Pricing your maid services

I get a lot of questions about how to price cleanings from maid services. Below are a few that came up recently that I thought you might be interested in.

What if a client needs a deluxe cleaning but doesn’t want to pay for it?

This happens a lot with potential clients, especially people who have never hired a maid service before. When you’re at their home, you can see that they really need a deep clean to set things straight, but they balk at the price tag and ask for just a few hours instead of the six hours that they really need. I recommend that you tell the client that you are committed to getting their house clean and that if they sign up for weekly or bi-weekly cleaning, you will give them a rebate on the price after they’ve had two consecutive cleanings. This way, you give them thorough, high quality service that they’re happy with from the get go, and they’re pleased to get a bit of a discount when they sign up for recurring cleaning.

Do you include tax in your rate?

No, we do not include sales tax in our hourly rate and I suggest that you do the same. This is money that’s going straight to the government, not into your pocket, so layer it on top of your rate. We tell clients that we’re such-and-such a price, plus tax. For example, $40/hour plus tax, or $120 per cleaning plus tax. The tax that you pass along to the state or municipality should not come out of your pocket.

What if I’m losing business because clients have increased price sensitivity?

One of my clients mentioned that competition has become fierce in his area of service and wondered if he was losing prospective customers due to his pricing. He doesn’t want to be the “low price provider” but he feels like something is going on. The best way to handle this situation is to meticulously track your inbound leads and your conversions. You need to track every single inbound call, email, or Facebook message, and then track whether or not they converted to become a customer. Most of us convert 50-60% of inbound inquiries IF (and this is a big two-part ‘if’) we take the call when it comes in and respond immediately and IF you can service them on the day they requested. If you meet these criteria and you’re converted below the 50-60% range, then you might want to adjust prices.

Just tell me what I should charge!   

To figure out what your rate should be, find out exactly what your competition is charging per hour in your area. Ask a “secret shopper” to price all the local professional services to get an idea of what the market rate is. Remember that solo-preneurs who own the business and do the cleaning have almost no overhead and can charge very low hourly rates. If you run a more complex business with overhead costs, employee wages, business insurance, and other expenses, then your prices need to be higher than those of sole practitioners who do their own cleaning.


This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. My course is a no-holds-barred program to teach you how to get out of the field and what the right way is to add customers and staff quickly. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Also, spots are filling up fast for my June 23 & 24 Speed Cleaning for the Pros session. Reserve your spot today!

Speed cleaning does not mean you sacrifice quality

As you know, I’m a huge fan of speed cleaning as a process. But I get a lot of questions around how speed cleaning fits in with the desire to provide high quality cleaning. I’d like to offer you some thoughts about speed cleaning and clear up some of the confusion around implementing the speed cleaning system.

To grow and scale your business, you need to be able to speed up your staff so that you can have the lowest cost possible for labor (time spent cleaning a home) without sacrificing quality.

Speed cleaning is not the opposite of quality cleaning. Slow cleaning does not ensure quality. Maybe you know this already because you have an employees who spends too long cleaning a house and they still do a crummy job. Speed doesn’t mean quality goes downhill and slow does not guarantee a great clean.

Speed cleaning is a method developed by Jeff Campbell. Follow it step by step to clean and you will achieve speed by following the process. You do not achieve speed by rushing around, hurrying, missing and breaking stuff. Speed comes when you use repetition and the right tools, like the apron to speed you up and not waste time. Speed comes when you’re following the 13 rules of speed cleaning to help you clean faster without sacrificing quality. Speed cleaning doesn’t mean to hurry and rush.

You can save thousands of dollars in payroll when your staff is able to clean a house in 3 hours that used to take them 4 hours. And you’ll gain additional income from all the jobs you used to turn down because you couldn’t fit them into your schedule.

If you’re worried about quality, taking more time to clean won’t guarantee it. Don’t confuse quality with speed.

Another note—speed cleaning is not a marketing term. I never tell a customer that we teach our staff “speed cleaning” but instead mention that we do “perfect maintenance cleaning.” Speed cleaning is an internal term, an internal system and process that you use with your staff to make sure they are properly trained to be thorough and efficient. It’s more likely that your employees will be consistent with their quality if they are using the speed cleaning system.

If you need help implementing speed cleaning processes in your business, here are a few tools that can help:

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Also, spots are filling up fast for my June 23 & 24 Speed Cleaning for the Pros session. Reserve your spot today!

10 things you can do to be successful

I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek and his book, Start with Why. In it, he calls out the ten rules for success. These are a huge help to me, and I want to share them with you as well and show you how to apply them to your cleaning business’s success.

10 things to focus on for success

  1. Envision success. Some people see what they want to accomplish and others only see the obstacles preventing them from getting what they want. Be the kind of person who can envision exactly what you are going to accomplish.
  2. Train your mind to be excited instead of nervous. Excitement is an emotion that gives energy and nervousness takes energy away. This is really great advice for when you’re speaking to a group.
  3. Be patient. Nothing happens overnight. For example, I had a client who was afraid to invest money in her training, but after she took my class, she was so excited. The next day, she wanted to implement everything, all at once. But you must be patient; you can’t implement changes overnight without possibly damaging existing business processes and relationships.
  4. Take accountability. Realize that sometimes YOU’RE the problem. Why do you keep having so many lazy employees and flaky clients? You might be the reason. Swallow your pride and fix what needs to be addressed in your own behavior.
  5. Outdo yourself. I love this one. Compete with yourself, not your competition. Focus on you, your business, your marketing strategies, and your presence. Forget the competition. It’s good to know what they’re doing and what they’re charging, but focusing on them too much will hold you back.
  6. Stack the deck in your favor, and work from a position of strength. I like speaking at places where I am the best speaker in the room about my topic. I want to market my business in places where I know it will resonate with my customers. I want to attract people who are interested in what we are good at.
  7. Be the last one to speak. I’ve had to work on this my whole professional career—when you’re the boss it’s hard to keep your mouth shut. I’ve gotten better over the years but I’m still working on it. When you let other perspectives weigh in before you share your own thinking, you get a broader range of opinions. Invite your staff to suggest solutions. Wait until they comment and provide feedback before you chime in.
  8. Be authentic. Be who you are and be real. Let your brand reflect who you are. You’ll attract people who resonate with the real you. If you’re faking it, you’ll attract people who won’t appreciate your business once your identity emerges. Identify your core brand values, figure out what you want to be, and let the right people come to you.
  9. Find your passion (as long as it works). This is the only suggestion that you should take with a grain of salt. “Find your passion” can be a bunch of baloney. You’ve got to follow what works. You might be passionate about something, but it isn’t helping your business succeed. Sometimes passion alone isn’t enough. What you need is tenacity and hard work along with passion.
  10. Start with the why. Understand why people buy from you and hire your business. Why do they really like doing business with you? Why do they care about your company? For the maid service that I own, our customers do business with us because we make it as painless, easy, and hassle-free as possible. Our customers are busy and they just want someone to handle it all for them. So we make sure we keep providing that, day-in and day-out.

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. My course is a no-holds-barred program to teach you how to get out of the field and what the right way is to add customers and staff quickly. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Also, spots are filling up fast for my June 23 & 24 Speed Cleaning for the Pros session. Reserve your spot today!

How To Calculate The Cost Of Poor Training

business woman blowing money away|Corporate Training| Lewisville TXDo you ever wonder “where on earth does all my money go?”  It’s like a leak in the bucket of profitability that you can never seem to plug.  What is the cause, and how do you plug that leak once and for all?

Everyone who knows me, knows I’m a NUMBERS FREAK!  I always ask “how does the data support that?” before I endorse a change someone wants to make.  Whether it’s a coaching client suggesting a solution to a problem they are having, or an employee from one of my companies that has a great idea.  I always ask:   “What do the numbers say?”  “SHOW ME THE NUMBERS!”    I’ve learned over the years that the numbers never lie and they always tell a story.  If you want to know what it’s actually costing you in terms of dollars and cents to continue to run your business with a weak or non existent training program, consider these real factors:

3.75 Hours – If a team of three cleans 5 jobs today, and they waste 15 minutes per job due to a lack of well-defined cleaning strategies and processes, that equates to 3 hours and 45 minutes of totally wasted productivity TODAY.  Here’s how that was calculated:

  • 15 minutes per job wasted X 5 jobs = 75 minutes per person
  • 75 minutes wasted per person X 3 in a team = 225 min. (divide that by 60 min. and you get 3.75 hours of lost productivity for the day and extra wages paid)
  • If your team of 3 wastes 15 min. per job 5 days a week, that’s 18.75 wasted hours per team per week
  • Payroll Cost – If you pay each member of the team $12 per hour, then you’ll fund an extra $225 a week in unnecessary wages PLUS worker’s comp and payroll taxes for that one team.
  • Monthly Cost – is up to $974.25 (+ payroll taxes) for one team
  • Annual Cost – is over $12,000.  Again, “extra wages” per team

What if your team actually wastes an hour per day per person, due to inefficient cleaning times?  That cost is now 4X and is up to $48,000 in extra payroll expense FOR ONE TEAM!  Uh-Oh, you have three teams??????????????

Here’s the problem, we get so focused on ALL THE REVENUE our staff is generating that we fail to pay attention to where all the profit is leaking out.  There are many reasons why a company could be losing profits, but training is one of the big ones.

Now, let’s do this in REVERSE and end on a much more positive note, lest you close this email and begin sobbing

uncontrollably into your hands!

If a team of three could increase their productivity by just 15 minutes per job (and most could improve more) here’s what you could do with all that extra productivity without even hiring one more person:

  • You could sell another 3.75 hour job per day, per team!  If your rates are approximately $40 an hour that’s an extra $150 in revenue you could say “yes” to rather than “so sorry, we are booked up for today, how about tomorrow?”
  • If you did that every day, your team would generate an extra $750 in revenue for the week, and that’s 100% profit for those who pay hourly because they got the extra job done in the same amount of time they used to spend doing one less job.
  • Repeat that 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and your team brought an extra $39,000 in revenue and SAVED you that $48,000+ in extra payroll expense
  • Oh!  You have 3 teams?    We’ll now you’re net gain is……. too much for me to calculate!

Yes, these figures are accurate.  If you have 10 or more hourly paid cleaners, the cost or savings to your company is over the roof top!  Of course you might not add one full job per day per team for 52 weeks.  I get that.  But, for many these numbers are not extreme, they are EYE OPENING!

So………what were you saying about not wanting to spend the money to send your entire admin staff and trainers to the Speed Cleaning Conference in June?  ………….. you’re welcome!

New employee isn’t making an effort. Keep training? Or cut loose?

I recently was asked by a cleaning business owner what to do about an employee who sits on the floor while she cleans. For one thing, this does not look good to the customer if they come home and find their cleaners sitting around. For another, the cleaner is not being as efficient as possible by working from a sitting position.

Your best bet is to have a training program that specifically outlines exactly how to clean. If you don’t have a specific system that you’ve trained your staff, then anything goes. It’s harder to get rid of someone who’s sitting while cleaning if your training program hasn’t outlined exactly how to clean.

If you taught your team how to speed clean, then it’s crystal clear that they’re not following the program because they’d be standing, reaching, and bending over. If someone is sitting down, they’re wasting time. They might not have the stamina for this job, so you can start them with smaller houses while they work up to it. But they must follow your procedures and instructions. It’s probably not a good sign if they can’t physically stand to clean. People will build up more stamina over time, so you could keep their schedule light while they work up to it, but be careful about investing time in the wrong employee.

You’ve got to go with your gut if you need to get rid of someone. They can’t go rogue, they must follow the instructions you give them.

But how long should you wait before you make the call? My philosophy is that if you’re seeing incremental progress and a good attitude, you should keep working with them. If their progress isn’t consistent (they have a good day, then a bad day, then another good day, then a bad day), watch out. I don’t have a problem giving an extra few days of training to someone whose progress continually improves (and has a good attitude). If they can’t learn the job in 2 weeks, then something’s wrong.

I’ve been in this business for 35 years and I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen trainees who hit the ground running doing a fabulous job, quick, efficient, high quality, with a good attitude, and then they slack off and let their guard down. If this happens, you should bring them in and address complaints as they come up. Don’t let issues pile up— talk to them each time one comes in. Let them know that they’re on probation, that they’re no longer earning paid time off, that they must call you to check in and out of each house. Don’t let their behavior slide—stay right on it like a tick on a dog.

Here’s a great example of someone who made consistent progress and who’s still with me 22 years later—my office manager! When she first started out, she was cleaning houses and getting a lot of complaints. Only the complaints weren’t the same each time. Every time one came in, we addressed it, and I never got a complaint again about that particular issue. First it was sticky floors, then it was smeary or streaky floors, then it was complaints about dusting. One by one, we worked through these issues through conversations, coaching, and mentoring. She stopped getting complaints. The main issue there was that we had pretty crummy training back then— maybe a day of training—and she had to basically learn the job as she went along.

But the bottom line is, don’t wait too long to fire someone who isn’t trying or has a bad attitude.

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Also, spots are filling up fast for my June 23 & 24 Speed Cleaning for the Pros session. Reserve your spot today!

Books I highly recommend for cleaning business owners

If you’ve watched any of my Periscope chats then you’re probably familiar with the row of books I have behind me. I recently sat down with Amar from ZenMaid to talk about the best of these books and wanted to share my list with you as well.

Many of the books on this list are not just for business, but apply to your life as well. If you’re not much of a reader, many of these are also available on audiobook as well, which is where I frequently do my best “reading”—I listen to them while I’m getting ready in the morning and I get excited and pumped for the day!

  • Strategic Thinking by Bill Birnbaum.
  • The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen.
  • The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
  • Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
  • The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout
  • The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
  • Eat that frog! by Brian Tracy
  • Why She Buys by Bridget Brennan
  • The Life changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo
  • The Big Moo by Seth Godin
  • 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
  • Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
  • The Automatic Customer by John Warrillos
  • Speed Cleaning for the Pros by Jeff Campbell & Debbie Sardone
  • The Fish That Ate The Whale by Rich Cohen

I hope you enjoy these recommendations. Have some books that you recommend as well? Please share them in the comments!

How to hire the best staff for your cleaning service

Photo courtesy of flickr user neetalparekh

The first thing to note before you throw your hands up in the air and wonder why you’re having difficulty hiring is to figure out what the unemployment rate is for your area. Typically you need about a 5% unemployment rate to fuel a decent labor pool—anything below that makes it a struggle to find workers. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy. You’ll need to compete harder to get the best employees in a low unemployment area.

Approach finding good job candidates the same way you approach finding clients. Adopt a mindset that you’re always advertising your business as an employment opportunity for the best job candidates.

  • It starts with having a good job to offer — if you offer the kind of job that nobody wants (low wages, not enough hours, inconsistent schedule) then you’ll have a hard time attracting good people.
  • Then continually advertise to find good employees. Just as it’s not effective to start and stop marketing for clients, it’s not effective to find employees that way. Looking for employees when you’re desperate is just like looking for clients when you’re about to run out of operating cash for your business—don’t let it come to that! Don’t ever stop looking for great workers. That said, sometimes you’ll turn up the volume when you’re short handed or turn it down when you’re overstaffed.
  • Don’t just list your job on a single job board. Just like your advertising for clients, be in many places — print, social media, networking, hosting events, PR. Spend money on Facebook or Google ads to market to job candidates in your community.
  • Work hard to win a local “best places to work” contest — it’s powerful to get this. We put out an ad saying “thank you for voting us top 3 best places to work in the county” as a way to market ourselves to the best candidates.

Let’s talk about that job posting. Don’t just throw out a post with a bunch of rules— must have this, must do that, listing everything they better do instead of writing an inspiring and compelling ad. Talk about your family-friendly environment, high wages, insurance, whatever you offer that sets you apart. Keep it positive and exciting. At the end of the post, add your caveats of “don’t apply if you won’t pass a background check, etc.” The top of the ad should be about the benefits of working for your company that make your business sound like a desirable place to work.

You must remember, it’s a numbers game— you’ll have to talk to 25 people before you get the handful that sound nice on the phone to get half of those who will show up for the interview. And of those who you give offers to, realize that only half may accept. Work the numbers and keep your top of funnel filled with prospective employees.

Hire slow, fire fast. Don’t hire when you need two people immediately. Always be hiring and looking for best candidate. When you think you find the perfect person, after a week or two you may realize you made a huge mistake— they’re not reliable, uninterested in trying, won’t follow instruction. If you discover that you made a mistake, correct it quickly and get rid of the person. Don’t keep investing more and more of your time, energy, patience, and training in the wrong person. Fix the mistake once you realize it.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket — if you desperately need one person, hire two. Something is bound to happen, whether they can’t handle the job, or something unexpected comes up.

Treat your staff like gold. Give people the respect that you want and that they deserve. Give them the courtesy and compassion that you want. Be compassionate, kind, patient, and nice. Don’t lose your temper— you’ll lose good people if you can’t control yourself. But be firm. If they’re not working out, be firm, show them the door.

Finally, when you find a good worker, keep them busy. Don’t dilute their schedule. If someone proves herself, give her lots of work so she can make a big paycheck. Give her plenty of work.

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. My course is a no-holds-barred program to teach you how to get out of the field and what the right way is to add customers and staff quickly. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

How do you handle a rude customer or prospect?

Photo courtesy of flickr user vshioshvili

I was recently reviewing a video I made ten years ago that offered advice about how to handle rude prospects and was reminded of an incident from that time in the distant past. I had gone for an in-person quote for cleaning her home and noticed that her husband kept making snide comments about making sure the oven and windows were clean, too. I knew he was going to be a problem child, but I put this out of my mind when I offered up the quote. The email I got back from her really ripped into me, telling me that my prices were ridiculous and who did I think I was to charge more per hour than the client made per hour? They took it as a personal offense that a maid would make more than they made.

Now, your first inclination when you receive an email like this is to immediately reply and put them in their place. But I knew I would regret that, so I took a deep breath and picked up the phone and called her. I told her I got her email and that I wanted to explain further about our services and pricing, about how we thoroughly vet and train our staff, have been in business for over 25 years. I told her that there are a lot of other services out there and that I was sure she’d find someone who could fit her budget. She thanked me for being professional and said she appreciated my advice.

I even offered to be a sounding board in case she got a quote that sounded too good to be true, and left the conversation on a positive note. I was able to take the high road and ignore her rudeness by taking a deep breath and getting over it. A big part of becoming mature in business is learning how to hold your tongue when you know it would feel good to zing someone back, whether it’s an employee or a customer. But you never know who they know or who they network with or where you’ll run into them again later. They may become your biggest fan even if they don’t hire you!

So, here’s what to do when you receive an upsetting email or phone message:

  • Take a deep breath. Wait. Take another.
  • Go ahead and write out your response, but don’t send it! Wait 24 hours before sending or returning the call.
  • The next day, review what you wrote. Almost always, you will end up deleting your reply and responding with something more positive.

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. My course is a no-holds-barred program to teach you how to get out of the field and what the right way is to add customers and staff quickly. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Case study: How I got Sandra to stop cleaning and start focusing on her cleaning business

A few weeks ago I posted about trying to get cleaning business owners to move away from doing the actual cleaning and to focus on growing their business. It must have struck a chord, because I immediately heard from Sandra C. As soon as we got on the phone, I could hear the panic in her voice. “I’m never going to be able to get out of the field!” she hollered.

We identified the major issue that she was facing—despite offering an above-minimum wage and fun company add-ons like free lunches once a week, she was having zero luck on finding employees. This is one of the hardest pieces to tackle as a business owner, especially in a market where jobs are plentiful.

During our hour consultation session, I reviewed her employee benefit package and suggested some areas where upgrades could be made economically. I also looked at the help wanted ads she had been running and provided some edits. We brainstormed some other ways that she could attract employees, and she left the call with a clear list of to-do’s.

Yesterday I got an email from her that I wanted to share here:

Thank you, Debbie!! Today I hired two women who look like they will be superstars. I know it’s too early to celebrate completely, but I wanted to let you know that taking the time to tap into your brain was the best thing I could have done. And you left me with words of wisdom that kept echoing in my head until I had to listen to them. You told me that every minute I spent cleaning instead of recruiting would add on to the length of time that I’ll actually be out in the field. For some reason, this really stuck with me, so I ended up spending an entire morning focused on this and it has already netted out results. Thank you again.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, I can help you pinpoint your exact next steps. I have a 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course that was designed specifically for getting you out of the field. My course is a no-holds-barred program to teach you how to get out of the field and what the right way is to add customers and staff quickly. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Cleaning business owners! It’s time to stop cleaning.

Tell me if this sounds familiar— you started your cleaning business and planned to go out on a few cleaning jobs to get a feel for how things worked. Then, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years. You’re still stuck out in the field cleaning the accounts instead of working behind the scenes growing the business. You are not alone. This is one of the biggest problems that I help cleaning business owners solve. This is a cheap and easy business to get into but the skills and steps necessary to grow it beyond a cleaning job are more challenging that most people realize.

The best thing that you can do is to recognize that you are stuck and decide to do something about it.

Here are three things you can do now to move you closer to getting out of the field forever:

  • Fix your thinking. The longer you spend cleaning in the field, the more you undermine your opportunity to grow. You’re actually holding yourself back. You are limiting your growth by your own physical ability to service the demand.
  • Stop thinking that your customers will never accept anyone but you. Once you have a plan to grow your business and replace yourself in the field, if handled correctly, most of your customers will accept the changes and allow you to transition your new staff to their home. The key is to have a plan and adequate training and onboarding of quality employees.
  • Abandon perfection! Let’s face it— if you started the business, found and won the clients, nurtured the relationships, and cleaned your heart out to keep them happy, you’ve probably created a standard of near-perfection when it comes to cleaning and providing customer service. If you’ve nuanced your service to the point that nobody can replace you, you’ve created a monster. You’ve created a standard that no one else can deliver and sabotaged your own goal of replacing yourself in the field. As you take on new clients, be careful not to continue to do an unlimited number of “freebies” and bonuses when cleaning because that standard cannot be replicated when you hire and transition the house to your staff.

If you’d like help getting out of the field forever, I have a 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course that was designed specifically for getting the owner out of the field. My course is a no-holds-barred program to teach you how to get out of the field and what the right way is to add customers and staff quickly. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.