I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, Angela Brown, Savvy Cleaner

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House

I hired my friend to clean my house, but it didn’t work out, now what? Hiring friends and family is risky. When a friend is a bad employee it can jeopardize the relationship, so what do you do?

A common piece of business advice is to never work with friends. If you want to help the people you love to get a cleaning business off the ground, here’s something you can try.

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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. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.

I Hired a Friend to Clean My House

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, House Cleaner Holding SuppliesI hired a friend to clean my house and it went badly. We have a homeowner that wrote into the show and she hired a personal friend to come by her house cleaner and it did not go well.

She said, “What shouldn’t I expect from a cleaner?  I got burned by a friend who had a cleaning business. So I let her do our house. There were certain things that I wanted to be done, but when I tried to tell her, she always had an excuse. She always said that’s not the way she did a certain task. It took her all day to clean part of my house.

We had her clean the bedroom, the full bath, the half bath, the kitchen, the breakfast nook, the family room, the large entry hall, the dining room, and the music room. If anyone stopped by, she entered in on the conversation and the work stopped. I finally had to let her go when I looked at the baseboards in the water closet of the master bath and I realized they hadn’t been touched in months.”

What Do You Do if Hiring a Friend Doesn’t Work Out?

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, Serious Women Talking in KitchenSo, what do you do when you’ve hired a friend and you’re trying to give them the business and then it doesn’t work out? The very first thing that you need to do is if somebody comes to you and say “Hey, can I clean your house?  Because I’m starting a house cleaning business, and I want to practice on your house.” is to say no.  This is because when friends work for friends, it rarely works.  


Treat Them Like You’re a Customer

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, Woman and Man at Work MeetingSo, when somebody comes to you and they say, can I practice at your house? I want your answer to be yes. Can I practice being your customer? So, I want you to treat them as if you are the customer.

So, you could say to them “I want you to come to my house and do a walkthrough so that you can get the practice that you need. Please, can you come to my house at this specific time?” and then make an appointment at a specific time and let them know.

Tell them that you expect them to be on time. “Don’t show up late, be on time. You are practicing on me.”

Act Like You’re Not Friends

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, House Cleaner in BathroomSo they’re going to come to your house and then as the customer, you’re going to walk exactly through your house as you would, if it was someone you were not related to or somebody you did not know as a personal friend.

I do not give them any mercy. If you have a question or an expectation that you would give to any other cleaning company, you need to give it to your friend and say, “Hey, listen, this is important to me. Are you capable of doing this?”

Because if you need your baseboards clean and then months are going to go by and they say, oh, that’s not the way we do things. It will put you in awkward situations. That’s not the cleaner for you and you need to be able to have those conversations with your friend. 

You Have to Set Expectations Up Front

Now, you said in this letter that you went on for months, and you gave her a chance for months, which is awesome for you. But those expectations have to be set upfront. So, on the walkthrough, after you’ve articulated what is important to you, then you need a price back.

If they’re uncertain about it, because they’re getting started in the business and they’re not sure.  You can tell them “I can’t hire you until you give me a firm price because as a homeowner, I have a budget. So, I have to put house cleaning in my budget so you can get paid.”

Every house that they go to as a business owner, is going to need a price so that they can say yes or no to that price. So, you shouldn’t say yes until they give you a firm price, and then stick to that.

Give Them Honest Feedback

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, Two Women Talking on CouchIf they say here’s the price and then they come to clean and in this particular case, you said she took much longer than was expected. So if they give you a time range, then you need to say because I’m your friend, I’m going to give you honest feedback. “You took way too long to clean this part of the house. And instead, you took five hours or six hours, it ended up being not acceptable. So, if we can’t get it back to two and a half hours, this conversation’s over because I have to go back and hire somebody that can do the job in the right amount of time.”

You need to be forthright with them because they’re using you as a practice. So, this is the only time that you get to be so bold if you will.

Don’t Let Them Interrupt Your Work

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, Three Women Talking on CouchThen the next thing is you said when other people came to the house she entered into the conversation,  which is not acceptable. If you’re working and you’re doing your business, she should be working doing her business and not interfering with you.

So right up front, you need to stop that and say, “Hey, I would love for you to meet my friend and I would love for us to be able to have a chat maybe we could all grab coffee together sometime.

Right now, you’re on the clock and you are working, I’m going to let you get back to your job. Right now, I’m on the clock and I’m working, I’m going to get back to my job.”

You Have to Have Very Firm Boundaries

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, Three Women Standing and Talking in KitchenSo you allow them to get back to their job and then excuse yourself and invite your friend to another room where the house cleaner can keep working. But you have to have very firm boundaries, especially if it’s your friend that you’ve hired because right now the boundaries don’t exist.

So every time you let up a little bit and let her in on the conversation and you’re being nice to her because you’re a nice person, you will enable her to continue this behavior next time she comes.

It’s not okay. She is not part of your conversation, especially if it’s a client that’s coming to your house. She needs to be doing her thing. You need to be doing your thing.

Your House Needs to Be Cleaned Your Way

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, House Cleaner Cleaning WindowWhen you try to have a conversation with her and she says things like “Oh, that’s not how I clean things.”  You need to tell her “Okay, my house needs to be cleaned a certain way to meet my personal standards and so if you’re not the right cleaning person. Then this was awesome practice, thanks so much for practicing on me, but you’re not the right house cleaner for my house.”

So as a customer, and any customer would have this honest conversation and they would say, you’re no longer the right house cleaner if this is not how you clean.

So, thanks very much. But going for months with dirty baseboards doesn’t cut it. Then you have to let them go.

I Love That You’re Trying to Help Your Friend

I Hired My Friend to Clean My House, Woman Cleaning FurnitureSo, I love the fact that you tried to help your friend. I think it’s amazing of you. As much as I would encourage you not to hire friends and family for this very reason. If a friend or a family member comes to you and they say, “Can I practice on you?” 

Then act as if you are a customer, pay them as if you are a customer, give them honest feedback as if they’re a customer. If it doesn’t pass inspection, call them back and have them activate their satisfaction guarantee as if they were a regular house cleaning company and you were a regular customer.  Because if you are training them to be in business, you’re not going to train them anything if you enable their behaviors along the way.

All that does is it hurts them, and it makes them think, “Oh, well, I can pull this off with another customer.” No, they can’t. That’s not how you stay in business.

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