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Charging hourly cleaning service rates may seem like a simple solution—but it can cause a lot of frustration and even damage your cleaning service brand.

When you own a house cleaning services company, there’s an appealing simplicity to charging by the hour. It’s easy to calculate and easy to measure. And in the early days, it may work out just fine.

But charging by the hour comes with some significant challenges from a marketing perspective—and the value you offer. So we broke down three big reasons why you shouldn’t charge by the hour for cleaning services.

Charging by the hour changes how customers choose cleaning services

When you advertise an hourly rate, it can trigger people to think of your service only in terms of dollar value. As a result, people might automatically look for the lowest price rather than the best service. And if your hourly rate costs more than your competitors, you could very well lose business.

The price competition approach is especially challenging in the home cleaning industry. The people who hire cleaners probably know how to vacuum carpets and clean bathrooms. But the selling point should be that they’re buying back their time, not a specialized skill.

But assigning a dollar amount to that time can make people question the value you offer. For example, they might ask why they’re paying someone else to complete a cleaning job they can technically do themselves. As a result, they lose sight of the actual value you bring by saving them time and effort.

Your cleaning customers might start watching the clock

People can behave strangely when their money’s on the line. If your cleaning company charges by the hour, price-sensitive customers may begin watching the clock to save a few dollars. Some may question the time it takes to complete a particular task. Some might even hover near your employees and push them to work faster.

This dynamic can be uncomfortable for your cleaning staff and challenging for you.
But when you charge by the hour, some people may feel compelled to encourage haste. As a result, everyone is frustrated. Your staff feels hurried, your customers may not get a good clean, and you’re stuck in the middle. You don’t want to set yourself or your employees up to be questioned about how your time is spent.

Hourly rates can negatively affect house cleaner’s behavior

When house cleaners are paid by the hour, they may try to draw out their time to earn more money. It’s not entirely uncommon for an employee to dawdle in an attempt to boost their paycheck a little bit.

Of course, we all hope our maid service employees would simply work as efficiently as possible, but that’s not always the case. If you charge by the hour, you’ve got to pay by the hour. And if you have an employee who tends to stretch their time a little, that can cause problems.

Bottom line: Don’t compete on price alone

Many companies base their strategy on being a bargain brand. The primary value they promise is low prices. And in some industries, that strategy is effective. But in the service industry, it’s hard to make it work—especially if you’re a small business.

As a rule of thumb, there will always be another cleaning company charging lower hourly cleaning service rates than you are. If you’re constantly slashing your rates to beat them, you’re running in a race to the bottom—a race you don’t want to win!

You have two choices:

  1. You can pay yourself less. Owning your own cleaning business is much more difficult when staying in business means you can barely make a living.
  2. You can pay your employees less. Unfortunately, offering rock-bottom pay is simply not an option in this labor market. As a result, you won’t be able to hire or retain good workers, and your business will suffer.

Next week, we’ll talk about flat-rate pricing and paying by piecework.

If you have specific questions you want us to address, please them in the comment section below.