Attention Professional Cleaners: Do You Know Your Full Liability?

The risk begins as you enter a home

When we as professional cleaners enter a home we are taking on thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars in liability.

Do you ever think of the liability you, as a professional cleaner, take on when you go in to clean someone’s home?  Of course there are the ordinary accidents, banging into something, knocking something over or off a wall.  But have you considered the potential for damage from your actual cleaning activities?  Those can involve large and costly surfaces and fixtures.  Many of the newer surfaces cannot be cleaned by the methods we learned even a few years ago. Institute For Service Excellence

Manufacturers are being hit with an increasing number of  product failure claims.  One flooring inspector said he was already dealing with tens of millions of dollars in claims – so far this year!

Sharing the joy 

What does this mean to those of us in the professional cleaning services business?  Very few of the claims actually result from faulty product.  Most claims arise from improper

  • product selection
  • installation  
  • maintenance 

Manufacturers are increasingly denying claims and pushing them back to the installers or the cleaners.  Cleaners are reporting that customers are expecting them to repair or replace the floors that have been damaged by their cleaning product(s) or methods.  

To make matters worse, the cleaner too often finds out that their cleaning business liability insurance does not cover faulty cleaning, only actual accidents.  The cleaner is then left to deal with the loss on their own.

So what is the professional cleaner to do?  First, let’s make it plain that no one goes out to intentionally damage a client’s property.  It’s just that they don’t know what they don’t know!  Who suspected, for instance, that the use of vinegar on some new wood floors would actually void the warranty

What you should do is find out everything you can about the surfaces you are cleaning: 

  • Learn to tell stone from porcelain, granite from marble, and why you shouldn’t clean either one of them with dishwashing liquid. 
  • If your client gets a new floor or countertop – ask to see the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions.  Following the manufacturers’ directions will help you if something goes wrong.
  • Always follow the manufacturers’ directions.  Installers often have outdated information – They too may not know what they don’t know!

How and Where Can We Learn What We Need To Know?

Be proactive.  Go to trade shows such as the ARCSI Convention or Surfaces (the big flooring and stone show).  Read trade magazines such as Cleaning Business Today—it’s free and full of good information!

What’s the absolute best way to get up to speed on all this?  Take a House Cleaning Technician (HCT) Certification class.  It gives you the information you need about cleaning science, materials, health, safety and much more in order to make intelligent decisions in the field.  This knowledge also takes you, the professional cleaning business owner and your lead players, into more of a consulting role, partnering with clients on the proper care of their home and health. 

Change is inevitable.  Surfaces are changing, cleaning methods are changing, and our roles are changing.  Are you ready?

About Bruce Vance

Bruce Vance is the owner of Town and Country Cleaning Services in Pittsboro, NC and Principal Instructor of the House Cleaning Technician Certification.
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