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How to Hire Cleaning Employees for Your Business

Published on January 24, 2019

When you run an awesome cleaning business with happy clients and steady growth, hiring is one of the most persistent growing pains. In this article, you’ll find out how to hire cleaning employees that are right for you.

If you’re a new business owner, hiring might be especially scary for you.

Maybe you still get nervous when hiring a new employee, or you still get a little nervous signing on a new cleaner.

How do you know they will work hard and do well? What if they don’t know how to clean? 

This post will give you the resources you need to:

  • Interview candidates well
  • Figure out how to pay your new cleaners
  • How to KEEP your best cleaners, once you hire them

How to Hire The Best Cleaning Employees!

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When Should I Hire My First Cleaning Employee?

If you really want to grow fast, you should hire your first cleaning employee when you KNOW your schedule is going to fill up.

Hiring someone before your schedule is full will give you time to train them. This will get them up to speed before you get bogged down in work.

An employee is an investment in your business and your life. You’re able to delegate work to them, so that you can move toward working on your business rather than in your business. 

When you reach the point where you have to slow or stop marketing, because you’re at capacity...it’s time to add new team member(s).

Marketing vs. Labor is the central tension of the service industry.

You advertise until you’re running out of labor, then you hire until you’re having too much free time.

Marketing and Labor are like a Newton’s cradle, they knock against each other and throw the other back. They swing back and forth, knocking each other out of alignment as you grow.

This is good pain.

This kind of pain means:

  • You’re doing great work.
  • You’re selling more work (won’t happen if people are talking about how terrible you are).
  • You’re ready to break through your current growth plateau into the next level of your business.

If your business is feeling the strain of too much work, not enough time, it’s time to hire your first employee.

How to Find and Hire the Right Cleaning Employees

Now that you know when to hire new cleaning employees, let’s talk about how to find them.

There are 3 steps to finding and hiring the right people for your cleaning business:

1. Can You “Clone” Your Best Cleaning Employee?

You know right off the bat who your best employees are. They don’t cause problems, they work hard, you trust them.

Who are they?

Moms with young kids? College kids in need of part-time work? Empty nesters?

Whatever commonality you find among your best employees will (more than likely) be true of great hires in the future. 

This isn’t to say that someone who’s completely different than your best employees won’t work out, it just means that this kind of person resonates with your company’s mission.

These are the kind of people YOU motivate. A different leader would motivate a different group of people. When you’re interviewing people, focus on their attitude. This is what makes an awesome employee.

2. How to Target Ideal Cleaning Employees

When marketing to potential clients, we use a Client Persona. This helps our marketing to reach that one, ideal person.

Hiring is no different. Create an Employee Persona using the template for clients above. 

Create your ideal employee on paper and then go look for people like them in the real world.

Here’s the hang-up most people have: don’t look for that exact person. In the same way, you’ll never find the perfect client, you’ll never find that flawless employee. 

What you can do:

  • Use that persona to choose where you post Wanted Ads. Where would that person look for a job? Post there.
  • Use the persona for your hiring ad, write to that person. You can start writing your hiring ad with “Dear Joe Perfect Employee,” just remember to pull that off before you send it out.
  • Know that those great employees hang out with people like themselves. Ask for referrals and offer a bounty on new employees.

3. Interview Like a Pro

Interviews are simple. A candidate with a resume that got them in the door is probably pretty decent. 

What you want to measure is coachability.

You’re hiring for attitude NOT EXPERIENCE.

You’re an excellent cleaner. You can teach someone to be an excellent cleaner, if they’re willing to learn.

Make the interview conversational, ask open-ended questions and let the conversation breathe. When you let the room go quiet for a second or two, it prompts the candidate to keep talking. 

They’ll fill the silence with additional examples or a fuller answer to your question. Listen to them, ask questions about their answers.

The more conversational the interview, the less nervous the candidate will be and you’ll get good information from them.

How to Perform a Secondary Interview

An on-site interview is a great way to gauge a person’s coachability. 

You can do this at your office or home. Give the candidate some basic instruction and then allow them to get started. As they start to work, correct technique, have them do things to your standards. 

Check local labor laws about conducting an on-the-job interview. You may be required to pay the candidate for their time.

Pay attention to how the candidate responds to correction. Do they do things again with a good attitude? How many times do you have to explain something?

If a candidate is hesitant to do something differently than the way “I’ve always done it,” they’re demonstrating a lack of coachability. That’s going to be a persistent problem. 

You can overcome lack of knowledge or skill, you cannot overcome a bad attitude about learning.

Master the Art of the Interview

Since interviewing is an essential aspect of hiring new employees, it can be a bit intimidating to a new interviewer.

It’s important to note that a good interview reveals the candidate’s attitude more than their ability.

If you find an amazing cleaner who also has an amazing attitude, don’t let a lack of skill scare you off from an otherwise awesome candidate.

How Much Should You Pay Your Cleaning Employees?

There are pros and cons to every compensation strategy. 

Ultimately, you have to decide what you believe will motivate your team to perform.

If you have trouble with lackadaisical employees, a piece-rate system might work best for you. If your team is fast and efficient, hourly may work best for you (but may eventually discourage quick work).

You have to consider what compensation plans and benefits you want to provide.

You'll want to consult local labor laws, since they vary from state to state, to ensure whatever plan you implement is 100% legal in your state.

Look at the plans, weigh the costs, and decide how you want to pay your employees.

Click here to read our full guide to find out how much you should be paying your cleaners.

By the way, you can view your cleaning employees’ average cleaning times calculated in Service Autopilot to help you determine how much to pay them.

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The 3 MOST EFFECTIVE Ways to Retain Your Best Employees

The first strategy is a bit circular (and loops back into what we talked about above):

1. Hiring a Bad Candidate Is Choosing to Miss the Mark

Many cleaning companies have horrible retention rates because they hire awful candidates

Never hire someone because they need the work or “just because you need a warm body.” 

It's like walking a dart up to a dartboard, sticking it in the outer ring and then complaining you didn't get a bullseye. You're choosing to lose. 

It’s better to drop a client than have a bad employee turning clients against you with subpar work.

Only hire people who are excited to be a part of your team. 

2. Make Your Company A Place People WANT to Work

Every company has a culture. Make yours healthy and engaging so that employees don’t want to leave. If an employee believes you care about them (and you should, they’re on your team), they won’t want to leave that.

Good bosses are rare. Think about the problems you had in past jobs. A bad boss may have even driven you into entrepreneurship. 

Be a good boss. Show you care. Go out of your way to take care of your team.

Creating a great culture for your cleaning business will increase your cleaning company’s employee retention.

Click here to listen to our Profit Roadmap podcast on creating a positive company culture.

3. What’s the Best Way to Retain Great Cleaners?

You invest in your business all the time. You buy quality equipment so that you can buy it once and not worry about it in the future.

Your greatest investment is the one you make in your team.

Pay your employees well. They work hard. You don’t want them to leave. So keep them.

Culture and good hiring choices can only protect your best talent so much. With the unemployment rate as low as it is, this market is "employee's choice," not "business owner's choice.

If you want to keep your best employees, you need to pay them like you want them to stay.

Before letting someone leave for more money elsewhere, consider the cost of training a new employee (wasted time, training time, mistakes, etc.).

How to Hire the Right Office Assistant        

Hiring an office assistant is a big step into a larger world.

You’re out of the field but you need to focus on building your business — not answering calls and running the day-to-day scheduling.

That’s where an office assistant comes in.

You’re able to delegate tasks to the office in the same way you were able to delegate them in the field.

You want to work toward slowly removing yourself from the day-to-day. This is how you work on the business instead of in the business.

Just like with field employees, hire for attitude, not experience. You can teach these tasks to someone. 

Find someone with a good attitude and a friendly disposition. They’ll be interacting with customers — and if you’re working out of the office, you’ll be spending a lot of time with them.

Remember: you can always train for ability. You can never train for attitude.

How to Write a Cleaning Employee Handbook

Everyone thinks employee handbooks are boring.

Nobody reads them. No one wants to read them.

And NOBODY wants to write one.

But your company NEEDS one. 

An employee handbook spells out exactly what’s expected of a new employee and what they can expect of the company.

You want to set proper expectations upfront to increase retention. If everyone knows what’s happening, it’s much harder to upset employees down the line.

Click here to read our quick and easy guide on creating a cleaning employee handbook.

Fix Your Pricing in Under 10 Minutes

This audit will help you find your pricing averages. 
Identify which jobs are profitable – and which ones aren’t. 
Determine how high your prices should be to guarantee you make the profit you deserve.

Should You FIRE Your Worst Employee?

Alright, here’s the deal: sometimes you have to let people go. You don’t want to, nobody is champing at the bit to fire somebody.


Here’s the other side of that coin:

80% of Employee-Based Problems come from the worst 20% of Employees

That means that if you eliminate that 20% (the primary troublemakers), you eliminate 80% of your problems.

Resident Pareto Principle Expert, Chris Volpe[/caption]

This is called Pareto’s Principle, and we take a deep dive into it on “The Pareto Principle is an Italian Cheese” episode of The Profit Roadmap.

Bad employees, ones with bad attitudes who do bad work, pollute your company. They drag other people down to their level.

Have you ever worked with someone who incessantly complained about work?

They annoyed you to death, right?

Do you constantly think about how to improve “that one employee?”

That kind of bad apple spoils the whole bunch. It’s not fair to the rest of your team (or to you) to keep them around.

Sometimes, it’s worth taking the hit to get rid of a toxic employee... even if it means letting a client or two go because you can’t keep up with the work.

When Is It Time to Hire More Cleaning Employees?

You’ve already hired your first employee...maybe even the first few.

You’ve got a crew or two out in the field.

So how do you know when it’s time to bring more team members on?

Is it a day that ends in “y”? 

Then, you should be looking for new employees.

Cleaning owners should constantly be hiring. Don’t get complacent.

Cleaning owners should always look for new employees. If you get complacent, you’ll get caught off guard by:

  • Employees who’ve to be fired.
  • Employees leaving unexpectedly.
  • Potentially ending up with large volumes of work, which can result in poor marketing.

Imagine it this way:

If you sold a dozen jobs today (awesome, I know), could you handle them?

Would your team meet the needs of your new clients… or would they break?

If they would break, you need MORE people.

Hiring employees is the biggest problem in the cleaning industry. 

To grow, you always need more people, but good ones are hard to find. They’re rarer than a good client who loves your work and never whines (and we know what a unicorn that is).

Hire and Keep the Right Cleaning Employees

Figuring out your cleaning hiring process and sticking to it is hard.

Sometimes, it’ll feel like you just can’t get any traction. You’ll work really hard to get a new cleaning employee and then you’ll have to let them go in a week.

Practice these things, and you’ll see a difference in your cleaning business. This guide will help you pinpoint problems, address them and move forward.

Related: How Much to Pay Your Cleaning Employees

Originally published Jan 24, 2019 7:00 AM, updated Nov 10, 2020 9:07 AM


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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