CleaningI would guess that of all things a guesthouse owner does, preparing breakfast excluded, cleaning takes up the vast majority of time. This came as a bit of a surprise to me and I’m guessing it will to new guesthouse owners as well. Looking back to the early days when I opened in early 2008, I figured once I was done decorating and setting up my advertising, I’d just sit idly by and watch the money roll in.

Nine years later, I can honestly say that I’ve spent over 2,000 hours of cleaning (689 turnovers multiplied by 3 hours per turnover). That averages out to 19 hours per month. While that’s not too bad if it’s the only thing you have going on, most of us have other jobs or are doing this in retirement. I initially only hired people to clean and turnover my guesthouse during vacations but am now starting to use them on a regular basis, because I’m getting a bit burnt out.

Finding your people can be a challenge. To find someone who knows how to clean and is available from check-out to check-in on sporadic and often last-minute days limits the pool. I’m still figuring out the training process, but here’s what I feel is working well. Rather than a typical interview, I have them hang out with me while I clean, and I can learn more about them as we chat while they see how it’s done. It’s so important that they know they have to work fast, since laundry needs to be done and floor needs to be mopped and dry within a 3-hour timeframe, so it’s crucial that they see my pace. I use that time to also point out things as I clean that I want them to know. Then they’ll clean on their own the next time and it’s a lot of feedback for the next few turnovers until they know all the details that I feel are important. To assist with the process, I created a Cleaning Checklist.

Another thing that’s evolved for me over the years and I’m close to having figured out is the deep cleaning. Because you’re not living at your guesthouse, it’s harder to notice when things are in need of deep cleaning, especially if you’re not doing the cleaning. I developed a chart, which gets modified every year as my needs change. I created mine in MS Publisher, saved it as a PDF, then e-mailed it to a print store in town, who printed it for less than $3. I have it framed in my mudroom, and it’s in front of the glass, so I can write on it with a pen. I originally used a wet-erase marker and wrote on the glass covering it, but I didn’t like that as well.

Deep Cleaning Chart

I’d love to hear from other guesthouse owners about how they handle their cleaning and what they’ve found to work and not work.

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