This week, the topic has been cleaning services--how they work, what and how they charge, and what questions to ask before you hire.
So let's say you screen several services; you cover the questions in the previous post, you ask for and check their references, and you make your decision. The cleaning person or team comes out and does a knock out job. Any qualms you may originally have had about having someone come into your home now seem silly in retrospect, and you wonder why you didn't do this a long time ago.
The second time the service comes out, it's another great job. Well, maybe not quite as great as the first, or maybe you're getting spoiled. The third time, or the fourth, or maybe the fifth time comes around, and with a sinking stomach you begin to realize: it's not you or your perception. The service really has gone downhill, especially from that first or second time.
The most common complaint I've heard from those who use a cleaning service is not theft (in fact, of the dozens of people I've known who've used a service, only one person has had that problem); neither is it breakage nor ruined finishes. By far, the biggest complaint is that a service starts strong then peters out within a few visits. What' going on?
It could be a number of things. Often, especially with a larger service, a supervisor will come out the first time and work with the regular cleaner or team members as a part of training. Another reason could be that more experienced workers are assigned to new clients to get the place up to speed in terms of baseline cleanliness, the idea being that once a place has been thoroughly cleaned, it's just a matter of weekly or twice-a-month maintenance. Even if you have the same person or team, less time may be allotted after the first few times based on the assumption of a certain baseline cleanliness. If for whatever reason your place gets messier or dirtier than average--whether due to small children, messy hobbies, excessive pet hair, or untidy habits--the service may not be scheduling enough time for the work that needs to be done.
Of course, the change in quality could have nothing to do with you or your home. The service could have picked up another client on your scheduled day and be squeezed for time, especially if the new client is high-maintenance. Sometimes it's true that the highest effort is made in getting and impressing new clients rather than keeping long-time clients happy, a poor but rather common business plan. And sometimes it's a matter of no longer seeing the place with a fresh and constructively critical eye.
Whatever the case, your best bet is to talk it out with the person in charge--whether that's a supervisor or the person who is doing the cleaning if you're working with a one-person operation. If during the screening you asked how satisfaction is guaranteed, you can use that as your opening, i.e. "You mentioned during our interview that you guarantee your work and you encouraged me to talk to you if I had any concerns." Before your talk, write a list of the problems so you can go through it, item-by-item, with the service. The service should offer to make things right without additional charge. Hopefully after your conversation you'll see a change back to the original quality you admired.