All You Need to Know about Toronto’s Online Cleaning Service Helpling

Spring is here and for those of you living in the GTA, you don’t have to be alone in your spring-cleaning efforts. A new Uber-like cleaning service is here for all of your cleaning needs (Uber is a car service app that allows users to book a driver on demand through their phone). Personally, the idea of having someone come into my home is always something that I’ve been on the fence about. But after a talk with Helpling’s managing director, Blake Connoy, I am having second thoughts! Whether you’re busy, immobile or want to send help to new parents – this service might be just what you need! Read my Q & A with Connoy to find out all you need to know about Helpling.

Tianna Robinson: I think the Uber mentality is really successful and working for a lot of different services. Why do you think it’s worked so well for Helpling?
Blake Connoy: We’re the easiest way to find the best cleaners in the Toronto area. We remove the pain-points people feel when it comes to finding a really good home cleaner. We make it extremely simple because we have a multi-step interview process before listing our cleaning partners. We first ask them to apply and based on their responses and experience, we then interview those that we choose. After the first round, we have them complete a cleaning test. They have to score better than 85% on that. If they do then we have them in for an in-person interview. If they pass that interview, we ask them to provide us with two references that we check and verify. We also ask them to provide us with a criminal background check. If they pass all of that, we ask them to attend an in-person orientation session where we take them through how our system works and the common scenarios customers have and how to manage them. That’s a pretty arduous process that a lot of people are reluctant to do or frustrated by if they have to do it themselves, so we take on all of that effort. We find the best cleaners in Toronto and make it super easy for people to get them.

TR: What is the etiquette regarding having a house cleaner? If you have someone coming, do you leave dishes in the sink?
BC: Within reason, sure. We’ve talked with hundreds of customers and one of the things that we often hear is ‘I feel like I have to clean up’ in order to have someone come in. And that’s not necessarily true. We have to manage the expectations of people that are filthy and most people aren’t, but people probably feel a higher amount of stress around that than they need to. Our cleaning partners are people with a lot of experience. They’ve seen and experienced a lot of different homes in various stages and so I don’t think that they would be surprised by anything that’s in the bounds of what’s considered normal.

The best thing to do is have a good idea of what you expect. If you are clear and up front with a cleaning partner saying, ‘these are my priorities and this is what I hope to be done in a certain amount of time. Here is where materials are and what you need to use.’ I think that’s the main thing because we ask our cleaning partners to consider that the most important thing to be successful is that in the end their customer needs to be happy. And the best way to do that is to know what their expectations are and either meet them or help manage them. The more prepared the customer is with understanding what he or she wants to have cleaned, the more successful the whole experience will be.

TR: If I were booking a service, would I have to say that I want to focus specifically on the bathroom or kitchen?
BC: I would say we’re extremely flexible. The nice thing about Helpling is it’s a $25 an hour no matter what we’re doing as long as it’s within the boundaries of a standard home cleaning. So what that could mean is if you have a 3,000 square foot house but you only want the kitchen, the two bathrooms and the bedroom done, no problem, we are happy to just do that. If you want the entire house done and you happen to have a home with two kitchens, four bathrooms and five bedrooms, then we’re happy to be there for an eight-hour shift. Or if really needed, call our Customer Care and we’ll have two people come at four hours each. So the bottom line is we’re extremely flexible in terms of what the customer needs.

TR: If you’re in a regular 1,500 to 2,000 square foot space, how long do you recommend people book the service for?
BC: We have an easy to use online calculator in our booking process to help customers estimate. It’s usually about two hours every 500 square feet. So if you’re looking at 1800 square feet, you’re looking at somewhere between 5 and a half and 6 and a half hours. That also depends on whether or not you want your refrigerator or your oven cleaned because those things take more time than the rooms themselves.

We do have a minimum of 2 hours for booking because we need to make it worthwhile for our cleaning partners.

TR: Can people book same-day service?
BC: The system is set up to accept bookings36 hours in advance. However, if you’re caught in a situation where you really need to get someone in later tonight or tomorrow, give us a call, and we’ll try to co-ordinate as best as possible.

TR: How is Helpling different than other cleaning providers?
I’ll ask my friends or parents’ friends if they have a house cleaner and I’ll ask if they know that person’s last name and generally they’ll say no. And I’ll say, ‘Do you know where they live?’ And they say ‘Ah, no, I don’t’.’ So I say, ‘What happens if she just decides that she is retiring this week and she decides to take a bunch of your valuables with her? How are you going to find her?’ That’s a security that we can offer because not only do we know the first and last names but we have a copy of their photo ID, we have their home address, we do a criminal background check and we have their banking information because of the direct payment deposit. So they are not going to disappear on us. We are insured up to $3 million in damages. We’ve done several hundred jobs across the GTA and we haven’t had a single incident so we have the insurance more for peace of mind – it is not something we’ve needed to use. And that comes back to the quality of the people that we ultimately list. Our average cleaner rating, based on hundreds of customer reviews, is currently, 4.76 out of 5.

TR: How far do your partners travel?
BC: Our system assigns jobs based on our cleaning partners’ availability and geography they want to service. We have coverage as far out as Burlington, Hamilton, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, most of Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, some of Newmarket, all of the City of Toronto and some of Pickering. We haven’t got east of Pickering yet.

Interested in booking? The voucher code “zoomer2015″ is good for $15-off a first-time booking and is valid until August 31st