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How to Choose a Great Home Cleaning Service and Ensure You Get Top Notch Service

Okay, so you are ready for a service to clean your home. Good for you! But, in addition to wanting top-notch service at a fair price, you may ask: "How can I trust someone in my home, or better yet, with a key to my house?"

The demand for professional home cleaning services continues to grow. More and more people are realizing that outsourcing these, sometimes less than desirable tasks, can have a great return on investment. Often, the biggest pay off for hiring a home cleaning service is not just the time you are not cleaning, but the total time - and energy- you reclaim formerly spent dreading or avoiding cleaning.

Hiring a service to clean your home is a big decision, with many considerations. Trust is vital since it is, after all, your personal space. All too often customers are not asking the right questions or doing their homework.

Two Big Issues

Deal with a professional company - There are many persons or "private parties" that will clean your home and may do a good job. However, if you hire an individual rather than a company to clean your home and pay them a certain amount in a year; you are their employer. If they fail to pay proper taxes on the money you pay them, you could end up being liable (not to mention the next time you are up for a cabinet position, this is sure to end up all over CNN!) Also, if someone comes into your home to work for you, and is hurt or injured, you could be liable.

When you hire a professional maid service, you are, ideally, avoiding all these risks. The service owner should carry the burden of payroll taxes, Worker's Compensation, and liability insurance. A professional service will also offer training for their employees. All of the risk and liability is no longer your responsibility as the customer. That kind of peace of mind is worth an extra $20. Isn't it?

Go for professional, but not on image alone - Just because a business has glossy business cards, and a Web site that rivals Microsoft, you still need to do your homework. Keep these questions in mind when making your decision on which cleaning company to hire:

1. Who will be cleaning my house? Do they use employees or independent contractors? Whatever the answer is, you need reassurance that you are getting the protections that should come with a professional service. Do they use individuals or teams? Ask them why they use the model they do. Different business models work for different reasons. Just be sure the company you want to hire is doing it for the right reasons. The IRS has a useful guide on their Web site to determine what defines an employee and independent contractor relationship.

2. Do they perform criminal background checks and pre-screen employees? Every service should have a policy for background checks and pre-screening employees. With today's technology, even the smallest company has access to low cost tools over the Internet. You will want to know the policy they follow and what their process is for due diligence when hiring.

3. Are they properly insured? Insurance includes general liability insurance and Workers Compensation. It does not hurt to ask for a copy of insurance certificates. As much as insurance costs, they should be more than happy to show it to you.

4. Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee? What does it entail? How long after the service is performed, do I have to call to report problems that need to be addressed? No matter how good a service is, or how great the employee training program, it is imperfect human beings cleaning the house. As the customer, you should have reassurance that if the team has a "bad day", the company will make it right.

5. Who will have the key to my house? What is the policy? How can I be sure I am safe? This should be a huge concern, and most customers don't think to ask this question. Are the keys signed out each day? How are the keys kept at other times? Where are they kept? Are they locked up? Who is responsible for them? If they were to be lost or stolen, are there any markings that identify where they go? Make sure there is nothing to identify your address on the key. Also, ask up front, in the event the key is lost or stolen, what is the replace / re-key policy?