Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dependable, Honest, Consistent And CHEAP?

"What do you charge to clean a house?", said the potential customer.

"Well, it's hard to provide you with a quote without first knowing what you are looking for. So, tell me what you are looking for in a housecleaner", said the maid service manager.

The potential customers responds by saying, "I am looking for someone that is dependable, honest, consistent and cheap."

It was hard not to laugh. Because it ain't gonna happen. It's a myth. An oxymoron. There is no such thing as a cheap, dependable, honest and consistent maid.

The reason is simple. Money talks. You might be willing to offer your services for cheap. And you might tell your customers that you're honest, dependable and consistent. But the reality is that you can't be all those things. The money just won't allow you to be all those things.

Because at some point, another customer is going to be willing to pay your maid more money. Because at some point, your maid is going to get sick and tired of cleaning your toilet for nothing. And because at some point, your maid is going to decide to sleep in one morning rather than scrub your baseboards.

Your maid will do each of those things for the same reason that we're willing to do each of those things for you. Because money talks.

You can't buy from Wal-Mart and expect to receive Nordstrom's customer service. And you shouldn't expect to buy from an independent maid and expect Two Maids & A Mop customer service.


  1. I disagree. Well, cheap is a relative term, but in the Buffalo Area, Merry Maids is charging about $80 an hour.
    I charge $14/hr weekly, $16/hr bi-weekly and it goes up from there. Apartment cleanouts are more, short notice is more. After 5pm is more. Weekends are the same though. I do dishes. I include 2 free windows. I list my prices for 'extras' in my ads .

    I did go to a 4 hour minimum for 95% of customers, I am letting some original customers go on a 3 hour minimum, especially if it is an apt or 1/2 of a duplex.

    I do spring cleanings on weekends at $85 flat for 5 hours- includes more windows, high dusting, light fixtures, ceiling fans, all floors and under furniture I can move. Includes a fridge or stove cleaning.

    I am honest, reliable, detailed and in comparison to many markets, cheap. That is why my business is so busy and I am notw totally booked for regularly scheduled cleaning.

    I got most of what I have from referrals and some from craig's list.

    My bills are paid and I am doing well.

    I don't like sq foot quotes- I try to stay with an hourly quote as much as possible. If I get to a house and it is like a castle, I do say that it will take longer and cost a little more, but that is rare.

    I clean a 3 story victorian 3x a week, 4 hours at a time. I didn't finish it the first time, but with practice, I can finish all of the regular cleaning and do more- since this client gives me so many hours- I don't charge extra for most 'extras'.

    That experience has me finishing apartments in 2 hours and small homes in under 3. Without sacrificing quality.

    I understand that i should be charging more. I did up my prices twice for new customers and once for existing customers. In a couple months, everything will go up 2 more dollars an hour for new customers- if I can fit them- and I will see what the market will bear.

    "Tracy's Teriffic Cleaning and Organizing"

  2. Also- I am consistent and dependable. I have canceled due to illness twice for one client- it was a coincidence (they also had a cough that was going around and didn't mind) and once for another in 6 months.

    I am chronically about 15-20 minutes late- it's how I am. but my ads say to allow a 15-20 minute window. No one has ever complained. When I can, I am early. That is one of the reasons I left the 'cubicle world'. Most clients don;t really care if I am a little late, they just open their door with a smile. They know ther house will be fully clean when I leave. And normally their pet bowls washed and pets fed and a few other things I often throw in. I usually leave a fancy looking soap in the bathrooms- even if from the dollar store.

  3. Good for you. But talk to me two years from now. What you'll find is that your time will start to become much more valuable. Right now, you're performing all the work. Right now, you don't have any employees. And more than likely, right now you don't have any overhead such as rent, utilities, workers compensation or insurance.

    Paying your bills is fine. But the reality is that you'll get tired of just paying your bills at some point. And when that happens, you'll raise your rates or hire extra people. That's when the fun begins. And that's also when becoming dependable, honest, consistent and cheap starts becoming difficult.

    It's hard to understand if you've never traveled down that road. Most of our customers have traveled down that road. I've definitely traveled down that road. Talk to me once you know what road I'm talking about.

    It's easy being cheap. Especially when you're performing all the work. But more importantly, it's very difficult to be cheap and good. Sample 100 maid service customers for proof.

    I'll make a bet with you. You will not be charging these rates two years from now. You're too good. And you're going to start understanding how good you are real soon. Especially when you hear about another company charging more than you when you know that you are mcuh better than them.

    If you are still charging the same rates two years from now, I'll give you one free week down here on our beautiful beaches. Wanna take that bet?

  4. I did try a couple of 'helpers', over the last few months. It DID get difficult. I had a cleaning team of 2 people for the subirbs- suddenly one went back to a 'normal job', but they did keep one of the clients I gave them. I fired the other client I gave them- yes I have fired clients- the client refused to pay them $15 for gas and time when the client wasn't there for the appointment.

    2 others- for different suburban areas- one has a broken foot and one a broken arm. The woman withe the broken arm had her sister take over the 2 jobs I gave her and the clients are happy.

    The one with the broken foot- I had to take her 2 houses.

    The last was a real disappointment.
    I thought we were friends. I was making plans for her to be my partner. She could be unreliable at times, but always cleaned very well. She stole a pain medication from a client and I didn't even know for 2 months, as the client gave her an opportunity to give it back over a few weeks. I had done a criminal background check on this helper. Apparently she had never been caught.

    From the 'helpers', I was taking $2 out of every hour they worked at regular rates and $20 from spring cleanings.

    Yes, that is the difficult part.
    I am still happy with the rates, at this moment. I am in so much demand, some people have agreed to be 'floating', meaning I clean weekly or bi-weekly, but on a weeknight or weekend when I can get there.

    Rates go up again in October for older clients, I try to do it so newer ones aren't surprised.

    I am also insisting that clients supply more of the cleaning products. I only carry with me: 1 roll of marcal paper towels, Fantastick, Method stainless wipes, aerosol glass cleaner and any bathroom decoration I want to leave- I switched from a decorative bar soap to a decorative pump soap form the dollar store- or something else I notice their kitchen or bath needs.

    My overhead now, is mainly GAS. I do charge $5 extra to go out to the suburbs.

    I will keep letting you know and
    if I am not charging significantly more in a year or 2 and don;t have real, reliable employees or helpers- I will want that vacation.

    -Tracy :)
    Tracy's Cleaning Services, Buffalo NY

  5. You are becoming more right. The Victorian house- which I let go at about $175 a week- m/w/f from about 12-4 and where I did everything I don;t do for others- laundry, cleaning up pet pee, organizing, cleaning under furniture, cleaning out cupboards, cleaning outside--
    they had been paying me 1X per week, which I depended on in one check and then they got erratic with it. I insisted that trhey pay me all at once for the week, either in advance (which they had been doing) or at the end of the week.

    The 'lady of the house' kind of freaked. She thought that I 'had it really good there' as I was given coffee, water and whenever they went for takeout I asked for a mocoa shake and got one. But, mathematically, I was making several dollars less an hour than other clients. When I thought we had a good relationship, I guess we did not.

    I lost about 15 hours a week, but had several people on a wait list that were willing to pay as much as $18/hr. That was a hard blow for me, as I had been almost completely running that household since last april. And it is a HUGE household,not like my smaller bi-weekly people. But I guess I wasn't as appreciated as I thought. She will get a surprise when she tries to replace me, moneywise and task wise, but it was still hard to take.

    I replaced 2 out of the 3 1/2 days. I need a little time for myself. But one job pays $22.50/hr for 4 hours a week at another large house- the homeowner's quote, not mine and $16/hr for another, smaller house (my quote).

    You are becoming partially right. At a ridiculously low sum of monry, that I traded because I lied the client and the large, rambling Victorian, I sacrificed money I really needed.

    I will not do that again.

    I also left behind a few containers of my fave cleaners- though most she would reimburse me for- I bought some and left them there since I was there so much- some aerosol glass cleaner, some Method leather wipes, some LA's Totally Awesome degreaser and some Lysol Dual wipes- the kind with a scrubby side. Dammit!

    But, I will replace them and I have learned a lesson.

    -Tracy :)

  6. Sorry to hear that you lost a valuable customer. I know from experience that losing any customer hurts, especially when you know that your committment to that customer could not be matched.

    But don't worry. Another customer will come along and don't get too discouraged. Times will get better as long as your committment stays the same.