Fast-paced lifestyles, hectic schedules and a lack of free time can lead one to consider hiring a maid service to handle critical house cleaning duties. But before picking up the phone to schedule an appointment, it is important to know whom you are letting into your home.
Bonding: Make sure the maid service is bonded for its house cleaning clientele. Should a theft occur, you need to be protected. Some companies, if they are bonded at all, protect only themselves, not the consumer.
Insurance: Make sure the house cleaning company is insured. If a maid slips and falls while cleaning the shower, your homeowner's policy might not cover the incident. The maid service should have liability and employee accident coverage and should include your home, the housecleaner(s) and the company.
References: Make sure the maid service is reliable. How many years have they been in business? Ask for references and a work history. When calling references ask some key questions:
- How long have you used the house cleaning service?
- Have you ever needed to make a complaint? If so, how did the service handle resolving the issue?
- Would you enthusiastically recommend the maid service provider?
Employee screening and hiring: Ask the house cleaning company if employees' references are checked, if criminal background checks are administered, and if residence status is confirmed. Also find out if the workforce is comprised of employees or subcontractors. A maid service using subcontractors does not provide staff training and may not provide liability insurance. In addition, there may not be a standard of quality and unclear procedures for complaint resolution.
Cleaning products: Some independent housekeepers as well as some services expect you to supply all cleaning products. If products are included by the house cleaning company, find out what type of products will be used and if they contain harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia. Be sure the products are safe for pets and kids.
If the maid service touts using "green" products or environmentally friendly products for house cleaning, understand what you are getting. Ask if the products are effective in cleaning and disinfecting pathogens like Staphylococcus (Staph.), Salmonella and E.coli If the maid service is "Green Certified," find out which certifying body certified the cleaning products and their certification process.
Some products, although certified "green" actually use standard chemicals at a lower ratio, literally watering down a chemical until it passes standards. This can be at the expense of the performance of the product. Other environmentally safe products contain bio-based ingredients that contain natural bacteria and enzymes, which are non-pathogenetic environmental isolates that imitate the way nature naturally cleans itself. These natural substances can be used in hard surface cleaners and degreasers to create a safe, effective cleaning solution.
Equipment: Check out what is included with your house cleaning. Some independent housekeepers as well as some services expect you to supply all cleaning equipment. If the maid service is supplying the equipment, find out the efficiency of the vacuum and the filtration system.
Satisfaction: Ask if the maid service measures customer satisfaction and if so, what type of procedure is used to collect responses. Are you asked to fill out a survey online or on paper? Will a manager contact you following the house cleaning to be sure your expectations were fulfilled or exceeded? The steps a company takes to ensure a customer's satisfaction tells a lot about how much they value their customers.
Quality assurance: Find out the service's quality assurance procedures. How is the quality of service measured and verified to ensure quality of service is maintained? A maid service should have quality assurance procedures in place to be sure their house cleaning meets quality standards every clean. Ask if the maid service has managers who inspect every clean to be sure the quality of service is upheld.
Guarantee: Find out how the company handles complaints and make sure the service is backed by a written satisfaction guarantee. Know prior to the house cleaning the limitations of the guarantee and what steps consumers should take to execute the guarantee.
Taxes: Make sure you don't break any tax laws. If you pay a housekeeper or maid a certain amount per year, the federal law requires you to pay social security and other taxes on that person. However, some states may require you to withhold state taxes on payments smaller than $1,000. Most maid service companies withhold taxes for their employees, but check to make sure. If you pay a housekeeper or maid at least $1,200 per year, the federal law requires you to pay social security and other taxes on that person. For more information about household employee taxes, call the Internal Revenue Service.