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Fired my cleaner. don't think i was wrong!

So I had a dilemma recently, I run my airbnb properties as a business. Currently have 4 of them. There’s no way in hell I’m driving around cleaning 4 apartments so I had to hire. Enter Tracy (not real name). Tracy told me how she was a supervisor at a hotel prior and started her own business eventually. Of all the people I interviewed she stood out. Plus her husband was a handy man so I was getting a package deal. Hired! A few weeks in and it was all rosy.
Then another host visited one of my properties. His name was Kenny. He called AirBnB support and said he couldn’t stay at my apartment because it wasn’t “clean enough”. I was shocked because that apartment had solid reviews. I asked Kenny to wait up and I’ll meet him up. He said he couldn’t wait the extra 30 mins it took. He left. On arrival everything looked clean and spot on. I called AirBnB support and asked them to do him a 50% refund. They did. He didn’t complain. The alarm bells were ringing silently at that point. I felt Kenny was just one of those guests with OCD.
I eventually got concerned when Kenny sent me a detailed message stating why he didn’t stay. Then I got a bit concerned. They were niggly little things but they would matter to me too.
I began watching a little closer.
About 4 days later some girls in their mis 20z checked in and they called me immediately saying they would leave. I was alarmed. I offered them a 50% refund immediately and asked my cleaner to go to their apartment and addresa their issues immediately. She did. They complained about same niggly little things. They had found a strand of hair on their pillow and another in one of the beds. They also found the fridge was not properly cleaned. After the cleaner attended to them, they were happy and gave me positive feedback.
At this point I had decided I would drive through all apartments after cleaning was complete.
I began doing that and I noticed some carelessness about the way cleaning was done. I called the cleaner and we had a meeting.
I told her I felt she had taken on too much and shs needed help. She replied saying she didn’t. I showed her the little things that had transpired. She said they were little slip ups because she was under presure at home and all was good now.
We had 2 more incidents in the space of a week.
Lipstick residue on pillow cases, more hairs on beds.
Final straw was a cancellation where the guest sent images to AirBnB support.
The next morning I summoned the cleaner to the apartment and it was exactly as the guest had left it. Hairs on pillows, more hairs on the bed, poorly cleaned living area, spilled wine residue on table and wooden floor. After showing her all this, she claimed guests were attempting to sabotage her. She cleaned exceptionally but “Because guests wanted a refund they were deliberately setting stuff up”. I lost mind. When she saw I was not buying her silly idea, she began screaming at me. Claiming I didn’t pay enough and that she did nothing wrong. Eventually ended saying she quits. Well I didn’t fire her actually. She quit.
So I asked her to return all our items in her possession. She said she wouldnot until we paid her for the month with no penalties. We are currently locked in a stale mate.
I have since decided to clean 2 of our 4 apartments myself and I have been trying out other cleaning companies. Still have not found a good fit yet but still looking.
Bottom line , I was lucky I spotted her incompetence before it cost us major.

All of us run our Airbnb’s as a business @BlaQMarbleHost. We provide a service, the guest pays.

I am sorry but I would say a lot of this one is down to you.

Did you clean each place yourself before employing someone so you understood what was involved and how long it took? Did you take up references with previous hosts before employing her? Did you provide a detailed checklist for each property? Did you have a spot check system in place?

If you have four places you probably need at least two cleaners plus a back-up.

Why did you let your cleaner carry on after she made mistake after mistake. A one-off can be allowed for but after the second incident I would have let her go. She has affected your reputation and cost you money.

What does your contract with her say regarding payment terms? What does she have that belongs to you? Certainly in many countries it is not legal to withhold payment. But you can deduct penalties if allowed for in your contract with her.

By the way it sounds like the first host/guest took advantage of you. Why on earth would you have agreed a 50% refund when everything seemed to clean on your arrival. As you know guests need to give hosts the opportunity to resolve things and at the most I would have just returned the cleaning fee.

If you want quality cleaners then pay them a decent rate, take up references, and allow them enough time to do the turnovers.

By the way I am not sure I would agree you ‘spotted her incompetence before it cost you major’. From what you have said, you let her make cleaning mistakes with at least five sets of guests which resulted in at least two of them cancelling. And you still didn’t fire her. She quit !

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Hi @Helsi
Firstly, I’ve only been a host for 3 months so I’m actually learning as I go along.
Now in terms of pay - her complaint was mainly because each time I refunded a guest I took it out of her payslip. It is in the contract. So I really didn’t lose money. But I lost some reputation which i am currently clawing back thankfully.
Secondly why her quiting was advantageous to me was if I had fired her, I would have had to pay 2 weeks in lieu or let her clean for 2 weeks. She quit. Now she ows me 2 weeks wages as per contract (but I won’t push this. Needless).
I had already made up my mind I would fire her and had lined up her replacement. He came in same day she quit and has since done a spotless job.
I do not have printed out checklists but I walk through the cleaning routine with each new cleaner. I felt this would suffice but now that you mention it, maybe a checklist will come in handym altho I don’t know that many cleaners will be happy using a checklist to tick off items. Toilet seat :white_check_mark: , kitchen counter top :white_check_mark:.
I have since become more vigilant double checking what they do. And we have not had a single complaint for 3 weeks. And reviews are too notch. It was a learning for me. Yes it was my fault. I should have let her go after 2 errors but she’s a mother of 4 and she let me know how this job helps pay her rent etc. I guess the human in me screwed me over. I can assure u that’s the last time it happens. And thanks for the critical feedback.

I’m all for empathy when times are tough for people (I know, you’re all giggling and throwing popcorn at the screen) and they have mouths to feed.

BUT she runs a business. You run a business. There are standards and if she cleaned hotels, she already has a checklist from that job.

Now you know - get a checklist and hand it to your cleaners. Do random black light spot checks.

Whatever she has of yours in her possession - it’s’ gone.

And welcome to hosting! :slight_smile:

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She cleans all 4 apartments right? I’m curious if the times where the issues came up were also times where there were 3 or 4 turnovers on the same day and she just couldn’t do them all.

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Thanks @casailinglady
I am learning I need to be tough skinned in this business. Wth cleaners and with guests. Yes it is a business and should be treated as such.

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Hi Brian,
Actually, we found the issues started when we started having to reuse sheets. We bought a lorry load of sheets so we were good because she always used new sheets. We have washers and dryers in all our homes to enable us do linens. The heavier stuff is done at a laundromat. I think she was piling in towels (these will definitely jave hair on them) with the sheets. And she wasn’t careful enough to ensure she checked made beds. Didn’t really have to do with the turnover. She was just careless tbh.

I think you handled this well and I really appreciate your willingness to realize if you made a mistake. Don’t feel bad about ending the relationship with the cleaner, you gave her ample opportunity to fix the problem and she didn’t.

I suggest adding the sticky lint rollers to your cleaning routine. Every time I wash my linens I find at least one hair, usually more, on my sticky roller. Usually it’s a long hair but sometimes it’s an eyebrow sized hair.

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I have found that using stay-at-home moms works the best.

I go through the cleaning with them. I give them detailed photos of how everything should look like. I take the time to tell them all the picky things guests will complain about.

I still do most of my cleaning myself but she covers when I can’t, does a deep cleaning once a month and now is my backup co-host.

I make a point of giving her random raises and bonuses and send her samples of some of the nice praise I get for cleaning. It’s a partnership. She’s been with me for over a year. The last one was with me for 2 years.

Also, I do go into the STR about 1 hour before guests check in to give a once over again. (Even when I clean). Fresh eyes catch random stuff like a tissue on the floor, a cleaner bottle on the counter, a wash cloth handing on a shower sprout. Before I came up with this system I was sometimes getting 3 and 4 for cleaning. Now I only get 5s.

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This! I sticky roller even if I don’t see a hair on the sheets, and it usually picks something up anyway. It only takes a second to do.

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Yes, it’s the hardest lesson all of us have had to learn. Polite but firm. :wink: Good luck and welcome to the crazy world of hosting.

My current cleaner is pretty good, she has helpers and I usually go behind and make sure everything looks good but I trust her if I am unable to. My last cleaner ghosted me after I showed her the bathroom she had just cleaned with the UV light.

RR

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Re: The checklists… a family member is our cleaner, who had extensive professional experience supervising turnovers in a big name luxury resort. When I walked her through after we were all set up showing her the guest amenities, she asked me where my checklists were. I just blinked at her and she rolled her eyes and sighed. ‘I will make them.’ So I know she has them, and I know her emergency backup (her son who worked for and was trained by her at another hotel) has them, and has been trained on what needs to be done. He has only had to back her up once and it was on setup for an arrival, but it’s a real peace of mind knowing I have experienced people on the ground. I honestly don’t think we would be doing this if we didn’t have her in charge of the cleaning and setup. I don’t think it’s enough to have a good cleaner, but a good cleaner who understands hospitality delivered at a high standard of practice.

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You’ve obviously been lucky finding good stay at home mums to be honest.

UV light?? Surprised face I shd check that out.

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search black light / UV light in the posts - galaxies of little yellow stars!
I demonstrated one yesterday and she immediately wanted to borrow it take home.

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Time to put things in writing. Confirm that she quit on X date and list your property in her possession that needs to be returned.

This may well go to small claims …

I do think that you let this go too long but it happens. Learn from it.

I’m chuckling reading this but not because I find your situation funny. I have worked in a very small town with a run down motel and the “cleaning guy” came in to wipe the existing hairs off of the sheets/pillow cases. Don’t even ask me the details of how I found this out. I was disgusted.

Others in the small town were crack heads/meth heads. They do a GREAT job until they are on a binge. They run from job to job.

Thankfully you have learned quickly. Hey - at least you weeded this all out now. Wish you the best.

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so true! I have people tell me my place is clean and they’re glad I don’t charge a cleaning fee. Then I walk them through my cleaning process… no black light yet, but it’s coming. Lint rollers are bought in bulk

I want to give people what I expect in cleanliness. And I’m part German, so we clean! :wink:

I want things to be a lot cleaner than I would expect or keep it if it was just our vacation house. We always cleaned up well when we left, but now leaving it guest ready we are fanatical lol. We also get lots of compliments on cleanliness and factor that cost into the rate vs. separate fee.

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