Questions to ask a rental property manager
Hiring a vacation-rental management company is like any other prospective hire: You have to make sure in advance that it’s a good fit. That starts with a live interview in which you ask the vendor enough questions to thoroughly assess how prepared he or she is to help you grow your business in your particular locale and market. Here are 10 questions that you would be wise to include.
1. How long have you been managing properties in the area?
This is one is essential. You need confidence that the company you are considering has a track record and has successfully managed rentals in your locale in the past. The last thing you want is to be a company’s first-ever client. This is a business partnership, and you need professionals who have firsthand knowledge and experience in successfully doing business in your market.
2. How many properties are you currently managing,and what is your capacity?
This one is crucial, too. You’re asking for proof that the company actually is successful at drumming up business—and, ideally, repeat business. Many properties in its portfolio means that the company has a wide base of clients, which means that property owners far and wide know it and trust it. Near-full capacity at those properties means that the company is doing a great job of securing reservations year-round. Few properties under its belt and too many vacancies those properties, on the other hand, are red flags that signal to you to keep looking.
3. How well do you know the trends and cyclical nature of the area’s rental market?
Spending many years in the business doesn’t necessarily make someone an expert. Grill your prospective hire on particulars, such as what the high and low seasons for tourism in this locale are, and what types of property are most in demand. You’ll need to determine if the business owner has been keeping up-to-date on the latest developments in the market and is knowledgeable enough to help your business gain traction among customer bases of today, and not those of 15 years ago.
4. What are the fees associated with your service? Is there a setup fee?
You’ll need to know in advance if you can even afford the company’s services. Those fees can run as high as 50% of every booking. You’ll also want to know what additional fees are involved. There may be a setup fee, for instance, and there will likely be a small bank-transaction fee for every time a customer books with a credit card.
5. What are your contract commitments and cancellation policies?
The vacation-rental management company may fail to meet your expectations. In that case, you ideally should be able to terminate the contract and hire another one. Scan that contract carefully to make sure that you can. If the fine print says that it’s a year-long contract, you might not have that option. Your hands may be tied for a full year.
6. What services do you offer for basic management?
Different companies offer different packages of services. Most include basic services like booking guests, administrative support, cleaning, and emergency maintenance. Some include lawn care, property marketing, and leading prospective guests on personal pre-stay walkthroughs of the site. Others include live guest service that meets guests in person at any time during their stay to resolve any problems. You’ll need to clarify, before you buy, what the prospective company is offering and whether it is in your budget.
7. What additional services are available?
Even companies that provide cleaning may charge you extra if the work involves “deep cleaning,” e.g., cleaning carpets, chandeliers, and other items that require extra attention. There may also be extra fees whenever a guest books with a credit card, as mentioned above; or when an employee has to address a problem on-site outside of regular business hours. Find out ahead of time if these or any other service charges will enter into the equation, and how they will affect your budget outlook if they do.
8. How will you market my property?
You obviously want to pitch your property to as many potential customers as possible, so make sure that your prospective vacation-rental management company has a marketing strategy for doing so. The company had better intend to post ads for you on a number of high-traffic websites, not only on its own website. Bonus points if the company knows how to utilize search-engine marketing and optimizing your ads to appear at the top of search-engine results. Also ask the company what it does to follow up with guests after their stays in order to get their feedback, ask them if they would like to re-book next year, and encourage them to post five-star reviews on Yelp and other sites that other potential future guests might see.
9. How do you handle bookings?
You want to make it as easy as possible for guests to book reservations at your property. While the company’s human agents will probably not be available at all hours to make arrangements, they should be reachable beyond the standard workday hours of 9-5, Monday through Friday. And the online reservations portal (which many guests prefer to use anyhow) should absolutely be an option and be accessible at all times. You might ask the company if its agents keep some weekend and weekday evening hours, and if they accept credit cards. Also confirm that guests can book online. And have the company walk you through how they would go about making an online booking; you’ll want to confirm that it’s simple and user-friendly.
10. What safeguards do you have against double-bookings?
Airlines are notorious for double-booking passengers. Unfortunately, double-booking happens in the vacation-rental world, as well, and it never goes over well. Your vacation rental-property management company can spare you this trouble if it makes a point of never overbooking guests, and if it uses a good central reservation system and booking software program to properly track all the reservations that it has. Make sure that the company has all of these precautions in place.
Now a question for you.
The short answer is no.
With PMBO you have all the tools you need to manage your vacation rental like a professional for a fraction of the cost. Don’t give up your profits to a management company or your time trying to juggle multiple properties, housekeepers, and maintenance contractors.
Get started with a free trial and find the difference PMBO can make in your free time and profits.