Category Archives: Time

Cleaning Your Home With a Team

Ok, so here you are.  The woman who has been cleaning your home has finally given her notice.  She has been with you for the last 15 years, basically since she graduated high school, and here she is expecting her second child.

It’s been nice having one person clean your home.  She was fairly reliable, showing up every week and taking about four to five hours to clean your home the same way you would.  Sure, it took some training to get her to do it your way, but it was worth it.

Woman Cleaning Toilet

What are your options for replacing her (like you could ever replace her)?  Angieslist has a good comparison of your options, here.

You could search for another woman; maybe on craigslist or in the local news paper, but that seems so last century.  Besides, the world is a much different place since you last hired a home cleaner.

The other option is to hire a service.  The nice part of this option is you know that they are most likely insured and there is a certain amount of security involved with inviting them into your home.

A reputable cleaning service will background check their employees, have liability insurance and can be dependable and reliable.  Some will send the same people each time (usually two or three), so you have a sense of continuity on each cleaning.

The down side to this is that where it took your previous woman four to five hours to clean your home, the cleaning company can usually have it done in an hour to an hour and a half.  This may lead you to believe that they did an inferior job or skipped some things you wanted done, but in reality, two or three people naturally can do the same job your previous cleaner did in 1/3 or 1/2 the time.

Team

It may also be disconcerting to have a group of people in your home versus one person.  Whereas your previous cleaner was pretty silent in her work, save for the vacuum, a team will normally communicate during the cleaning (“Don’t forget the stainless polish.”, “Did you do these stairs, yet?”).

The decision is a personal preference and one you most likely will lose some sleep over.  It is your home, after all.  Best of luck to you!

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?

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.

Just a Little Longer, Please.

I admit it.  Secretly, unless you are a member of my family, I love Christmas starting early.  When nobody else is with me in the vehicle, I tune the radio to the station that plays Christmas music around November 5th. 

Go ahead; roll your eyes.  “It’s too early.”, you’ll say.  “I don’t need any more stress in my life.  At least not a month earlier than it has to be.”  Stress, my friend is where you allow it to be.  I’ve got plenty of time to shop and I know that.  I tune out the ads telling me to hurry, rush right in and other action-imploring things. 

For me, this season is all about hope and peace and joy.  I love the smell of a real Christmas tree.  It reminds me of a simpler, happier time with less stress. I like seeing a menorah in a window.  I love the sight of strings upon strings of brightly colored lights.  Each twinkling light, to me, is a sign of hope in a world sometimes seemingly devoid of hope.

 

At what other time of the year is everyone’s home so filled with the scent of cookies or other treats baking?  When else is it appropriate to see, or better yet participate in, the act of strolling through your neighborhood singing to your friends without the police being called?

Call me naive, call me a dreamer, call me the anti-Scrooge.  Is there anything wrong with wanting a little more joy, a little more happiness in the world?

So forgive me if I would like this time of year to last just a little bit longer.

Values

Do you remember mowing lawns as a kid?  How much did you get paid? I used to get a dollar.  Maybe two.  Ok, fine it was the 70’s.  That two dollars could have probably filled up my gas tank.   

We pay our kids between $10.00 and $20.00 for this chore, depending on whether or not they pick up after the dogs and rake the clippings, too.  I figured we were being generous.  Wrong!  When I did some  research on this, I found that this was the norm.  I read forum after forum and found the going rate was anywhere from $10.00 “for an average sized lawn” to $20.00 (the average) all the way up to $50.00 every week.  I was shocked.

 We run into this sometimes, too.  We go into a home and quote a price to scrub the kitchen sinks, dust the furniture, scrub the toilets and bathtubs or showers and vacuum.  Sometimes, we never hear from these people again.  Sometimes, we hear that we are over-priced.  It happens.  So, what is the going rate for a house cleaning or maid service? 

The pricing depends on a lot of things; how big is the home?  How many occupants does the home have?  Are there pets in the home?  How often is the home being cleaned?  Is the cleaning going to be a one-time, deep cleaning or a scheduled recurring cleaning? 

According to Costhelper.com, the average single story, seven room house would cost you between$95.00 – $300.00 for a one time cleaning or between $79.00 and $150.00 every other week.  A two-story, nine room home would run between $149.00 – $400.00 for a one-time cleaning and between $104.00 to $180.00 bi-weekly.  These same figures can be found at Buzzle.com.

But what are the intangibles?  Is your home cleaner, healthier?  Does it save you time, freeing you to do other things?  If it gives you more time to spend with your family, can you put a price on that?    Only you can say what the real value of such a service is.

How Did Mom Do It?

I was chatting with a client the other day and she paid me what I thought was a compliment.  She said, “I spend the week after you guys come, wondering how I ever get along without you”.  But then she continued, “I spend the week before you come thinking I should just tell you NOT to come and just do it myself and save the money.  I don’t know how my Mom did it”. 

We’ve all seen June Cleaver fix a hearty breakfast, kick Ward and the kids out the door, clean the entire house, whip up a seven course meal and get Wally and the Beav to bed before settling down with Ward for an enjoyable evening of Pinochle with the neighbors.  In a dress.  With pefectly applied make-up and flawless hair. 

Surely today’s Moms should have it easier.  Look at all the technology available to the Moms of the 21st century to make their lives stress-free.  Digital calendars on their cellular phones that can turn on the lights in the house and start the pot roast.  Heck, about the only thing nobody has invented yet is something to change the baby while simultaneously grounding the teenager (of course if you have a baby and a teenager at the same time, you have more problems than technology can fix).

And yet….

Moms today are busier than ever.  I polled some of my clients, friends, peers in the business and even my own mother to see what happened between June Cleaver and today’s Mom.  Nobody knew.  The one thing they could all agree on was something that Deb Posey, owner of Lavendar Thyme Cleaning in Winona, Minnesota said, ” There are more negative influences on children now which requires more parent involvemnet.   Mothers are more involved with outside activities; time is at more of a premium. Life is much faster paced; you have to run to keep up. Homes are bigger, surfaces specialized.”  And Jen, a client of ours said, “As a working stay-at-home mom, I would definitely say it’s harder!!! Lots of running from here to there!”  Even my own mother had to admit that today’s pace is too much.  “I can’t keep up now and I have nothing to do”, she laughed.