Beware of the VRBO cleaning gone bad! What do you do when the Airbnb host refuses to pay for house cleaning?
Listen to the story of this house cleaner and ask yourself, is this a vacation rental owner with bad luck? Or signs of a high-maintenance customer?
Discover for yourself how to tell the difference to avoid the theft of cleaning services.
Listen: VRBO Cleaning Gone Bad
Watch: VRBO Cleaning Gone Bad
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
VRBO Cleaning Gone Bad
VRBO cleaning gone bad. We have a house cleaner that asked this question. “I clean for VRBO and Airbnb and short-term rentals, and I’ve been doing it for quite some time. I have a lot of customers. My customers have great reviews on Airbnb and VRBO. My goal is to make sure that they always get the top stars for every rental and every stay.
However, I have one lady who I recently started cleaning for who talked very bad about her previous cleaner and goes through cleaners very often tell me that she wasn’t going to pay me because the trash wasn’t taken with me. I did not agree to take the trash with me in the first place. So, it’s against my standards especially with COVID right now.
It’s not something that I should do. It’s something they should hire a trash company for. However, she’s withholding my $250 payment for the cleaning. What do I do? Do I let it go? Can she sue me for dirty floors, which they weren’t, but we’ll say for the sake of argument? That’s her argument, or can I get my money? How do I do this? What do I do?“
You Have to Notice a Pattern in Your Customers
The first thing that you said is you have a lot of Airbnb or VRBO customers that are loving you, and they’ve got great reviews from your work. So, thats awesome, firstly. Second of all, you said you were hired by an Airbnb owner who went through lots of house cleaners before they got to you.
You need to start listening for this pattern as you do the walkthrough with your homeowners or your hosts. As you walk through and they give you all the rules and reasons why they fired somebody and this didn’t work out and that didn’t work out, it is possible they had a string of bad luck.
It is also possible they are the problem. It is possible they are a bad customer. So, be aware. There are questions that you can ask that will help you uncover, are they the problem or did they get a string of bad luck with the house cleaners that they chose?
Why Did They Have Bad Luck With House Cleaners?
Now, the next thing is if it’s the bad luck with the house cleaners that they chose, what is important to know next is, what were the parameters that they chose bad house cleaners? Were they looking for the cheapest person on the market?
Did they not verify the cleaners that they hired? Were the cleaners not real companies? Were they not insured, were they not trained? Why would you have a string of bad house cleaners.?
So, that would be the first question. The second question is if it’s not the house cleaners, is it the homeowner? Are they doing something weird, or do they have unrealistic expectations? That needs to be clarified.
You Need to Break Down the Parameters of the Job
The next part is on your walkthrough, you need to break down the parameters of the job. So, you said it does not meet your standards to take the trash off the property, but it sounds like it was expected by the host or the Airbnb owner.
So, that should have been clarified right up front because if you have your own standards and they are not communicated to the customer and the customer has expectations and they are not communicated to you, it’s never going to work out ever, ever even if you’re the best house cleaner in the world.
Even if they’re the best host in the world, if you’re not communicating with each other, there’s a big gap.
The Walkthrough is Kind of a Dance
So, this is what the walkthrough is for. The walkthrough is to have this kind of dance, where you make a move, they make a move, you make a move, they make a move. You ask a question, they ask a question back and forth, until you both have uncovered the things that are important to you.
Then, there needs to be an agreement. Now, at an Airbnb, because it is a commercial property, they should have a trash service. Now, not all do, but they should. They should have some kind of a paid service that comes and picks up the trash.
Now, most homeowners, have a paid service that comes and picks up the trash. They come every single week, and they take all trash away from the entire prior week, and pick up the recycling. So, that is a service most homeowners pay. So, as a homeowner, they probably have a rollout curbside service as well.
You’re Not Encouraged to Take the Trash With You
Now, we don’t encourage, for insurance reasons, we do not encourage people to take the trash off the premises. Also, if you take the trash off the premises, you are liable for whatever might be in that trash. It is possible that a house cleaner grabs something that was sitting next to the garbage can, hauls it off, and then it’s considered theft because they took it off the premise.
So, we don’t take trash for the most part. We leave it inside the big rollout bin that goes out on the curb at the end of the week. So, that should also be part of the conversation. It should be part of everyone’s conversation.
“Where do you keep the big trash bins? Where do I put the trash away at the end of this job?” That should be part of the conversation.
Your Customer Can’t Sue You If You Kept Your Satisfaction Guarantee
You asked if she could sue you for dirty floors. I’ve never heard of someone suing for dirty floors. What is she going to sue you for? It’s under your satisfaction guarantee, and so if you say, “No, I guarantee my work. The floors were, in fact, dirty. I will come back, and I will clean them to your satisfaction.” That is something you should offer if you don’t already. It’s a kind of standard in the cleaning industry.
So, there is a satisfaction guarantee that should be at play. Should she be threatening to sue you? That’s a little concerning again. That sounds like there was a cross of expectations where that should have been clarified right upfront.
In our presentation, right upfront, we say, “Hey, if for any reason, you’re not satisfied, will you please give me the courtesy of a phone call before you go blabbing on social media? Before you tell all your friends on social media that we left your floors dirty, please call me back, and I will just come running right back over and I’ll make it right. Would you do that for me?” They go, “Yeah. Okay. That’s fair.” I aim to please. I’m here to help you.
I Don’t Know if You’re Going to Get Your Money Back
So, are you going to get your money back? I don’t know. I don’t know because I don’t know this particular arrangement. This particular arrangement sounds like it had a lot of gaps, and so I don’t know that this is a long-term ongoing relationship for you.
So, how you resolve this as a business owner is entirely up to you, but what I do recommend upfront is to have those conversations. If for any reason I’m not going to get paid, what would trigger that?
You Need to Find Out Why They Would Not Pay You
“What would be the reason you would withhold money from the work I have done? If, for some reason, I’m going to get called back, what would be those reasons?” If they say, “Well, I’m really particular about my floors, and I always call people back over my floors,” that would be your hot button.
That would be the area you want to make sure you never screw up. So, basic conversation right up front is going to make a lot of this stuff go away. Then, also, how do I get paid? Because I think you said she lived out of town.
And if that’s the case, you want to have her credit card on file so that you’re not always chasing money and having these conversations back and forth because that gets high maintenance for you as a business owner, and it gets high maintenance for the customer.
You Don’t Want to Constantly Chase Money as a Cleaner
If you are constantly chasing money as a business owner, that’s what, 20 or 30 accounts that you’re dealing with on a regular basis. That’s going to be a full-time job, bill collecting, which is one of the reasons that using a piece of software that has your one-click credit card processing is a good idea.
It makes it super easy. “Hey, here’s your invoice? Did you like what you saw today? Here’s the checklist.” Then, they say, “Yes, it was awesome.” Then, you just click yes, and its processes to your bank account. There are no writing checks. There’s no wondering like, did they leave me the check? Where is it?
There’s no running to the bank. There are no taking pictures of it with your phone, so you can deposit it. It just goes right into your bank account with their credit card. It’s awesome.
This Was a Huge Lesson for You
Okay, so what happens from here is that this was a huge learning lesson. If nothing else, it was a $250 lesson, which is less than you’re going to pay if you were to hire a coach. So, it’s a great lesson.
If you have to eat the cost on this one, now you know from here for the next job because you don’t want this to ever happen again.
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