Our best practice advice for managing service providers
By Properly / Apr 16, 2018
Last month, we gave you our tips for finding, vetting, and hiring the perfect service providers for your properties – but hiring new cleaners is only half the task. If you really want to make the most out of your service providers, you need to manage them effectively. Cleaner management is one of the most critical elements of your operation and mastering it will yield tremendous benefits for your business.
At Properly, we’re lucky enough to work with world-class hosts and service providers on a daily basis, and we’ve learned that good cleaner management is all about creating collaborative partnerships. Here are the insights we’ve gathered:
Provide ongoing training
Even if you hire someone with experience in the cleaning business, they might not be familiar with all the quirks of hospitality cleaning, and they most certainly won’t be familiar with your or your client’s homes. What’s more, perhaps you have properties that require less common cleaning techniques or equipment (for example, Alex, our founder and an Airbnb Superhost, keeps a steam cleaner at home that his service providers sometimes need to use to deal with dog-related incidents).
Ongoing training helps ensure your cleaners always have all the skills and expertise they need to take the best care of your properties. Specific areas of focus for your training should include:
Compare these two beds; which one feels like a luxury, hospitality experience?
Skillful staging makes a huge difference in guest perceptions. Educating cleaners on how to effectively stage your listings is essential to raising quality and guest satisfaction. Pay particular attention to:
- Toiletries, towels and blankets on a bed
- Cushions and soft decorative pillow on a couch
- Towels and washcloths in bathrooms
- Speciality items such as a welcome basket, a note or flowers
- Setting the mood for a warm welcome with specific lights to be left on for guest arrival
Properly Visual Checklists – they’re essentially on-the-job training every time. And if you like how one cleaner arranges a room, you can use photos from that job in your next checklist to show other cleaners exactly how to stage a part of the home in future.
Attention to detail in high-visibility areas
For hospitality cleaners, attention to detail is crucial in preparing a listing for guests. In fact, there’s a whole array of requirements for VR cleaning that don’t even factor into an ordinary residential clean – things that cleaners new to short term rentals might overlook. Make sure that your service providers remember to:
- Empty the dishwasher
- Clean out the refrigerator
- Check dressers, drawers and under beds for misplaced or forgotten items
- Make a final sweep for hair in places like bathtubs, sinks and beds
Getting the details right is the essence of hospitality – and details are easy to overlook. All it takes is one half-empty milk carton or a single stray hair to ruin a guest’s impression of an otherwise luxury apartment.
Adding these items to a Properly checklist serves as an excellent quality assurance check for you and your cleaner. And even better, you can ask them to take pictures as they work through your checklist. When service providers document their work, no task will be forgotten!
Keep a Photographic Record of your Listings
A photographic record of your listings enables you to keep tabs on wear and tear – and ensures you are protected from any damages done by your guests. We recommend that you:
- Request verification photos of common areas and important spaces (e.g. bedrooms and bathrooms) to create an ongoing record of the condition of a property. This can be done by an inspector or by your cleaner as part of the cleaning process in your checklist, and you could even ask that it be done before and after each stay.
- Encourage service providers to document all problems with Properly’s Real Time Problem Report feature. You’ll hear about damages the moment they’re discovered, so you can take action ASAP.
In combination, these two steps ensure that you can collect a guest’s security deposit from a listing platform without any issues or room for dispute. They also give you the ability to make claims on a home warranty insurance policy where necessary. (And, as an added benefit, photos enable you to see and QA the property before every guest check in.)
We’ve seen all sorts of problems and damages from guests – from stained carpets to broken dishes, and even windows – and everyone’s heard an Airbnb horror story or two. But with diligent photo documentation, no problem need be a catastrophe.
Manage time spent on each job
Managing cleaner time is critical to both quality and efficiency. Cleaners can only work so fast, and you should have clear expectations on how long a cleaner will spend on each job. If time per job falls, you can bet that quality is suffering. On the other hand, if clean times begin to take too long, you can expect your cleaners will ask for rate increases. This is a good opportunity to discuss where they need to focus.
Of course, you want to do this in partnership with your cleaners. No one wants to be a micromanager – and no-one likes being micromanaged!
Properly is great for keeping things transparent: reporting tools track when a service provider started and finished a job, and geolocation functionality even shows whether or not the cleaner was actually on location.
Feedback, feedback, feedback
Partnerships demand dialogue – both positive and negative.
If a service provider does make a mistake, tell them! This is something we hear from providers all the time: they want your feedback so they can improve and deliver an even better service in future. And naturally, the reverse is also true: if your service provider does a good job, be sure to show your appreciation! A simple “thank you” can go a long way to building strong partnerships with your cleaners, and service providers that feel valued will often go the extra mile for you and your guests.
Showing your appreciation is easy in Properly. You can add a quick thumbs up or thumbs down to verification photos, or write a more detailed comment if you’d like to send a personalized thank you (or critique).
What’s more, if you get a positive review from a guest, be sure to share it with your service provider – after all, it’s their success too.