Unless you run a very small mom-and-pop vacation rental outfit (like a single home) and can devote a great deal of time and energy to cleaning and maintenance, you’re likely going to need at least some staff to help you with your rental operation. You also would be wise to hire inspectors to make sure your property is up to the highest standards.
But how do you make sure you find the right people for these jobs? Here are some tips for hiring good cleaners, inspectors, and maintenance staff.
The #1 complaint of guests about vacation rentals is that their rental space hasn’t been clean on their arrival. These guests often don’t come back. It’s essential for the success of your vacation rental business that your units are sparkling clean for every customer. Unfortunately, you can’t count on it that every cleaning service you run across will provide great quality service at a good price.
Additionally, vacation rental cleaning is different from ordinary house cleaning. On top of the usual vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting, cleaners will need to sanitize kitchen and bathroom surfaces, wash and change linens, hang fresh towels, clean and put away dishes, and stock the home with toilet paper, soap, and other necessities. You need to find a cleaning service willing and able to do all that.
There are several things you can do to ensure you get the right cleaners at a reasonable price:
- Ask VR owners in the area what cleaning services they’ve used and which they’re most happy with.
- Ask cleaners for references and call previous clients to measure their level of satisfaction.
- Interview cleaning service candidates thoroughly to get a good sense of their experience, cleaning methods, and whether they’re willing to do all the kind of cleaning you need and want done. Ask specifically whether how long they’ve been in business and the kind of cleaning work they’ve done.
Regarding cleaning methods, ask very specific questions looking for signs that the cleaners have an attention to detail. Ask also how many people they have on staff and their availability for regularly scheduled vs. quick turnaround service (for when guests stay for only a short time), and also whether they can do emergency service if unexpected cleaning needs suddenly come up. Finally, ask if they can do semi-annual deep cleaning where they wash curtains, steam-clean furniture and carpets, and the like – more serious cleaning.
- In terms of pricing, ask about different rates they may charge for scheduled, quick turnaround, and emergency cleaning. Naturally, you’d prefer the lowest price you can get for quality service, but if you find someone really good and want to keep them working for you long term, you might consider offering them a little above the average market price. Well paid workers tend to be happier workers who won’t be lured away from you.
It’s a very good idea to have professional inspectors periodically inspect your property to make sure your property doesn’t deteriorate significantly, costing you more money for repairs, and that the place is safe and sound for your customers.
The basic steps for finding good cleaners apply here: ask around regarding what inspectors’ other vacation rental businesses have used, get references and follow up on them, and conduct thorough interviews. Pricing is less of an issue because inspection fees don’t vary nearly as much as cleaning service prices.
In interviews you should ask about inspectors’ experience, whether they have membership in a home inspection organization, whether you can be present at the inspection, and what kind of inspection report you’ll receive.
It’s ideal to be present at inspections so you can see all the aspects of your property’s condition for yourself, but the really important thing is to get a thorough report, specifying and explaining even small issues that you might consider paying someone to rectify as well as bigger issues that really must be addressed now, and including photos of problem areas – cracks in walls, visibly deteriorating weather stripping on windows, etc.
Some of the things you’d want the inspector to check are electrical outlets and wiring, windows, flooring, appliances, faucets, drains, sewage systems, heating and cooling units, roofs, attics, signs of leaking water (like ceiling stains), exterior walls, chimney, pest damage, and foundation issues.
Make sure your prospective inspector will check all of these and ask whether the inspector would take note in the report of smaller issues as well, like peeling paint.
As a general matter, you need your maintenance person / team to make sure your property is fully stocked and that everything is working properly. Again, the basic steps for hiring maintenance people are the same as for cleaning people: asking around, checking references, interviewing thoroughly, and pricing. You may want to hire a general maintenance person, but there are some special matters, like complete A/C maintenance, for which you’ll probably need separate people with special expertise.
In terms of general maintenance, the kind of thing you’ll need handled, and therefore what you want to query candidates for hire about, can be categorized into four areas (though the categories can overlap):
- Safety. Safety should be your #1 priority. You need to make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers, and adequate first aid kits.
- Operability of lights, plumbing, appliances, electronics, and mechanical systems. Customers get very annoyed when essentials and entertainment devices don’t work, and it goes without saying that A/C and heater breakdowns can make customers miserable and angry. You want someone to check on microwaves, washers and dryers, TV remotes, internet service, heating and cooling units, and so on and make sure everything’s working right.
- Supplies. You’ll have your cleaning service stock items like toilet paper and soap, but you want maintenance people to additionally check on the quantity and condition of sheets, blankets, towels, light bulbs, and other basic longer-lasting items guests may need.
- Appearance and comfort. Vacationing guests are especially happy when, in addition to the above items, they find the property attractive and inviting. Painting needs to be touched up, lawn care and landscaping done, stains removed, furniture and fixtures fixed, exterior walls clean, and pathways swept.
Ask your maintenance interviewees about how they would take care of all of this and look again for signs of attention to detail and a go-the-extra-mile mentality.
Having a great staff is absolutely essential for your vacation rental business. If you follow these steps, you can be confident your guests will love staying at your property and be eager to come back.