We all know that we survive in this industry through owners and guests. These are the two most critical components of vacation rentals. As vacation rentals continue to become more popular, the competition for owners is going to become more fierce. So, what do owners like and how can you get them?
As an owner myself, I want visibility. Most owners have, what they consider to be, very expensive investments. It doesn’t truly matter the income level of your owner, it is always an investment. I want to see my reservations. I want to see my statements and have access to them at any time. I want to be able to enter a work order and watch that work order get completed. I want to see my performance from one year to the next. But most of all, and I mean most of all, I want to see that availability calendar looking like one giant colored rainbow. They hate white! No rentals. No money. Not happy. I think we all do our best to get rentals and this is something that often times is out of our hands. So, I can tell you from experience, reach out to your owners. Make their experience special as an owner. Go out of your way to call them and say hello. Build a relationship with your owner that allows the rentals to just be secondary to why they are using your company. The rentals will come if you are marketing through the proper channels.
The #1 method of getting owners is through referrals. There is nothing like referrals. When someone says that these guys are the best, it is a very powerful message. But how do you become the best? Do the little things. Offer maintenance inspections every 3 months which will allow owners to feel that everything is up-to-date in their home. Inventory their bigger items. There is nothing that shows you care about their possessions more than doing an inventory of their critical items. As I mentioned above, keep an open dialogue. They are your most powerful asset. BE TRANSPARENT when it comes to maintenance. Many of us like to do maintenance, but we never truly show why. Take the time to take before and after pictures. Explain what you did to fix the problem. I can tell you that as an owner, there is nothing worse than getting a maintenance bill without justification. Replaced clogged drain – $149. This just comes across as fishy. Utilize your property management software to justify your work. With Streamline, we provide maintenance applications that allow you to take before and after pictures. Even if you don’t have Streamline, just get in a habit of taking a before and after picture. You do not want an owner going around suggesting that you just charge random maintenance charges.
Don’t worry about those owners that are never happy. You truly have two choices, let them go or deal with them the best way possible. We all know who they are. Many times, we make the conscious choice to keep them because of the amount of revenue they generate. However, you need to ask yourself, are they spreading the wrong message about your property management company? Are they loud enough to cause you to lose clients? Sometimes letting go of a specific client is a necessary evil. You may lose revenue, but it sets you up for future success. It also helps you sleep at night! About two years ago, we decided to clean house. It was tough. We dropped 5-6 clients. We simply told them that we felt they would be happier with a different property management company. Like everyone else, we also had some turnover. I decided to dig into this turnover. WHY? Was it the lack of income? The lack of rentals? What could drive these owners to leave? “Not being able to get an answer to critical questions”. REALLY? That’s all it took. Why couldn’t they just share that with us? Apparently, they share a lot of things with your maintenance people. Those who tend to be around them the most. Owners open up very quickly when they have the chance to vent. Take some time to speak with your staff. You will learn a lot about your business and the areas which are lacking. We have put many detailed processes in place to assure this will never happen again.
Now, the trick to getting more owners: Make a friend! Not just any friend, a realtor. First of all, when they bring guests to view homes, those guests need a place to stay. Give them discounts or even a commission for allowing those guests to stay in your homes. In addition, give them an incentive to refer a new owner. Most people buy homes as an investment. They want to get the most out of their home. Who better to give them advice on what to do then the person they entrusted to purchase the home. We actually give realtors $500 every time they refer a new home owner. How much is a new owner worth to you? This varies throughout markets but honestly, it is not necessarily the money, as much as it is the relationship that you create with the realtor. There are a lot of realtors! Choose carefully.
I hope you found this useful. I wish I had all the answers, but as an owner, there are just things that I want. As a property management company, REFERRALS-REFERRALS-REFERRALS and create friendships with local realtors.
Good luck and I hope you continue to grow!!!!
-Carlos Corzo, CEO