7 Biggest Hiring Mistakes Cleaning Companies Make

Published on October 10, 2017

Everyone in the cleaning business is dying to find better employees.

They advertise like crazy, but can't seem to find reliable staff.  Why? Because these owners make the BIGGEST, most common hiring mistakes.

Avoid these seven hiring mistakes in your cleaning company:

1. They Hire Because They are Desperate

You should never hire a person just because you need another warm body. You need more employees, but the wrong employee can cost you much more than firing clients because you’re unable to service them.

Hiring a new person who sets off every red flag you have is like buying a used car with the check engine light on and plumes of smoke coming from under the hood. It can’t end well and it’s going to be expensive.

How to fix this hiring mistake: Don't hire anyone until you are absolutely certain about them. If you're in a crunch, consider putting your least profitable clients on hold or increase your prices.

Remember, hiring is expensive, but hiring mistakes will cost you.

2. They Only Hire "Clones"

Imagine a world made up of You’s.

Now imagine that world’s strengths. You’re probably a quick study and eager to get things done, you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit.

Now imagine that world’s weaknesses. Maybe they are:

  • Quick to act
  • Overeager for new, "shiny" ideas
  • No follow through or consistency

If you only hire people who remind you of yourself, you build a business with very big strengths... and even bigger weaknesses. That business will burn brightly until everyone is burnt out (starting with you).

How to fix this hiring mistake: You have to hire to fill your blind spots.

You need people who are risk-averse. People who like things the way they were yesterday. The kind of people who will push back against abandoning (or back-burnering) yesterday’s work.

Build yourself a team, instead of a hall of mirrors.

Want to have a great year in your cleaning business? Check out our Annual Guide to Improving Your Business.

3. They Only Hire Experienced Individuals

There’s a labor pool out there that lacks cleaning skills. They’re not stupid. They’re not incapable. They need to be taught.

You’ve almost certainly had an experienced employee refuse to do something “your way” because they did another, better way at their last job. A person with no experience doesn’t have that baggage. They don't need to be "re-trained" (which can often take far more of your time and give you plenty of headaches).

How to fix this hiring mistake: Don’t dismiss people who lack experience. When it comes to company culture, a good fit is a good fit, you can teach them what they need to know. “How to clean” isn’t nearly as important as “good employee,” “good culture fit,” and “willing to learn.”

4. They Don't Ask for References or Perform Background Checks

How to fix this hiring mistake: Call applicants’ references.

Call them. Email them. Get in contact with them. If they seem made up, Google them or the business they work for. Call the main line for the business and ask for the person.

Run a background check on the person. Check for theft convictions, DUIs, etc. This person will go into your clients’ homes. We've all heard horror stories about theft. If they steal from your clients and you could have known about past crimes, you could share some of the blame.

Second chances are understandable and can help someone turn over a new leaf but it’s important to walk into that situation with both eyes open as an employer.

Don’t rely exclusively on your judgment of an interview. Talk to someone who worked with them in the past, run a background check.

5. They Don't Do Working Interviews

How to fix this hiring mistake: When you’re hiring someone with cleaning experience, you need to make sure they CAN do the job, not just TALK about doing it.

Pay them to clean your home or that of a client you are very comfortable with (potentially offer the client a discount on this service). Provide the supplies you would use and then monitor the clean.

This shows you whether:

  • They need more training
  • They waste time or work inefficiently
  • They actually know how to do what they say

This is a great way to interview a contractor that you’re hiring to immediately take over some clients. You get to make sure they know what they’re doing.

6. They Only Look When they Need to Hire

We asked Martha Woodward of Dusting Divas and Quality Driven Software what she thought the biggest mistake a cleaning business owner could make when hiring.

She said:

"I think the biggest mistake is to think you don't always need to be looking for good applicants. Way too many people, including myself, get in a bind thinking they are fully staffed and don't need anyone. You never know when you need someone tomorrow. Always be looking; always be in hiring mode. Generally, it is easier to find clients than it is to find quality employees."

Don’t become complacent. The second you stop interviewing is the second someone quits unexpectedly. Entry-level positions are high turnover jobs, even in well-run, large companies, especially if you promote from within (an excellent morale booster for your entire team).

Keep your Craigslist ads active and updated, take out ads on Facebook. Keep applications coming in. You can almost always use another set of able hands. The work is there, you can sell it.

7. Unwillingness to Let Go

Martha said, "always be willing to fire a new hire."

If a new hire shows you they won’t fit, let them go. Give second chances and an opportunity to adapt, but know that everyone won’t work out. Don’t keep them around for 6 months of squeaky-wheel status.

Seth Godin recently blogged about underachievers and overachievers. He argued that slowing down for underachievers will always result in them slowing down more. Some people are just more comfortable at the back of the pack. It’s not worth it to slow everyone else down for them to keep up. They won’t ever keep up.

Listen to episode 4 of The Profit Roadmap, where Chris Volpe talks about the Pareto Principle. 20% of new hires will represent 80% of the longevity you get out of all hires. That means that 80% of your new hires will only make up 20% of all hires longevity.

Don’t sweat it; it happens to the best of us.

Hire a Team, not Employees

Build your company by hiring a team, not employees. Fill gaps in your company to make it what you want it to be.

Every team is made up of a variety of players. Every player isn’t Ben Roethlisberger or Lebron James, but it’s important that they complement who have you already have on your team. You need a Misty May Treanor and a Kerri Walsh. That’s how you build a successful team.

That’s how you create good culture in your business. Good culture, good compensation, and good decisions keep employees.

You control all three. You can hire the people you need, if you’re doing a good job with all three. When people love working for you, they become advocates for your business.

Related: [2019 Update] How to Hire Employees for Your Cleaning Business

Cody Owen

Cody is a copywriter with Service Autopilot. He was writing before he could read, dictating stories to his mom. Of late, he distills business principles and practices learned from his ever-increasing trove of books and his year with SA Support into digestible blog posts designed to provide maximum value to service industry business owners.


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