This week I had a really interesting conversation with Stephanie Green from Rural Cleans based in Richmond, Yorkshire.   Our views were certainly on the same lines when we were talking about housekeeping and maintenance of a holiday home let out to paying guests.

 

This is what Stephanie had to say:

 

Why is housekeeping and maintenance so important for a holiday home let out to paying guests?

 

There are many factors to take into consideration as regards to housekeeping and maintenance. Firstly the most obvious ones are easily overlooked when looking at pricing and this is often where owners fail at the first hurdle.

 

I often have conversations with owners who say “I will be doing most of the cleaning myself to save money”.  This ultimately raises alarm bells to me that this owner is not in it for the right reasons and I’m probably not the right fit for them!  I must add this is not because I won’t get much work, it’s about consistency. If I don’t know what’s been done from one changeover to the next, then somewhere down the line we are going to incur problems.

 

Housekeeping involves much more than changing of beds, cleaning the toilet and running a duster through the property. It’s about making sure that the whole of the property is prepared to the highest standard. Remember this is not a domestic clean where your guests are paying £40.  They have paid hundreds or thousands of pounds to stay in your property, it may be their annual holiday ( not everyone goes abroad, some people can’t travel overseas due to health restrictions). Would you be happy with a quick wipe over and sockets hanging off walls, kettles not working, dodgy plumbing?

 

These are all things that must be taken care of in preparation for every set of guests, if they cannot be addressed then you must communicate with your guests before they arrive and not when they check in.

 

How do you get the best out of a cleaning company?

 

Communication is key!  That doesn’t mean you have their number on speed dial! I may not speak to my clients for months on end, however I’m always available and have their interests at heart.  I want their property to be as successful as it can be and that makes me happy and satisfied.  Of course I am running a business to earn money so anyone who says otherwise is being untruthful.

 

Don’t be afraid to approach you cleaner if you are unsure about something they are doing or feel they are not doing things as you would like. If you are new to the holiday industry but have a domestic cleaner at home and they are different then that may be the reason, that doesn’t mean that either is wrong.

 

Have clear instructions from the start, again this goes back to the whole line of communication, it takes time to understand how each other work. This can sometimes take quite a bit of time to set up initially but I promise it’s worth it! The best relationships are the ones built up over time and lots of emails at the beginning!

 

What are the challenges cleaning a holiday home in the future in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic?

 

Wow good question!

 

The biggest challenge we will have on our hand is time. We were already under pressure to a degree when it comes to direct changeovers no matter how big or small your business is. Changeovers take place between 10am and 3pm, 4pm if you are lucky and you have literally struck gold if guests were not due on the same day or depart a day early.

 

Given the additional cleaning that must take place e.g. for instance all crockery will need to be cleaned in the dishwasher as an example. Where we would check everything to make sure it’s clean, now it needs to be disinfected, this all adds up.

Staffing may also be a strain, we still don’t know if childminders will be able to take the same amount of children, which for everyone is unchartered territory.

 

Bookings will be all over the place. I expect to see a rise in last minute cancellations, which will have a knock on effect.

 

I would like to say I’m hopeful from this pandemic that it will show just how important the cleaning industry is and such an integral part of the supply chain. Without good standards of housekeeping the virus could keep spreading.

 

The cost of another wave in the UK resulting in lockdown will cripple an already fractured industry, we can diversify as much as we can but without guests there is no business.

 

Given the price of PPE has increased, the owners/agents really do need to look at how they price the properties too. Dynamic pricing will have a negative effect on bookings to the point owners may choose to pull the plug which will result indefinitely in no cleaning taking place.

 

I would urge all housekeepers to educate themselves as much as they can about coronavirus and not think that a bottle of Domestos will do the trick and a homemade mask made out of an old T-shirt.  This will be living amongst us for many years to come and our ways of doing things before must change.

 

Price correctly, factor all costs into your pricing such as PPE. Did you know for a 2 bedroom house you need to change them 10 times, say a box of disposable gloves cost £10 per 100 box that’s .20p per glove so it’s £2 per house.

 

Social distancing will be hard.  We must make sure we can safely work with other staff members and never become complacent.  Just because we cannot see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.     We must carefully remove bed sheets and towels and bag up in case we disperse more potential particles into the air. All PPE needs to be high grade so FFP3 masks are a must!  The use of Virucidal products really is a must!

 

What are the benefits and disadvantages of using a fogging machine?

 

The benefits of fogging far outweigh the disadvantages. In order to fogg it must be deep cleaned first.  This can be done using hot soapy water, advisably nothing with harsh chemicals that would react with the Virucidal disinfectant we use next in a ULV fogger.

 

The Virucidal unlike bleach has long residual effects so for instance, say someone with the virus touched the door handle it will kill the virus, and keep on killing it for a good few weeks, less in really high frequency touch point areas.

 

This has so many positives and as an owner you are not doing just the bare minimum.  If you are actively promoting the fact that you are going above and beyond what is considered only recommendations then I truly believe that you are more likely to have guests choose your property. Everyone will be promoting their property with descriptions that include things like “we have put in place hand gel and extra cleaning” when you really want to be focusing on the actual cleaning and preventative process pre and post clean.

 

The disadvantage of fogging is…… Well short term cost obviously.  Long term it will support a due diligence defence regarding the cleaning of a beautiful holiday home.

 

Contact Stephanie Green at Rural Cleans 

 

Thank you to Stephanie for her contribution.  If you would like to contact Stephanie directly please look at her website www.ruralcleansyourshireltd.com

 

Membership of holiday homes advice

 

We offer online Fire and Health and Safety advice for UK holiday home owners and holiday home letting companies for a very reasonable annual membership fee.  Our advice is always up to date and a must for property owners letting out to paying guests.