6 tips for hiring a management company for your vacation rental
You do not have to own a vacation rental home for very long before you become aware of the significant time and energy it takes to maintain a vacation rental business properly. If you have time to manage it properly on your own, that is great. If not, however, you may be trying to decide if hiring a management company to handle your rental is a good idea.
Determining the Need
Before choosing a management company, it is wise to consider whether one is actually needed. Take a moment to consider what your vacation rental property currently requires of you in terms of time spent and duties performed.
For instance, if handling bookings and accounting matters take very little time and the bulk of your time is taken on physically maintaining the property, you might consider simply hiring a cleaning service to handle routine turn-day cleaning chores.
The advantage to this, of course, is that a cleaning service will likely charge much less than a full-service management company. On the other hand, all you get with a cleaning service is… well, cleaning. If you need more than simply some help cleaning your property, a management company might be the way to go.
How to Find the Right Management Company
If you are planning to turn over the reins for your vacation rental property to a professional management company, you want to ensure that you put your property and your guests into the right hands. To that end, here are some things to look for in a good management company:
1) Comparison-shop for commission rates and contract terms.
You may be able to eliminate some management companies from the mix based on their commission fees alone. Typical commissions can be anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the nightly rental fee for a full-service management company. If you can afford 30% and the management company under consideration charges 50%, it is a safe bet that is not the right company for you.
Management companies usually ask for a contract term of 6 to 12 months. Before signing a contract, check to see if there is a way to terminate the contract for non-performance of specified duties.
2) Check out the management company’s online presence.
If you are looking for a full-service management company, the company will be handling the marketing of your property as well as maintenance. You can learn a lot about a management company by its online presence. Considering that your future guests will be perusing the management company’s website, be sure that the message the company is sending is the one you want your guests to receive.
Regarding this, Homeaway advises: “Since the Internet is the number one place where vacationers look for properties to rent, you will want a property manager who focuses on building their Internet presence. To start, look to see where the company comes up in the search results by putting in the name of your town and various search terms. If you see the particular company’s name come up again and again, that’s certainly a company you want to investigate.”
While you are on the management company’s website, be sure that the site is mobile-friendly and that guests will have no trouble completing an online booking at the site.
3) Ask for a comprehensive list of services included in the management fees.
Avoid any unpleasant surprises by nailing down exactly what services are covered by management fees. Ask specific questions such as:
- Will someone in the company be doing walkthroughs of the property when guests check out?
- What types of maintenance and repairs will the management company handle, and on what schedule?
- Will the management company handle all guest requests, or will you need to be personally involved?
- What type of marketing of your properties will the management company handle?
- What policies does the management company have in place to provide protection for your property?
- What type of communication should you expect from the management company, and with what frequency will you receive reports from the company?
4) Check out the management company’s customer-facing staff.
No doubt you want your guests to feel welcomed and at home in your vacation rental. Ensure that the management company you choose has a well-trained, courteous customer service staff. Visit the office, chat with the front-facing staff, and get a feel for the way guests will be greeted on check-in.
Confirm that the management company has staff on hand to handle both reservations and other guest needs around the clock.
5) Look for flexibility and preparedness in your management company.
During the interview with your property management company, ask how the company handles inevitable glitches that can occur with vacation rentals such as accidental double bookings, emergency repairs resulting from guest error, or guest evacuation policies in the event of weather emergencies or other natural disasters.
If a management company has clear policies in place to handle emergency situations, it is easier for you to entrust your vacation rental to the company and rest easy, knowing that your interests are being protected.
6) Check out any third-party listing sites the management company uses to market your property.
A good management company that specializes in vacation rentals will likely be using some form of channel management software to coordinate property listings on sites like Airbnb, Homeaway, and Booking.com. Ask the company which sites they plan to use to list your properties and ascertain how those listings will affect the fees you pay to the management company.
Owning a vacation rental can be a lucrative and satisfying experience. If you find that you need a management company to help you handle your vacation rental like a business, be sure to ask the right questions and explore all your options before signing a contract.
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