Owners GET YOUR VACATION RENTAL MASTER PLAN!Learn how to build a blueprint for operations and marketing! Who does the changeovers in your vacation rental property? Do you use a property management company or a local independent cleaner? Perhaps you do it yourself and are considering handing the task over to someone else. Regardless of who is doing the job for you, are you confident they understand the nature of our business, who your clients are and the uniqueness of the relationship? If not, it may be time to have the conversation. I heard from a number of owners last year because they’d had reports from their cleaning staff that included subjective and often derogatory opinions on guests. This was often as a result of arriving at a property and finding it has not been left in a tidy or as-found condition. My suggestions on how to deal with this resulted in the following points. You may want to sit down with your cleaning staff and have a discussion based on them. We are not in the ‘rental’ business – we are in the hospitality and tourism industry. This means we have to be aware at all times that these are guests and we do not refer to them as ‘renters’. They must be respected as any guest in a hotel or resort would be. While most will keep the house tidy and clean during their stay, some will not and it may be more challenging to bring it back to a ready condition. On the whole you will find it balances out and the good generally outweigh the bad. I do not need to know when the property has been left in an extremely poor state unless it requires extra hours and/or additional staff to bring it back to a rental-ready condition. One of the reasons to hire a property manager is to reduce stress so it’s unnecessary to tell me your thoughts on the character of the departing guests. I do need to know if there has been damage or something has been broken that may impact our next guests. Our guests pay well to rent the property so they deserve your attention to detail. They will open every cupboard and drawer and will notice anything that is neglected on a changeover. If a previous guest has inadvertently left something in a bedside drawer or under the bed you can be assured that the next clients will find it. I need you to be attentive to detail. When guests are on vacation they are not as concerned over attention to detail as I want you to be. They may put an unwashed coffee mug back in a cupboard, or pile clean towels on top of used ones. They won’t be thinking about the consequences for the next guests if this goes unnoticed. Everything on the checklist needs to be checked on every changeover – no exceptions. You are servicing a property in the hospitality industry. Doing a changeover on a rental property is not the same as cleaning a home for a homeowner who can pre-brief you on what needs to be done and will often tidy before you arrive. Guests who have just left may have had little time to tidy up before they depart, particulalry if they have young children. We are tolerant of the fact that our guests have just ended a fabulous vacation and their attention may have been more on packing up and sadly leaving rather than doing any housework. Our guests are valued because they pay for their stay and that includes your services. Even if their standards don’t match up to mine or yours, we don’t judge them in any way – we may simply choose not to accept their rental fees a second time. First impressions are of vital importance. Take some time before you leave the property after a changeover and walk back in as you would if you were a new guest. Does it feel welcoming? Is there a fresh smell? If you had just arrived on vacation, what is the first thing you notice? Is there anything you could do to make it more perfect? Follow the Checklist. We provide a room-by-room checklist and a pictorial guide that shows how the kitchen cabinets should look as well as indicating where furniture should be located. It’s important the checklist is followed for consistency as well as aesthetics. What are your thoughts on this? I know in many areas that getting good help for changeovers can be very challenging, and owners are often so happy to have found someone, they don’t want to risk upsetting them by being too procedural. Do you have ideas on dealing with this? We would especially like to hear from property managers and cleaners who have challenges working with their owners. This is another post in itself but it is always good to hear from both side of the fence. This post is dedicated to Carol, who manages both my properties and has evolved into a zealous ambassador for outstanding property management.