We tested the efficiency of Fantastic Services cleaning through an end-of-tenancy clean when we moved from our two-bed house in London for a new life near the coast. We’d lived there a year, but prior to that it had only been cleaned domestically – and the previous tenants (of three years) had a chocolate Labrador, whose hair was well ingrained in the beige carpets upstairs.
The test itself
We had a comprehensive clean of the whole house, including skirting boards, carpet wash (bedroom, landing and stairs), seven windows (outside and in, by hand), the dusty, fingerprinted Venetian blinds on the windows in two of the rooms, the massive six-hob oven, the extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom, tiles in both rooms, bath and shower, glass screen door to shower, plus every cupboard and shelf in the house – including the fridge-freezer and its seals.
Where did Fantastic Services come from?
From humble beginnings as Fantastic Cleaners, a Bulgarian start-up that launched in 2009, to its current status as the complete domestic services company that can walk your dog, handle your house move, fix your roof, landscape your garden, solve your rodent problem and clean your kitchen until it sparkles, Fantastic Services has risen to fame at lightning speed.
It all began when Danish businessman Rune Sovndahl met cleaning firm owner Anton Skarlatov at a party, and got chatting about an innocuous red wine spill on the carpet. Sovndahl was in the process of moving house and struggling to find a decent cleaner – the two swapped numbers and sat down with their laptops to fill what they perceived as a gap in the market.
Now that it’s the largest domestic services company in London, with 100,000 regular clients and a turnover of £28million, the rest is history. The company is slowly making its way across the UK, and on the other side of the world in Sydney, Melbourne, Las Vegas and Atlanta. It’s recently hit parts of Scandinavia, too.
Fantastic Services is known for its amazing introductory offers and cheap rates: we used them once previously when we moved in 2015, and one of their experts came round and magicked away the stains from the living room carpet for a special deal of £20. We were curious to see how the company could handle a whole house, with years of grime, dirt and dog hair ingrained.
You can book Fantastic Services online.
Who exactly are you letting through the door?
The company is franchised – its staff are referred to as ‘pros’. Training seems to be pretty thorough: to become a Fantastic pro, you’d go through standard induction and brand awareness courses, health and safety and something called ‘MQS’, which stands for Minimum Quality Standard training.
The pros are then able to specialise in areas ranging from carpet and upholstery cleaning, to rug cleaning and tree surgery, which result in professional qualifications.
Anton Skarlatov has no qualms about employing a variety of nationalities, and it’s easy to see how the company appeals to workers from other countries who can see a career path in particular areas and potentially a solid schedule of employment ahead.
Were they easy to book?
Booking an end-of-tenancy clean is a bit like booking a cab for an early-morning flight, especially when you get the feeling that your estate agent is circling to keep as much of your deposit as possible.
After the enormity of organising house-move logistics (on a budget), settling up all the bills and working out a plan for how to keep the kids/pets out of the way on the move day, plus the excitement of moving into a new place, it’s a real downer to then have to ensure your old nest is gleaming inside and out for the inventory clerks – who notice every smudge on every door – to document the next day. You need to know that the cleaners are at least going to turn up.
Fantastic has a great online booking platform that’s incredibly simple to use. Once you’ve specified what you want done, it brings up a table of time slots with price options for how far in advance you book and whether it’s midweek or a weekend.
The company is franchised, so you also see when a cleaning team is in your area. Seconds after you’ve booked it, you receive an email confirming the booking with date and time and breakdown of service.
You’ll also get a text message, saying that the email was sent. And then one day before the big clean, it sends you another email with the contact details of the team who are turning up to conquer your messy house.
Additionally, its app offers an easy on-the-go option, which has just been updated with its fancy new booking platform. It’s the first app to offer home services booking.
Your deposit guaranteed: or your money back?
Yep, that’s what they offer – if it is found within 72 hours that the end-of-tenancy clean causes you to lose any of your deposit, Fantastic Services will REFUND you the cost of the clean.
Or, if for any reason you don’t believe they did a good enough job, they’ll come back and do it all again within 72 hours. The company also has a number of bolt-on offers, such as (currently) 40% off upholstery cleaning and deals on removal services, too.
How do they compare to other cleaners?
On shopping around, I was surprised to find that Fantastic Cleaners really is filling a gap in the market for value and convenience. Surely for such a large domestic job, other companies would be vying for my business? Turns out not: when I went to get a quote from Homeclean, for example, it required us to provide all the cleaning products ourselves, or they wouldn’t do it.
When I filled out enquiry forms online for The London Cleaners and Mitie services, I heard nothing back. I had to call Mel Cleaning for a quote, and while they could match the service, they wanted to know the specific number of carpeted stairs (“because otherwise how else are we supposed to give you an accurate price?”) and required pictures of the windows before committing to a quote for cleaning the exterior of the glass.
Handy cleaning seemed a promisingly swish website, but didn’t give me the option online for an end-of-tenancy clean and doesn’t publish its phone number. Additionally, it only gave the option of booking a recurring clean (either weekly or bi-weekly), which was one step too far for me.
Which household cleaning products are safe during pregnancy?
Twinkle Clean offered the closest match in ease of booking and what was included, but didn’t specify what its ‘one-week deposit guarantee’ was. When I enquired via its interactive chat window, I was told it means a re-clean, not a refund – and to ‘read the terms of the company’. (eventually I was given a link for this – it’s not obvious on the end-of-tenancy page). So far, it seemed that Fantastic leads the market in terms of its easy booking system, customer service and deposit guarantee.
Pricing depends on when you book your clean for. Midweek early-morning starts are more expensive than Sunday afternoons, for example. We had ours on a Wednesday from 9am.
Here’s how Fantastic Services compares to its peers, which offer similar services:
- Fantastic Services: £307 (cheaper times available at £289)
- Mel Cleaning: £283.20 (without exterior of windows)
- Twinkle Clean: £277
How was it on the day?
In a word: thorough. There wasn’t time for small talk, and that’s what you want when you’re moving house with kids in tow.
Three Polish men turned up half an hour early, with ID and the brand splashed all over the van. They began early and worked solidly for five hours, without a tea or cigarette break, without a radio and, actually, without really speaking to each other. They blitzed every room, tackling all the difficult areas with unwavering effort.
By the time they’d finished, all the fiddly kitchen tiles and grouting were spotless. The fridge-freezer, its seals and its surrounds (including underneath) was as good as new. The oven, its extractor hood, fan and filters looked as though they’d just been installed, and every other nook and cranny throughout the house – including skirting boards, picture rails, Venetian blinds and dusty corners that we’ve never been able to reach – had been transformed.
Even the upstairs carpet, ingrained with dog hair and bleached in places from when my dear mum had tried to remove some stains, was so well cleaned that it turned out to be lighter than we’d realised and made the light damage spots far less prominent than they had been. Dzieki guys, you might just have saved us a hefty bill.
Fantastic Cleaners have a policy that the end-of-tenancy clean will not stop until your home is at the right standard of cleanliness (and you have given it the OK) – and it was true to its word. I was astonished at the level of commitment the ‘pros’ gave the job.
Is it green?
While they’re not using vinegar and essential oils, they do state that their products are ‘non-hazardous’, ‘not dangerous for the environment’ and won’t kill the fish (‘non-marine pollutants’). I was surprised by the lack of products that came into the house: there was no soaking in eye-watering chemicals, as you’d expect a cheap cleaning firm to do.
This is reassuring, however I did notice that after the kitchen clean (which was by far the most difficult job of the whole house and ended up with all three of them scrubbing vigilantly until it gleamed) the worktop had some very faint spots of damage where the cleaning products had taken the wood oil off the surface.
This is nothing compared to the various forms of damage we’d inflicted on it throughout the year, including blackcurrant juice, hot pans and not oiling it enough in the first place. It really was the only criticism I can find.
A no-nonsense, thorough and excellent service, right from the moment you click onto its website or launch its user-friendly app, to the moment the cleaners leave your house. Worth every penny and highly recommended.
Our reviewer scored the service a full five stars for ease of use and value for money.