The Cooperative Cleaning Company, owned by Sarah & Mike Neil, was founded 1987 making it the oldest independently operated business of its kind in the East Bay. Our success and longevity can be traced back to the simple goal that has been at the heart of the business since its inception: deliver superior service to its clients using environmentally “Certified Green” cleaning products, and provide its employees a respectful, safe and stable environment with benefits exceeding the industry average.
Sarah, a native of France, taught French at The Crowden School in Berkeley for over 12 years. Born in Toucy, Sarah holds a MA in Anthropology from the Sorbonne in Paris and besides the United States of course, has also lived in Israel and Spain. In addition to being the eternal optimist, ebullient face of the company, and #1 cheerleader of our staff, Sarah speaks eight languages, practices Karate and writes novels.
Mike, born and raised in San Francisco, is a fourth generation Californian whose family emigrated from Ireland. Though educated in Economics and Law at San Jose State and Hastings, Mike spent 10 years in accounting before redirecting his career into enterprise software consulting where he served in staff and management positions for nearly 30 years before “retiring” to assist Sarah with Cooperative Cleaning. In his spare time Mike is an amateur photographer and feels most at home in the High Sierra.
What Makes Cooperative Cleaning Different?
For almost 30 years the Cooperative Cleaning Company has been caring for the most discriminating clients in the East Bay who value highly personalized services. Founded in 1987 Cooperative Cleaning is one of the oldest home cleaning services of its kind in the Bay Area, and certainly the oldest in the East Bay. We are not a “referral” service. What’s more, our professional home care staff are all w-2 employees, not 1099 contractors, à la Uber. We are also not a franchise or a national chain. We are totally accountable only to our employees and our clients. Furthermore, CCC has for years ranked among the top service home cleaning providers in the entire Bay Area according to a well known consumer rating agency, with the by far the largest number of survey respondents. And finally, and perhaps more importantly from a prospective client’s point of view, Cooperative Cleaning benefits from a strong and loyal base of clients, some of whom have with us since we opened our doors in 1987.
Our goal is not to be the largest housekeeping business in the area, but we will seek out new and better ways of being of service and to stand out as the best in our field. However, we will approach any expansion of services carefully to insure that it’s done in a way which maintains the highest level of quality for all customers, new and old alike.
CCC’s Success Is Based on Four Guiding Principles:
From our inception, we have prided ourselves on our reliability no matter what problems we may have to endure to maintain the standard. And problems do at times occur. Sometimes employees become ill. Sometimes BART goes on strike. Occasionally there’s a flat tire, or one of our vehicles is stolen (it’s happened!). But even under the most difficult circumstances, we find a way to fulfill commitments to our clients. Even in the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the 1991 Oakland Hills fire we still made the majority of our appointments on the days and times scheduled. Over the years, we have made investments in systems and technologies to improve our reliability and quality of service. For example, we use The Scheduling Manager from Thoughtful Systems to enhance our efficiency and provide the finest service to our clients, such as automated appointment reminders, and quality control features to ensure that we continue to deliver the very best that we can. As one client recently told us in response to one of our frequent quality control surveys “…In over 20 years, you never missed a single day!…”.
There is almost no reasonable request we will not consider. We have a demanding clientele who expect the best, and we go out of our way to deliver it. Some clients need to change schedules frequently. Others call us at 1 PM asking us be there before the end of the day. Still others ask help on weekends to organize their garage or want dishes washed, laundry cleaned and folded, and invoices mailed/emailed or monthly billing. We also have customers with extreme allergies to scents and the slightest dust, and others who are susceptible to infections, so we have special vacuums with HEPA filters, our staff refrains from wearing perfume, and when requested we protect our customers and their homes by wearing surgical masks and shoe covers like those you see in hospitals to meet these needs. We could go on, but hopefully this gives you a sense of the flexibility we pride ourselves on. Communication is the key, and if you have any special needs, just let us know by phone or email and we’ll make sure it’s addressed.
We work in teams and employ an approach to home care which, when coupled with the right environmentally safe products, tools and training, gives our clients the confidence that they will see the same result every time we come. In fact, one of the most frequent compliments we receive is summed up in the following two responses to one of our recent client survey questions “…What do you appreciate most?…” they said, simply, “…Efficiency of 3-person team & green products…” and “…Consistent, reliable & great cleaning…”.
Our clients don’t just trust us to do the job well. They trust us with and in their home, even when they are not present. As one client recently wrote “…I feel very safe and taken care of when [you] are in my home…”. Of course all our employees are bonded, but more importantly, in over 29 years we have never had a situation where that trust has been called into question, let alone a case where a claim against the bond was necessary.
What Should be Considered In Selecting A House Cleaning Service?
If this is your first time searching the Web for a home cleaning service you will find quite a few companies and private parties from which to choose, and you might wonder how you make the right choice among them all. And if this is not your first time looking, you might wonder why it is that the small businesses in this space seem to come and go so quickly, and/or if the large franchise corporations that have recently moved into the marketplace are a good alternative to the independents.
If you perform a Google search such as “How do I select a house cleaning service” you will quickly get a number helpful hints the most common of which seem to focus on communication, insurance, products used, and trust. However, we have found little on the Web that places much emphasis on prices in the Bay Area generally, let alone the East Bay, and that of course is part of everyone’s value equation. For that you need to contact individual providers. Once the price is known you might wonder why there is difference in cost between a company and an individual service provider, or between one company and another, and if there is merit in considering the reasons behind these differences. We believe there is and offer the following thoughts.
Taxes, Insurance, & What Was Once Commonly Considered an Employer’s Responsibility
To the “value equation” mentioned above, consider how a company’s clients and employees are protected, what if any employee benefits are provided, and who actually bears the cost of taxes, transportation and insurance.
Make no mistake. There are a number of responsible individuals and companies in this business. But unfortunately there are also some companies and individual service providers who operate on a cash basis begging the question as to whether income taxes are paid. There are also a number of small companies and many individuals who do not carry worker’s compensation insurance to protect their employees or their customers in case of accidents. Most cleaning companies only pay workers when they are on-site at a customer’s home. Many companies don’t treat workers as employees at all, but rather as IRS “Section 1099” sub-contractors thus pushing what would normally be the employer’s share of employment related taxes on to the backs of its workers al la “Uber”. Further, most companies do not provide transportation to and from job sites leaving it up to the worker to bear this cost, let alone offer benefits of any kind. And finally, some companies even make workers pay for their own equipment and/or cleaning supplies.
It’s expensive, but Cooperative Cleaning not only pays worker’s compensation but liability, automobile and surety insurance to protect both its employees and clients, provides company vehicles (and sufficient routing time to allow for safe travel) so employees don’t have to use their own, pays its employees from the moment they arrive in the office till the moment they clock out at the office, offers paid vacation, health care and PTO benefits (and did so long before California law mandated “Sick Pay” in 2016), and provides all the equipment and supplies necessary to do the job. What’s more, our employees are “W-2 employees”. That means, like most of the people who are reading this now, CCC pays for half of each employee’s Social Security and Medicare taxes and all of their Unemployment Insurance taxes. And finally we do not operate on a cash basis. Everything we do is done ‘above the table’ which means the company and its employees all pay their fair share corporate, employer and personal income taxes.