I just started my first cleaning job, my initial quote was $10 an hour, because I was told it was only lite cleaning 1-2-3 days a week. When I arrived I realized that I totally undercut myself. The home is is extremely cluttered and on top of that the home owner requested that I do hours worth of gardening and yard work.
They are very nice people, but I don't know what would be a good rate to charge, and if I need to go with a separate rate for the yard work. The home is approximately 2500 sq. feet, if not more and has 4 bedrooms.
By cookehs6 from Jacksonville, FL
Learn from your mistakes this time by having a look at exactly what you will be asked to clean, including the exact garden work. Then, for this job only increase your price only slightly, but first keeping in mind that having one job that could be a permanent guaranteed pay (because of the clutter and on-going need of the owner) and good hours, you may do better with this "bird in the hand at the price you quoted" than having no other work for a while?
If you and this owner get along well, you may do just fine and find it both interesting and rewardingly helpful to the one with the clutter. I know, I have clutter and need help, but unfortunately cannot afford to pay a thing, having to do it all myself instead, but is the consequence of letting it get stacked up.
Be encouraged in that you will learn as you go. Suggest that you keep a notebook of your hours, whether the owner does or not, and have the owner from the very start to sign each day's starting time and each day's ending time, "so there is no misunderstanding, and because it's the way you want to run your business". If the owner refuses to cooperate, leave immediately after paid what you can get, moving on to another owner. If paid fairly and on time, that's worth a lot more than you realize. God bless you. (07/17/2009)
I used to own my own business. I was a personal chef and in order to get customers I felt I had to charge a cheap rate. This concept couldn't be further from the truth. By charging a lesser rate than your competitors, you undermine yourself. People will look at that rate and think you're an amateur. Figure in the cost of your supplies, your travel time, your time etc. I would be up front with them and tell them you underestimated because they told you it was light cleaning. I would tell them flat out that you cannot possibly do all that work plus yard work for $10/hour. I would charge at least $15/hour. Don't worry, people will pay because they no doubt got other estimates. Be true to yourself. You can still do that and be fair at the same time. (07/17/2009)
Maybe what you have to do is figure out a price for the job rather than how long it takes you. If you think it should cost the customer $100 a day for what you do, then charge that. (07/17/2009)
Boy did you under price yourself. I don't know about Florida, but in many parts of the country the price is more like $20 an hour. Yard work? you didn't sign up for yard work.
You're simply going to have to have a sit down and tell these cheap people that you didn't realize how much work there was to do. That you're going to have to raise your price to at least $15 an hour and yard work is something completely different.
Check you local want ads and see what others are charging for housecleaning. See what landscapers are charging (which is a heck of a lot more) and either raise to that price when you do yard work, or tell them you're not a landscaper, you do house work.
Clutter. I always tell people from the get go that there's not a lot I can do about their clutter. That's their job. You can't throw away things and you have no idea where to put their clutter.
I have always charged by the job rather than the hour. I am fast so that works. They know they're not paying me to goof off or take breaks. I can (usually) tell how long it will take for a job and figure it out at $20 per hour. Professional services charge $20-$40 an hour for each person they send.
I always tell them from the start that if I feel I quoted too low I will have to raise the price. I have never done that and should have one time. Still check around and see what others in your area are charging. I do know that the elderly expect to pay wages from 30 years ago.
My partner and I have a small cleaning business. We are insured and bonded which costs quite a bit, but gets us jobs like apartment complexes and such. We charge $30 for the first 2 hours worth of cleaning and $12.50 per hour after that. Now, when we both go and clean, we are actually there for 1 hour on a 2 hour cleaning. Some clients give a time limit such as they want us for 3 hours worth of cleaning. Others give us a list of what they want done and we keep track of our time.
We take breaks, but that time is subtracted from the time we are actually there. If they want 3 hours and we take a 15 minute break, we are actually there 1 hour and 45 minutes. That way we both work 1 1/2 hours which equals their 3 hours worth of cleaning and they don't pay for our 15 minute break. We do have one apartment complex that pays flat rate. Some are done faster than others and some (like the one we did today) take a lot longer, but it sort of averages out.
We made out a list for the client to tell us what is "must do", what is "would like done" and what is "if there is time". If they want a certain length of time, we can get things done that are most important and go down the list to the lesser things. If they add things and it won't interfere with another client's time, we do it and charge for it at the regular rate. If it would put someone else's time off, we offer to come another day and do the extras. Hope this helps. (07/17/2009)
I used the Merry Maids (or equivalent). For about $80, a crew of 3 women came in. This is what they did in an hour - to an hour and 20 minutes:
This was in Louisiana, where I think hourly charges tended to be lower.
They did not:
I think you need to be firm about a higher hourly rate, and list what you are and are not willing to do. (07/18/2009)
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