knows her, and it seems the easy choice. But is it the wisest choice? You only know what Marie knows about this person, and whether the person is well-mannered and cleans thoroughly is only part of the inquiry. Unless you run a service business yourself, you are likely an amateur at conducting background checks. And if Marie’s housekeeper gets sick, she won’t be able to make it, whereas a professional service can provide a replacement. For safety and reliability, a business is often the better choice.
Assuming that you will be hiring a cleaning business, rather than an individual, here are the other questions to ask:
Does the business run criminal background checks on all its employees?
You should ask whether the company does this, and whether they repeat the checks periodically. Which background service do they use? This is important to protect both your property and YOU. You don’t want to be alone in your house with someone who has a criminal history of assault.
Who is going to be in your home?
Will it be the same people each time? You may not be comfortable with a new group of people entering your home every week. If it will be the same crew, will the company let you know if there will be a change in the makeup of the crew? Check their policy on letting you know.
Do they carry insurance?
A reputable and responsible company will carry several types of insurance.
Property Damage insurance will protect the company against a claim you may make if, for example, your antique vase is broken when the cleaning service employee backs up to a shelf while vacuuming.
Insurance against theft is sometimes known as a fidelity bond, and protects the cleaning company against a claim you may make for theft of money or valuables. Of course, don’t leave your valuables out, no matter who is visiting your home! Potential thieves rarely open drawers or cabinets, but they may be tempted by a necklace left out on a counter.
Workers’ compensation: This insurance covers a worker who is injured on the job. Laws vary by state, but you want to make sure that the employees are covered. A protected employee is a more satisfied employee and you don’t want someone disgruntled in your home.
What do others say about them?
You should check with business review sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau. Do a Google search for “complaints about ____________.” To be fair, keep in mind that not all complaints are legitimate. Also disgruntled people tend to write reviews more often than satisfied people, so don’t automatically dismiss a service just because they received a negative review. It’s how the company responded to the review, or whether it respond at all, that is just as important.
Look out for the company’s reputation for taking responsibility if they break or damage something. Mistakes happen, even when people are trying to be careful, but the question is, do they own up to it and cure the problem.
Is the price too good to be true?
No one likes to spend money if they don’t have to. You may think, this is a cleaning service, it’s not a nanny, so you want a bargain. But think about it. How hard did you have to work to afford your furniture, your appliances? If your kitchen floor is ruined, how much money and effort will it take to get it fixed, even if the cleaning service acknowledges that they made a mistake? What about the dining room table that your grandmother gave you when you were just starting out? The wrong furniture polish, or a careless scratch caused by a dropped candlestick can cause a scar that will be difficult to fix.
Often a company is cheap because it pays its workers peanuts and drives them to work as fast as possible so they can move on to the next job. Employees have little commitment to the employer or the work, and turnover is high. That is NOT the formula to get loving care for your precious home and objects.
So, do your research, make the hire, and enjoy your new-found freedom from mopping and dusting!
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN LIVING SAFER MAGAZINE.