If you’ve ever had a job where your life is controlled by your work schedule, then you know how valuable it is to be able to choose the days and hours you work. When you clean for a living, you can shape your work schedule around your life priorities… and not many livelihoods offer that benefit.
If you want to be home by the time your 2nd grader gets off the school bus, or if you prefer a later start to your day, or if you’d love a long weekend once a month, or want to take every Wednesday off; it really can be arranged that way.
Because of the physical nature of the job (exercise being another swell benefit), house cleaners who work a full schedule usually do not work 40 hours per week (they need to charge more per hour to make up for fewer hours), and that leaves more wiggle room in a work week than a standard job can offer.
Cleaning part-time, of course, offers even more options and flexibility.
A self-employed house cleaner builds a permanent schedule which repeats every four weeks. Regular customers have the option to schedule weekly, bi-weekly or every-fourth-week cleaning service.
Here are some things to keep in mind as your work calendar takes shape:
Determine the Total Number of Hours You Need to Work: How much do you need to earn each four-week period by cleaning houses? Ultimately, your monthly income boils down to a simple formula: Amount Collected – Business Expenses = Monthly Income. Having that ‘net profit’ goal in mind helps you to gauge how many customers and hours you need to book.
Imagine Your Perfect Schedule: Think through what you need, and want, your schedule to look like. What are your priorities? Are there standing commitments you need to schedule around? Would you rather be finished each day before the kids get home from school… or work longer hours but a three or four-day work week? Thinking about your ideal helps you to shape it that way.
Live by a Four-Week Cycle: Keep in mind that a schedule which rotates every four weeks is not the same as a monthly schedule; there are usually a few extra days in each month. This matters for a few reasons:
- If you have one day on your calendar with an every-fourth-week customer, you need another of the same two weeks later… or you’ll be forced to take that day off. Match up your fourth-week-customers into pairs, so they use one bi-weekly spot.
- Since your work schedule is on a four-week rotation but your bills are monthly, you usually have a ‘bonus’ day or two each month. Woot. (Personally, I use that to offset the cost of occasional cancellations.)
- Explain to new every-fourth-week customers that although the day of the week will stay the same, the date will change almost every month. Also, occasionally a month will have two visits, four weeks apart.
- Send your every-fourth-week customers a reminder text or email, or call a few days before you’re due… it’s easier for them to forget that you’re coming.
Combine Jobs for a Full Workday: If you need to work as many hours as possible each week, schedule smaller jobs together on the same day to keep more days open for new customers who might need a bigger chunk of your day. Combining jobs is like playing cards and looking for a match: 2 customers; both bi-weekly; both ½ day; same side of town… you’ve got a match!
Logistics: Especially if you are scheduling two (or more!) smaller jobs in a day, it’s important to take into account distance and driving time to avoid crisscrossing town unnecessarily.
Physical Endurance: Some houses are physically harder than other houses;and some days are more tiring. Try to keep the ‘exertion factor’ spread evenly through the weeks to avoid a clump of days that wear you down.
Mondays: Try to schedule older retired customers on Mondays; your seniors often don’t care which day of the week you come, and their life is usually not affected much by a government holiday. On the other hand, a young family, home from school and work for the Monday holiday, can create a complicated workday as you try to stay out of each other’s way. (Or they might cancel to have their house to themselves for the long weekend.)
Fridays: Some customers’ lives are shaped by the M-F work week; with the weekend being precious leisure, family, or entertaining time. They usually love when you can clean their house on Thursday or Friday, so keep in mind that those end-of-week slots have a little higher value. As your schedule is filling up, try to put customers who don’t feel strongly toward the beginning or middle of the week.
Customer Preferences: Though most people have some preference as to which day of the week they’d like you to come, I’ve never known anyone to be inflexible. If they ask for a day that doesn’t work for you, let them know that you’ll move them into their preferred day if and when it opens up.
Keep a Calendar Whether paper and pencil, or digital, keep your calendar filled in with your regular customers through the end of the year. It makes it easy to get a sense of your upcoming week at a glance, easy to schedule appointments around your work schedule, and easy to contact customers well in advance if you’ll be taking a vacation day in weeks to come.
Even when you have a full and ‘permanent’ schedule, it is almost always possible to shift things around as your life-needs change. When you do an excellent job, your customers like to keep you happy.
It’s all a big win/win.