Property management is one of the biggest issues facing new owners who want to rent short-term.
In areas where there are a high volume of vacation homes – Orlando, The Outer Banks, Destin, Palm Springs come to mind – there will be an equally high proportion of property management companies. However, when you are trying to grow a business in a region with a lower population of rental properties, finding suitable services to refer to your buyers may be more problematic.
Since most buyers will be coming from out of state, or even internationally, sourcing reliable and trustworthy property managers should be a priority.
Could you do it yourself?
Now, there’s an idea. Many realty businesses have a property management arm that manages the rental and maintenance of long-term rental properties, and in the up and coming tourism regions, some brokers are seeing the benefit of setting up housekeeping systems to service their buyers.
This makes it a one-stop shop for new vacation rental owners. All they need do is close on the place, sign a management and maintenance contract with you, and off you go.
Seems simple, yes?
Well, not so much as you then become responsible for the day-to-day marketing, management, emergency response and general maintenance of the property.
Why this may not be the best idea?
Vacation rental guests are demanding and have high expectations. They want immediate response when something goes wrong and when it doesn’t happen are quick to write a negative review. So, if this is something you are thinking of doing, make sure you have all the resources in place to make it work. Apart from the costly reservation systems you would need, these are the minimum you will need to begin to make this work
- Cleaning teams
- Maintenance workers
- Plumbers, electricians, HVAC contacts
- General outdoor maintenance – the pool guy
- 24 hour emergency management systems
All these resources must be reliable and ready to deal with situations at short notice.
Create your referral list
So, you decide that the property management route is not the way to go.
The next step is to source a list of potential suppliers for your buyer. You aren’t expected to be their one-stop-shop, but if you can guide them in the right direction of the resources they will need, it will simplify their buying decision.
If you are not blessed with a plethora of property management and cleaning companies, you’ll need to research what is available in your area. Here’s 5 places to start:
- Chamber of Commerce
If there is no website, then go to the municipal office and ask if there is a list of Chamber members. In rural areas, most small businesses will register so this is a good place to start.
Librarians know everything and everybody, and if they don’t they will know someone who does. There is often a bulletin board where businesses will post their services.
- Previous buyers
You should be in regular touch with your previous clients who are now running their successful vacation rental businesses. Ask them to share their list of service providers, or recommend companies they use.
- Local resorts
In some areas, smaller resorts still stick to a weekly changeover for their guests – in high season it is often Saturday – Saturday. If they employ cleaning and housekeeping staff, they may not be as busy on a Friday for example. Would they be interested in hiring out their people for a Friday changeover? It’s worth asking the question.
- Yellow Pages
Yes, the good old phone book! In some areas, this is still seen as the go-to book for services. Check it out and you may be surprised how many service providers there are.
Make sure you do this research thoroughly. Don’t just pick out a few names and offer them as referrals. Contact them and tell them the type of client you might bring to them, and make sure they are comfortable with dealing with rental changeovers ( if a cleaning company). There is a big difference between residential cleaning and rental changeovers and it’s important they know the distinction.
Where service providers are concerned (eletcricians, plumbers, general maintenance companies etc), find out what their call-out fees are; how quickly they respond in an emergency, and if they accept non-resident clients (some will not for emergency situations as they want to service their regulars clients at these times).
Above all, before you refer anyone to your new home owners, make sure you have at least two testimonials from previous customers.
Lack of reliable property management and emergency maintenance services can be the downfall of any start-up vacation rental business. By providing your buyers with as much information as you can, they will be able to begin renting with more confidence, and will appreciate you the more for it.