Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do Homework Before Hiring A Housekeeper

For most homeowners hiring a maid service is a luxury. If you decide it's worth the splurge, do some homework before you hire so you don't wind up in a nightmare situation with someone who has access to your home.  First, decide what you want from a housekeeper or maid service. You might expect someone to clean your windows, inside and out, every month, and to vacuum under the bed and couches.  You might want your housekeeper to move your books and knickknacks for dusting, and put them back as  before.  Or you might need help with the laundry and ironing, changing the sheets or sweeping the porches and driveway.

Chances are those services aren't part of the standard package that includes a good cleaning of the kitchen, bathrooms, floors and furniture. Some services might agree to do your special jobs for an extra fee, and some might not offer them at all. So the more specific you are about what you want before you choose a maid, the better the chance that you'll get what you want.

Next, search for reputable, trustworthy service that has been in business a while and that comes highly recommended by friends, family or neighbors. If you go with the company, choose one that does background checks on its employees, has insurance, bonds its housekeepers and has a valid local business license.  Ask what the company's insurance covers: theft; accidental damage to your possessions; rekeying in case the maid loses her house keys; flooding caused by a housekeeper who forgets to turn off a faucet; on-the-job accidents? 

Third, talk about price. Ask neighbors with same size homes how much they pay so you'll have a benchmark.  But don't be surprised if your price fluctuates with the frequency of your service (you'll probably pay less per visit for weekly service than if you have someone come just once a month) or because your family is larger than your neighbors or because you have pets. 

Then, ask for and check references. Start with the Better Business Bureau to learn if any homeowners have filed complaints about the services you are considering. Call customers to ask if they have any complaints, if the maids are reliable and thorough and if they would recommend the service to others. Once you've narrowed down your selection to a couple, dig a little deeper. Some questions to ask:

  • Will the maids bring their own vacuum cleaners, dusters and cleaning products, or use yours?
  • Does the service use echo friendly cleaning supplies, or harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia? Are the products safe for children and pets?
  • What is the procedure if you have a complaint? How does the company resolve problems between homeowners and housekeepers?
  • How will the company ensure you're getting high quality service? Will the manager inspect your home after it is been cleaned?
  • Will the service honor your request to send the same maids every time-or to stop sending someone you don't like? If you're not comfortable with someone who comes to your home, you should have the right to ask for someone else.
Finally, write it all down. If you decide to work with a housecleaning service, the company will draw up a contract that covers your agreement. If you hire an individual, it's a good idea for you to write a contract on your own for the two of you to sign. Hiring a housekeeper is just the beginning of your relationship with the stranger who'll have the run of your house-possibly while you're not at home. 

Once you settle on a service or an individual, arranged to spend most of your housekeeper's first visit talking instead of cleaning.  Explain your expectations, show them maid around, set ground rules about off-limits rooms, point out which fragile items she should handle with care.  Make it clear whether it's okay for her to talk on the phone, turn on the TV or stereo, or bring a helper or even her children to your house during her shift.  Talk often. If you're not happy with something your housekeeper does, say so. And allow her to approach you with suggestions or questions.

Many homeowners employ their housekeeper for years. Hire thoughtfully and treat your employees fairly and with respect, and you may never have to repeat the process-because you will be working with a keeper.

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*Article written by Rosie Romero for The Arizona Republic

1 comment:

  1. Doing a bit of research and asking around will really do wonders in getting the right housekeeping service that fits your needs. It may sound like a bit of a hassle, but it’s better to have that now than discover that you hired a nightmare maid from hell later on.