Customer Insights Running a Cleaning Business

Why you should read Yelp reviews of cleaning services

Online reviews have unquestionable power to shape consumer behavior and purchase intent. They are also an absolute gold mine for learning about the desires of your cleaning business customers. Reading these reviews will help avoid common pitfalls and give you deeper insight into your customer’s psychology.

Negative reviews reflect a deep, unmet longing in our cleaning service customers. You learn a lot about how clients view service delivery – consumers are keenly aware of wanting their house to be in a certain condition at the end of a cleaning. You also learn about the emotions that clients expect to have in their interactions with a cleaning service. So let’s jump into some 1 and 2-star reviews on Yelp.

Why Yelp is so influential

Yelp is the unquestioned brand leader when it comes to reviews of businesses. For better or for worse, Yelp is the ocean that we’re all swimming in, so to speak.

Yelp was founded in 2004 by a circle of (wealthy silicon valley) friends who were emailing each other about reviews. Within a few years, Google was offering Yelp $550 million to be acquired. From the Wikipedia page: As of December 31, 2021, approximately 244.4 million reviews were available on its business listing pages. In 2021, the company had 46 million unique visitors to its desktop webpages and 56.7 million unique visitors to its mobile sites. And this gem:

Over 50% of the company’s audience has an annual household income of more than $100,000.[5]

Uh, wow. If you’re looking for clients for your cleaning business, Yelp is the place to be.
Infographic showing that Yelp has 178 million monthly unique visitors - many of whom are looking for cleaning services like yours

Yelp’s has a measurable impact on cleaning businesses

There’s no question that Yelp has a huge impact on businesses across the US. Whether new stars are worth 5% or 9%, who can argue that Yelp impacts the bottom lines of business on (and off) the platform? That’s right – if your business isn’t on Yelp, you’re probably missing out on potential customers. You can’t avoid this game, unfortunately.

Infographic showing that Yelp has a huge impact on business' bottom line - it shows that cleaning businesses can increase revenue by up to 9% for every new Yelp star earned (for example going from 3 to 4 stars)

Many consumers use Yelp as part of the vetting and due diligence process when looking for a cleaning or maid service. It’s easy to see, then, why reviews are directly impactful to a service’s bottom line.

Infographic showing that 45 percent of customers across the board - and probably more for cleaning services - read Yelp before visiting a business or its website.

3 Insights from 1 and 2-star reviews of cleaning services on Yelp

1 and 2-star Yelp reviews are a gold mine for cleaning service owners. It’s refreshing to see our own business through the eyes of the customer, and hear from them in their own words.

Operational issues in your  cleaning business will land on Yelp

A screenshot of a 1-star review of a house cleaning service from Yelp, with a few key lines highlighted.The customer in question was upset because many obvious things were missed during the cleaning.


Read the full review here on

The customer sees and experiences your business’ lack of structure

Speed and lack of structure could be the problem the business is facing. The complaint is clear – expectations were set and not met. The cleaning crew missed key details. Let’s get some ideas for a diagnosis:

  1. This business doesn’t use cleaning checklists (poor organization and planning)
  2. The business uses checklists but they weren’t followed (poor accountability and execution)
  3. Baseboards and sills were not included in the initial quote, and the business did a poor job of setting expectations
  4. The business hired employees who don’t align with their core values (hiring)
  5. The business values revenue (speed) over quality (core values)

The surface-level problems are obvious – this home wasn’t cleaned properly. Given that this is a larger cleaning company, the true problems are below the surface. As business owners it’s easy for our focus to be ‘in the business’ – on the day-to-day work like cleaning. However, this review shows that a lack of structure and accountability – a lack of systems in place – will cause your clients to have negative experiences. In fact, this customer’s experience was so negative that they’re negatively recommending the business – they use the word never twice in the context of using the business or recommending the business. And the 1-star review is a clear signal to other customers to avoid their services.

Do the work to create good systems in order to avoid day-to-day operational issues.

Clients want an emotional experience of ease, peace, and calm

A screenshot of a 2-star review on Yelp of a cleaning service with some lines highlighted for clarity. In this example the customer in question wanted a relaxing birthday and did not get it as a result of a botched cleaning job.

I’m sorry the reviewer – Elsa – had such a bad experience. Her line at the end of the review says it all:

In total, what was supposed to be a pleasant, relaxing birthday present has turned into a total hassle.

To Elsa, having a clean house was a birthday present, no less – and it was meant to instill a sense of peace and calm. For many customers, they aren’t purchasing a service to clean their homes – they’re buying something deeper. And this is why customers are so upset when things go wrong – they expect that paying good money will result in ease, peace, and relaxation. When a cleaning doesn’t meet expectations, it shatters a deeply-held desire. This sense of disappointment drives your customers to negatively recommend your business, even to record it on Yelp for the world to see.

A customer’s experience with your cleaning company is larger than just the day-of cleaning

It’s all too easy to forget that the client’s experience of your service extends across time. It’s not a single day (the cleaning), it’s all the touchpoints that make up your interaction with them. From the initial contact, to the quote, the scheduling, the cleaning, and resolution of any issues that might arise.

If scheduling is difficult, then that sense of ease has been destroyed, and recovering even with excellent service delivery is difficult.

A screenshot of a 1-star cleaning service review on Some lines are highlighted for clarity. In this case, scheduling the clean was difficult and that made the whole experience worthy of a 1-star review, according to the customer.

Scheduling can be difficult to get right – and it’s one of the things that customers care about. It’s not obvious that scheduling would lead to a 1-star review – after all, we tolerate massive time windows from cable companies. As it turns out, the expectations for cleaning services are different. While we expect that cable companies are highly inconvenient, we are paying for peace and ease when we hire a cleaning company. Clients don’t want to have to rearrange their life to be convenient for the cleaning company’s sake.

This comes back to the feelings of ease, comfort, and calm. Cleaning is about all of these things. When things get in the way of this feeling – missed details, poor communications, painful scheduling – people are angry enough to move to another company. Angry enough, even, to broadcast their frustration to the world on Yelp.

Read house cleaning business reviews to strengthen your own service delivery

We can essentially start a list of everything customers complain about. After reading enough reviews, we’ll be seeing overlapping comments and complaints. When this happens, we’ve got our list of customer expectations that we know our business has to meet.

If you want to learn more about service delivery for your cleaning business, check out our comprehensive guide on starting a successful house cleaning business. We cover everything you need to know to start and run a thriving cleaning service.

Don’t stop at 1-star reviews – read them ALL

There’s a lot to learn. Where else can you access a potential customer’s unfiltered throughs about a business? This is tough information to find, and Yelp is a treasure trove of customer feedback.

Read the responses  to 1-star reviews

Responses are how great business owners turn angry clients into fans. It’s not always possible, but with the right approach many relationships are salvageable. Reading responses will give you ideas for how to talk (or how not to talk) to your clients if there was a miss in your service.

By Anne-Marie

I'm Anne-Marie, the House Cleaning Pro. When I planned to build a house cleaning business, I knew I didn't want to be stuck doing all the work myself. I had much bigger plans, like 1) Building up the business to compete with the franchises in my city 2) Training employees to do the dirty work and 3) Having the ability to sell the business when the time was right. Discover how you can achieve your goals when you start a house cleaning business for maximum profits!