House keys. Should you give house cleaners house keys or security codes? And what happens if the house cleaner loses the clients key?
House keys are a common topic in house cleaning FAQ forums. Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru says a checklist for customer keys and a lockbox are a good idea. Every maid can have a private “cleaners code” to disarm the security alarm. And when they leave, they lock the house using their alarm code.
If you trust the house cleaner with a key you can avoid lockout fees and skipped maid service.
Today’s Ask a House Cleaner sponsors are Savvy Cleaner (pro cleaning tips.) HouseCleaning360 (business fan pages that hook house cleaners up with homeowners.) My Cleaning Connection (a resource hub and store for cool cleaning stuff.) Savvy Perks (Employee discount network for house cleaners, maids and their employees.)
Listen: House Keys, House Cleaners & Security Codes
Watch: House Keys, House Cleaners & Security Codes
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.
Question: House Keys, House Cleaners & Security Codes
Let’s talk about house keys.
Homeowners want to know: “Should I give my house keys to my cleaning lady?”
House Cleaners & Maids want to know: “What happens if the homeowner does not give me a key? And if they do give me a key, where do I keep it and what happens if I lose it?” Okay. So that’s a variety of questions and today we’re going to talk about house keys.
Should I Give My Cleaning Lady the House Keys?
“Should I give my house cleaning lady the house keys because I’m uncomfortable doing that.” – Homeowner
As house cleaners, you have to respect that the homeowner is hiring you to provide a service to their home.
Their home is their most valuable asset. All their prized possessions are in their home, and you’re a perfect stranger.
Now, as a small business owner, you have to overcome that as an objection. Because when a customer is going to hire you, they’re already putting some faith and trust in you, but they’re not ready to give you the keys to the kingdom. And so, you shouldn’t expect it. Be okay with not having a key to their house.
Earn the Right to the House Keys
So, for the first few months, while you’re in this weird phase of proving yourself, you have to make sure that whatever they want to do is fine. If they don’t want to give you a key, that’s fine. Or if they want to give you an alarm code, that’s fine.
If they want to hide it under a rock in front of their house, that’s fine. Or if they want to give it to a neighbor to give to you, that’s fine. It’s completely okay whatever the customer wants to do, as long as the customer is comfortable.
If the customer never gives you the house keys, that’s okay as well.
What if the Customer Won’t Give us House Keys?
You will need to make arrangements with the homeowner to let you in at cleaning time. And then make arrangements to lock up when you leave.
During this initial phase of getting to know the customer, there are things you can do to build trust.
Show Up on Time
You’re going to show up on time. If you say you’re going to be there at 9 o’clock in the morning, oh my goodness, be there at 9 o’clock in the morning. Don’t show up at 11 because they’ve stayed at home to let you in because they’re not comfortable giving you a key.
Now you’ve screwed up their morning because you lied and you were two hours late for whatever reason. So, show up when you say you’re going to be there because that builds trust. When you do what you say you’re going to do, that builds trust.
Do You Have Lockout Procedures in Place?
All right. Having said that, let’s say that you get locked out. You get to a customer’s house, you do not have access, they did not leave you a key and you can’t get in.
You need to have policies and procedures in place that say if you do not give me a key, here is the penalty or here is what happens next.
Some people charge a lockout fee. Like, “Hey, we got locked out of your house. That’s going to cost you $25.”
That either inspires the person to be there.
But here’s the catch, if you’re not there on time, it’s not fair for you to charge them a lockout fee. You can’t show up at a random time other than what you promised and charge a lockout fee if they were there waiting for you at the scheduled time.
See? That’s kind of a catch-22. You have to do what you say you’re going to do in order for them to do what they say they’re going to do. It’s faith in each other.
Have a System for Securing Customer’s House Keys
All right. Next thing. If they do give you a key, you need to have a system in place. Now, at our office, we had a lock box. The lockbox has coded key colors. There’s not a number and there’s not a name on any of the keys.
In the event that a key gets lost, it’s a weird random key out in the ether without no identifying information.
We don’t know if it goes to one of the thousands of homes in this neighborhood or thousands of homes in a different neighborhood. Nobody knows where it goes. It’s just a key.
Back at your office, your color-coded key matches up with the information in your Keeper.
Keeper security is an online password protector that encrypts your customer’s sensitive info.
House Keys vs. Alarm Codes
Now, as a house cleaner, here’s what you have to know. If you have a key to a customer’s house, they still have an alarm code.
Though you might be able to get in, if they’re not expecting you, you could set off the alarm and that could trigger the police.
Now, a lot of fear that homeowners have is that their house cleaner is going to come when they are not at home and wipe them out and steal all their goods.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who have had bad experiences over the years with house cleaners stealing stuff.
And they take to online forums and rehash their bad scenarios with house cleaners stealing their stuff.
(The Majority of) House Cleaners Are Not Thieves
The reality is, house cleaners, for the most part, don’t steal stuff. There are a few bad eggs out there that have ruined the reputations for many. But for the most part, people that come into your home are people that are coming in to bless your life. They’re coming in to clean up your space and make your world a better place.
They’re not here to rip you off and steal your stuff. House Cleaners are here to make a paycheck. And if they steal your stuff, you’re not going to keep them employed and they’re not going to get any more money out of you.
Stealing is not a long-term business plan.
If a house cleaner steals your stuff, they have whatever they stole for that moment. But they lost you as a customer, and they’ve burned their reputation.
There’s nothing you own as a homeowner that is worth the reputation of a company. Nothing.
Because once they’ve ruined their reputation they are out of business. So, stealing stuff is never worth the cost.
Trust is Paramount in Home Service Providers
As a homeowner, you need to be comfortable with the people that you hire. My suggestion is that you double check their references. Check for bonded and insured workers.
Homeowners tell me on a daily basis: “I prefer to hire a big company, like a franchise. With independent house cleaners, you never know what you’re going to get. I don’t know who they are. They may bring their friends and relatives with them on the job, and I don’t know, nor have I vetted those people.
A regular, reputable company is going to have a lock box for my house keys. And they’re bonded and insured. And because they have a reputation to protect I feel secure hiring them.”
So, if you’re only a small business operator, you have to instill this kind of trust in your homeowners. And it’s going to take some time to build that trust.
Modern Day Alarms bypass House Keys
Modern-day alarm systems, have what’s called a cleaner’s code. Cleaners codes are for house cleaners, and pet sitters. And other people that come access your home while you’re away.
A cleaners code allows a private code for each service provider during the scheduled time at their house.
The house cleaner will have a four or five-digit code that lets you gain access to the client’s house. Use of the code disarms the alarm system and activates the in-home security cameras.
Now, the customers can watch you on the security cameras while you work. When you leave the house, you reset the alarm code and secure the property.
Authorized Access vs. House Keys
The scheduled cleaning appointment is the only authorized access the house cleaners have to the house.
If you come in at any other time, the code doesn’t work. It’s only allowed or programmed like from Tuesday from 12 until 4. If you come in Thursday from 12 until 4 without having made arrangements, you could set off the alarm that calls the police. This is different from having house keys that allow access at any time.
Trust and Respect Trump House Keys or Alarm Codes
For all parties concerned, trust and respect for the homeowner’s property surpass you having house keys.
If a customer grants you house keys or an alarm code, you need to respect the privilege and guard that with your life.
If you have employees, let them check the key out at the beginning of the shift. Have them bring it back at the end of the day.
You don’t want loose customer keys floating around in anyone’s purses or pockets. You don’t want to risk them going through washing machines or getting dropped below the seats of people’s cars.
Each cleaning technician is responsible for the customers’ keys and the alarm code. The key goes in the lockbox at the end of the day.
If there’s an alarm code or a security code, that goes inside a Keeper. Do not keep alarm codes on post-it notes or other scraps of paper.
Always protect your customer’s property, house keys, and alarm codes.
About the Show
Learn how the show came to be, interesting facts about the show host, and other frequently asked questions about the show.
Resources For This Episode
RamPro Hide-a-Spare-Key Fake Rock – Looks & Feels like Real Stone – Safe for Outdoor Garden or Yard, Geocaching – http://amzn.to/2hWrvNm
Kidde AccessPoint 001795 Combination TouchPoint Entry Key Locker, Clay, 30 Key – http://amzn.to/2vuzrKu
OnePlus Push Button Combination Key Box Wall Mount Safe Storage Resettable for Indoors or Outdoors Home Garage – http://amzn.to/2hWLWtB
Kidde AccessPoint 001413 KeySafe Original Slimline Push Button Combination Permanent Key Lock Box, 2-Key, White – http://amzn.to/2uA0ll7
Lockforce Key Lock Box – Waterproof Case and Premium Wall Mount Kit Included – Master Key Storage Box for Outside – Perfect For Realtors, Family, Home, and Rental Properties – http://amzn.to/2vuLFT9
48 Keys Portable Solid Steel Safe Case & Tags Storage Cabinet Lock Box Home Store Dorm Office Shop – http://amzn.to/2wFYqsR
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Permissions To Share
Savvy Cleaner Training – House Cleaner Training and Certification
HouseCleaning360 – Referral database of the world’s most prominent home service providers and the homeowners they serve.
My Cleaning Connection – Your hub for all things cleaning.
Savvy Perks – Employee benefits for your employees.