How to choose the best house cleaning or maid company

Before we started this house cleaning business, we were occasional clients of various maids services.  Our experience was frequently inconvenient, cumbersome, and hit-or-miss.  It took forever to figure out what the price would be, the cleaners were late, and the results were uninspiring. 

Now, after having serviced hundreds of clients in Las Vegas, we have a much better idea as to what ingredients go into a great house cleaning experience.  The first time is always a bit traumatic for the client: inviting strangers into your home, trusting them with your possessions, paying them a lot of money, with very specific and frequently unexpressed expectations.  So, how does one choose the best  house cleaning or maid company?

  1. Basics first.  Does the house cleaning company have all proper licenses and insurance? Here in Vegas, there are licensing requirements by both city and state.  We were surprised that some companies don't have one, another, or both! Why is proper licensing important? The house cleaning businesses - as all others - are regulated. The licensing fees are costly.  But if the maid company is serious about obeying the laws and playing by the rules, it will pay those fees.  Whether someone has paid those fees or not is easy to check online: just google business registration for the city and for the state.
  2. Insurance is even more critical for the house cleaning business.  Your house cleaning company should have both general liability (think you slipped on the mopped floor and broke your hip, or maid accidentally dropped antique heirloom or dinged your expensive floors) and worker's compensation (think maid fell in your home while working).  Depending on your state's law, the maid maybe considered your employee, especially if her true employer didn't have the worker's compensation coverage.  Even if neither of you intended it that way, you pay cash, and she used her own equipment. I would highly recommend asking your house cleaning company to provide a copy of the policies before any work.
  3. Is the work guaranteed?  I love Costco. Their products are high quality but if something goes wrong and I'm not happy, I know I can get my money back.  One time I've returned a tray of sushi which tasted suspicious.  Costco accepted it without batting an eyelid.  And it gets thousands of dollars each year from me, my family, and our business shopping there.  Your house cleaning company should offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  It's a tough promise to carry out.  Maids work hard, but every client's expectation is subjective and sometimes the results fall short.  It's an honorable (albeit expensive) thing to do - return your client's money.  Some cleaning companies - especially the ones that charge extremely low prices - are not in the position to stand by their work. In that respect, you can decide: whether to pay $100 for the service you're unhappy about or $200 for your guaranteed happiness?  
  4. Speaking of prices.  House cleaning companies charge either hourly rates of flat fees.  Our house cleaning service is not the cheapest (although there are several competitors that charge 20-30% more than we do), but our prices - and so are prices of the others - are dictated by the time and manpower we spend on each cleaning.  The house that was cleaned by 3 people for four hours will look much different than one cleaned by 1 person for two.  The latter will look like something you could've done yourself, for free.  If your house doesn't need a lot of cleaning and you just need a little bit of touch up here and there but don't have time, then hourly service will make more sense.  Our clients want to see fantastic results and drastic difference from the starting point.  Whether because the house is vacant and needs to be prepared for new residents, or their personal standards and expectations are generally high. In this case, the flat rates make more sense as they give you predictability and focus on the results.
  5. What products does the company use?  Our house cleaning company is eco-friendly.  Generally, we don't use harsh chemicals.  However, when the house has been neglected for awhile, especially in move-outs, we do use heavier stuff than we do for general cleaning.  Some cleaners are using excessive amount of heavy-duty chemicals that are harmful to your health or cause property damage.  It's important to understand exactly what will be used in your home. Better safe than sorry.
  6. How's the customer service?  House cleaning company is supposed to make your life easier.  That's why you're hiring them.  Responsiveness and good customer service should be a must.  If the availability is inconsistent, it takes a long time to hear from them, or your messages are not being responded to, it's probably not worth the aggravation.  After all, you want to find the company that is professional, quick, and on the ball about everything.  Because that's how you deserve to be treated and that's how you want your home to be treated too.
  7. Social responsibility.  Last, but definitely not least, is how is the company treating its employees?  Are they distressed, overwhelmed and struggling?  Possibly illegal immigrants or other people being taking advantage of?  Or are they happy, thriving, singing, smiling and clearly enjoying their work?  Assuming most companies want to make profit, how much do you think they are paying the workers based on what you had to pay?  The work is hard and it deserves much higher wages than minimal wage.  The latter doesn't allow for a decent life and that causes their financial problems and distress.  Do the right thing and choose the companies that do so too.