Should you charge by the hour or flat rate when cleaning houses?
For new house cleaning companies, it can be difficult to know whether to charge by the hour or a flat rate when cleaning houses. Neither is better than the other. There will be times when charging by the hour is better. And other times when charging a flat fee will be the way to go.
Which ever method you use, make sure it is making you money and you don’t end up working for free! After all you are in this business to make money.
For more help to knowing what to charge for cleaning services, read this guide: Best Pricing Guide for Maid Services
When to Charge by the hour for house cleaning:
Charging by the hour is great for those times when the time you spend in a home will vary greatly. Charging a flat rate will cost you more money in the long run.
Charge by the hour if you offer these services:
- picking up clutter/toys
- organizing spaces
- personalizing cleaning service to each client
These tasks take longer, and the time to complete them can vary each time you clean. It would be impossible to project a profitable flat rate when your service times will vary.
For instance, if you offer laundry service: one week your client may have 1 load of laundry, but the next week they have 3. The week there are 3 loads of laundry, it will take you longer to clean the home.
Or you may have 1 client who has newer more efficient washer and dryer which cleans laundry fast, while another client may have older machines that just don’t work as fast.
All of these variables can adjust how long it takes to clean a home. This is why charging by the hour when offering these types of services will be better for you.
You will also want to charge by the hour if you customize your cleaning service for each client. This is because you will be completing different tasks at each cleaning service.
Your cleaning times will vary greatly therefore your costs to clean a home will vary as well. By charging by the hour, you will protect your profits and income because you will be making the same amount of money each hour you clean, no matter which home you clean.
When to Charge a flat rate for house cleaning:
Charging a flat fee is the best way to streamline your business and start building more profits. But a HUGE disclaimer: Only charge a flat fee if you are completing the same cleaning service for each client. This means you define the checklist and tasks that you will complete at the home. If you do not follow the same cleaning checklist for each client and each time you clean, DO NOT charge a flat fee to clean.
A sample checklist would look like this:
- Clean and sanitize bathroom surfaces.
- Clean and sanitize kitchen surfaces.
- Spot cleaning front of cabinetry.
- Dusting of furniture surfaces, baseboards, doors, and other trim.
- Removal of cobwebs, dusting of ceiling fans.
- Vacuuming of all floors
- Mopping of all hard floors
Item’s that would NOT be included when charging a flat fee:
- Washing or folding Laundry
- Picking up and putting away toys and/or clutter
- Cleaning out cabinets, cupboards or drawers.
- Thorough cleaning of cabinetry facings.
- Cleaning inside large kitchen appliances (refrigerator/oven)
- Washing dishes, emptying dishwashers.
- Organizing closets
What I recommend:
When I talk to small cleaning business owners who want to know what to charge for cleaning services, I recommend they start streamlining their service so they can save time by not working each evening on paperwork and client management.
Why I like flat fee vs hourly.
- Flat fee provides full transparency with your clients.
- Can manage expectations better. The client will always know how much their cleaning will cost and you always know what you are going to clean. No unexpected surprises, no questioning why it took you 30 minutes longer one visit from the next
- Client is not worried about you ‘running up the clock’.
- The client does not get an invoice they were not expecting, they can plan on their monthly cleaning expense.
- Flat fees reward productivity. If you invest in a new tool to help you clean more efficiently, or develop a more efficient cleaning system, you can give yourself a raise! If you charged hourly, you would never get a raise unless you charged your client a higher fee or purposely slowed down (I do NOT recommend this, it will certainly build distrust with your client).
What NOT to do when charging a flat fee:
- Do not compromise quality by cutting corners.
- Do not skip tasks if something ‘looks clean’.
- Do not clean so fast that you leave behind dirt, smudges or risk breaking items.
To help you develop a cleaning service that allows you to charge a flat fee, I have created my Maid Services Guide to Cleaning professionally. I teach you how to develop your cleaning service so that you are providing a WOW experience and offering a service that your clients have been looking for.
Next Steps: Read my Pricing Guide Article to help you build your pricing list and know what to charge for each house.