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How To Be A Successful Short-Term-Rental Property Manager in 2022

Today’s post is a guest feature from Thanks For Visiting, our newest affiliate partner! Hosts Sarah Karakaian and Annette Grant met at a Columbus, Ohio, City Council meeting, where they were both fighting for their right to host homes on Airbnb. Soon after, they launched what would become their wildly popular podcast, bringing their hard-won knowledge, and great sense of humor, to hosts everywhere. This post is for hosts who may be considering hiring a property manager, and for potential property managers who want to know what’s involved in the job.

What does a short-term-rental property manager do?

Your short-term rental property manager is your “boots on the ground” person. This person will be communicating with guests and dealing with day-to-day tasks such as stocking supplies, scheduling maintenance, and resolving any problems that arise. This person should know your property in and out, be a clear communicator, and be ready to tackle anything.

What does a typical day in the life of a short-term-rental property manager look like?

Mornings start with logging into the company email account and checking out the property management software and replying to any unread messages or inquiries. The next task is looking at the schedule and seeing what guests are checking out and in for the day. Depending on the size of your property portfolio, you may have just one check-in or maybe 20+! 

Now it’s time to do what you need to do to make sure the properties are guest-ready. Check-in with your turnover team and inspection team to make sure they have everything they need for the day. 

If you have guests checking out that morning, you’ll want to go to the property and make sure there aren’t any damages or surprises when you walk in the door. While it doesn’t happen often, it’s impossible to avoid all the bad apples. If there are any problems or damages, depending on your company policy, you can alert the guest to the damages and discuss with them how this will affect their security deposit or you can take care of the damages with your in-house damage waiver program. You’ll also want to be sure to give them an accurate review. 

As a short-term-rental property manager, what daily challenges can I expect?

If any issues arise throughout the day, be ready to problem-solve. Houses and condos that are used for STRs are still houses and condos at the end of the day. Sometimes there are leaks, or something breaks and needs replaced. The goal is to resolve these problems during turnovers, so the guest doesn’t even notice. It’s also your job to communicate any major repairs or issues to the owners. You are caring for their property, so, in most cases, any repairs over $400 will need to be approved.

For the STRs we manage, we do a final inspection before the guest arrives. That means we make sure everything is staged perfectly: making sure no hairs or lint were left on the beds, and double-checking supplies. And, most importantly, we do a safety check and make sure all smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and CO detectors are working as they should. 

Throughout the day, you and/or your team are fielding any and all questions, comments and concerns from existing guests, future guests, and past guests. Being a short-term-rental property manager is a 24/7 gig, so you may have inquiries, booking requests, and other questions throughout the day and into the evening.

How can STR property managers avoid common issues, or tackle them if they do come up?

1. Shop for supplies on a schedule.

If you find yourself at the local grocery store picking up paper towels one trip, and toilet paper the next, only to realize the a couple days later that you need more light bulbs, you’re spending WAY too much time shopping for supplies. Even online ordering eats up your time if you’re doing it enough. That’s why we recommend shopping quarterly. Every couple of months, go through EVERYTHING, i.e. conduct an audit—lightbulbs, batteries, coffee, soap, paper products, cleaning products, etc. Then buy in bulk and get enough to last you the whole quarter. Yes, sometimes a trip to the store here and there is inevitable, but buying in bulk will not only save you time but MONEY!!

2. Streamline and automate guest messaging.

A lot of the tasks that STR property managers do are repetitive. Whether it’s answering the same questions or sending check-in and check-out instructions, just communicating with guests can feel like a full-time job. You can quickly get stuck in these repeating tasks instead of growing your business. One solution is strategically automating the messages you send to guests, like check-in and check-out instructions. You can also store “canned responses.” So if another guest asks you about your pet fees, you select your canned response instead of typing it all out again. This will save you time AND ensure you don’t forget to send any critical information. 

Digital guidebooks are also a great time-saving tool. There are many companies out there that offer guidebooks you can tailor to your rental. This guidebook will be your guests’ one-stop shop for all the info they need, including, parking, accessing the home, WiFi, best local spots, and anything they need to know during their stay. Trust us, they will thank you later!

3. Don’t try to do everything yourself.

Property management is a tough job, and one where you’re wearing an insane number of hats. But there’s no way you are an expert in all of those duties, and that being constantly overwhelmed can leave you feeling burnt out. Don’t be afraid to hire help in those areas where you’re struggling! Maybe revenue management makes you want to pull your hair out. Hire a revenue manager. Are you clueless when it comes to marketing? Hire someone to help! Maybe you’re great at marketing and less excited about guest communications? Hire a virtual assistant!

Remember asking for help is not a sign of failure. It’s a sign of GROWTH!

4. Use dynamic pricing.

Rental prices change depending on the season, different events happening in your area, your location. Unforeseen events like a global pandemic can also change a few things.

Navigating your nightly and monthly rates can be challenging because you always have to look ahead, but you can’t guarantee how the future will look. We suggest using a dynamic pricing tool to help you figure out optimal pricing for your property. 

You can set your minimum, base, and max price, and it will take care of the rest!

Our top tips for short-term-rental property managers:

  • Take the safety of your guests and the home incredibly seriously. Have a general understanding of International Building Codes. It is up to you to be preventative when it comes to safety issues.
  • Hire a professional turnover service that is dedicated to your rentals. A clean STR should be a priority, so leave it to the professionals!
  • Stay guest-focused! Remember, you’re operating a hospitality business. Always be thinking about what your guests will need and how to make their stay great. This will be reflected in reviews and overall help your small business grow!
  • FORM A COMPANY! Forming a company can have some serious advantages. Limited liability corporations can not only offer you protection from lawsuits but also provide some serious tax advantages. Consult your lawyer to see what’s best for your unique situation.
  • Get a mentor and continue to educate yourself! Especially if you are just starting out or looking for a way to level up your small business, find someone who knows more than you. Ask them questions and watch how they work. The world of property management is constantly changing, so you want to make sure you’re keeping up. You can never learn too much!

What to look for when hiring an Airbnb property manager:

Hiring a property manager for your short-term rental(s) is a big decision. But what qualifications or skills should you focus on when the person doing the job has to wear so many hats? Their day-to-day responsibilities may be different depending on the size of your portfolio and if you have any other team members. Overall, the most important thing is to look for someone you feel you can trust, an excellent communicator, and someone who isn’t afraid to jump in and problem solve! For more information on this, check out Thanks for Visiting podcast episodes #126 and #127!

We can help!

Have we left you wanting to learn more? Well, we have plenty of knowledge and experience to go around. Check out our podcast Thanks For Visiting, where we have over 160 episodes covering ALL THINGS STR management. And visit us on our website for even more resources, knowledge and upcoming events!