After making the decision to rent your vacation home, finding the right management company is crucial. Make no mistake, choosing someone to manage your property, let alone rent it to others, can be a stressful situation. How do you know your investment is in good hands?
In a perfect world, you’d probably choose to manage things yourself. In the real world, however, this just isn’t feasible for most. If you want steady income from your rental, you have to put time into marketing and property management: everything from accepting booking requests and solving client issues to property upkeep.
If you don’t live near your rental or have other life responsibilities, this can become a huge burden — and that’s where property management comes in.
Many potential renters look to the vacation rental management “giants,” assuming their size and popularity must mean they’re the best choice. Unfortunately, the sheer size of such companies leaves a great deal of room for oversight, and they often just don’t do the job right. Their goal is to get as many bookings as possible, without factoring in the details that could protect your property.
Here are five crucial things to look for when selecting your vacation rental management company.
#1 – Trust & flexibility
You deserve to work with a company that cares as much about your home as you do. Have in-person meetings with your potential list of management companies, or a Skype session if that’s not possible. See their office, speak to the people behind the scenes, learn about their history, and above all, honor your intuition. Did you feel confident after leaving, or did something not sit right? Pay attention and follow up with questions to clarify your concerns.
The bigger the company, the more likely you’ll feel like just another number. Don’t discount the local, independent options — they often have much more flexibility and willingness to create a customized management plan that works for your needs.
#2 – Expertise
Do they have their act together? If they can’t manage their own company efficiently, they certainly shouldn’t manage your rental. A company with the expertise you need should make the entire process easy and informative from start to finish.
Make sure all fees, included services, excluded services, and terms and conditions are clearly laid out in the contract and that you have easy access to these documents for review. Never be shy about asking questions on sections you’re unclear on. If they can’t answer your questions easily and openly, that’s a red flag.
Always be sure to determine how long the contract term commits you to a management company; most property managers have contract terms that range from six to 12 months in length.
NOTE: It’s always helpful to speak with some existing or prior clients before you sign the contract. A few great questions to ask them include:
- Were you satisfied with the care of your property?
- Did they provide you peace of mind with renting your home?
- Were you satisfied with their communication with you?
- Did you feel your property was effectively advertised?
- If you could change anything about the service you experienced, what would it be?
#3 – Exceptional customer service
Like with any company, the management could be great, average, or poor. If you’re making the decision to rent your home, go the extra step and make sure the people managing it are offering an exceptional experience to guests.
Basic services of a vacation rental management company should include:
- Booking management
- Checking renters in and out
- Handling questions and complaints
- Maintaining up-to-date listing information
- Sending payment requests
- Updating calendars
Make sure they’re easily accessible by phone and web, and ask how often they’re available during the week and weekend (this is important for both property owners and renters). Remember, smaller, local property management companies often pride themselves on offering quality, personalized service, so make sure they’re providing it.
#4 – Proactive marketing
Marketing is key to maximizing the revenue of your property. This is one of the great perks of working with a vacation rental management company.
Make sure they have an attractive, easy-to-book website and a designated marketing professional on their team. Marketing has entered a new age and digital strategy is a must. Ask how they manage their digital marketing and if they do things like paid advertising — bonus points if they’re active on social media and use multimedia channels such as radio and TV ads, mailers, postcards, magazines, etc.
#5 – Thorough property care
While cleaning and linen services are included in most contracts (we highly suggest going with a company that does include this), local, independent property management companies tend to have much more control over who is performing these services and are more likely to take a personal interest in keeping your property in excellent condition.
Find out if walkthroughs are conducted after guest departures and how damages and/or missing items are handled. If repairs or major maintenance is needed, make sure the company is willing to help you coordinate and hold onto records, receipts, and other vital information.
NOTE: Never assume your property manager will take care of everything; make sure they’re willing to provide a detailed list of what the management fees cover before you agree to anything.
Remember, choosing a manager for your vacation rental is a huge decision. Never feel bad about taking the time you need to feel confident with your choice.
The right vacation rental management company should give you ample reasons for choosing them, and you should feel confident in your new relationship. Whether you choose a large vacation rental giant or a small independent company, this is ultimately what matters most.