3 Steps to Choosing the Right Property Manager for your Vacation Rental

Running a successful vacation rental business takes a lot of work, time, and dedication. Often though, people initially get into vacation rental (VR) management as a side-hustle, only for it to quickly become a full-time job, especially if you’re managing several properties. 

You need to be available to answer the questions or concerns of tenants and keep track of all the details involved in running a rental property. That can range from making sure that the property is clean and well maintained to staying on top of rent payments and handling any issues that might arise with the tenants. Depending on the scope of your business, you might also be handling marketing and promotion for your properties. 

With all that said, you will likely need an extra pair of hands at some point, and usually, that means hiring a property manager.


Choosing the right property manager

When you’re looking into hiring a VR property manager, there are several things you need to consider. For example, are they going to be able to handle everything from cleaning and booking guests to dealing with maintenance requests? If not, will they be able to delegate tasks to other employees or outsource to contractors? How much experience do they have with managing rentals?

It can seem daunting if you don’t have some sort of process to filter through the many options.  So, in this article, we’ve outlined 3 basic steps and created a list to help you make your decision and find the right person for your business!  

Step 1. Create a detailed outline of your business needs 

Before you look into available options, you first need to have a solid understanding of your needs as a business. Start by asking yourself questions such as the below: 

  • How many properties do you want the VR manager to handle? Is that number likely to change soon?
  • Which parts of the day-to-day do you want to be managed? For example:
      • check-in & check-out
      • arrival transfers
      • management during stays
      • booking transfers
      • cleaning & restocking
      • damages & security deposits
      • insurance, taxes & invoices
      • communication with tenants
  • Does that include pre and post-booking communication?
  • Do you want them to take over general upkeep and maintenance?
  • What about the marketing and legal needs of your business? 
  • How much oversight do you want to retain?
  • What kind of flexibility do you want? 
inside a vacation rental with plenty of light coming through the windows we see a couple arriving with their luggage in hand as the property manager hands them the keys

Step 2. Is an individual or a company better suited to your needs? 

Having outlined your needs, you now have a much clearer picture of what you’re looking for. This could be shaping up to be someone with a lot of experience so that you don’t need to have much oversight, a team that is able to take over all aspects of your business, or perhaps it is someone to simply run the day-to-day while you oversee more long-term business aspects, such as marketing, taxes, and legal issues. 

So the next step is to see if you would be better off with an individual property manager or if a property management company is better equipped to support your needs. 

Hiring an individual property manager

Pros: It can be tempting to go with a single person who has been working in the industry for years, especially if they have experience in the area of your property. Local insight can be a great asset to the growth of your business, and having an individual instead of a company can help your business retain a more personal touch. Also, working with an individual can provide you with greater flexibility in how things are done as they are probably more open to adapting to your methods than a company would be.

Cons: An individual property manager might not be able to accommodate multiple properties, so it’s worth thinking about whether or not they’ll be able to scale up to meet your needs in the future. They also might offer a smaller range of services than a company.

Hiring a property management company

Pros: There are plenty of companies that specialise in helping people like you manage their vacation rentals. These managers usually offer packages including everything from bookings and customer service to marketing and legal. 

Cons: With a company managing your property, it can be harder to establish a rapport with your tenants or guests. People often associate their positive experience with the hospitality of the property owner or caretaker, but with a company, it’s unlikely that it will be the same person. Companies also tend to have stricter procedures, meaning that you might have less control or flexibility than you would with an individual.

Step 3: Create a shortlist & filter through

After deciding whether you want to work with an individual or a company, start doing research on available options and putting together a shortlist. 

As several things still need to be taken into account, we’ve created a sectioned list to help you filter through potential managers. Carefully evaluating each option that makes it to your shortlist will get you one step closer to finding the right property manager for your business. 

  • Experience
    – How many other properties do they manage?
    – How many years of experience do they have?
    – Do they have experience managing properties in the same area?
    – What is their success rate like? How can they demonstrate it to you?
    (e.g. a portfolio or case studies)
  • Resources & added value
    Will they be able to upgrade your property?
    – How can they help your business grow?
    – What kind of resources do they have at their disposal?
    – What added value can they offer you?
  • Local insight
    – Do they have an eye on the local rental market?
    – Are they insightful regarding seasonality, competing rates & trends?
  • Services offered
    – Do the services they offer meet your business needs?
    – Are there additional services you want that they do not offer?
    – If so, what is their solution?
    – What availability can they offer you?
    – How often can you expect an update on the property’s condition?
  • Communication Approach
    – Do they have clear and effective communication skills?
    – What is their guest service approach like?
    – How do they handle cancellations or complaints?
    – Is their overall attitude aligned with your values and brand?
    – Are they a good fit for your target audience?
  • Fees, contracts & insurance matters
    – What is included in their fee, and what is not?
    – Do they have their own insurance, liability, and compensation?
    – To what extent do these extend to your property and business?
    – What is their policy like when it comes to changing the services required?
  • References
    – Ask to see references from their other clients
    – Check out their online reviews
  • For companies only:
    – What types of properties do they have in their portfolio?
    – Is your property going to have a dedicated manager/team?
    – If so, will you have a say in who that is?
    – How many people do they employ?

Lastly, remember that you have a unique awareness and understanding of your business, so make sure you also pay attention to your gut feeling when you make your choice.

Running a successful VR business is a lot of work, and hiring a property manager can make a huge difference. Although finding the right one for your business is no simple task, by following the steps outlined here and filtering through your shortlist, you can make the right decision for your VR business. And don’t forget to listen to your gut – no one knows your business as well as you do!

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