Turkey stuffed? Check. Pumpkin pie baked? Yes. House cleaned? Oops. Many cleaning businesses, some in a lull after the busy summer season, today are in a holiday dash, answering last-minute requests from harried customers.
"We do typically get a rush before the holidays and we try to accommodate," says Dee Stahl, owner of a Merry Maids housecleaning franchise in Minden. "I'll be cleaning Thanksgiving week."
Stahl employs eight cleaners but she says during a hectic time like the week of Thanksgiving, she and her office manager and office assistant all pitch in with the cleaning to meet the demand. Fitting in a week's worth of routine cleaning jobs into three days is enough to send Stahl and her office personnel out the door with bucket and broom in hand.
Stahl says she gives priority to her regular customers who make up 80 percent of her business.
"I try not to book any one-time cleans the week of Thanksgiving," says Stahl. "I schedule those the week before or the week after Thanksgiving." Carpet cleaners, too, see an uptick in demand around the holidays and during the slowdown after summer. (Carpet cleaners run a hose from outside to inside the house while they clean so most homeowners hire them during warmer weather.)
"It's always a busy time of year for us. Just before the holiday, we get an influx of calls," says Adam Carlsen, general manager with Evergreen Caret Care, the Reno-based company that covers a 70-mile radius area between Reno and Truckee, Fallon, Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley.
Carlsen says it's a predictable pattern. During the holidays, the company goes back to running its full fleet of 16 trucks cleaning an average of 70 homes a day, the same schedule as during the height of summer.
He says most of the customer calls for Thanksgiving will come in Monday, but that won't be a problem and is, in fact, a one of the company's competitive advantages.
"We book most of our calls the day of or for the next day," he says. "We haven't turned people away and that's part of our success."
Even window cleaners see an eleventh-hour jump in demand around the holidays.
"My biggest problem is people forget and call at the last minute to get it done," says Chris Thompson, owner, Silver State Window Cleaning, a 23-year-old service for both residential and commercial customers. "Thanksgiving is the end of the busy season and the two weeks beforehand we're flooded with calls."
Thompson said his peak work time runs from April to the November holiday, when the weather is still nice enough for window cleaning. During the summer, he has a full crew of nine to 10 workers, which gets reduced to about seven cleaners once the cold weather settles in. During the winter, Thompson and his company work primarily for commercial customers that need to keep their windows sparkling year round, covering Carson City to Smith Valley and Reno to Lake Tahoe. Some window cleaners turn the cold weather holidays into a new line of business.
Reno Tahoe Window Cleaning, owned by Chris Poulis, employs nine to 10 men, each working 70 hours a week, both washing windows and hanging Christmas lights. The light-hanging business, which he runs and advertises as 1-877-XMASGUY, takes off from mid-October to mid-December and continues for the month of January when his crew return to take down the lights.
"We slow down a little on windows, but it's our busiest time of the year right now," says Poulis.