Thursday, October 11, 2007

Details, Details, Details; Winning with a Vacation Rental by Owner

Today I wanted to go over what very successful owners are doing to stay successful!

I work with owners form all over the country with vacation rentals in many different areas. The underlying trait that the successful owners have is they pay attention to the details.

One of the most successful owners I know are Jay and Betty Coppic in Destin Florida. I have known Jay and Betty for about 5 years. They called me when they had one unit in Destin and were not very happy with the management company. I shared with them what I was doing to run this business on my own and they soon gave notice and left the management company. They have some rentals in one of my communities in Destin and they did so well with it they started to buy more. They now own 3 in the same complex.

They too love Destin like we do. They love it so much, they moved there and now live in a community near their rentals. So they now have a great advantage in this business. They can enter the units on a weekly basis and check on everything and keep the units in great condition.

The main reason I want to bring them up is the level of detail they put into this business is second to none! When I work with an owner that is not having success, I can see a trend of not putting in the time it takes to make this business work.

The old style of, "This is my second home, if you want to rent it, do what I say." Is out the door. As I always preach, this is a business. And if you are not running it like a business, you will suffer the economic consequences.

So now I see a direct relationship between owners like Jay and Betty, that take the time that is needed to run a great business and are VERY successful and owners that pay very little attention to it and they are not doing very well. So let me go into some detail so you can see what owners like Jay and Betty are doing to stay fully occupied and cash flowing their properties.

The devil is in the details! Jay takes great photos and uses them to "sell" his units. We could not agree more. Take as many pictures as possible. Use the Picasa Slide shows. Do what ever you can to show off your property. This takes time and the owners that take the time to do this are the ones seeing the benefits.

Advertise properly. You can not just throw up and ad on VRBO and complain that you are not 100% booked. The ad must be written correctly. Give details about everything. The bedrooms, the living rooms, inside, outside. You can not put too much detail on the web portals. The guest want to read all about a property, once they have interest.

Communicate with your guest. First owner that gets back to them, gets the business. Use this mentality and do not count on just emailing the guest and getting the bookings. CALL THEM ASAP!

Have all your policies in place and stick to them. Do not let the inmates run the asylum! You must know your policies and state them clearly on your sites and follow them. If you change your check in and check out time for every guest that ask, you will go crazy! Stick to your minimum day booking requirement. You need to run a successful business, you will also have to learn to say NO. NO, I do not allow pets. NO, I can not take a 2 day booking. NO, I do not rent to students under 25. NO is OK.

Follow up and stay in touch with your guest. This is rarely done. Getting someone to come back to your property is much better that trying to find a new prospect. They know you and your unit. They have been there. They are an easy sale. If you are not contacting them on a regular basis, they will forget who you are and end up booking with someone else next year.

Take the time to re-think your business. Take a few days or evenings and update all your sites. When is the last time you changed your copy on the web portals you advertise on? Keep it fresh.
Yes, this does take time, but if you start paying attention and run your properties like a business, the way Jay and Betty do in Destin, you too can be fully booked and cash flowing your units. Try it! You have no place to go but UP!

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