How to Build Your Vacation Rental Management Team
By Properly / Oct 9, 2018
Vacation rental management businesses are seeing increased interest in their services as more and more people join the trend of renting out second homes or investment properties.
That’s good news for vacation rental managers, but it does present some challenges. Vacation rental managers who expand their inventory will need to do some equivalent expansion on their team.
You might have managed 10 properties with just 2 team members, but when your inventory goes up to 50 properties, you’re going to need a bigger team.
How do you find qualified team members for your growing business?
What Experience Should Your Candidates Have?
You already know to look for candidates with experience in the specific position you need. You probably won’t hire a website manager who doesn’t have experience managing websites, for example.
But should your team members have specific experience in this industry? You might wonder if you can help manage vacation rentals well if you don’t have experience managing vacation rentals. There’s just one problem:
If you’re looking for team members who specifically have experience managing vacation rentals, you’re quickly going to run out of qualified candidates.
The vacation rental industry has been booming lately, which means there are only so many people out there with prior experience managing them. That said, you can still find employees who have the necessary background to pick up on vacation rental management quickly.
You’re looking for team members who have:
Experience in the hospitality industry.
People with experience in hospitality will know the importance of staging, cleanliness, good customer service, and performing to the highest standard for each guest. They’ll need to learn what specific services vacation rental guests expect, but they’ll already understand why attention to detail is essential.
Experience in property management.
People with experience in property management will understand how to juggle responsibilities for a large number of properties at multiple locations. They’ll need to learn how to perform quicker turnovers than once a year, but they’ll already understand essentials like upkeep, inspections, and scheduling.
Experience in customer service.
People with experience in customer service know all about how to handle an irate customer, and emotions run high when a vacation rental doesn’t match a guest’s expectations. They’ll need to learn what is and is not reasonable for a guest to expect of a vacation rental, but they’ll be great at helping the guest feel their problem was heard and reaching a resolution that you, the owner, and the guest are comfortable with.
Experience running a vacation rental.
If your applicants have ever managed a single vacation rental, either as an owner or assistant to the owner, they’ll have some experience with the challenges unique to this industry. They’ll need to learn how to translate that knowledge to a scaled operation like yours, but they’ll know the core essentials of what guests are looking for.
If your applicants also have experience running their own vacation rental, this can be a huge bonus, since they’ll know what the day-to-day challenges are like.
What Personal Qualities Should Your Candidates Have?
You may need a different sort of person to handle your scheduling than you do to run the website, but there are some qualities that can only help make your vacation rental management business run smoothly.
Let’s think about the essentials of running a vacation rental management business. There are a lot of details to keep track of while managing vacation rentals. Your properties always need to be beautifully cleaned and presented. And you will undoubtedly come up with unusual requests and challenges every week.
Since these are the challenges of a successful vacation rental management business, what qualities should your employees have to meet them?
Attention to Detail
“Forgetting” to schedule a cleaning just isn’t an option in this industry! Even if your employee won’t be managing the calendar, you still want someone who cares about the little details in every aspect of your business. If your website has a design flaw, travelers might see it as a sign your vacation rentals aren’t professionally run.
You’re relying on your employees to help you track all the important details. Make sure they have that skill.
Ask your candidates for specific examples of how they keep track of the little details. It’s easy to say you’re detail-oriented, but every person with a truly organized mind has a method of keeping the details straight, whether it’s a notebook or a software program. Ask what your candidates use to keep track of the details, and why.
It doesn’t matter if your candidate prefers a different software program to track the details. You can always train them to use the same tools your team uses. What’s important is that they’ve thought about how to keep the details straight and have a strategy of their own for doing so.
Cool-Headed in the Face of Conflict
Tensions in a vacation rental management business can run high, and any one of your employees might have to field an irate phone call now and then. When a guest is seriously distressed, you don’t want to have to tell them to wait until your specifically-designated customer service person can help them – any of your employees should be able to help.
Ask your candidates for a specific example of how they handled a customer that was very upset with the service they received. Ask for an example where the customer was in the right, and one where the customer was in the wrong, and how they handled both.
These are important questions because your employees will deal with both types of guest in the vacation rental management business. Sometimes the guest is upset because the property was not cleaned, and sometimes the guest is upset because your rental isn’t as near to the lake as they thought it was, even though the address is right there on the listing.
Both of those situations need to be handled with a cool head and an eye to getting to a reasonable resolution, but they require different approaches. Make sure your team knows how to handle both.
There are very few problems in the business of vacation rental management that can be resolved “when you get around to it.” Most problems need to be solved as soon as humanly possible, and while you will act as the final arbiter in how to resolve a problem, you’ll quickly get over-taxed if you personally have to come up with every solution.
You’re looking for team members who can bring a few potential solutions to the problem to you when they’re asking for guidance.
You want people who will say, “The guest says there’s a smell coming from the hot tub. I thought we could either offer to go over tomorrow to fix it while they’re at Disneyland, or send someone tonight to see if they could find the source of the problem.”
Now you’re choosing between two options, which is much less mentally taxing.
Ask your candidates for their solutions to specific problems you’ve had while managing vacation rentals, and what they would do to resolve them.
If their default answer is “I’d ask my manager,” you’re probably not going to get solutions from this candidate. If they say “Well, I might do X, or I might do Y, depending on the situation,” you’re looking at someone who can solve on the fly.
It’s up to you whether you let your employees decide on which solution to execute without your input for certain situations, but whether you like to be in the loop or prefer your employees to be more self-sufficient, you’re definitely going to want someone who never brings you a problem without a few potential solutions in mind.
What About Service Providers?
This article is specifically designed to help you find team members – people who can help you with your management duties. They’re also great qualities to look for in your service providers, but there’s actually an easier way to figure out if your service providers are qualified.
The Properly Community Marketplace is full of service providers who have already been vetted by other vacation rental managers in your area. This means you already know they’re accustomed to cleaning vacation rentals rather than residences, and they have the hospitality knowledge to deliver to that high standard.
If you’re looking for one-off assistance rather than a full-time team member, the Properly Community Marketplace is an exceptional resource.
If you are looking to add a team member to your crew full time, then the steps we’ve outlined above are great ways to find the right people to join your vacation rental management business.
Beyond the Properly Marketplace, the Properly app helps you schedule and manage far more efficiently, making it possible to handle more inventory with fewer team members. Check it out here.