Should Cleaning Company Staff be Paid by the Hour or by the Job

Should Cleaning Company Staff be Paid by the Hour or by the Job

Should Cleaning Company Staff be Paid by the Hour or by the JobAs a (25 years and counting) veteran…

in the commercial & residential cleaning industry and a person who provides coaching and consulting services to cleaning business owners, I get asked this question pretty frequently. One I get often is “Should Cleaning Company Staff be Paid by the Hour or by the Job?”

If you are a company owner seeking to improve your cleaning business, you may be wondering which is the best way to compensate your employees and why should cleaning company staff be paid by the hour or by the Job

The most successful cleaning company owners quickly realize that their companies can only ever be as good as their staff and as your most important resource, your Human Resources should be treated as the valuable assets they are. In addition to best practices in recruiting, hiring and training your employees, the way you pay them is one of the most important considerations in your ability to retain a well-trained, highly motivated and service oriented team at your company. You want to use a compensation system that is perceived as being both beneficial and fair.

This one step will do wonders for you in terms of increasing your ability to improve your cleaning business’ overall performance.

I’ve been in business now for 25 years with my cleaning company and have probably hired more than 2000 people during that time. Speaking from my experience, I have always found paying hourly for commercial and a flat rate (or commission for residential cleaners) to be the best way to pay for the following reasons:

Should Cleaning Company Staff be Paid by the Hour or by the Job For Commercial- 

Hourly pay encourages commercial cleaning staff to stay as long as is needed to get the (high quality) job done. Let’s say I pay $12 per hour and I expect a job to take 4 hours, that suggests a payment for that job of $48. If I were to say “I’ll pay you $48 to do this job” I’ve noticed that a job all of the sudden takes 3 hours (so now my employee is making $16 per hour).

Because I am very confident in my ability to properly gauge how long a job should take I know that if its gets done in 3 hours something’s going to get missed. The risk of this happening quite honestly tends to be higher for part time janitors working in the evening, more so than with FT residential cleaners – maybe because night cleaners are more likely to be rushing…..?

Either way, It translates into unhappy customers and possibly even the loss of the contract – certainly not worth the risk to save $12. On the other hand, if it’s especially trashed one day and needs 5 hours to be properly cleaned I don’t want my cleaning staff rushing to get done because they will only be making $9.6 per hour if I guaranteed a flat rate of $48. Paying your employees fairly and adequately will go a long ways in helping you to improve your cleaning business as you grow it, by reducing staff turnover and increasing your staff’s job satisfaction.

If the amount you pay your employees is on the lower end of the wage scale (near minimum wage) you can have a real problem with paying people by the job because if there are slower workers you may inadvertently violate minimum wage law requirements. Because the margins are tighter and the pay is lower for commercial than it is for residential this is one reason I suggest you stick with hourly for your commercial employees.

This could also happen if you improperly estimate your job times or a facility is dirtier than expected on occasion. So, even though you may be paying by the job, you’ll still have to track your cleaning staff’s hours to make sure you are in compliance with state and federal labor laws. Paying by the job also limits your ability to verify that you comply with overtime regulations- a serious violation that can cost you hundreds or even thousand in fines and penalties if discovered by your state labor board. 

Should Cleaning Company Staff be Paid by the Hour or by the Job For Residential- 

I’ve found over the years that paying by the job (either as a flat rate or as a percentage) is the best way to compensate residential cleaners, in part because there tend to be so many more variables with this type of cleaning. Even if you’re not adding many new clients, and the houses you clean tend to be the same clients you’ve been servicing for years, there will still be more variation from one year to the next for a particular client and a wider range of cleaning speeds for your cleaners as well. 

Here’s what I mean: 

1. Mrs Smith may have out of town guests, skip one or more cleanings, be moving furniture of redecorating certain rooms, there are a dozen different reasons why hes cleaning time may change from one service visit to the next. And since you REALLY need to keep your payroll to a certain percentage of what you charge, paying your cleaner a flat rate or percentage discourages them from doing “extras” the client hasn’t paid for and it encourages them to keep you abreast of special requests, or conditions in your customer’s house. It makes it possible for you to keep your margins where they need to be so that payroll costs don’t spiral out of control because your client is getting messier and messier, or because you have a slower than average cleaner. 

2. The other GREAT thing about paying residential cleaners a certain percentage (whether they know that’s how you calculate their pay or not) is that it prevent you from inadvertently encouraging slow workers to ‘bleed’ the clock or accidentally penalizing faster workers who get the job done in a minimum amount of time. Let’s say you bill at $40 an hour and you have a house that you’ve priced at 5 hours. your cleaner might get 40% if they’re an employee (or closer to 60% if they are an IC) so that would be $80. Now if you have a fast worker who gets it done in 4.5 hours she’s making $17.77 an hour. But you may have a slower worker who spends 5.5 hours on the same job. That cleaner is only making $14.5 an hour. And as long as the quality is the same – and it will be because you have a great training program in place or because you only hire experienced ICs then you don’t really care what their hourly rate of pay is. But you ABSOLUTELY want to be certain what’s it’s going to cost you (480) regardless in you have slow suzie or fast frankie cleaning that day. right?

Extra appreciation and motivation

If you want to show your cleaning staff extra appreciation over and above their hourly or flat pay, seek solutions using spot recognition and incentives. Something your employees will not mentally lump-together with their bills and paycheck or expect. For motivation and engagement that will take you further, and for less than any increase of pay-grade, gift cards are a great rewards.

Want your recognition to be viewed as something extra, greatly appreciated? Select carefully. By choosing familiar and niche brands with experiential value, have your recognition strategy aligned with your beliefs. Present a fine or wholesome dinner with family or health at home from the neighborhood pharmacy. Gift cards and the brands you choose are most influential to empower excellence when the reward and presentation are both about your cause. Think of your purpose. Make your recognition a token of the experience you desire for your valued staff member; tell them to enjoy.

I hope this article helped you with ample information on Should Cleaning Company Staff be Paid by the Hour or by the Job?

Build, grow, and prosper with help from Build My Cleaning Business’ founder Pam Washington!

Another article to read is “How To Create a Cleaning Business Employee Handbook”