Unless you live close to your property, you will require some staff to maintain and clean the property for you. If you do live close to the property and are planning on doing this yourself, be mindful of the amount of work required to both clean and maintain the property and whether it is worth your time to do so. Cleaners remain one of the lowest paid occupations.
Agreements & Contracts
Whatever staff you engage it’s always best to have a professionally written contract or agreement specifying the terms of the engagement. This doesn’t have to be a legal contract drawn up in triplicate-it just needs to set out expectations and fees clearly.
The most important resource you will have are your cleaners therefore it is vitally important that you select the right one. So what should you look for in a cleaner?
1.Ask the cleaner what experience they have and ask them to supply references. Anyone can become a cleaner but not everyone does a good job at it!
2.Ask them how many holiday homes they clean in the area. As a rough guide an average holiday home (3 bedrooms) will take 3 hours to clean. If they are cleaning more than 20 holiday homes they may be overloaded and standards may start to drop.
3.Ask them where they live. The closer they are to your holiday home the better. That way they can assist with any last minute issues that guests may have.
4.If you are supplying linen and towels be sure to ask how much they charge per bed or per bundle of towels.
5.Walk them through the property showing them where you keep supplies and linen. If you can’t be there in person provide them with access via your key safe and ask them to call or skype you so you can walk them through it (you can always change your key safe code afterwards).
6.Many cleaners will also mow lawns, keep gardens tidy and perform maintenance – ask them what other tasks they can perform. It can be more convenient to have them do all of the jobs and it means less invoices to pay.
7.Ensure that they have an email address that they check regularly. With online property bookings the norm, it will be simpler for you to forward booking emails onto them rather than having to text or call them. Also ensure that they provide their mobile number(s).
8.Ask them if they have a checklist that they follow-many may not have this but if you find a cleaner that employs a checklist it is a good sign that they are focused on quality.
Whether they have a checklist or not you should always document what your expectations are with regard to cleaning tasks. Make clear what you required done at each clean as well as cleaning tasks performed weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually (again, refer to Appendix A for an example)
Try to meet prospective cleaners in person and walk them through the property to explain what you expect to be done. If you can’t be there in person set up a call via Skype and do a virtual tour of the property.
Try to avoid the complication of hourly rates and different prices per clean by agreeing set fees per clean and set prices per set of linen.
An owner says…
“We got into a difficult situation with a cleaner who was on an hourly rate. She was spending so much time at the property that our cleaning costs started to skyrocket. Upon further investigation, we found out that she was performing excessive and unnecessarily cleaning tasks to try to improve her income. We created a checklist clarifying exactly what was required per clean and switched her onto a fixed fee per clean which resolved the problem.”
If your cleaners don’t look after lawns and gardens then be sure to find someone who does. Make sure that their brief includes wowing lawns and edges as well as trimming and bushes and taking care of weeds.
Be sure to set up a regular schedule for mowing. Guests turning up to an unkempt garden is not a good first impression. If you want to keep costs down, you could ask your staff to send you a photo prior to mowing so that you can give the ok as to whether the mow is required but over time you will get a feel as to what mowing or maintenance frequency is required.
An owner says…
“We hired a gardener to do our lawns and edges and whilst they did a great job they didn’t consider weeding as part of their job! After finding our garden beds and paths covered in weeds we decided to find someone else who would do everything for us.“
When that curtain rod falls down or a door handle falls off you’ll be needing someone to fix it quickly so that you can minimize the impact to guests. When selecting someone to do this, get them to provide a list of things that they can assist with. Whilst maintenance is not generally a large ongoing expense you will have small repair jobs that will need to be done over the years.
An owner says…
“Some of the repairs that we have had to do include replacing flyscreens, fixing door handles, repairing sticking windows, fixing loose screws on chairs and roller blinds that no longer roll. Maintenance isn’t a large expense at our property but it is important to fix things as soon as there is an issue with them.”
Plumbing problems are likely to be infrequent, but blocked drains, dripping taps, faulty toilets or a failed hot water system can ruin a guest’s stay. Again look for a plumber that is close at hand and who is readily contactable 24/7. You may also wish to have a backup plumber in the event that your first plumber is busy.
Electrical repairs are uncommon but they do happen. Guests sitting in the dark are not something that you even want to think about! As per plumbers – look for an electrician that is close at hand and who is readily contactable 24/7.
When first setting up the property you may find that you need extra sockets behind beds for lamps. You should also look to install a circuit breaker, particularly if you have young children staying at the property.