Among the things we're looking for is someone that has adequate backup arrangements for when they are sick or out of town. It's not enough for them just to rely upon friends and family doing favors. We've had that situation in the past and been left in the lurch. We've also found that a good cleaner will often know local repair people in the area, which can be invaluable in dealing with emergencies.
We also want to make sure that the cleaner understands that we expect to be the go between for our cleaners and guests. We want to make sure that our guests are providing feedback directly to us, and not to our cleaner. This ensures that we know about it, and can deal with it.
Finding, keeping and maintaining a good relationship with your cleaner is essential. It can be the most stressful part of running a vacation rental. If you have a good cleaner, you're worried about losing her. If you have someone that isn't so great, you're worried about something slipping. But if you're lucky - like us - you'll find someone very intelligent, ethical and energetic who turns into one of your good friends.