Price By The Hour or Job for House Cleaning?

Price by the hour or by the job? Every maid who runs a maid service and every house cleaner asks this question. What is a fair price? How much should I charge to clean a house? If you bid by the job you have to do an in-home estimate to determine how much work is involved. If you price your cleaning services by the hour – you simply quote a price and schedule a number of hours.

Today on Ask a House Cleaner we look at pricing your cleaning services and ways for a new cleaning company to skyrocket their business out of the shoot and generate the most profit.

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 Hi there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is the show where you get to ask a house cleaning question and I get to help you find an answer.

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Woman baffled about price for house cleaningQuestion: Should I Price By The Hour or Job for House Cleaning?

Today’s question comes from a brand-spanking-new house cleaner who is going to start her own business.

And she wants to know “What am I supposed to charge customers for house cleaning? I have no idea what the going rate is. I have no idea what I’m supposed to charge.”

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Answer: Should I Price By The Hour or Job for House Cleaning?

Wow. That is a that is an exciting question because every house cleaner at some point has asked the question about bidding residential cleaning jobs.
So, what you need to know, and this is based on Home Advisor and Angie’s List which are two national websites that do house cleaning referrals across the country.
And this is the country of the United States.

In the United States, the going rate for house cleaning is anywhere from $25 to $45 per hour.
There’s a range in between you could say the average is $35 an hour and that would be a fair price just about anywhere.
There are some remote places out in the country the charge a little bit less. And there are places in New York City and probably Boston and some other really highly populated areas where might be a little bit more.
But the going rate across the country is about $35 per hour.

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There Are Two Ways You Can Price The Job

The first way is you can price by the hour and you can just charge a flat rate. “I charge $30 per hour or $25 per hour.” Woman choosing price for house cleaning job vs. hourly rate
The second way you can charge by the job. And it depends on the way your business is setup which will determine which way you choose.

If you’re just getting started in the house cleaning business and you’re brand spanking new and you don’t have a business plan setup, and you’re just getting started, my recommendation is this; make it easy on yourself.

Don’t get hung up on, “what is the square footage of the home?” And “what is going to be involved?” You don’t know how to bid a house, and you don’t know how long it’s going to take to clean.

And you don’t know what is involved as far as the chemicals and the cleaning supplies and all of the things that you’re going to have to bring and provide, in order to offset those expenses.

Make The Pricing Easy On Yourself and Your Customer

Woman with back turned, writing price and math on black boardSo, having said that. Don’t charge by the job when you’re getting started. It’s super complicated for somebody who has no idea what they’re doing. If you’re brand-spanking’-new to the business, (I love this,) just charge by the hour.

Now, you don’t have the credentials because you’re new.

You don’t have a big list of happy customers. And you don’t have the credentials of the referral system behind you.
You probably don’t have a certification to where you’ve been through house cleaning training.

So, if you’re just kind of winging it, and you’re going to figure it out as you go, my recommendation is that you don’t charge top dollar.

If you screw up something people are going to be really quick to fire you. And say “I’m paying top-dollar and you’re just kind of screwing around figuring things out.” And if they are not happy with your pricing or your work, they are not going to send you referrals either. So, don’t do that.

Start With a Low Price When You Are New to House Cleaning

Diverse Group looking at price structure for cleaning jobs(NOTE: The illustration here does not include taxes, travel costs, cleaning supply expenses etc. These are rough numbers.)

I don’t want to encourage you to lowball your price forever, because I’m a very big advocate that has house cleaners we get what we are worth.  Having said that though if you’re just getting started here’s an easy way to get started; charge $25 per hour.

And I know that’s right at the very bottom of the rung, but here’s what that is; this is an easy math problem.
The easy math is “I only have 4 hours to clean your house, so however big or however small your houses I only have 4 hours.
So if I can clean your house in 2 hours it will be $50 if I can clean your house in 4 hours it will be $100.”

You can do the math and so can the client. So that’s super easy.
When you get to a customer’s house and the customer says “Well, I have a hoarding problem and I have all of these things that I have collected over the years how long will it take you to do that?”
Please do not try to bid by the job. You have no idea what you’re doing, and you have no idea how long it’s going to take.

So, bid by the hour and say “Listen I only have 4 hours, let’s see how far we can come in 4 hours that will cost you $100.”

The Object is To Price Your Service To Fill Your Calendar

full calendar for charging lower price and booking more appointmentsNow, as you’re getting started, what this is going to do for you is it’s going to fill a time slot. They call it low-balling the price.
And the reason I recommend this is because you don’t have a system in place.

You don’t yet have cleaning systems in place that will tell you how quickly and how fast you work.
The more you do this the more proficient you will become.

One day, you’ll walk into a house and you will look around and will say “This will take me 2.5 hours and it’s going to cost x amount of dollars.”
And you’ll get that good at it.

But right now, in the beginning, price your cleaning service at $25 an hour.

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As You Figure Out Your Systems – You Can Change Your Price Structureprice shoppers create a revolving door for maid service

And then you can figure it out as you go you have a chance to create some systems. And to figure out how fast and how efficient you are. What cleaning supplies you’re going to need, and it gives you a little bit of wiggle room. Right? Because the customer is not taking the biggest bet on you at $50 an hour. You’re only $25 an hour.

So, they’ll say “Well, I’ll give this girl a chance. If it takes her twice as long at least that’s the 50 bucks.” Right? So, they will give you a little bit more leeway.
The second thing is once you fill up your schedule there will be people that drop off. That’s just the natural progression of this business. As people drop off if you decide that you’re worth more, and you want to charge more, you can certainly raise your prices.

But keep your beginning clients at $25 so the people that you hire you in the very beginning when you’re just getting started, that you’ve got them locked in at that rate.

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It’s Easier to Run a Business When You Have Money Coming In

Here’s what that rate is; it is guaranteed revenue for you to pay your bills.
This is not anything that you should laugh about.

This is the only profession I know where you can jump in, where you don’t need a college degree.

You don’t need four years of training, and you can walk in the first day on the job and say “I get $25 an hour.” Right?
That’s a pretty good income for somebody just starting out on any job. On any job that’s pretty good money.
If you work 8 hours a day at $25 an hour you just made $200 in your pocket.

If you do that five days a week, you just made $1,000 in one week in your pocket. Right?
So my point is that you can earn some pretty good money just starting out even if you start at the bottom of the rung.

As you start out at the bottom of the rung and you work your way up you’re going to become quicker at what you do.
And your processes will change. And you may switch altogether from bidding by the hour to bidding by the job.
But at the $25 an hour there’s another element here that’s really important.

Easy Math = Easy Referrals

easy math, easy referrals

Because the math is simple, the math is also simple for the people that you work for.
So they can turn around to their friends and say; “Listen, I just got this really great house cleaner and he only charges $25 an hour.”

And the person that they’re speaking to thinks in their head “Well, wait a second. I’m paying my current housecleaner $35 an hour and they’re not very good. I should give your guy a try.”
And immediately you’re going to pick up some referral business from friends and neighbors of the people that you work for. So very quickly, your schedule will become full.

Arrogance is a Hefty Price To Pay in House Cleaning

arrogance hefty price to pay for clientsOne of the biggest problems that I see and this again goes back to social media.
There are house cleaners that will jump on the internet and say; “Well, I’m worth $50 an hour I’m going to charge $50 an hour.” Okay. That’s fine but how do you justify that price? 

Okay. That’s fine but how do you justify that price?

If you’re just new and you don’t have the systems in place, and you’re not efficient, and you don’t have the credentials, and all of these things, you’re going to get fired very quickly. Your client will decide that you just charge too much for what you provide.

And then instead of having some money coming in, you have no money coming in.
And now you have to go out and spend money on advertising to get new customers. Because you have this attitude that’s a little bit on the arrogant side; “Oh, I’m worth so much more money.”

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You’ve Got To Have The Goods to Back Up Your Price

If you don’t have anything to back it up, guess what? You’re not worth that much more money! You have to be able to back it up.
And so stay humble in the beginning. Charge a lower price, completely fill up your calendar.

And in the event, that you have customers that drop off.
And you’re going to get new customers, and I’m talking six months down the road and you want to raise your prices, you can do that at that time. Right? Because now you can justify that price.

So, if you’re just starting out of the business $25 is an awesome place to start and it will get you business in the door immediately.

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And that’s my take on that. If you found this tip helpful, give us a review at the bottom or pass this along to a friend.
And until I see you again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.

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About @SavvyCleaner // Angela Brown

Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru // Founder of SAVVY CLEANER // Author of the book: How to Start Your Own House Cleaning Company