Tips for hiring a cleaning service during the pandemic

MILWAUKEE -- Cleaning companies may find themselves following a different method of deep cleaning when going into homes, home offices, and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued recommendations on how to clean and disinfect multiple surface areas to help prevent the spread of the virus. Several states and provinces may be considering opening businesses or relaxing strict stay-at-home mandates as well. This may mean employers are finding ways to keep a clean environment for their employees if/when they come back to the office. When thinking about hiring a cleaning business or individual cleaning person, consider the following tips.

1. Research the company. Ask friends, family members, and neighbors to recommend a reputable cleaning business or individual.  It's a good practice to interview at least three companies to get an estimate before selecting one to hire.  Check out the businesses through to read reviews or complaints on them. Beware of businesses with poor reviews and multiple complaints, more importantly, see how they address them.

2. Interview candidates. Interview multiple candidates to determine if you would prefer to hire a large cleaning business or an individual cleaning person. Request to meet with someone from the cleaning business, as well as with the person who will actually clean your home or office. During the interview process, determine if you would be comfortable with them since they will be in your home or office. Ask what type of cleaning products are used, especially if there are family or employees that may be sensitive to harsh chemicals.

3. Check credentials. Any individual or business that is considered for hire should be bonded and insured. This will protect your company and family in the event something is broken, stolen, or if someone gets injured on the job. Whether you hire an individual or a business, request that the employees working in your home have a background check done, or you may want to complete one on them yourself for peace of mind.

4. Request references. Before making an offer, ask that the business or individual provide a list of references you may contact. When speaking with the references, look for a business or individual that has repeat satisfied customers. Ask the references about the services they use and if the business met expectations.

5. Discuss cost. Determine the length of time the cleaning service is necessary. Find out exactly what is included in their services and make sure it encompasses everything you wish to have cleaned. If you want something specific, communicate that up front so the cleaning company is prepared to accommodate your request. The representative should walk through your home or office before providing an estimate. Ask if the cleaning business provides their own cleaning supplies, if not the cost of the services should be less expensive. Keep in mind the least expensive cleaning services may not be giving you the best deal for your money.

6. Get everything in writing. When making a final decision, review the written agreement that spells out clearly what the cleaners will do and the timeframe in which it will be completed.

7. Prepare for the services.  Before the cleaning service arrives, secure all personal items such as jewelry, documents with private information on it, and other valuables. Make arrangements for pets so it's less stressful for them and for the cleaning crew.

"Licensed, bonded and insured" are important when having any type of work done in a home or office. Verify each one. In Wisconsin, there is no agency that “licenses” cleaning services. Bonds and Insurance are separate issues.  Depending on where the business is located, they may need to be registered with their local municipality.

A bond is a form of insurance that protects you from any dishonest or criminal acts by the people who will come into your home to clean it.

Insurance protects you if the cleaning people cause an accident, such as forgetting to shut off a faucet or losing a key.

Get a copy of the company's bond and obtain the name of its insurance agent, then call to verify that the cleaning service's bond and policies are in effect. Note the dollar values and coverage limits. Is the dollar value on the bond or policy high enough to cover your house? Also check to see that the company has its own workers compensation insurance policy. If they do not, and a maid or cleaner is injured while working in your home, they could sue you and your homeowner’s insurance policy.

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