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Outsourcing Vacation Rental Responsibilities….Don’t Lose the Human Touch Transcript
Hi everyone. It’s John from Vacation Rentals with John. Today I want to talk outsourcing because everyone in this business outsources something. I personally outsource my communications very inexpensively. They do an amazing job responding, requesting reviews, email marketing, you name it, they do it for just $250 a month. For me, this allows me to save five to six hours a week and over 300 hours every year. I also outsource cleaning, outsource maintenance. All of these things allow me to save time and have a reliable team that I can always count on so everything can go on smoothly. So let’s talk about outsourcing guest communication. So you can outsource to a friend, a family member, a co-host, a virtual assistant, but this only makes sense if they don’t sound like a robot. Everyone hates that call center overseas because we feel like we’re being shuffled around and not actually being taken care of.
So whatever avenue you choose, it’s important that they have a great human touch. They’re just natural at it. They’re trainable, they’re coachable, and they understand that the purpose of this business is to take care of other people. Now, outsourcing your cleaning, it’s a given. Most hosts, I know they don’t clean their own rental. So it’s important to interview the right cleaner because onboarding the wrong Airbnb cleaner, it will absolutely mess you up. You’ll lose money with reviews, damages, lost and missing items. If the person you hire just doesn’t give a flip about your place, it’s going to really cause you some pain and agony. So when you’re outsourcing your cleaning, it’s mostly about hiring someone who actually cares about your property more than you do because they will go the extra mile when things get really dirty. When time is short, when the guest is already there and they want to come in early and it’s down to the wire with pressure, a person who cares will get the job done.
So the most important part about outsourcing the cleaners is in your interview process. Your screening, because it’s a really expensive, when you get the wrong person on your team, it costs lots of money, lots of headaches. You just don’t want to do it. You want to outsource to the right person. Now, let’s talk about outsourcing your maintenance, your your handy person services. I have a great local handyman with me personally. My local handyman that I deal with. He’s affordable always on time. He responds at all hours and gives me a way better deal Once I was quoted $500 from a plumber just to unclog a toilet. Same job you would do for $65. So having a caring maintenance person on your team is worth its weight in gold and definitely helps when you’re doing other forms of real estate investing, whether you’re doing flipping, rehabbing, long-term midterm, the right handy person with those skills, it’s key. So I suggest looking on Facebook and asking in those Airbnb hosting groups because people have great recommendations there, but I would not hire someone recommending themselves, like when they’re doing shameless self-promotion. I would always ask hosts, who do they actually use? Same when you’re looking for cleaners on Facebook or any form of social media, ask a real host who they use. Do not go off someone’s self-promotion because it doesn’t usually end and end great at all. Like when
Someone’s promoting themself, it doesn’t mean they’re always bad, but I’d rather you trust another host who had great experiences with that handy person or cleaner in the past because it’s going to far more effective and save you far more time than going with five or six people self-promoting themselves and they all end up to be bad, right? So definitely would go off. Only a referral from a host that you can verify has a real property, a real listing, and a real experience with the service provider that they’re referring to you. Now, when you outsource your bookings, this is an iffy one for me. I just don’t believe it’s worth the high commissions, but the only way I would outsource this is if they have a program similar to what Dale was speaking about a couple episodes ago where they have like a unique search experience.
They got competitive SEO, competitive marketing rewards programs, repeat gas, the whole shebang. Because if someone really knows what they’re doing, you see it the first time you look on their website, you just think, damn, I would book with that person. They got everything. So if if you’re not thinking that when you see their web presence, you know you should just skip because just because they’re promising a certain type of performance, if their site just doesn’t scream at you that they’re going to perform, I would just give them a hard skip because outsourcing your bookings usually ends up with you losing money. And there’s very rare cases where you’re actually gonna make money doing this. Like most people I know lose money when they go with property managers. Just think of the margins on hotels. If if hotels are only making 10 to 15%, if they’re performing, if someone’s charging you 20%, 15%, even 10%, that’s wiping out your net income completely, right?
It’s not leaving much room for error, and if they royally screw it up, you’re going to lose your shirt. So it’s best to really screen any one that you’re gonna outsource bookings to because they’re not all bad and there’s some top performers out there, but they’re rare, they’re few, they’re in between. And it does take a lot of screening. Screening. So I would definitely ask for references. I would ask for performance reports that you can verify. I would ask for if you have a similar property to someone they’re managing for their booking report, it could have blacked out information, but you just want the meat and potatoes to make sure what they’re saying they do actually lines up with what they’re doing. You don’t want someone promising you performance and they’re just full of hot air because you’ll find out six to seven months later they were full of hot air.
It’ll be expensive to get out the contract, they’ll charge your termination fee and you’ll end up in court or you’ll end up just losing a lot of money. So you don’t want to go there. If you’re gonna go the route of outsourcing your bookings, make sure that that company they care more than you do and that they’re definitely going to perform. Because if they’re charging you 15% commission, they’re gonna have to do a 30% return just for you to make 15%, right? So it’s extremely important that if you’re gonna outsource and you don’t wanna lose the soul of hospitality in your home, that that property manager, they care a hell a lot more than you do about that property. Now, if you’re utilizing a property management software, A P M ss, I’m not sponsored by anyone, thank goodness. So I’m not going to name any particular V M s, but what’s right for one, let’s just say it’s not gonna work for another. So once you get the right P m s, you’ll know because it’ll
Speak to you, it’ll be easy to use. The customer service will be really friendly. There’ll be video tutorials and you’ll be able to get set up on that quickly. If it’s taking you a long time giving you a headache and not making sense, just skip it. Because that’s, if you’re in a trial period, I really suggest you skip it because it’s not worth spending hours and hours there if it’s making you waste more time than it’s saving you, right? But it can save you hundreds of hours of time in the long run if you get the right P m Ss and you set up the automation correctly because you can automate everything nowadays, and it will still have a human touch if you do it right. It’s really insane because AI is moving at a record pace, but it’s important to not lose the human touch.
So let’s talk about losing the soul of hospitality. When you outsource to the wrong people and they talk like robots and they don’t care, and they treat everything systematically to the point, it makes you cringe, that will destroy your business’s reputation fast. I’ve seen AI responders at totally missed the mark with auto responding to guests. An example, like the guests ask, where’s the nearest place to eat? The AI quickly spits out a list of grocery stores because it was programmed wrong, but you don’t want to eat at a grocery store. So that’s like an incorrect auto response rate, and the host never looks at it, and the guest inks, okay, I didn’t ask for a grocery store, and it just puts a sour taste in their mouth because they don’t feel taken care of. So if you try to automate everything, it may not work unless you do the setup correctly, but if your autoresponders are missing the mark and your cleaners don’t care and your handyman responds two days late, yeah, you’re probably not going to have a five star average, and that’s going to hurt your performance in all of the O T A algorithms.
Airbnb, <inaudible>, booking.com, you name it, your guests need to feel taken care of. So if you do outsource, my recommendation is to monitor all communications, at least for the first six months daily, and then weekly after that if everything’s going well. But you might be thinking, I can just do it myself if I’m gonna keep checking it. That’s a total waste of money. Well, in particular in this business, when you implement anything, it’s going to need to be tweaked, refined, overseen to avoid mistakes, and you will need to change course when needed. So this way, if you’re using automation, you have the time to work on all the kinks in your scheduling tool and your autoresponders and your welcome email, your cleaning process, follow up, and all the other important areas of your operation. To wrap up today’s episode, here’s a couple of rule of thumbs to live by.
When you’re outsourcing one, you get what you pay for. So don’t try to get virtual assistants or co-host or cleaners for pennies because you’re gonna end up wasting your time. Trust me, I spent some time at the beginning of doing this business being extremely cheap, and it bit me right in the butt. So you are gonna get what you pay for. Not saying splurge money, but you definitely want to find value, and value doesn’t always come cheap. Then when you bring on your outsourced staff, make sure you treat them as team members. Don’t treat them as external freelancers, because if you treat people as
Freelancers and you don’t really include them on your communications chains, on your emails, they won’t know the why of why they’re doing what they’re doing, and it’s going to come across as robotic even more so, because if you have someone cleaning and they don’t know why they’re cleaning, and trust me, I’ve seen this. I’ve seen people sent to a property and they don’t know what an Airbnb is, but they’re cleaning it. So if they don’t know their why and why the guest experience is important, why they’re making that bed, why everything needs to be checked, they’re not going to do a great job. It’s the same with the person communicating with the guests. They know what their job is, but if they don’t know why every action they make matters, they’re going to also do a poor job at it. So treat your people as team members and not as just outsourced labor, because it will have a dramatic change on how they perform when they’re doing these tasks.
If everyone that works for you says, Hey, gee, this person really cares about me. They care about my wellbeing, they care about my growth, I get a Christmas bonus, I feel taken care of, they’re going to go the extra mile for you, and it’s going to show in your reviews and your guests are gonna be so happy with the team that you’ve put together and the rental product that you’re offering. Lastly, don’t skimp on setup, whether that’s in your cleaning process, the setup of your property management system, the setup of your guest communications team, the setup of your automation software. If everything’s set up super wrong, it’s going to flow through every single part of your operation. So take that extra time when you’re setting up any process in your vacation rental business, and it will pay dividends later because once you do all the work on the front end, you have way less headaches in the back end.
Once again, thank you for tuning in today, my friends. The next episode will be on cutting the fat out of your Airbnb cleaning process. Think wasted time, wasted money, lost opportunities. That’s what we’re gonna talk about on the next episode. I want to make learning short-term rentals easy and accessible for everyone. Want to support me on my quest? It’ll just take about 20 seconds. If you can leave me a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify and subscribe, you’re helping me more than you know doing this helps me promote the show to new listeners. Thank you for your support. Thanks a million, and until next time, friends, take care.
Vacation Rentals With John is one of the fastest growing short term rental podcasts. The show has been growing in popularity because of its no BS, to the point lessons on how to grow and operate a vacation rental. Join the facebook group. To listen to any of the past episodes, check out this page.