As a cleaning business owner, your #1 asset is your staff. They’re the ones cleaning houses, interacting with clients, and doing the work that grows your business.
This is why it's so important to know exactly how much to pay cleaning employees – without breaking the bank.
And while they’re your best asset, they can also be your biggest headache. Employees can make or break a company. So how do you keep good employees around and incentivize efficient and good quality cleaning?
If you get this right – you WILL continue to succeed as a cleaning business.
Because the most successful cleaning companies have their pay structure dialed in. They pay their employees JUST the right amount to make sure they’re wowing the client on every clean, and there is enough margin to make profits.
This article will show you exactly how to find the right amount to pay your team.
There are three things you need to know to get your pay structure right:
If you know these things – you will be able to attract the best employees and make the most profits.
Don’t know where to start?
Make sure you look locally because $15 an hour might look attractive to someone in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but in Seattle, minimum wage is $17.27 an hour.
Come up with some sort of average wage and it can be a range. Just remember that is not your starting wage.
You want to be better than average. You need to attract the BEST employees and keep them.
When figuring out pay rates, think beyond your cleaning team – you need to consider your office staff too. Look at job postings to calculate wages for office emplyees.
What should an office manager with five years of experience in the cleaning industry be making in your area? What if they have ten years of experience?
Market research will help you answer those questions and come to interviews prepared. It also helps you know when you can afford to hire someone else in the office.
One last thought before we move on…
If you’re paying your cleaning employees too much, you may price yourself out of your market.
That’s why it’s crucial that you understand and get your pricing right.
Which brings us to point #2.
Before you can fix pricing, you need to know what you should be charging per hour for your cleaning services.
The best way to think about pricing is selling time. How long does it take to clean a house? What are you charging per hour to clean?
The key number is your employee hourly rate.
Here’s the formula:
(number of workers) X (hours on the job)
(price of the job)
Let’s say two cleaners spend three hours on the job and you’re charging $200 for the clean.
(2) X (3)
Your hourly rate is $33.
This can be more difficult when you’re not using a system to track employee time. Make sure you have a software solution that lets you track actual job times.
Now, you have a good idea of what you can pay your cleaners. It MUST leave room to cover your overhead costs (like office space rental, marketing, etc.) and make you a profit too.
If you charge your clients an hourly rate rather than a flat rate, then the margin is a little easier to calculate.
You may start looking at your numbers and realize that you aren’t charging enough.
Tackle that problem first.
Luckily, there are great resources to help you figure out what you should be charging.
Make Sure Your Cleaning Pricing Can Cover Benefits & Training
Maybe your pricing is spot on, and you’re paying your staff more than other companies in your service area.
Research suggests that YES wages are important, but employees want other benefits too, like vacation days and health care. This is especially true in competitive markets where employees have lots of options.
Maybe you’re not in a financial position to offer the laundry list of benefits that larger companies do.
But could you offer some benefits that make your company an attractive place to work?
Consider your workload as well. Make sure you have enough new jobs coming in to pay new cleaners and cover basic benefits. If the well is running dry and you need more recurring clients – try some new marketing strategies.
Remember that there’s also always an extra cost associated with hiring and training new employees.
You might spend two weeks training someone, only to find out they’re not cut out for the job.
Yep, we’ve all been there.
You need to have the capital and cash flow to eat those costs.
It all starts with getting your pricing right and being profitable.
Before you can determine exactly how much to pay cleaning employees, you’ll need to consider how you pay them.
The most common methods are hourly, per job, or some combination of the two.
Each method has pros and cons.
Hourly wages are simple and many successful cleaning companies pay hourly.
Employees understand hourly wages, and it’s easy to see how your pay compares to other cleaners.
It’s also much easier to calculate overtime and give incremental raises.
The only downside with hourly pay is that poor performing workers can take longer on jobs, causing you to lose money.
You MUST have a way to make sure your employees are being efficient. Hold your cleaners accountable for getting jobs done within budgeted time.
Otherwise, sooner or later, your hourly pay employees will milk the clock.
Paying per job offers a solution to this problem.
Pay Per Job
Some companies pay their cleaners a flat percentage of each job, while some do different percentages based on the type of work.
For example, you may give your employees 40% of each job’s revenue.
So, for a $100 job, that’s $40 for the employee. The other $60 goes back to the company.
The great thing here is that your company’s share of the revenue is always the same.
While this method makes it easier to ensure that YOU make a profit, you need to be careful to abide by labor laws.
For example, let’s say you charge $100 for a job that takes the employee six hours to complete. So, you pay the employee $40 based on the example numbers we shared above.
Their per hour rate for that job is $6.67 – less than minimum wage!
Now, most companies don’t have this problem, because under this method, employees often work faster.
Sounds good on paper – in reality, this can lead to sloppy work.
Remember paying per job can be hard to pitch to prospective employees because they may not understand it. Make sure to show potential employees what per job pay would look like for them on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis.
Lastly, great way to ensure quality under this system is to email surveys to your clients after every job.
Even better if you can automate this process with something like Service Autopilot’s Automations feature.
Hourly & Per Job Hybrid Pricing
Some of the best companies in the cleaning industry do a combination of hourly and per job. They pay their cleaners an hourly wage AND some commission percentage on each job.
This method hits the sweet spot for getting quality work at an efficient pace.
But you REALLY need to know your numbers to pull it off.
Example: you pay your cleaners a $12/hour base rate, plus a 10% commission on each job.
You charge $100 to clean a house and you budget three hours for the job.
If the cleaner does the job in exactly three hours, then they make a $36 base and $10 commission. The employee’s per hour earnings come out to $15 an hour.
Let’s say it takes the employee a half-hour longer. They make a $42 base and $10 commission. Their per hour earnings are $14.80.
Let’s say the employee does the work in a half-hour less. They make a$30 base and $10 commission. The employee earns $16 per hour.
Your cleaners have an incentive to work quickly, BUT they’re not overly punished if the job takes them a little longer.
This gives them the flexibility to spend more time on that client you really want to impress.
At the same time, they can earn more.
More work = More commission
Remember, that this model is exciting for your team, but it requires that you know exactly how long your jobs should take and you price them accordingly.
You can get creative with this method too.
For example, instead of a flat percentage on each job, you could give bonuses based on performance. You can use customer feedback surveys to determine how your cleaners are doing.
Which Payment Method is Best?
Ultimately, there’s no clear-cut choice for which method is the best.
You have to decide what’s best for your business and your market. And that comes by knowing your numbers.
The key is to choose a method that keeps your cleaning staff happy, your profit margins solid, and your clients smiling.
Manage your clients and employees all in one system
Let’s face it…
Choosing how much to pay cleaning employees is a BIG decision.
Pay too little – you can’t attract or retain good cleaning employees. You might even have competitors constantly swiping your staff.
Pay too much – and services become unprofitable. It also makes it very tough to grow..
Get it just right and you will be the company that hardworking and loyal employees will love - and they’ll stay for a very long time.
Luckily, if you consider all the factors in this article – you’ll be on your way to getting it perfect.
You’ll have the tools to pay your employees a wage that keeps them happy and keeps your cleaning business growing and profitable.
Originally published June 25, 2020 7:00 AM, updated April 13, 2022
Tags: Business Operation