Post Updated Aug 2019
You can have the perfect location, a well appointed, gorgeous home and guests lining up around the block to stay there, but without a great cleaner, you’ve got nothing.
Sure, a lot of people just starting out will try their hand at cleaning themselves and yet, it can be a tedious task over time and if you decide to leave town or want to scale your business, you will definitely need someone to tag in, so this is an important skill for all.
So let’s get started: Where do you find them?
I used to hire single folks from Craigslist and still do in a jam, but the first place I suggest these days is a Vacation Rental Cleaning Service. A quick search on google may turn up a few options in your town, but if it doesn’t I also recommend trying out Yelp or Angieslist. Sure, a cleaning company may charge a little overhead for hiring, training, and scheduling staff but the benefits are: having more than one cleaner if someone is sick, more flexibility/availability in scheduling, and a company backing up the work just in case the person does a poor job (they can send someone else out to fix or finish the job).
*Please note: Vacation Rental cleaners and regular monthly house cleaners are completely different animals, it may be very difficult to hire a normal cleaner for an Airbnb job.
Whether you are making an ad or just inquiring over the phone, it’s important to set expectations.
Here are some important questions to ask to see if they are a good fit for your needs:
-Are they available every day of the week?
-Can they be available during the cleaning window? Typically 11am to 3 or 4pm depending on size of the home.
-Can they do short notice? If not, how much lead time do they need?
-Do they have a team (alternates to cover if someone is sick or out of town)? If it a single person, would they be willing to hire/train a friend to help them if you give them more business?
-Can you schedule with them by text/email? My software sends automated messages to my cleaners for scheduling, cancellations, and alterations to the schedule. You can also just forward booking notifications you receive to use for scheduling. It’s nice to save time and try to automate as much as possible.
-Can they invoice you to get paid? This makes it easy so that I don’t have to keep track of whether they had cleaned that day and whether or not they have been paid yet. Make sure you set an expectation of how often you will pay, some people are antsy to get paid same day and that just doesn’t work for us, we pay 1x a week. I tell them we can do weekly, biweekly or monthly payments. I also prefer to pay via credit card (points/miles) or Paypal. I am not in the same location as many of my properties so I have to be able to pay digitally (rather than cash or check), it’s also much easier to keep track of for taxes.
-You may want to ask what sort of training they do and what their policy is around deep cleaning for vacation rentals. My local Boulder team rotates deep cleaning rooms of the home depending on the week of the month so the home is not just surface cleaned. My team lead leaves a laminated sheet in the homes and makes the cleaners sign it with a dry erase pen next to what they did and send a photo along with photos of the home after each clean. She really cracks the whip and I love it! Here’s the sheet they use.
Whether they want to come to the home to give a quote or can do so over the phone:
-Make sure they understand you need a set price for every time. Sometimes it will be barely used and other times more dirty. They need an average price that works for them.
-This price needs to include laundry. I don’t care if they do it at the property, take it home or at a laundromat, but it is their responsibility and I don’t want items mixed with other homes (unless it is a luxury home, the items can be left going in the dryer). There always needs to be enough towels left in the home for the amount of maximum guests. If there is an air mattress or pull out couch, there needs to be bedding there for that just in case. (*I recommend my clients have 3 sets of sheets per bed and towels for the home, just in case the cleaners get backed up on laundry.)
-Oh Laundry. Laundry is the nemesis of our industry. It is ideal to have a washer/dryer in the home and yet, even if you do, if you have larger homes, you may want to get a laundry service for the extra sheets and towels because a load can take so long. I have also heard of owners getting a second dryer to speed up the process. While a laundry service can sound convenient, it can be expensive and the cleaners have to pick it up and drop it off, which may result in higher fees as well. It may just be worth it to pay them to sit with a book and wait.
-Inventory. Depending on the size of the home you may ask the cleaners to inventory the amount of sheets and towels in the home and if laundry is not taken offsite, to have them count it every time. This may sound excessive but sheets and towels disappear and it allows you to know which guests to charge.
-Timing for cleans: 1 bedroom is 1hr-90mins, 2 bedroom: 90mins-2hrs, 3 bedroom: 2.5-3hrs. 4 bedroom: 3.5-4hrs., etc.
-Pricing: Hiring single cleaners from Craigslist you can pay $20-30/hr. For cleaning companies $35-45/hr is standard, beware of companies that charge more.
Depending on where you hire the person from, they may require more or less training.
A good half of the properties that I manage are not located in the town where I live, so many people like to ask how you can hire and trust cleaners from afar? First, when I am hiring, I lay a hard line of 3 complaints and you’re out. The great thing about running an Airbnb or Vacation Rental is that your guests will tell you when a clean is unsatisfactory.
If I have more than one property in an area, I like to have a head person in charge, whether it is a contact at the cleaning company or someone I have hired off Craigslist who has proved their dependability and skill, and has agreed to hire and train the newcomers. I work with this person to decide how we want to track the cleans.
Here are some options.
-Have checklists. I have seen some places have a checklist in a binder that is kept in each home that cleaners can reference. I use an app called Properly for some properties. It has digital checklists, refers cleaners in the area, and can store pictures, but there is a monthly fee for the service.
-Require photos. We require some photos in Properly and my Boulder head cleaner requires photos of every room for every clean. She uses Slack to track that. I think it is incredibly useful to have photos to reference if there is ever an issue with a guest. I’ve unfortunately run into guests who try to create issues to get comped stays.
Sure your cleaner will make the bed, wipe the counters, and scrub the toilet each time, but what about cleaning the windows, wiping the fan blades, and dusting the floor boards? It’s important to come up with some way to track this.
You can have deep cleaning checklists, thorough regular checklists, or brainstorm other methods with your team. I’d be happy to hear how you guys do it in the comments below as this a common question people grapple with.
Another thing that helps in this department, is having different cleaners service your property. If it is the same person every time, they may get in a groove and always do it the same way, another person will deep clean different areas which can be really helpful.
Prepping the Home
*Most importantly your cleaners must understand that the home is to always be left “Guest Ready”, even if they think a handyman is coming or they might come back later. Leaving a place unfinished can cause problems. *
Make sure a part of your checklists or training explains how you want the home to be left. Do you leave towels on the bed? Do you like them folded a certain way? Chocolate on the pillow? Wine and glasses out? House manual on the coffee table? All these instructions are important to detail specifically, leaving items for the cleaner to figure out will leave more room for error. In Properly we have photos from the listing in the checklist so they can stage it exactly as it is advertised.
Restocking the home
For most of the properties, I have the cleaner notify me when we are low on items and I have them ordered from Target.com and mailed to the home. Make sure they let you know when there are 4 rolls of toilet paper left, not one.
Here is the list that I have them check every time.
-Shampoo, Conditioner, BodyWash (every shower)
-Hand Soap (every sink)
-Makeup Removing Wipes (saves your towels)
-DIshwasher soap (if applicable)
-Sponges (I recommend that each home has a reusable dish brush, sponges go bad quickly if they are used for dishes instead of just counters)
-All Purpose Cleaner
Do you have any cleaning, hiring, training tips to share? Leave them in the comments below.
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