January, 10 2015
Housekeeping as an industry is plagued by the awful urban legend that house cleaning is easy. The legend goes something like this: "Cleaning houses is easy, it takes almost no skill. Therefore, running a housekeeping business must also be easy. When they mess something up in my house, it just means the housekeeping service is no good. For the money I am paying them, things should be perfect every time they clean. If they can't do such a simple thing correctly, they must be totally stupid. After all, how hard could it be?"
For those who don't know any better, the popularity of this urban legend is understandable. After all, most housekeeping clients cleaned their own houses for years before they choose to engage a service. They think they know the time it takes to clean their house and they think they know the amount of work required. On the balance, they have been satisfied with the results they provided themselves. Even if they would have liked their house a little cleaner, they satisfice in the interest of time and required effort. In the 8+ year history of our company, we have only encountered one client who cleaned her house as well as we did. She is truly one in a thousand.
We are now going to let you in on a little secret: running a housekeeping business is exceptionally difficult. When we first encountered this fact during our first year, we were totally caught off guard: how can this possibly be this hard? We too were victims of the Cleaning is Easy urban legend. As we contemplated closing the business, we analyzed the elements that made such a simple thing so challenging. Since we fight the effects of the urban legend everyday, we thought it appropriate to shine some light on it. Who knows, perhaps someone trying to start a housekeeping business will be able to get an idea of what they are getting into.
The reality is that professional house cleaning is physically hard work that last all day long, 5 days per week. The teams that clean your home deal with traffic, dozens of client specific request and accommodations, pets, the high standards of their company, and all sorts of client imposed obstacles to getting their job done.
When you are cleaning for a client (as opposed to yourself) it requires high-level attention to detail, a rapid pace, flexibility, judgement, and a good attitude. Finding these qualities in a person who is willing to clean other peoples houses for pay is anything but easy. We wont go into the details here, but the people who clean your house week-in and week-out are cut from a special sort of cloth. They may not be the most technically skilled, but we are constantly amazed at their perserverance, attitudes, and subtle understanding of what makes a house cleaning truly great.
Starting and running any business involving employees is the exact opposite of easy. A housekeeping business is harder than most. This is for a variety of reasons, mostly related to the quantity of uncontrollable variables that must be faced to actually get the service delivered. The two most glaring challenges are staffing (solvable) and client attitudes (generally unsolvable). Next in line come an over abundence of low-cost competitors and typically extreme resource constraints.
Everyone makes mistakes, even the most uptight client. Stupidity has nothing to do with it. 99% of the mistakes people take us to task for have nothing to do with the actual cleaning of their home. They typically have to do with things like: "They put the rugs in the wrong places," "They forgot to clean the room they normally don't clean, and "They showed up late." The amount of specific per-house details our teams have to keep in mind over the course of hundreds of cleanings each month is staggering. The conditions they work under are difficult. A client gets upset if they are 15 minutes late, not realizing they are 15 minutes late because the client before them asked for something extra or forgot to unlock the house for them. Nothing stupid about that at all.
We agree that your house should be as perfectly clean and sanitized as possible given the variables specific to your home. We have found that perfection is a Chimera and it has little to do with excellence, especially at a reasonable price point.
You may be able to live with the results of a two hour house cleaning but I guarantee you do not do what our teams do in two person-hours. To give you some idea, our average first time cleaning takes around 9 person-hours to complete and we have seen them as long as 15. Our teams are not slow, in fact they are probably around three times faster than you are. They are just doing a whole lot more actual cleaning.
If you devoted the same amount of time to cleaning your house as we do, this may be correct. We know you would be better able to re-place your possessions in the correct places, and arrange you magazines exactly how you best like them. "Could" and "Would" are worlds apart from actually "Did".
If you live in or near Boulder, Broomfield, Erie, Lafayette or Louisville, Colorado and have any questions about any housekeeping myths or realities, feel free to contact us.
If you are not 100% satisfied, we will return and make it right. If you are still not satisfied, you will receive a full refund with our thanks.
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