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i am investigating setting up a cleaning service

(68 Posts)
overthemill Tue 12-Aug-08 11:32:07

having tried and failed to find a local cleaner I'm seriously thinking about setting up a local service with my sister who has been made redundant. I've been trying to get one since I moved here and the agencies locally (actually not that local) are expensive and I cant find anyone independently recommended by anyone - they all say 'wish i could get one'. BUT from the school gate I reckon there would be people who might want to clean for a few hours a week.

This would be her main income and my extra one (alongside my freelance work)

so, my questions to mumsnetters are:

if you have/would like a cleaner - how much do you pay - is it per hour or per session?
do you like weekly or fortnightly?
do you prefer using an agency or someone direct?

my idea is charge £7 - 9 an hour OR £30 for 3 bed house/£35 for 4 bed house. Extra for ironing @£5 an hour
springcleaning/one off £100

would you want someone to come and 'assess' your house first/happy to call and book/prefer to visit a website?
oh and what about bringing own cleaning products - good or unimportant to you?

let me know! thanks!!!

tootiredtothink Tue 12-Aug-08 11:59:44

Don't suppose you are in birmingham???

Like the idea of having the choice of hourly rate or total cost although would they have to have the spring cleaing done first to get the £30 price?

I have only ever had tow cleaners in - first to do my floors while i was recoving from op but they wouldn't move sofas (i paid £50 for thatshock) and second was a lovely lady who only charged £7 but language barrier was too difficult as she couldn't understand what i wantedsad.

Agency is too impersonal - I am still waiting (one month and counting) for a call back from Molly Maid!

tootiredtothink Tue 12-Aug-08 12:00:31

two cleanersblush

BlingLovin Tue 12-Aug-08 12:07:21

We pay £25 for three hours, once a week. Includes ironing, but obviously if she can't get it all done, then she doesn't do all the ironing. But it's a small two bed so I think it's fine.

Personally, I think a service is useful. If it's a good one. I've been lucky with great cleaners, but if you don't have someone who can recommend someone, knowing you can go through a (good) central agaency would be a real bonus.

overthemill Tue 12-Aug-08 12:18:37

tttthink - if we ran it as an agency i wouldnt want the molly maid system - ime (elsewhere ) they are SOO expensive. and i would want personally someone i got to know/trust most of the time rather than just someone who they sent each week

i think i would advertise and interview potential cleaners. do checks, eg refs and id checks. then if someone wanted a cleaner give them choice of 2 people in their area. i'd be keeping it local so we could see everyone. so it would be an agency but it woul dbe small. or i could be a service and employ the cleaners myself but that would be a bit terrifying

overthemill Tue 12-Aug-08 12:19:17

oh and no i am not in brum but do know my sil has a good cleaner in solihull. any good?

stealthsquiggle Tue 12-Aug-08 12:23:16

We pay £40 for 4 person-hours (2 people for 2 hours), weekly

We use an agency (as in a service, and they employ the cleaners) but I would prefer to have someone direct, really - but the agency would be OK if it was the same person 90% of the time with occasional holiday cover.

Would want someone to assess but to have an idea of the price first.

We supply cleaning products - but not a big deal either way (I think I prefer it this way as the house doesn't end up smelling of products which I dislike).


overthemill Tue 12-Aug-08 13:04:59

so you'd prefer someone direct but via a third party like me?

Heated Tue 12-Aug-08 13:12:25

I contacted the agency Selclene 2 yrs ago and they charged £9 an hour; in all honesty I'd prefer to pay £7-£8 especially in the currently climate. I would much prefer to find someone locally with a good reputation rather than an impersonal agency - maybe a leaflet letter drop in the area you would prefer to work would attract the clients you need? Think you would be undercharging for the ironing though - I pay £7 an hour.

stealthsquiggle Tue 12-Aug-08 13:31:10

OTM - yes, especially if you did checks and (ideally) organised holiday cover.

overthemill Tue 12-Aug-08 17:41:35

so that would be a bit like an agency then. hmm
any other feedback, please?

want to think about this when on holiday next week
my best ideas come when away!!

SqueakyPop Tue 12-Aug-08 17:56:39

The best experience I had of a cleaner was someone who came in for 3 hours twice a week.

The worst experience was a crew of 4 who came in once a fortnight.

With the fortnightly crew, my house was clean and tidy for about 3 days out of the 14. They swooped in on a Monday morning and were immediately deployed throughout the house. This meant that I had to spend Sunday evenings getting everyone to pick up, because the cleaners would literally work around objects. With a single cleaner, you only have to have one room ready for her, and you can pick up the others while she is working. Because we were paying quite a lot for the service, no one felt like keeping on top of things between visits, so the house was actually messier, on balance.

The service that I had brought all their own gear - vacuum, mops etc - and I was paying for that, even though I had perfectly good equipment at home.

The other issue with the agency is that they sent different people each time, whereas I would have preferred to have the same people who know the house (and how slovenly we are).

The good thing about the agency format was that there was accountability - the owner would phone up occasionally to see if I was happy, and also dropped in at the end fo the cleaning day to inspect it herself. It is a lot easier for the customer to complain (and praise) a third party, rather than the cleaners themselves.

overthemill Tue 12-Aug-08 18:16:26

i have used an agency myself and they started off great but seemed to go downhill once they found i was satisfied.

i wouldnt want to be like that.

a friend of mine has had the same cleaner for 13 years!

overthemill Tue 12-Aug-08 18:17:00

yes and i understand about the being slovenly as you are paying for someone to do it!

scanner Tue 12-Aug-08 18:25:43

I've had various cleaners over the years, some direct and some via an agency.

Agency has advantages in that if you're dissatisfied you can be horribly English and discuss it with the Agency rather than with the cleaner. The best agency I ever used came and had a look around and offered sugestions/questioned what I would like ie. would you like the sheets changed on the bed? They then passed all the information on to the cleaner and for the most part I had the same woman every time.

I now have a team of cleaners headed up by one, I have 4 hours a week and have asked for 2 people to do 2 hours because I often work from home so they're not under my feet and vica versa for too long.

I supply cleaning products and they simply leave the empty bottle on the worksurface when it needs replacing.

They started off with a mega spring clean. A few things they do, which I like are: always removing all cushions/sections of the sofa a hoovering or cleaning (leather) them, always moving where poss sofas, hoovering down the back of the radiators.

I pay £9 ph.

tootiredtothink Tue 12-Aug-08 18:39:21

Thanks overthemill. If she would come to Kings Heath (about 20 mins away) then would certainly be interested.

My e-mail is mail4lwhite at yahoo . co . uk

Although maybe this is the opportunity to go countrywidewink!!!

bythepowerofgreyskull Tue 12-Aug-08 18:41:40

Do you mean you would be like a recruitment agency for cleaners?

Pannacotta Tue 12-Aug-08 18:52:48

We have a cleaner who comes for 2.5 hours a week and only charges £15 and she does some ironing in that time too. That said the cleaning is not very thorough but it suits us.
I have used an agency but thought it was too pricey, we paid around £65 every 2 weeks for the whole house to be cleaned by two cleaners.

I like the idea of insurance with an agency and vetting but not the cost or getting different people each time who dont know the house.

A real gap in the market where I live is eco/green cleaners, ie agency or cleaner who will use/provide own eco (and non animal tested) friendly cleaning products and yet not charge the earth. There is one green agency locally but they are ridiculously expensive.

overthemill Tue 12-Aug-08 19:55:40

pannacotta i'd thought of that actually as i read about a green cleaning company who bring their own stuff (and now make their own).

so i would find cleaners. interview/id check/ refs check/ then match them with people who want a cleaner. the client would pay the cleaner direct and me a fee for the process inc finding a holiday/sick cover. does that sound right?

OR I get cleaners to work for me like i employ them (not so keen on that one sounds compliacted) - so i find people that want a cleaner and send myself (eek) or a cleaner i employ to do their house

TantieTowie Wed 13-Aug-08 10:13:16

I want a cleaner! I'd pay £7-8 an hour, more if they were really really good.

I'd want them to be reliable, the same person every week and for peace of mind I'd probably want them to come through an agency.

Though we did get one through an agency a while back and while the cleaner herself was really good, she did her back in and used to send her daughters round instead - and they weren't so good and used to stop and chat a lot - so we stopped. The agency never checked up, they didn't even take much interest when we stopped altogether.

It's always got to be good customer service - if you can do that, you'll do well in any economic climate.

On the green thing, I heard about a commercial agency that seemed to do green well - they used microfibre cloths, and recycled the rubbish they collected from offices.

Where are you doing this.

WideWebWitch Wed 13-Aug-08 10:22:11

£7-9 an hour isn't enough imo.

I pay £8 an hour in the SE home counties but was recently quoted £10 an hour by a cleaner who was advertising in the local shop. And she turned ME down as she didn't want to do tidying too and that's what I need!

I think if you do this:

a) you will need to be an employment agency, various rules apply as you will be employing people and sending them out.
b) you need to charge MORE, much more
c) don't underestimate the amount of admin involved and record keeping etc and red tape and insurance

The trouble is, if you can't find a cleaner how are you so sure you'll be able to find cleaners for your agency?

I set up a cleaning agency when I was 18 (Houseproud Domestic Agency!) and these are the mistakes I made. Too low a margin, not enough cleaners, loads of work but not enough people to do it!

Good luck though.

overthemill Wed 13-Aug-08 21:24:14

tantietowie - in my local area which is in Beds if I start it off - where are you? but i have already been contacted by someone who may sell a franchise of an established firm (the one recommended below!!). so it might be possible to do a wider area. baby steps

www - really helpful info. Did you stop running the business? I have put an ad on my localish gumtree for a cleaner and had 6 replies. 1 from a very snotty sounding agency miles away who seemed to think i was doing her a favour using them. and the others from very young people who were all recent immigrants to the UK. Nothing wrong with that but none of them were local and i really want someone who is from my local area (even within a 10 mile radius would be good).

why? because i am committed always to local suppliers and providers of services. i like my money spent to benefit the local community. i use the local farm shop, village PO and the milkman whose family has run the dairy for the last 100 years.

in the same way that i have generated work for people and filled a gap in a service for familes through my website for babysitters I'd like anything else I run to meet a local need.

I am passionate about customer service and i treat people how i would like to be treated.

although i appreciate it may take a long time to set up something like this, i wonder if local mums (tbh) might like a way of earning say, £50 a week, by doing 2 local cleaning jobs while their kids are at school. Or someone retired might welcome a small form of income. i know that the local pub is inundated with people wanting bar/kitchen work which pays around £6/7 an hour. i'd like to build brand that attracted reliable people. who knows maybe it would be possible.

my idea would be to leaflet the houses in my village and ask if people want a cleaner to guage interest and then to do something similar with finding cleaners. I think i would aLso leaflet at the local playgroups/schools etc.

prices - i want it to be realsistic but also at a price that is affordable. do you think i need to aim this at 'rich' people?

i love the idea of a 'green clleaning team' using say ecoevr products and have thought about offering new clients a bunch of products like ecocleaning cloths etc at a good price to encourage them to go 'green'.

i've had a 5 hour journey today when i have thought about this all the time!! loads of ideas buzzing in my head and i have signed up to a business link course for september which might help me with a business plan.

if anybody has any other ideas i would really like to know - i love mumsnet for the helpfulness of everybody and for you rgenrerosity, i thnak you!

www please do reply/cat me!!!

alibubbles Wed 13-Aug-08 22:10:17

I need a new cleaner, unfortunately my lovely cleaner, who understood that the house needs to be tidied before she can clean, and that you don't touch teenage boys rooms unless just changing the bed, which shoes belonged to whom, etc has had to leave for personal reasons ( hers)

The agency thought I was being unreasonable in not wanting a stand in cleaner to come at 4 pm on a friday afternoon, ) for 4 hours) and then come another day at 3,pm again for 4 hours with her two year old son! - So they terminated my contract!

I would happily pay £8 an hpur as I have been doing, would you do St Albans? Bottom of the M10, you spund just what I want.

I hate the agencies who do 'a job fee' I don't want the same things done each time, I know what can be done in 3-4 hpurs, I am not unreasonable and trust cleaners to do what they can in the time allotted.

alibubbles Wed 13-Aug-08 22:13:36

Selclene were **

CantSleepWontSleep Wed 13-Aug-08 22:23:11

otm - where in Beds are you? I'm in a village in the very north of Herts, so would love to know if I would be in your catchment area.

I have used Molly Maid before, but sacked them and would not touch them again with a barge pole.

On the products front, I would like a mixture of the cleaner bringing them with her, and me supplying. This is because our stone floors require a specialist cleaner, and using flash type products (as I believe MM sometimes did) actually removes the seal and allows the floor to stain. We also have some bathroom fitting that require non-standard cleaning.

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