Are you insured?  How long have you been in business?  Are you bonded?  These are just a few of the questions one must consider before hiring a maid service.   Unfortunately during these hard economic times, the question that seems to be asked a great deal more is “how much does it cost.”  Even though cost is definitely a factor, before hiring a home cleaning service it is important to be an educated consumer.

Since it is extremely easy to start a home cleaning business, it is even easier to be is a misleading and dishonest.   Therefore, it is very important for anyone choosing a potential housekeeper to be both educated and aware of all the questions and obligations that go with making such a decision.

How long have you been in business?

While every cleaning business has to start sometime, it is important to think in terms of experience and dependability.  When a maid service has been in business for many years you know they will still probably be there tomorrow.  Plus, with years of service comes the knowledge of good sound cleaning practice.  Nothing equals the peace of mind you have when you know your housekeeper knows what they are doing.

Do you have references?

References can definitely be a useful resource when choosing the right cleaning professional to clean your home.  However, while a potential maid may in fact have excellent references there is unfortunately an inherent risk.  For instance, how do you know who it is you are really talking to when you contact a housekeepers provided references.  For all you know some ones references may in fact be their mother, sister or best friend.  It is for this very reason why many people choose a legitimate company that provides a service guarantee.

Do you have a guarantee?

Every reputable company will guarantee their work.  Depending on the company policy, most cleaning services will gladly come back and fix any areas they missed at no extra charge to the customer.  However, it is usually a standard requirement that you contact your cleaning service within a certain amount of time if you find an issue.

Are you insured?

While cleaning your home your maid inadvertently leaves the water running in your upstairs bathroom.  The result is $50,000 dollars of water damage that has to be repaired.  If you hired a housekeeper without adequate coverage, or no coverage, you will now be filling a claim with your home owners insurance.   All reputable home cleaning services will have at least $1,000,000 in liability insurance to cover the actions of its workers.  Always ask for proof that their insurance is current and ask to receive confirmation directly from their insurance company.  This is considered common practice in the home cleaning industry and is gladly provided.

Are you bonded?

If you believe that bonding will protect your possessions and assets from a dishonest housekeeper, think again.  Bonds can be purchased by just about anyone for less than $100.00 and are relatively meaningless.  Bond companies will only reimburse you for stolen property if there is a conviction, and that rarely occurs.  In fact, bond companies are notorious for not paying out damages.  Unless you are watching your maid clean your house there will always be uncertainty, and it’s your word against theirs.

Do you do criminal background checks?

No reputable cleaning company will hire someone who has a record.  For that matter, you should never let anyone into your home without getting that assurance in writing.  If you are hiring someone who does not own a licensed cleaning businesscheck with your local authorities to see if there have been any complaints.

As we saw this October in the terrible shooting in Brookfield, Wisconsin at the Azana Salon there can be risks that we can never fully envision when hiring even the most outstanding worker.  Something that home cleaning companies never tell you is the fact that while they can legally perform background checks on potential employees there is no provision for spouses or close relations.  Your maid may be a wonderful housekeeper and a good person, while their husband is wanted for grand larceny.  To protect yourself and your family I strongly recommend thoroughly examining any potential candidate.

What happens if you or your employee gets hurt while cleaning?

Cleaning companies that have employees are required by law to have workman compensation insurance.  If any worker gets injured on the job, it the cleaning companies financial responsibility and not the customer.  If you are hiring a maid on your own, you are responsible financially for any injury that occurs.

How well does your company treat its employees? Do you get benefits, a living wage etc?

There are many companies out there that charge a hefty price for their cleaning services while paying their employees peanuts.   Even though businesses have a right to earn a profit, you get what you pay for.  If you don’t take care of your employees they are not going to be motivated to do good work.  If you are considering using a particular company, search the internet for information on how they treat their employees.  This is also important when considering employee turnover.  If the company you use does not retain their workers it can mean a lower quality of work.

Do you clean alone or with a partner?  

Even though there is nothing wrong with hiring a single housekeeper that works alone, there are safety considerations that must be taken into account.  For instance, when a company sends more than one maid to your house, if an accident happens there is help on the premises.  The other maid can call the paramedics.  This is not so much of an issue if you plan on being present during the cleaning.  Also, if you expect your housekeeper to move light furniture, to clean underneath, it is recommended by healthcare professionals that two people work together when moving large objects.

Do you charge a flat rate or by the hour? 

Unless there is some special reason for doing so, always hire a home cleaning service that charges you a flat rate.  The reason why this is so important has to do with what you will end up paying as a final price.  When you are paying your housekeeping staff a flat rate, there will not be any attempt to pad the bill by working slower and dragging out the project.   A seasoned maid will know how long it will take to complete a cleaning and will quote you accordingly.  If circumstances change and it becomes necessary to charge additional fees, as a courtesy to the customer this should be addressed before and not after the start of any cleaning.

Will I need to sign a contract?

Some companies require you to sign a service contract before any cleaning takes place.  As a rule this is a good practice as it protects you as well as the company.  Before signing any cleaning contract, make sure that you go over it thoroughly and clarify any questions you may have.

If you clean my house, would you mind washing my marble floor with vinegar? 

This is a trick question.  You should never ever use vinegar on marble.  Vinegar is acidic and will etch marble surfaces.  For your protection ask a few trick questions.  An honest cleaning company trains its employees to know proper cleaning practices.  Take a look at our list of trick questions and test your housekeeper knowledge.

Selecting a good cleaning service can be very tricky.  It truly is a hit or miss process. When you do finally make the decision to bring in cleaning help never make the mistake of avoiding the IRS and all of their tax regulations.  Many people assume that no one will ever find out that they are paying someone under the table to clean their home.  “How will the government ever find out we aren’t paying taxes” they say.  True, there is a chance the IRS will never discover your secret.  But why take the chance when you can protect yourself.  During these hard economic times when lawsuits and theft are so commonplace, make sure you make the right decision.  There are hundreds of affordable cleaning companies out there that are insured and respectable. Protect the home you have worked so hard for by asking all of the right questions.

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