The home cleaning industry is becoming more integrated into the “on demand” economy. In the past, finding cleaning services for your home usually involved asking local friends and neighbors if they knew a good maid. You would then interview candidates, check their references, and pay them directly to clean your house. Cleaners who you directly hire tend to expect that they will be regularly working for you. Very few will agree to come less than once a week.
The direct hire has been mostly replaced by a professional cleaning service. Rather than hire a cleaner, you pay an agency who then sends someone to your home. The cleaner is an employee of the agency, not you. If a cleaning agency is reputable, the homeowner can rely on it to provide good workers and dispense with the background and referencee check. Agencies are also flexible as to how often you hire their services. Nevertheless, agencies often charge more for a “one off” request or for intermittent use of their services.
The professional cleaning service may now find itself replaced by the professional cleaning service application. Handy, formerly Handybook, is a company founded in 2012 that provides on demand cleaning services through the use of an application on your phone. After installing the application, users can select from cleaning and other services. Handy has established arrangements with thousands of cleaners and will connect the user with a worker who is ready, willing and able to perform the services. There is no subscription fee or requirement that the user commit to a regular use of the service. A Handy user can use their application to book a weekly appointment to clean the houses or simply use it on an occasional basis to clean the home after a gathering. Booking a service takes about a minute, and can be done as late as one day in advance.
Handy has seen impressive growth in both its operations and its financing in merely three years. After starting out by offering services in Boston, Handy has since expanded to thirty seven cities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Handy has also expanded its offerings beyond cleaning services. Users can book services as diverse as painting, furniture assembly, moving and plumbing.
“On demand” cleaning services are proving popular with investors as well. Handy is again the leader in this regard. It has raised $60.7 million in 5 rounds of funding. It finances have been strong enough to acquire prior competitors Mopp and Exec.
With erstwhile competitor Homejoy recently announcing that it would cease operations, Handy looks to be the clear leader in the field. Traditional home cleaning services, not to mention individual direct hires, will need to make themselves more visible and available in order to continue to compete in the market.