The cleaning industry is essential. Labor unions were put in place to make sure laborers are protected and being paid fair wages. Cleaners, however, do not have that advantage since we are not part of a union. We have the luxury of setting our own rates and the challenge of not knowing how much to charge.
When I started my business 28 years ago, I knew how to clean very well. But I had NO idea what to charge per home since they are all different and every situation required different work from me. Some homes have children and pets, some homes have children and no pets, and some homes have no children or pets. I know that last sentence may have your head spinning, and to be honest, mine was too! I thought, “How in the world do I fairly charge customers for each different and unique scenario?”
You must remember your time is money! That is how America’s system is set up; we trade our time for money. My quest was to figure out how much time it would take to clean each home based on how big it was and how many people and pets lived in each home. This was a daunting task in the beginning but with time and determination, I finally understood what bidding was all about, and how to profit in this space. I quickly learned the per job model was my best path to profitability, not per hour.
In the very beginning I did lose some money and had to adjust my prices along the way. And to be honest, when I started, I would let clients know I was new to the business and was learning the ins and outs of it all. I would recommend doing this too because transparency and trust can strengthen your relationship with clients, especially if you are new to the industry.
I am now part of a few cleaning groups which can be quite helpful if you are new to the business. There was no social media when I started this journey and it saddens me to see how many independent cleaners don’t know their worth. I see so many new independent cleaners who don’t know how much to charge, or are being taken advantage of by clients who know independent cleaners may be less business-savvy than a franchise or cleaning business owner. There are unknowing cleaners who have families to take care of. Many who, like myself, are uneducated single moms who really need the income to provide for their children.
I was self-taught in this industry and was fortunate enough to have some help to navigate through the hard things I had no clue about. My advice to an independent cleaner is to start by setting your price per job and NOT per hour.
If you agree to $25.00 per hour and clean a 3,500 square foot home in 5 hours, you just made $125.00 for a LOT of labor. Instead, if you charge per job and charge $245.00 for that same 3,500 square foot home, you have now made a livable wage!
If this is your average daily pay, you can earn $980.00 a week and will only be working 4 days per week. Your monthly salary would be $3,970 x 12 months = $47,040.00 per year for part-time work! If you hire a helper, you could triple this revenue per year. This is a very demanding and rewarding business that allows for a flexible schedule and control over what your daily duties are.
In Facebook cleaning groups I am a part of, novice cleaners are constantly saying how customers treat them poorly and expect them to do outrageous things for low pay. They know they are being taken advantage of but are too afraid to speak up. The customers know they are vulnerable and have no clue how much to charge for their work.
Of course, we all like a good deal or have bought something knowing the price was mismarked. We know it’s priced wrong but it’s the store’s mistake, not ours, so we willingly buy it for the lesser price. This same concept is happening every day to cleaners who do not know their worth and give their services away for far below industry standards.
My advice would be to do what I did in the beginning. I would call a competitor as a “potential client” and give them the square footage and characteristics of the home I needed to bid on. Franchises tend to be the best resource because they have systems in place that give them accurate prices for most scenarios. They may give you a $170.00 quote for that home’s scenario, so now you have a starting price point that you know not to go below.
Next, set up a time to do a live, virtual walk-through with our amazing Virtual Bid App, which will save you a lot of time and money on gas! Write down what you see during the walk-through and give them the price that fits that scenario, but never go below the competitor’s quoted price.
Knowing your worth and sticking to it when you need business can be tough; I know, because it was for me.
My mentor told me something that will stick with me forever: “Not everyone will be your customer.”
That very idea has helped me to be successful over the last nearly three decades. He said everyone will NOT be your customer, meaning if they are not willing to pay your price, then let them go find a lessor service. You will find a customer that sees your value and pays what you know you are worth.
Now Go Take A Bite Out Of Grime!
CEO & Founder of Heaven Scent Home Cleaning & Virtual Bid App