Being a maid — particularly a housemaid can be a very difficult task. As a maid service business, we encounter an entire spectrum of different expectations and needs from our clients. Recently, I had a conversation with a close friend of mine, who isn’t in the business and has never hired a maid before, about how much maids make on an hourly basis. His thoughts were that experienced maids typically earn an unreasonably high rate per hour ($35-45) where I, as a company owner that pays well above the standard rate, have more realistic numbers.
So we decided to look this up. The results surprised even me. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a bit less than 1 million full-time employed maids last year, with an average, or ‘mean’ wage of $10.49 an hour. Now in Chicago, the pay was $11.39 an hour, which is not much different, and frankly, a low wage.
In Chicago, the pay was $11.39 an hour
This is a problem. The maid service industry is an old-school industry that hasn’t seen much change until recently, with the explosion of Web 2.0 websites that make booking an appointment a little easier (the premise of our site) with investors pouring money into financing them. Services such as ours charge a bit more for the convenience factor, and we tend to pay our maids a LOT better. This helps Web 2.0 companies two-fold:
Higher pay means attracting higher quality cleaners
Higher pay means cleaners perform higher-quality cleaning jobs
Of course, customers generally like knowing that their cleaners are getting a fair wage, and are working harder to make their home clean as a result.
So the question is, how much do Web 2.0 companies pay their maids?
We can’t speak for other companies, and because we pay by the job, a more efficient maid team will earn a higher effective hourly rate. However, our average maid team will make just over $20 an hour. As a result, Companion Maids has been able to hire some amazing maid teams, and our customers are pretty happy.
But that’s beside the point. The point is that your typical full-time maid cannot make enough money to pay their bills. And this is a problem. We need to focus on providing a means for making maid services valuable again so that when people pay to get their house cleaned, it’s a win/win situation for all.
The residential cleaning industry has experienced drastic changes over the last several years. As I referenced in my blog post at BuiltinChicago, many new cleaning companies have started in the last few years, each company with a common goal of making a footprint in a fast-changing landscape. All kinds of cleaning services have sprung, from the premium, uber-expensive services, to the Homejoy types, or what I like to call,” the new McDonald’s” of the cleaning industry.
With that said, behind all the numbers, marketing, and promises of a spotless home, there remains a most important common denominator in regards to this industry, and that is the treatment of the maids themselves. Cleaning homes is a HARD job. I’ve done a few cleanings myself on behalf of Companion Maids, and the work is physically demanding, the time management aspect can be stressful, and satisfying client and employer can be nerve-racking. This is why, as a company, we started and/or adopted a few very important ‘maxims’ when it comes to our cleaners.
Our cleaners must be paid a fair, sustainable wage. Minimum wage doesn’t cut it in this country, and it doesn’t cut it with us either.
We will only work with clients that want to pay a fair amount for an exceptional job. We love to offer the occasional deal, but we will not undercut just to snag a client.
Our cleaners are an integral part of Companion Maids. Even in the event of a conflict, they will be treated with respect and decisions will be fair to the client, company, and cleaner.
We need to take a bit of a stand. Most of the time we hold interviews for new cleaners, we inevitably run into cleaners that are being paid far less than minimum wage for their work. If a company is charging an absurdly low price for a sizable job, understand that the cleaner is making an absurdly low amount of money for their hard work. In fact, some maid TEAMS make as little as 20% of what the company has charged you. 20%. If you’re OK with that, more power to you, but we simply would not like to have you as a client. If you’re not OK with that, then try not to patronize that company.
*Cleaners (teams) should generally be making 30%+ of what you pay, PLUS their company should be reimbursed for supplies/gas/other related expenses.
*Cleaning teams should generally be making 50%+ of what you pay IF the company does not reimburse them for expenses.
There are many standalone services where the worker is independent and will charge a small amount of money to do the job. This is more acceptable because any amount of money can be of help for some people, and the typical independent cleaner doesn’t have any overhead to deal with. Of course, they also keep 100% of what you pay them. However, we would strongly caution against working with an independent that doesn’t at least have general liability insurance. It protects the client, the cleaner, and it’s the law.
The sad truth is that most cleaning companies aren’t great to their workers. Fortunately however, most of those companies don’t stay in business past 5 years. At Companion Maids, to date, we haven’t had ONE team quit our company to work with another cleaning service. There’s a reason for that. Of course, we have had to part ways with a few teams over time. But the maxims stand.
If you work with a good company that charges a fair rate, you can generally be more confident that the cleaners that come to make your home look good are happier, and are rewarded for their work.