You Get What You Pay For in Hiring Cleaning Companies

By:  Cathy Green

From time to time a client will tell me that my prices are higher than they want to pay. Many of them admit that their former cleaners were “cleaning ladies” who they paid $40 – $50 to every couple of weeks to clean their homes. Those who had actual cleaning companies still were not satisfied.

I won’t even waste time discussing cleaning ladies. They are not a real business and they pay no taxes. So anyone who allows a “cleaning lady” in their home is putting themselves at risk. Enough said.

What I want to discuss for a minute is the legitimate cleaning company that charges very low rates to clean homes and its implications to the consumer.

Let’s say that you have a home that is approximately 2,500 s.f. and includes 3 full bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining room, sun room and/or family room and an office. You also have a finished basement that is rarely used but from time to time, you’d like that cleaned also.

I won’t even concern myself at this point with square feet. Regardless of the size of the home, if you have 3 bathrooms, that’s a lot of work. Bathrooms and kitchens require more time than the other rooms in the house (generally) because they get a lot of use.

My company specializes in the “one maid per home” system. However, I obviously will send two maids into a home that requires a great deal of work.

So let’s look at the sample above. If I were to do an estimate of a home that has 3 full bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, kitchen, office, living and dining rooms, family or sun room, and so on, I would probably assign two cleaning techs to the home.

In the sample above, I’d probably charge between $150 and $160 every two weeks. I will admit that not every family can afford to pay that price—which is why we generally target two income homes. These are people who have established cleaning budgets and who have determined that for them, it’s worth it.

There are cleaning companies out there who would clean the same home for $85 – $90. The question is, how on earth are they paying 2 cleaning techs, plus earning a profit while charging that tiny fee?

I’ll tell you how they are doing it. They are paying their cleaning techs either minimum wage or below minimum wage.

Let’s work the numbers:

Minimum wage in Maryland is about $6.55 per hour. Let’s say that the cleaning company is paying the two workers $6.55 each, muliplied by 2.5 hours (many cleaning companies insist that their workers are in and out of a house in 1 – 2 hours because they have about 5 – 6 houses to clean per day!) But I’ll be generous and say 2.5 hours.

$6.55 x 2 = $13.10

$13.10 x 2.5 = $32.75

Subtract $32.75 from $85 and there is a profit margin of $52.25

So the cleaning company has earned a profit of $52.25 while having paid its workers minimum wage.

BUT, here is the clincher. People who work minimum wage are known for doing a horrible job. They also don’t stay on such jobs for long and will search out another job paying more, accounting for the high turnover rates in most cleaning companies. So the family will not be pleased with the shoddy work and eventually will fire the company.

Why does my company retain its workers? Why does my company charge more? I’ll tell you why. We pay our workers a decent wage. In response, they take the job seriously and they do a great job in homes. It’s a chain reaction.

You get what you pay for. Someone making minimum wage to do the back breaking work of house cleaning will not put out any true effort. But a person making well above minimum wage will. It’s truly that simple.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cindy Dayman on February 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    what do you pay your workers

  2. Posted by uppercrustmaids on February 16, 2009 at 12:35 am


    I pay my workers enough that they view this as a real job as opposed to a fast food “jump off”.

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