Technician vs. Cleaning Associate

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate

Is it better to hire a cleaning technician vs. cleaning associate? What are the pros and cons as I grow my cleaning company?

Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru talks technician vs. cleaning associate. Invoice vs. payroll, the ability to dispatch cleaners and build your brand vs. independent contractor. 

“Plan to outsource some work to a subcontractor, hire some employees and maybe add a virtual assistant to your team.”

Today’s #AskaHouseCleaner sponsors are Savvy Cleaner. (Tips for your house cleaning technician or cleaning associate. HouseCleaning360 (a hub where a homeowner can find a maid or house cleaner. And My Cleaning Connection (a resource hub for all things cleaning.)

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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.

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Question: Technician vs. Cleaning Associate

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate canada pension plan“Hi, Angela. It’s Janice Weaver in Ottawa, Canada. I have a question. Is it better to take on independent cleaning technicians vs. cleaning associates?

There’s obviously a lot less paperwork involved if you take them on as an associate. And if it doesn’t work out, you just basically don’t give them any more projects.  Having an employee, there are a lot of things to fill out here in Canada. It’s CPP, it’s EI, and my biggest concern is that once a person passes the three-month probationary period, it’s a lot more difficult if you have to fire them.  They can often go and file a grievance to some sort of an association. Anyway, just would like your opinion on which you think is the better option.”

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Answer: Outsource to Independent Associates

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate woman and lawyer in officeAll right, Janice, that is a great question. Should you hire a cleaning technician vs. cleaning associate? Now, my suggestion would be that you’re going to hire both. This goes back to the question; do you work on your business or in your business

There is a time when you are the business. You are in the business, and you are the cleaning technician. And then as your business expands and you start to outsource other tasks. The key word here is outsourcing, so as you expand your business, you’re going to outsource.

Cleaning Associates (Independent Contractors) Make Their Own Rules

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate housecleaner cleaning counterNow, there are pros and cons with hiring a cleaning associate versus a cleaning employee. A cleaning associate or an independent contractor is someone that runs their own cleaning business, and you are one of their clients. If you are one of their clients, you have to run their business their way. You do not get to articulate, “Oh, you’ve got to wear my company uniform, and you have to be here at a certain time,” and you know all the rules. 

There are a whole bunch of rules and regulations that go with an employee versus an independent contractor.

You Make a Small Percentage and Have No Control

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate outsourcing graphicIf you hire a cleaning associate you are subbing out your cleaning. That is akin to being a franchisor in the sense that you’re just making a small percentage of what they earn. 

If you hire a cleaning technician or an employee you do have control over so many more things. And they are on your payroll and you take out taxes. 

Instead of payroll, the independent contractor or cleaning associate sends you an invoice at the end of the job and you remit payment. They pay their own taxes. 

There are pros and cons to both. But as your business grows, you’re going to use lots of different avenues for outsourcing. 

Consider Virtual Assistants Too

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate virtual assistant working on computerThe time may come when you hire a virtual assistant, which is not what we’re talking about at all. But it’s something to think about. 

A freelance assistant or VA (Virtual Assistant) is somebody who helps you in your business, and they may not even live in the same country as you. They might answer your phones, they might do your social media or create marketing pieces for you. 

Hiring a Cleaning Technician or Employee Involves Paperwork

There’s a lot of paperwork with having an employee, and there’s a lot of management that goes along with having an employee. 

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate housecleaners working in office with suppliesYour job as the boss is to make sure that your employees show up every day. And you get to inspire them to show up with a spectacular attitude. And encourage them to look like they are part of your brand. Your job is to make sure their cleaning supplies are up to par and in meticulous condition. 

Yes, they can file a grievance and you have to keep all your employee records on file. 

You can have regular staff meetings. And you get to have powwow meetings to encourage them when they’re in a slump. 

You get to be the bearer of bad news when a customer calls and says, “The cleaning is not up to par.” 

And you have to send them back to clean it again because of your satisfaction guarantee.

Employees Want Benefits & Guaranteed Hours

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate signing paperwork close upThere are other differences hiring technicians vs. cleaning associates. If you have a robust staff and a fleet of vehicles your cleaning technicians can be in a uniform that promotes your company brand.

You can use a system like ZenMaid to dispatch your teams. They all use work orders and meet cleaning customers on your schedule. 

Independent contractors and cleaning associates follow their own rules and schedule. They don’t drive your company cars and they don’t wear your uniforms. Nor do they promote your brand. 

You can say, “The customer expects us there at 9:00 in the morning, and we’ve given them a window.” But if they don’t show until 10:00, there’s nothing you can do about that. That’s on them. You can’t write them up or anything.

Cleaning Associates Can’t Wear Your Company Uniform

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate group of housecleanersYou can say, “These are our company colors.” No one can brand company colors. If they want to show up looking like the company, they’re welcome to wear that same color, but you cannot dictate that. 

They’re not part of your company, and so they can wear whatever they want, which causes you to lose control of your brand. 

If somebody hires your company, and you send a cleaning associate, they could theoretically show up in sweats. 

No shower, no makeup, a ratty car that isn’t clean. And you have no recourse. The client will assume since you sent the cleaning associate, that they are a part of your company. And they will assume that all your cleaning associates are the same. 

Visible and Invisible Cleaners

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate commercial cleaning officeSince you don’t get to control the cleaning associates you may want to split the business into elements you can control.

Have your commercial (after hours) cleaners be the cleaning associates. They show up in their own cars (after dark) wearing whatever they want. And they show up whenever they want, to offices where people have gone home for the day. The job gets done before the offices open in the morning, and the cleaning associates invoice you and get paid. 

The visible cleaners who park in front of client’s homes in the daylight are the cleaning technicians or employees. 

They are in uniform and wrapped company cars and they follow the schedules and rules of your business. They are brand ambassadors.

Special Projects for Cleaning Associates

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate airbnb kitchenAnother end of the cleaning business that’s booming right now is the Airbnb – Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO).

This is where people rent out rooms of their houses as their kids grow up and go off to college. Guests coming in from out of town either for events or vacations rent their rooms rather than a hotel. 

For a turnover service, an independent contractor is a great choice. A mom with school kids who is available between 10:30 to 2:00 is a match made in heaven. Customers are checking out and new customers are checking in at these Airbnb’s.  And the work is random. Turnovers may be twice a week or they may be once every other week. 

And you can keep your regular employees on your bi-weekly scheduled clients.

Pros and Cons to Technician vs. Cleaning Associate

Technician vs. Cleaning Associate mom with two kidsThere are pros and cons to both the cleaning technician and cleaning associate. And my suggestion would be to look at all the different elements and determine which leg of your business you’re building.  And then figure out who is going to be the best fit for those different areas. 

You may actually have three facets of your business, and you may have three different types of people that you hire. Technicians, Cleaning Associates and Virtual Assistants.

As you build your cleaning empire. You’re going to have a variety of different team members. Some of them will be part-time. Some of them will be full-time. You may have independent contractors and you may have employees. 

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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

Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers & Gig Workers of All Types –

Independent Contractor, Sole Proprietor, and LLC Taxes Explained in 100 Pages or Less –

Consultant & Independent Contractor Agreements –

Independent Contractor Agreement, Simple – Legally Binding: Employment Legal Forms Book –

Working with Independent Contractors –

Annual Tax Mess Organizer for Self-Employed People & Independent Contractors –

The Great Debate, Employees vs. Independent Contractors –

How to Hire Employees – Independent Contractors or Employees –

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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.

Turnover Cleaning Tips – for Vacation Rental and Airbnb Hosts

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