Category Archives: Economy

Selling Your Home?

Fantastic!  According to Donna Wheeler from Edina Realty we are in the middle of a Sellers Market.

And, as it happens, with the exception of chiropractor, we happen to know a LOT of Real Estate agents.

There’s Donna, Jon, Carla, Sara, Tim and Teresa, just to name a few.  Don’t make us get out the Rolodex.

Now that you have a Realtor your next step should be to call a professional cleaning service.  Why, you ask?  Because every day your home sits on the market is costing you money and one of the surest ways to get it sold faster is to get it cleaned.

As homeowners, we tend to take our homes and our regular cleanings for granted.  Everybody does the basics; clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, dust, vacuum, etc. but there are areas that tend to get neglected.  Try this: go to your bathroom and pull out any vanity drawer and move everything inside of that drawer out.  See what I mean?  You can also try this with your refrigerator drawers.

5  24

Once you have your home on the market you will most likely do some de-cluttering and once that happens, areas that were neglected tend to pop out.  And let’s not kid ourselves.  The folks checking to see if your home is their next home will be looking in every nook and cranny.

That’s where a professional cleaner can come in handy.  We know where to look and what to do to help your soon-to-be-ex- home shine for the upcoming showings.  Cobweb swinging from the chandelier?  Not when we’re done.  Cotton swab behind the toilet?  Nope!  Toothpaste in the sink?  What toothpaste in the sink?

14  15

So, when you’re ready to put your home on the market, just remember; a good cleaning service can actually pay for itself when it comes to getting your home sold.

A Maid Service is Not for You

I should probably preface this post with an apology because I believe I am going to offend some people with it.  I am sorry.

Now that that is over; a maid service is not for you.  We know your type.  You have never had a maid service or you have had many and it was always the same result; they could never do it right.  And by right, we mean the way you think it should be done.

Those people who say you should teach your children responsibility by giving them chores to do around the house?  Are they NUTS?  Your kids have the attention span of a puppy in a pet store.  And don’t even get you started on your spouse.  They wouldn’t know a hospital corner if it bit them in the, well you know.

bed

There is a right and a wrong way to clean the house and nobody but you knows the right way.  And that’s OK as long as you don’t hire someone to do it.

We once stopped an in home estimate about five minutes in.  We had never done that before.  Ever.  We heard about how the homeowner expected the toaster to be shined each time, whether it was dirty or not.  The blankets on the back of the couch needed to be folded just so and each of the Snow Baby figurines (about a dozen) each needed to be pulled down from a high shelf, dusted and put back exactly as they were before.

We were on the second room of a 15 room home and we knew.  One of two things would happen; either the price that we would ask the homeowner to pay to spend the amount of time in her house to do it the way they wanted would be so high that they might faint or we would get the job and we would never, ever hit this homeowner’s mark.  Ever.  So we stopped the bid and informed the potential client, ever so gently, that we knew for a fact that our company was not a good fit for them.

toaster

You see, hiring a Maid or Cleaning Service requires you to trust that service and accept that they may or may not do things exactly the way you want them done.  It may also require you to accept that the service may or may not do some things you DO want done.

In the above story, for example, we were unwilling to take the risk of removing, dusting and then replacing the figurines for a couple of reasons.  The first reason was that these were obviously precious to the homeowner and, depending on which of our cleaning team did the dusting at this home, would have required getting a small step-ladder and removing each piece one by one.  This increases the liability to us in the form of a potential fall, and the risk of breaking what may have been an heirloom.

The second reason had to do with pricing.  When you are being careful you take extra time and, as they say, time is money.  Some people are price-conscious when it comes to a cleaning service.  We can sanitize a kitchen counter, making sure to polish the chrome on the sink faucet, clean the inside of a microwave and get fingerprints  and grime off of the outside of the other major appliances in a reasonable amount of time and we build tasks like that into our bids.  But when you start throwing in items like polishing a chrome toaster even if it doesn’t need it, folding blankets on the couch just so and dusting figurines, this is going to take extra time and we need to reflect that time in our bid.  Most clients are not willing to pay that price.

So there you have it.  Is a Cleaning or Maid Service for you?

Bleach Alternatives

Ok, so you know that chlorine bleach is bad for you, your family and the environment but you want to really kill mold, mildew and really disinfect your bathroom (or kitchen or whatever).  What to do?

We’ve got you covered.  Below are some safer, yet equally effective, alternatives to chlorine bleach that you can use without having to deal with the guilt associated with using a known carcinogen in your home.

bathroom-cleaning-191x300

Oxygen Bleach

What is itOxygen Bleach is Sodium percarbonate a chemical, an adduct of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, with formula 2Na2CO3 · 3H2O2.  You may know it most commonly as the product OxiClean.

Just as effective at killing mold and mildew as it’s chlorine cousin, but with none of the toxic fumes that come with the other bleach, Oxygen Bleach is a perfectly acceptable alternative to your standard chlorine bleach

Vinegar

What is it? Vinegar is a liquid consisting mainly of acetic acid and water. The acetic acid is produced by the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria.

A mild disinfectant, vinegar has become a ‘go-to’ for DIY home cleaners.  Please make sure to read our blog about what NOT to clean with vinegar.

Borax

borax

What is it?  Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. Powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water.

A word of warning on this one; borax, if ingested, is still a dangerous chemical.  That said, it does not give off harmful fumes and when used responsibly is an effective disinfectant and MUCH safer than chlorine bleach.

Tea Tree Oil

tea tree oil

What is it?   Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is a pale yellow color to nearly colorless and clear essential oil with a fresh camphoraceous odor. It is taken from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to Southeast Queensland and the Northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia.

According to one source this essential oil is a powerful disinfecting agent.

It’s all about the family.

Family.  It’s one of the reasons we started Freedom Cleaning Services back in 2006.  We were both laid off and needed to continue to feed and house ours.

But what we do goes way beyond our family.  It extends to the families we service and beyond.  Our goal is to touch as many families in a positive way as possible.

Family sitting on bikes on path smiling

We are in business to make money, of course, but we found early on that we can do this AND make a positive impact.  First, it was just giving families more time by taking one of the most life sucking chores in the history of chores off of their hands.  Home cleaning.

Next, in 2008, we joined Cleaning for a Reason.  Through C4R, we can give women one less thing to worry about by cleaning their homes at no charge while they are going through cancer treatment.

Starting in January of this year, we began a real push.  We created a new page on our website to be used as a Family Resource Guide.  Our hope is that a family member who needs a service or business can go to our website and find what they need.  We spotlight local businesses and individuals.

Now we want to help families struggling to feed their families.  We are talking to NACE (North Anoka County Emergency Food Shelf) about ways we can help.  One way is through donations.  During the month of July, for every dollar NACE collects in donations, Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless will proportionately match.  The more donations, the bigger the grant.  And considering the fact that NACE can turn one dollar of donations into $8.60 in buying power, that would make a huge difference for hungry families.

NACE

 

 

 

If you would like to donate and help hungry families in Anoka County, you can do so here.

We will continue to look for ways that we can help families in our community.  because it really is all about the family.

Teamwork Makes Magic

Kerri Walsh and Misty Mae-Treanor.   Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.  Victor Cruz and Eli Manning.  You and us.  All of these people have something in common.  they are teammates.   Each of these pairs needs the other in order to effectively do what they are paid to do.

Ok, fine.  Manning and Rubio have other team mates available to them.  But when the play calls for it, they must work together and when they do, magical, wonderful, exciting things can happen.

I suppose you may be scratching your head and wondering about the “you and us” in the first line.  Imagine hiring a maid service and giving them the instruction,” just do a good cleaning in this room.”  You have certain items you want cleaned in a certain way and you know what those things are.  You received a sheet from the service explaining what they do, but cleaning is cleaning, right?  You arrive home at the end of the day and are shocked to find that the books on the book shelf were not dusted.  Also, the blinds are still dusty!  Don’t these people know how to clean?

Likewise, let’s assume we come to clean your home.  When we did the walk through, we noticed that very old and very expensive-looking area rug in the living room.  We wondered if it was an heirloom, but didn’t ask.  You didn’t say anything so we assumed it was safe to vacuum.  We imagine Great-great-grandma Louisa is rolling in her grave after what our vacuum did to that rug.

In both of these examples, both you and we are to blame for, a). your disappointment with our cleaning and b). the destruction of Great-great Grandmas’ heirloom rug.

It is up to both of us to communicate our wishes, expectations and abilities to each other.

We have a client who, on about the fourth or fifth cleaning called while we were at her home and asked if we would clean the blinds that day.  The time before that it was make the beds.  The time before that it was something else.  I explained that, no, we would not be cleaning her blinds that day.  She was indignant that I would say no and demanded to know why not.  I explained that when we gave her an estimate, we were very clear about what we did or did not do and she had never mentioned anything about cleaning blinds or making beds or any of the other extra things that she was adding on every cleaning day.  Also, we had a very busy day that day and extra time spent cleaning her blinds would  make us late to other clients’ homes.  To be fair, we never said we don’t clean blinds.  Likewise, she never mentioned she wanted them cleaned.

Now we communicate on a regular basis.  We know exactly what she expects of us and she knows exactly what and how we will be cleaning.

When we and the client are in synch and communicate openly and honestly we can give you a house cleaning that you love.  The kind of clean home that you daydream about at work.  You know you will find everything exactly the way you want it when you get home that day.  After all, that’s why you hired us, right?

Work, Stress and Household Management.

We don’t have to tell you that life is more stressful these days.  We feel it, too.  Longer hours at work, plus taking care of the home can take it’s toll.  Don’t believe us?  Check out this information…

According to this article from Main Street, the high level employees left behind after layoffs are feeling pressured to work 50 or even 60 hours per week, while the lower level employees are being asked to work less hours or weekends and holidays.  These extra hours or less hours or undesirable hours obviously increase our stress levels.

 

 

And that doesn’t even count the stress you feel from home.  Are you one of the folks putting in marathon hours at work?  How do you take care of the home front when you finally drag your butt home?  Feel like cleaning the house?  According to this article, simply feeling as though you are responsible for the cooking, cleaning and other household chores and trying to figure out how to deal with it, can make your stress and blood pressure soar.

And finally there is this little tid-bit.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (a division of the U.S. Labor Department) conducts a survey every year called the American Time Use Survey.  It asks average Americans to break down how they spent their time every year.  In 2010, among the people who completed the survey and identified that they did housework, Americans spend nearly 1.57 hours each week day doing some sort of housework.  I originally thought that that number didn’t seem so high until I did some math in my head.  1.57 hours each weekday times five days per week, times fifty-two weeks a year came out to over 400 hours each year on housework.  400!?

Luckily there are folks out there that want to help.  Yes, it comes at a price, but the trade-off could be your health.  From the kid down the street who can’t find a job and would love nothing more than to make a few bucks mowing your lawn, to a compnay like ours who can tackle the more difficult cleaning chores, you can lower your stress levels, save some time and maybe even reduce your stress level in the process.

Smirking at the Forecast

It seems that “snowmaggedon” fever has once more reached out and gripped the Twin Cities.  Weird.  Minnesota in February got a lot of snow.  We knew it was coming, because the forecasters told us.  And told us.  And told us some more.

Many people hit the stores in the days preceding the snow event and stocked up.  As the day of the storm came, it seemed that the forecasts of the actual arrival time were off.  The anticipated snow didn’t hit until later than forecast.  I was reading status updates from friends on Facebook that seemed to laugh or scoff at those that had stocked up or prepared.  People asked, “Where’s all the snow we were supposed to get?”  Sarcastic remarks about the forecasters were abundant.  Most of these were in the northern metro.

At the same time, I was reading status updates from other friends in Minneapolis saying they were “getting socked.”  The snow came, alright.  It just didn’t come when it was supposed to and the predictions for less snow in some parts of the metro were accurate.

Sometimes we expect more out of forecasting than is possible.  That goes the same with business forecasting.  It’s not an exact science.  It’s based on trends and information that may or may not be accurate and can be wrong as many times as it is right.  It also can be extremely accurate for one area, but not as accurate for another.  We ignore forecasts at our own peril.  Don’t listen to those that say the forecasters will be wrong.  Prepare your business and, at the worst, you will be ready. 

Remember; just because it isn’t “snowing” in your backyard, doesn’t mean it isn’t coming or someone else isn’t getting it.