I regularly listen to podcasts by an amazing entrepreneur called Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income – a site that offers help and advice to anyone who does business online. Pat is a great inspiration to me – often if I’m struggling a bit to think of what to write about for the blog or a topic for the podcast and begin to wonder if anyone reads or listens, usually a half an hour with Pat in my ears is enough to push the motivation button again.
His latest podcast is about what he struggles with; I found it interesting because this is a highly successful person who seems to have it all together, and to hear that he has just the same challenges that most of us in the internet world do, was even more inspirational.
It had me thinking about my own struggles in the vacation rental business and how I overcame them – or not, as there are still some that I find difficult to get over. This episode explores five of the biggest fears I had when I started out renting my properties – and even with starting the agency, and I’m going to share why I no longer find them challenging. Well perhaps they are still uncomfortable, but not a struggle any more.
In this episode you’ll hear the five biggest issues I’ve struggled with and three things that helped me overcome each one – that's 15 great tips.
1. Getting Bookings
After spending a ton of money buying the first cottage, furnishing it, and setting it up for rental, I really sat back and watied for the bookings to flood in. After all, why wouldn’t everyone who looked at it want to come….and what would happen if they didn’t….how would I pay for it all.
After the first couple of weeks with no bookings I panicked and wondered if I’d make the biggest mistake ever. But then I did some more research, redid the listing, added more photos and really began to communicate with the people inquiring.
It’s so natural for new owners to be concerned about damage, particularly when they have emotional involvement with a property. The investor is less bothered – after all they are going to take a different approach to risk aversity than those who are offering the much-loved family vacation home for rental.
My fear at first was more about how to deal with it: should I take a damage deposit? When should I make a claim? How would I deal with a guest who claims they didn’t damage anything, and counters with an argument that there was something wrong with the property.
3. Dealing with things breaking down
When I started out we were still living in UK and had bought two cottages in Ontario. One of the biggest fears was what happens if something breaks down and I’m not there to deal with it? Let’s say the heating breaks down in winter, or the septic system backs up, or the refrigerator packs up in the height of the summer.
We had a neighbour who looked after the place but we didn’t really discuss how he’d handle emergencies – we just assumed they would be taken care of. After the first issue when a guest called us because the water pump stopped working, and our caretaker had gone away for a few days, we learned quickly to have a plan in place.
4. Difficult guests
I don’t handle conflict easily. I am an easygoing person that rarely gets upset about anything and will usually cave if someone is upset, angry or unreasonable. Basically, I just want to get out of Dodge and back to my happy place in the shortest possible time. In the early days I would struggle with guests who weren’t happy about something and offer anything to make them more comfortable. The trouble is that serial complainers do exist and if you don’t recognise them, they will easily take you for a ride and collect a refund.
Fortunately I worked that one out and learned the signs to watch out for. I share those with you plus another couple of ways of dealing with these folks.
This is still a struggle because like everyone, I don’t like getting a poor review, but I am now much better at handling them. Negative comments are always difficult to deal with particularly when you feel they are unjustified and it is tough to respond without emotion and without getting defensive but that is what has to happen. And, they can be turned to your advantage!
What do you struggle with? Have you overcome a fear you originally had with renting that you can share? We would love to hear how you got there.
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