Outdated cleaner communication
For successful real estate businesses, every minute counts. Time lost on inefficient processes quickly mounts up and can have a major impact on overall productivity.
This is especially true for a company like SF Shannon. Based in the heart of historic St. Louis, SF Shannon manages more than 450 apartments, so streamlined operations are essential – yet the business lacked an effective way to coordinate housekeeping for its vacation rental properties.
Karen Karabell, Owner of SF Shannon, explains: “We didn’t have a good system for keeping track of cleaning tasks. In fact, we primarily relied on phone calls and a group message thread to manage our service providers and monitor the status of our VR properties. Needless to say, it was incredibly tedious.”
What’s more, whilst SF Shannon prides itself on quality and it has never received a complaint about housekeeping in over 10 years, cleaners would occasionally miss details that would lead to time-consuming call-outs. For example, if the key wasn’t where guests were expecting to find it.
Karen knew there had to be a better way to manage and track cleanings so that everyone knew precisely what needed to be done, when, and by who. But back in 2009, the VR industry was still in its infancy and there was no solution available.
Fast forward several years, and Karen finally found what she was looking for: cleaner management software designed specifically for the VR industry.
“I started seeing the new technology at trade shows,” recalls Karen. “We evaluated the different solutions that were emerging and found that Properly was way ahead of the competition. The features were more advanced, and we could tell that the company was dedicated to breaking new ground and leading the curve.”
SF Shannon wasted no time implementing Properly, unlocking extensive process automation alongside calendar and checklist functionality – totally transforming its approach to VR cleaning.
Karen comments: “It’s all automated. There’s no need for phone calls or text messages since we can assign cleaners and track progress all with the press of a button. The calendar view shows us all our upcoming reservations at a click and enables us to easily plan housekeeping tasks accordingly.
“The visual checklists are invaluable as well. We have close relationships with our service providers and they generally know what’s what, but it’s still great that we can give them checklists to refer to, to ensure nothing gets missed. Are the keys in the box? Are the amenities stocked? That kind of thing.”
SF Shannon had no difficulty creating customized checklists for each of its properties. They started by building a single master template, then systematically personalized it for each individual apartment.
Properly also integrates seamlessly with SF Shannon’s PMS software, Escapia. “Now, whenever we add a reservation in Escapia it automatically populates into Properly as well,” says Karen. “And if the reservation is changed or cancelled, Properly reflects that too. With a bit of help from Properly support, it was super easy to get the two systems working together.
“In fact, we’ve been extremely happy with Properly support. We just love their ‘yes’ attitude. Every time we’ve had to reach out they have been highly responsive – their culture is to do whatever they can to solve the customer’s problem.”
Saving time and improving the guest experience
With Properly in place, SF Shannon is saving time and resources, and its vacation rental operations are running more smoothly than ever.
Karen confirms: “Eliminating the back-and-forth of phone calls and text messages is saving us hours of dull admin work each week. Similarly, thanks to Properly’s checklists, those unexpected guest call-outs have become almost unheard of.”
And productivity isn’t the only advantage that Properly is providing; SF Shannon’s guests are also enjoying the benefits.
“Now that Properly is giving us such a comprehensive, real-time view of our properties, it’s easy for us to accommodate flexible check-in times. In the past, it wasn’t always clear whether an apartment had been cleaned and staged without asking the cleaner directly. But now, that information is available in Properly with a single click. We can tell the customer: ‘We’re all set, you can check-in whenever you’re ready.’”
As demand for vacation rentals continues to grow, SF Shannon also has plans to begin leveraging Properly’s Marketplace to source additional cleaners. Ordinarily, Karen might expect to have to spend weeks training new hires to meet her standards and specific housekeeping requirements, yet with Properly, checklists take all the complexity out of the onboarding process. All SF Shannon will have to do is add more detail to its existing checklists and new service providers will be able to see exactly how to prepare its properties – guaranteeing brand consistency.
“We’re perfectly positioned to scale up the VR side of our business if we want to,” adds Karen. “Not only can we easily find highly qualified housekeepers through the Marketplace, so much of the process is automated that managing the expanded team won’t demand any additional overhead.”
“The vacation rental industry has come an incredibly long way in the last decade,” comments Karen. “And we’ve no doubt that it will continue to evolve. We’re delighted to have a team like Properly behind us, who are pushing the envelope and leading innovation in the sector.”[:]