A vacation rental or short term rental is a great way to bring in passive income while investing in real estate. However, as many hosts will tell you, it can also be a round the clock job. Many vacation rental managers want the added income of a second property but fear the workload doubling their to-do list.
BUT, are there trade secrets we can leverage to bring on a second, third, or fifth vacation rental while not increasing the workload? What if your workload could actually decrease as you scale? Today we’re going to look at 5 tips to successfully manage multiple vacation rentals.
1. Use Technology to Stay Organized
Technology is a great way to stay organized and share tasks with others. Many of the systems we use are completely free. Here are some great recommendations for your vacation rental management:
- Trello – We create individual boards for each of our vacation rental properties. Within those boards we create lists to help us manage each aspect of the property. One of those lists is called ‘Done’ so as we complete tasks or a reservation passes, we move the card from its current list to the ‘Done’ list. Within each card, we add notes such as any special requests from the guests, the cleaner who will be taking care of the clean, notes on property maintenance items that need to be addressed before/after and so much more. Trello allows you to create as many lists as you want for each board but common ones found on our boards include:
- Immediate Property Maintenance Items
- Property Maintenance Items Near Term
- Upcoming Reservations
- Google Sheets – Not sure how we would survive without Google Sheets. They allow us to manage our cleanings with ease. We create a Google Sheet for each of our cleaners and then provide them with read access to it. We update our Google Sheets regularly with new cleans as reservations come in. The Google Sheet lists the day of clean as well as the next guest checkin and sometimes other details/comments. The cleaner can pull up their Google Sheet 24×7 to see what we’ve added and it ensures we’re always on the same page.
2. Use A Digital Guidebook To Reduce Guest Questions
Digital guidebooks have been a godsend for us with multiple vacation rentals. We rarely get contacted by guests asking how to do something, restaurant recommendations, how to checkin, etc. because it’s all at their fingertips in the guide. With a digital guidebook for your vacation rental, you can give them access to it prior to their arrival. We’ve found that guests are much more likely to review and retain the guidebook information when they’re preparing for their trip vs after they’ve arrived. Once they arrive, they are consumed with the vacation and making every minute of their trip productive. They don’t want to waste time reviewing your digital guide at that point.
Digital guidebooks allow us to update the information, add a new topic, add a new restaurant/attraction, and manage every detail of it without ever stepping foot on the property. Prior to using digital guidebooks, we had to make a pit stop at each vacation rental to add or change information. This would take hours of our time. Not anymore, 10 minute update from my couch on my computer.
Finally, services like GoGuidebook allow you to sync topics between multiple guides. All of our vacation rentals are in the same town. Therefore, they all generally have the same local recommendations, same checkout instructions, same emergency numbers, etc.. With GoGuidebook, I can sync the topics that will be the same across all of my vacation rental guidebooks. When it comes time to add a new attraction or restaurant to our guidebook, I make the change in one place and it’s instantly added to all of my properties.
The digital guidebook, without a doubt, saves me at least 5-10 hours per week between reducing questions and ease of updating. And it improves my guest experience with guests consistently mentioning the guidebook in their reviews.
3. Buy In Nearby Areas To Utilize The Same Contractors
Finding and maintaining good relationships with contractors and cleaners will make your life so much easier. You can’t put a dollar amount on the peace of mind you have from knowing the relationship you’ve built with your local A/C company will have them out at your property within a couple hours notice. Building those relationships takes time and once you’ve done that, why burden yourself with doing it again?
I realize that in some situations you may want to be in multiple markets but we love having all of our vacation rentals within a few miles of each other. It makes them so much easier to manage and we have great relationships with our contractors and cleaners. They know there will be more work coming from our properties as long as they maintain their side of the relationship.
4. Hire Cleaners For Each Vacation Rental Property
Organized and quality cleaners are the magical piece in the vacation rental business. Good vacation rental owners understand the important of cleaners and should give them the credit they deserve. We like hiring individuals (instead of companies) and have found that hiring an individual cleaner for each vacation rental property gives them ownership of that property while also giving us multiple backups should one become sick, go out of town, etc..
5. Use Smart-Home Technologies
Smart home technologies can drastically decrease your time onsite. Here are smart home components we like to use:
- Smart Locks – These are a no-brainer in the vacation rental industry. We enjoy the Schlage Encode locks that allow us to create individual key codes for each guest. We program these ahead of time and send over the code prior to guest arrival.
- Smart Thermostats – These are great for saving energy and giving you insight into the homes condition. We’ve had our A/C break before and knew it before the guests did based on an alert we received from the thermostat. We can also turn down the A/C prior to guests arriving so they walk into a more inviting temperature. For thermostats, we enjoy the Ecobee lineup of products.
- Smart Lighting – Smart lighting makes for a more inviting experience for your guests while also maintaining safety. We have exterior lights come on at specific times and off at specific times. Guests love the outdoor lighting and when it goes off, it helps us signify quiet time on the property to keep our neighbors happy. We enjoy products from Treatlife as well as the Lutron smart switches.