How to Train Cleaning Staff to Meet High Standards

[:en]Housekeeping is tough work! It is physically demanding, with lots of bending, stooping, and kneeling. It is also mentally tough to remember the cleaning techniques and safety precautions necessary to do the job well, all the while noticing property damage and completing the clean to the client’s standard.

With these challenges in mind, every cleaning company owner should do six essential things to ensure the success of your staff, your clients, and your business. With these six steps, you’ll be able to train your staff to meet a client’s standards every time.

1. Create a Standard Property Appearance (SPA) Doc

Your cleaning staff needs to know what standard they are being held accountable to. Creating a Standard Property Appearance document should be your first step. Meet your client at their property and go from room to room asking questions, taking notes, and getting photo documentation of how they expect the room to be staged.

With the client’s specifications and your notes and photos, you can create a Standard Property Appearance for your staff to reference. If you do this for each and every client you clean for, there will be no question about what the expectations are.

When you assign a staff member to a property to clean, give them access to the client’s SPA so they know what is expected. Encourage your cleaners to ask for clarifications if they need them – you want it done right the first time!

2. Hire the Right People

When hiring, look for attitude before cleaning skill. You can train the skill of cleaning, but you do not have time to train someone to be a team player or to work well with others. Create a rigorous interview process that asks questions about your potential new teammate’s past behavior. Good questions include:

  • Who was the most frustrating client you ever had and why?
  • How did you help them get what they needed despite the difficulty?
  • How would you handle it if a fellow cleaner called to ask you to take a job for them at the last minute?
  • Have you worked with a team in the past? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like

You need to know if the person is a good fit in two 30 minute interviews, so be sure to get information about what they’ll be like to work with in that time.

3. Train Extensively

As new staff is hired, set aside a day to train them in the techniques and principles you expect them to use. The training should include:

  • Follow the Wall
  • Your Cleaning Process
  • How to use the cleaning products your company uses
  • Safety processes and information
  • Company policies and procedures
  • Standard Property Appearance and how to read it

You should expect to spend at least one full day training your cleaning staff, which is another reason to hire carefully. You want to be sure your team knows not only your expectations, but how to read your clients’ expectations as laid out in your Standard Property Appearance document.

4. Perform Service Evaluations

During the cleaning process or after the cleaning is complete, evaluate that the work was done to the standard of the client. I use the same rating scale I use to obtain feed back from the clients I clean for. (Yes, I send clients a comment card.)

The client’s comment card score and the service evaluation are combined to provide a score for the cleaner. This information is then used to provide immediate feedback (positive or negative) to the housekeeper. You can post the scores for all to see and talk about them in a healthy, competitive way. This way the housekeepers always know how they are performing and how they can improve their score.

5. Coach Your Team

Meet with your staff at least once a quarter in a private one on one session. The purpose of this meeting is to maintain open dialogue between you and your staff. You need them to perform at their best at each and every clean, which means you need to listen to their concerns or challenges and coach them on how to improve.

The Coaching Conversations are simple and there are only three questions. They are:

  • What are you pleased and proud of?
  • What could you be more effective at for the next 90 days?
  • What are your goals for the next 90 days?

Notice the questions are positive in nature and are open-ended. The intent is to make this a positive experience that allows you, your staff, and the company to perform at the best level.

6. Train Again!

I recommend holding a retraining session monthly on the topics of:

  • Proper use of cleaning products and tools
  • Safety processes and information
  • Company policies and procedures
  • Standard Property Appearance for each client

Even if your team is generally performing well, there will always be a few areas where your team gets a little complacent or forgetful. By holding a general training session, you can highlight specific policies or processes you feel individual team members need improvement on without putting them on the spot. You also remind your other team members that this is an important process they should keep paying lots of attention to.

The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth steps are a circle. As you go around the circle each time the staff and company get better at what you do best: cleaning up other people’s messes.

Durk Johnson has over 15 years of experience as a leading authority in the vacation rental housekeeping industry. Currently he serves as the executive director of Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP), a national organization that specializes in housekeeping principles and procedures. [:]