Uhappy Customer CallWhat should you do when the service you are receiving from your home cleaning service is not up to par? How should you handle it; what steps should be taken?

Let’s face it; no one likes to make those phone calls, the ones where you have to complain to someone about what they are, or in this case likely aren’t, doing. It is human nature to not like confrontation; it would be much easier in a perfect world where everyone did what they should do, or at least what you think they should do.

However, sometimes “issues” will come up with dealing with a service oriented company. The fact is, in service businesses for now, it is people providing the service, not robots, so no matter how professional a home cleaning may be, no matter how great the recruiting, hiring, and training process may be; sometimes systems break down and items can fall between the cracks.

So, what do you do? First, give the situation some objective thought before you immediately pick up the phone to complain. Is this an isolated event; has the cleaning been good up until now, or is it an ongoing problem that has been building? Was the quality good; then, it began to taper off? Second, how much does it really matter to you; is it just a small item that you “just think should be done,” or is it a serious issue with overall quality?

If it is a one time isolated mishap, or likely over sight on the cleaning team’s part, then either email or call the service owner or manager directly. Let them know what as missed or specifically what you are not happy with; bring it to their attention. Any professional service should be overwhelmingly grateful for your gift! Yes, gift. If you are willing to take the time to discuss the issue and if you sincerely want it to improve or be addressed because you want to keep the service, then that should be taken as a gift. For every one client that takes the time to call and give input, there are 10 more un- happy clients who won’t bother to share, which is the only way real issues can be addressed and corrected.

If the service is overly defensive and challenges you on what you are telling them, then MOVE ON and find a new service. Let them know if it is just a simple issue you are bringing to their attention that you want addressed on the next visit, or if it is a serious quality issue which the service should address immediately by sending the team back. Give the service the chance to correct what was missed and move forward; if the same issue, or other serious issues, appears, move on and find another service.

All too often customers will let small issues go until those issues build up and then perhaps on a bad day all of the small issues that individually would not add up to much, all of a sudden become so much that the clients abruptly call and just cancel the service. This can be extremely frustrating to home cleaning companies that are working hard to build and run professional businesses that provide excellent service; the relationship after all must be a two way partnership if it is to be successful long term.

This information is brought to you by the Verified Home Cleaning Pro, an independent screening and verification program for professional home services. Service owners who enroll and participate in the program are required to meet stringent criteria and are screened and approved to be accepted into the program. Visit http://www.verifiedhomecleaningpro.com for complete information on the program and to locate a provider in your area. If you are a professional home cleaning company, contact us about enrolling today to ensure you are in the network of service owners in your area participating in this program.

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Does Being Bonded Really Matter

Does Being Bonded Really MatterA short simple answer, yes and no, is not really what you wanted to hear, but it is true. We will take a look at both sides because  this is that one question  most cleaning service customers seem to “know to ask.” In a recent Home Cleaner Magazine poll, 27% of professional cleaning service owners said they felt bonding creates a false sense of security for customers; another 49% said they feel that it somewhat does create a false sense of security, but that customers really do not understand what  being bonded means. Perhaps we can arm you with some new information here.

First,  bonding does protect customers who  may hire a cleaning service; it could offer protection and be a very good thing. Theft, although not a real problem for most professional cleaning services, can be a very serious problem when it does occur; this is what bonding covers. Most bonds (don’t call it a policy because it is not insurance) cover theft with the following conditions: If an employee steals, is arrested,  or tried and convicted, the bonding company will pay for the loss up to the amount of bond carried by the company.

In the real world where a case of theft occurs, this is not usually the case; however, in extreme cases it can cover big losses. This is specifically the reason it costs so little to bond an entire cleaning company, usually for less than $200 a year. There are some bonds that service owners can elect to carry that will pay without a conviction, but these bonds are pretty expensive.

In years past, before we entered the information age, bonding was much more important than it is now with our quick access to online information and  criminal background checks. Before all of those were an option, bonding did play an important role for protection when “a bad apple made its way into the bunch.” Now with technology, hiring is easier so cases of theft are lower than they once were.

However, the first question that most service owners get asked is “Are you bonded?” which translates to, “Is it safe for me to hire your company to clean my home?”  The real question should be, “Are you properly insured, including liability and worker’s compensation insurance?” Another great question would be “Who will be cleaning my home and how do you select, hire, and train workers?”

While bonding can be useful in an extreme, concrete case of theft and will pay to replace items stolen, it is by far not the most important question home owners should be asking  while getting estimates for cleaning service before  the key to their home is  handed over.

This information is brought to you by the Verified Home Cleaning Pro, an independent screening and verification program for professional home services. Service owners who enroll and participate in the program are required to meet stringent criteria and are screened and approved to be accepted into the program.  Visit www.verifiedhomecleaningpro.com  for complete information on the program and to locate a provider in your area. If you are a professional home cleaning company, contact us about enrolling today to ensure you are in the network of service owners in your area participating in this program.

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How Often Should You Have Your Home Cleaned

One of the questions often asked by home owners hiring a cleaning company for the first time is just that, “How often should I have you guys come?” From a service owner, the answer would be “everyday,” but all kidding aside, this can be a seemingly complicated decision. However, there is some advice which just might help.

Start with how often you clean your own home. Not  just a quick tidy up when friends or family are on the way over;  a real cleaning. The times you pull out the vacuum, roll up your sleeves, clean the bathrooms, and polish the furniture. The most important aspect of this part is to not try to fit into someone else’s mold. What is YOUR frequency?

Then, take a look at what all other family members do to either contribute to the over all cleanliness of the house; do they pitch in, or the contrary, do they add to the “mess”? You will need to look at all that can be done in-between cleaning visits realistically. Are the members of the household equally contributing to maintaining the space, or is the burden not evenly distributed? Perhaps the reason for bringing in outside professional help is to “balance out” the situation. Although cleaning services are not always recognized for this particular quality, it is fair to say the services provided have saved many marriages and contributed to happier homes!

You will also have to consider budget; maybe a weekly cleaning would be ideal, but you have to stay within a certain dollar amount. On average, a cleaning visit will typically cost around $85- $165 (this varies by geography and also size of the property to be cleaned). Most services will vary in price according to frequency and services wanted. Also, keep in mind that a bi-weekly, or monthly cleaning will usually cost more each visit than a weekly cleaning due to cleaning rotations and attention to detail. Pricing will also be determined by the level of service you want. Be sure to communicate clearly what your expectations are as well as what all the cleaning service you are interviewing provides.

Most professional cleaning services will provide regular service based on just about any schedule, including weekly, bi-weekly, every four weeks (monthly), and sometimes every three or six weeks. The most common cleaning schedule is service every two weeks (bi-weekly). If you spend “real” time cleaning your home every week or more than once a week, then a weekly schedule may be the best option for you and your home.

A good place to start with as great a length of time between cleanings as you can go; a cleaning every four weeks might accommodate budget and take care of your cleaning needs. If you find yourself grimacing, looking at the calendar, and counting down the days before the cleaning crew comes again, then you might want to talk with your service and increase the frequency of visits.

A good service should be able to easily walk you through the process, asking the right questions to get you set up with the best possible schedule to fit your needs.

This information is brought to you by the Verified Home Cleaning Pro, an independent screening and verification program for professional home services. Service owners who enroll and participate in the program are required to meet stringent criteria and are screened and approved to be accepted into the program.  Visit http://www.verifiedhomecleaningpro.com for complete information on the program and to locate a provider in your area. If you are a professional home cleaning company, contact us about enrolling today to ensure your area is covered

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Choosing the Right Home Cleaning Company and Ensuring Top Notch Service

Choosing the Right Service for Your HomeSo you are ready for a service to clean your home. Good for you! But, in addition to wanting top-notch service at a fair price, you may ask: “How can I trust someone in my home, or better yet, with a key to my house?” The demand for professional home cleaning services continues to grow. More and more people are realizing that outsourcing these, sometimes less than desirable tasks, can have a great return on investment. Often, the biggest pay off for hiring a home cleaning service is not just the time you are not cleaning, but the total time – and energy- you reclaim formerly spent dreading or avoiding cleaning.

Hiring a service to clean your home is a big decision, with many considerations. Trust is vital since it is, after all, your personal space. All too often customers are not asking the right questions or doing their homework.

Two Big Issues

Deal with a professional company – There are many persons or “private parties” that will clean your home and may do a good job. However, if you hire an individual rather than a company to clean your home and pay them a certain amount in a year; you are their employer. If they fail to pay proper taxes on the money you pay them, you could end up being liable (not to mention the next time you are up for a cabinet position, this is sure to end up all over CNN!) Also, if someone comes into your home to work for you, and is hurt or injured, you could be liable.

When you hire a professional maid service, you are, ideally, avoiding all these risks. The service owner should carry the burden of payroll taxes, Worker’s Compensation, and liability insurance. A professional service will also offer training for their employees. All of the risk and liability is no longer your responsibility as the customer. That kind of peace of mind is worth an extra $20. Isn’t it?

Go for professional, but not on image alone – Just because a business has glossy business cards, and a Web site that rivals Microsoft, you still need to do your homework. Keep these questions in mind when making your decision on which cleaning company to hire:

1.Who will be cleaning my house? Do they use employees or independent contractors? Whatever the answer is, you need reassurance that you are getting the protections that should come with a professional service. Do they use individuals or teams? Ask them why they use the model they do. Different business models work for different reasons. Just be sure the company you want to hire is doing it for the right reasons. The IRS has a useful guide on their Web site to determine what defines an employee and independent contractor relationship.
2.Do they perform criminal background checks and pre-screen employees? Every service should have a policy for background checks and pre-screening employees. With today’s technology, even the smallest company has access to low cost tools over the Internet. You will want to know the policy they follow and what their process is for due diligence when hiring.
3.Are they properly insured? Insurance includes general liability insurance and Workers Compensation. It does not hurt to ask for a copy of insurance certificates. As much as insurance costs, they should be more than happy to show it to you.
4.Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee? What does it entail? How long after the service is performed, do I have to call to report problems that need to be addressed? No matter how good a service is, or how great the employee training program, it is imperfect human beings cleaning the house. As the customer, you should have reassurance that if the team has a “bad day”, the company will make it right.
5.Who will have the key to my house? What is the policy? How can I be sure I am safe? This should be a huge concern, and most customers don’t think to ask this question. Are the keys signed out each day? How are the keys kept at other times? Where are they kept? Are they locked up? Who is responsible for them? If they were to be lost or stolen, are there any markings that identify where they go? Make sure there is nothing to identify your address on the key. Also, ask up front, in the event the key is lost or stolen, what is the replace / re-key policy?
6.”Are you bonded?” Please don’t ask this, and tell all of your friends, family, and loved ones that this is not the question to ask. All joking aside, don’t even bother asking this. It really means nothing except in extreme cases. How a bond works is that it is purchased (it is not insurance, but insurance agents issue them) usually for as little as $200 a year for a small company. Why is a bond so cheap? They are low in price because there are rarely any claims paid out on them. A bond will pay if an employee is caught stealing, is tried, and convicted. In the days before the information superhighway, thoroughly checking into a person’s background was beyond the means of most small companies. In years past, the hiring process was hard to navigate and “situations” would occur. With all of the tools available today, every small business owner has easy access to evaluate whom they are hiring to clean your home. With that being said, most home cleaning companies go ahead and buy the bond just simply because it is easier to spend the $200 bucks a year and politely answer when asked, “yes we are bonded”, rather than going into the above narrative. Also, just imagine how cool you will look when you are in a group discussing this at the cocktail party, when the subject of cleaning services comes up!
7.Are you both on the same page? All too often, the culprit of the cleaning service-customer relationship going south is a lack of communication. An astute cleaning service owner should walk you through what their service will do for you and your home and give you a clear picture of what you can expect. Be sure that you pay attention to what they tell you. Better yet, perhaps they have flashy print materials that also convey what their service can offer you. Everyone has their “hot buttons” (what clean means to them); what one person thinks is clean may not be “clean” to another person. It’s just human nature. For some people it is the bed made just the right way; for others, it is a clean sink. Figure out where you fall from one end to the other in the spectrum of being picky. If what really matters to you is not being done, bring it up. You should not simply assume that it will be done and that they should “just know”.
8.What should I do if I am not happy with the service I receive? Perhaps it is not until the first, second, or third cleaning that you discover what your cleaning “hot buttons” are. (Side note: pay attention to what these are. It can save you YEARS of therapy if you pay close attention to what they are).
I hope that some of these discoveries will be good things your professional maid service team has done that you did not expect to impact you the way they did. However, if you find “things” that grate your nerves, you should address them. Make sure it was not simply the day at the office that is affecting your perspective. CALL, express your concerns to the owner/ manager. Believe it or not, the most successful service owners APPRECIATE and welcome constructive criticism. It is the best way to build a better business, and professionals will see your input as a gift. If it is something small, let it slide until the next visit. If it does matter to you, then ask that they send the team back to correct it. They should be happy to do so as soon as reasonably possible. Remember, this is an intimate relationship and relationships require communication; relationships without communication fail!

Now you know what to ask (and you have a few other unsolicited pieces of life changing advice to boot). Ask the right questions; receive the great service you need and enjoy. It is sure to add to the quality of your life. A little insight: the best days will be when you forget the cleaning team is coming and you come home to a clean fresh smelling home … Nice!

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Flip the Seasons! Fall is the Best Time for a Deep Cleaning

Are You Ready to Do Your Fall Home CleaningOkay, this is just a guess but I would bet that most of you are not thinking about cleaning your windows and those dusty baseboards simply aren’t bothering you so much these days. Chances are you are more preoccupied with college football and thinking about the upcoming holidays which are already nipping at your heels.

Spring is usually the time most people think about a top to bottom cleaning, but if a thorough deep cleaning really gets your senses stimulated in the spring and if the very thought of a professional cleaning crew doing the work excites you even more, you will love this: you will get more “bang for your buck” if you have the cleaning done (or do it yourself) in the fall. And that cleaning (as well as your excitement) will last longer.

Now, I know this goes against what you have been taught by those who came before you who were supposed to know these things. Your mother, her mother, and her mother’s mother would all go into the action at a particular date on the calendar; maybe your dad even got into spring cleaning mode and whipped the garage into an unrecognizable ship shape. The way they did it is not necessarily the way you should. Spring cleaning is a misnomer! Fall is by far the best time for a thorough cleaning. The concept of spring cleaning came about during the times when homes were closed up as tightly as they could be for winter, and sources of heating were dirty fuels such as coal, wood, and oil. All of which left soot, and many other things that seem unimaginable to us now, all over everything in the home; then, it would have only made sense that when the weather changed and the house was about to be opened up that the rugs, bedding and draperies needed to be taken out and beaten to rid them of the soot and ash. The walls, ceilings and floors all had to be washed top to bottom: the windows had to be cleaned so they would be clear.

Due to modern technology, we do not heat our homes the same way, but most homes are still “shut up tightly” for the winter. If you are following the old clean-everything-that-doesn’t-move-and-even-some-things-that-do in the spring, you are not getting the best return on your time or your money if you have it done professionally. Many times even right after a “spring cleaning” is performed, it is too tempting to leave those doors and windows open to let in the wonder of spring. That fresh air smells wonderful and the temperatures are nicer than any AC could ever hope to deliver, but along with the good, comes the pollen, the dust, and the dirt!

So, break out of those old patterns, do your Fall cleaning and make it last. An added bonus is that your home will be holiday ready much earlier and much easier.

This information is brought to you by the Verified Home Cleaning Pro, an independent screening and verification program for professional home services. Service owners that enroll and participate in the program are required to meet stringent criteria and are screened and approved to be accepted into the program. Visit http://www.verifiedhomecleaningpro.com for complete information on the program and to locate a provider in your area. If you are a professional home cleaning company, contact us about enrolling today to ensure your area is covered.

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