Managing Seasonality in the Residential Cleaning Business

The Ups & Downs of House Cleaning Services

Recently the topic of Managing Seasonality has come up often in our business. The nature of our business is that of recurring work — weekly, biweekly, and monthly customers. It’s fairly routine but we do have seasonality challenges to manage. Often seasonal customer growth is directly counteracted by seasonal employee turnover.

The table below shows how our revenue per day grew from March 2017 through May 2018. We are a young, growing business with steady growth. The green line is our revenue per day while the dotted grey line reflects the number of candidate applications we receive each month.

As you can see from the graph, there are two challenging seasonal periods.

Managing Seasonality in the Residential Cleaning Business

Does House Cleaning Season Ever Really End?

Spring to Summer: This is our largest challenge. Customer growth is driven by Spring Cleanings and new customers as clients prepare to spend more time outside. This growth is counteracted by a reduction in candidate applications and natural employee turnover as our employees and prospective recruits prepare for kids being out of school for the summer.

Summer to Fall: August to September is slow as clients head off for summer vacations. Once back-to-school hits, we receive a huge influx in new clients as families prepare their households for a fresh start in the school year. Recruiting does not pick up again until late September / early October once kids are settled back in school.

So the question then becomes how do we manage this with staffing? Seasonal hiring is typical and straight forward in other industries, like retail. Here’s why we CANNOT hire temporary or seasonal help:

  1. Our clients deserve to have trustworthy, devoted, fully trained employees. It’s essential to our Customer Experience.
  2. Our teammates need to trust us as a business. They need to feel secure and know that as long as they perform within our Culture Values of Respect, Quality, and Communication, they’ll have a job they can rely on. If we hire and then fire / lay off / let go, this trust goes away and it shows in the work. Additionally, with summer ahead, we have to make sure we can provide enough hours during the summer lull for our crews to live sustainably even though we are slow.
  3. Employees love and thrive on overtime hours. As long as the hours are efficient, we enjoy paying overtime for employee retention purposes.
  4. Training is expensive. Even with training manuals and stringent process, it costs hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to recruit and properly train a new hire. As a small, local business, we do not have the luxury of massive training budgets.

House Cleaning – Beyond Seasons

With each month we operate and grow as a business, we learn and get better. This Spring’s seasonal challenges gave us the experience needed to build a simple formula that works for when to hire and at what position. Our staffing formula incorporates basic needs in addition to our drive to give our teammates the flexibility to take days off for their personal needs.

With two years under our belt, we know now how to staff appropriately to give our clients AND our employees the quality, consistency, and reliability they all crave.