Hiring a housekeeper, that too a good one, is undoubtedly a crucial task as we entrust this person with our living space. HomeQuicks will give you some essential tips on how to hire a good and trustworthy housekeeper as per your needs.
Agency Vs. Independent Housekeepers
Background check is an imperative step in the selection process. Hiring through an agency would save you this trouble, and the additional paperwork requirements related to employment, tax, and accounting. However, an independent housekeeper may cost much lesser compared to the former.
When it comes to selecting the right housekeeper, a lot depends upon your individual needs and preferences. Do you need a live-in or live-out housekeeper? What kind of work do you expect him/her to do―vacuuming, cooking, window cleaning, cleaning kitchen(s) and bathroom(s)? How often do you wish certain tasks to be done―mopping and vacuuming every day, or on alternate days? Be very clear of all these parameters so that you are able to decide, negotiate, and communicate your requirements, and select the right person to do the job accordingly.
Steps to Hire an Efficient Housekeeper
A thorough understanding of why you want a housekeeper would streamline the process to a great extent. The next concern that follows would be the budget. There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to this. A popular trend these days is that of hiring from cleaning agencies. These tend to cost a tad bit extra, but provide thoroughly scrutinized candidates who have cleared the background checks, criminal, and medical checks, at your service. The best part being that you can inform the agency if you’re unhappy with the assigned housekeeper, and you’ll get a replacement without having to worry about a complete new search process.
An independent housekeeper may give you an equally good service at a lesser cost, provided you are willing to take full responsibility of the legal formalities, paperwork, and thorough scrutiny of shortlisted candidates’ criminal and medical records, and credit history. Nonetheless, the following sections will take you through the essential steps you need to take to find the perfect housekeeper for you.
Advertise and Browse Online
Let others know what you seek, and even before you get an ad published in your local newspaper, it would be better to first speak with some trusted friends and family members. There are a lot of families who avail the services of a housekeeper, perhaps, spreading the word in the neighborhood would give you some recommended names, either of individuals, or agencies. Getting in touch with them or placing ads in the local student center, may also bring forth some candidates who wish to work as a housekeeper for some extra money. You can also browse online, preferably through Better Business Bureau, and shortlist some accredited agencies in your locality. Some agencies can also help you find contact details of individual housekeepers. All you need to do is enter the zip code of the area where you live, your needs and requirements―work timings, type of maid (live-in/live-out)―and it will give you a list of qualified professionals that match your requirements.
Prepare Before Meeting
Before you meet the applicants, there are a few things you need to prepare yourself. Start by preparing a list of the things you want, and don’t want the housekeeper to do. For example, if you are not comfortable with the housekeeper cleaning some expensive vintage crockery, or arrange your bedroom when it’s messy, make it very clear. Also, if you expect making beds and cleaning windows to be a part of the daily task, mention so beforehand as most housekeepers tend to charge extra for window cleaning. A special mention of any problem areas in the house that might take some extra effort or caution is a must. Being transparent about the working expectations will prevent confusion, especially when it comes to the wages offered. The last thing you want is for the maid to charge extra for things you assumed were an obvious part of the job. In case of independent housekeepers, ask them to get documents related to their experience, a written consent to perform background checks, and at least 3 to 4 reference letters along with their resume.
Interview and Review
It would be advisable to interview the candidates face to face in your house where they are expected to work. There are two advantages to this. First, a personal interaction will give you an idea if you ‘click’ with the person, which is very important. And second, apart from the interview, the applicant would also get a chance to see the size of the house, and accordingly, would be able to determine the time it would take to do the work and the wage they would expect you to pay. You can also explain the dos and don’ts of work―referring to the list you prepared in the previous step. The following is a list of some questions you might want to include in the interview session.
- How many houses are you working with currently?
- Would you be getting your own cleaning supplies, or should I provide you with the same?
- I have pets in the house. Are you comfortable with that?
- Why have you chosen housekeeping as a career? What are your future plans?
- After looking at the house, can you give me some useful tips for good housekeeping?
- Is there any type of work you are not comfortable doing? Are there any additional charges pertaining to certain tasks that I should be aware of?
- What has been your best and worst experience in housekeeping?
- Is there anything you expect from me to make your work easier?
- Do you have liability insurance? Are you bonded?
- What advantage would I have, if I hire you and not the others?
Pay a close attention not only to the answers you get, but also the way they are being delivered. If the candidate appears to fumble, pause, answer very vaguely, you might want to move on to the next applicant. An experienced professional who knows the job well would give you very firm and realistic answers.
Opt for a Trial Arrangement
After shortlisting or finalizing the candidate(s), it is highly recommended to give it a 30-day trial period. This time will help you be 100% sure of your selection as both parties would get a chance to feel what it would be like to work with each other. Facets such as compatibility with the rest of the family members, flexibility with the timings, and other adjustments at work should be thoroughly evaluated. At times, the candidate may be good but there fails to be a rapport or ease, without which, working smoothly becomes impossible. All these aspects will come forth more clearly in the trial phase. In case of availing agency services, you may inform the agency about the problems, and another housekeeper would be sent as replacement. For independent housekeepers, it would be wise to keep a backup of two or three candidates, so that if things don’t work out with one, you have other potential options in line.
Evaluate the Final Contract
It is costlier, but much easier through an agency, wherein all you need to do is evaluate a ready-made contract provided by them. However, in case you are hiring an independent housekeeper, make sure you acquaint yourself with your state’s laws of employment and other necessary formalities. There are a few necessary points that you’ll have to mention clearly in the final contract. These are:
- Details of the type of services to be provided, along with the exceptions, if any.
- Amount agreed as wages (hourly or weekly), the billing cycle, and dates of payment.
- Policies pertaining to leaves, discontinuation of the contract, property damage during work, and employment benefits―worker’s compensation, sick leaves, health insurance, etc.
- Details of the house (or areas) where the housekeeping services will be provided. Mention the house address.
- Any restrictions in terms of the cleaning products that should or should not be used.
- Details of the assets that the housekeeper is allowed to use or keep during employment, and the consequence of any damage or loss. For instance, using the microwave for warming their food, or keeping a spare house key.
- Details regarding the employment duration, and time of contract renewal along with the percentage of annual salary appraisal.
- Any terms and conditions that may result in ending of the contract.
Evaluate thoroughly; if you are making the contract, do not hesitate to include even the smallest detail, if you feel it is essential in nature. Make sure it is as descriptive and transparent as possible so that there is no room for confusion.
There are a lot of aspects that need to be considered while making the right selection―qualification, clear history, amiable personality, and of course, budget. Make sure you do a thorough research on the pay range of housekeepers in your locality. According to the website Care4Hire, “In an urban, coastal community, the housekeeping charge will be, on average, about $15.30 per hour. In a rural Midwestern community, the housekeeping charge will be, on average, about $9.06 per hour”. However, make sure that money is not the sole factor of consideration. The value of a good housekeeper cannot be measured in monetary terms. In time, he or she ends up becoming a part of our family, and builds a relationship that is based on trust, dependency, and personal bonding. At the end of the day, housekeepers are nothing else but those who take care of your most prized possession―your house.