This is the time of year when vacation rental and investment property owners start taking a hard look at the revenues for the past 12 months and the quality of customer service that they and their guests received. With so many different property management firms and rental agencies to choose from in most markets, there is no need to suffer from lackluster performance on the part of your service provider.
Here are some thoughts to ponder when deciding whether to stay with your existing property management company or make a move to a better, more professional organization.
First and most important, are the owners of the company available when you need to talk to them or do you get sloughed off to an inexperienced trainee when it's an important issue that you need help with? Does the firm have a lot of turnover or can you count on the same professionals to help you year after year? Do you get a level of customer service that gives you a warm feeling or is there something lacking and you deserve better? Is your property bringing in the revenues you expected and is the firm continually improving its marketing program?
If you don't have complete confidence in the company that is marketing your property for vacation rentals or long term leases, then maybe it's time to make a change.
When you are comparing the services and fees of property management firms it's a bit like comparing apples and oranges. How do you accurately evaluate the sum total of all the various fees and expenses so you can estimate your annual net revenue? Are there hidden charges and monthly administrative fees that reduce your income? What is a fair commission rate to charge and what are the competitors in your market charging?
In Incline Village, the community where I work and live, the range of property management services and fee structures runs the gamut from bare bones to deluxe. If you are perplexed and confounded by these issues, then you are not alone. It seems that many property management firms (especially in the vacation rental business) try to nickel and dime their clients to death with excessive charges for cleaning, maintenance, credit card fees, administrative charges, processing fees, the list goes on and on.
Some firms charge a monthly administrative fee on top of the commission that they earn for managing a property. One can make an argument in favor of charging monthly administrative fees for short term vacation rental properties as they require more hands on attention to paper work with guests always coming and going. But charging this type of fee to the owner of a long-term rental property when all the paper work is done up front when the lease is signed is merely a form of gouging and should not be tolerated.
Processing fees for vacation rental properties are another bone of contention. Why should an owner or an owner-guest pay a processing fee? Companies that engage in this practice are trying to squeeze every penny possible out of the people who are really their clients. If you, your extended family or your guests have ever been charged a processing fee for making a reservation to occupy your own property, then you should seriously consider finding a firm that has more respect for you as a client.
Cleaning fees are another area that merits scrutiny. As a property owner you should not be forced to pay a cleaning fee every time you use your place, especially if there are no paying guests coming to the unit between your personal visits. Also, you should not be required to pay exorbitant sums for the annual "spring cleaning" that many firms insist on doing. If your property is supposed to be cleaned thoroughly after each paying guest, then why does it take several hours and cost hundreds of dollars just to clean a 2 or 3 bedroom condo in the spring time? Are the cleaning services padding their bills? Should you as a property owner and client of the firm have excessive fees extracted from you just because someone at the management firm claims that it took X number of hours to do the work in a unit that should have been reasonably clean to begin with? If you're skeptical about the charges for "spring cleaning", then it's best to either do the work yourself or hire a reputable independent cleaning service. The place will look just as good and you will save substantial amounts of money each year.
It is not always easy to find the right combination of great customer service, reasonable commission rates and high-quality care for rental properties. You can expect to find 2 of the 3, but finding all three things is very difficult. Since many firms in this business tend to experience high levels of staff turnover, finding a firm with a well-trained and stable pool of employees should be your first priority. Even if you have to pay a slightly higher commission rate, you will more than make up for it with increased bookings, better service and fewer problems.
If you own any type of rental property, then On-line booking capability is another big issue, especially when you realize that searching on the Internet is rapidly becoming the research method of choice for both vacation rentals and long term rentals. Any firm that does not offer this service is way behind the times and should not even be considered.
The Internet is a great tool for both marketing all types of rental properties and managing the vacation rental business. Just having a web site with pictures and text is not sufficient in these competitive times. If you are working with a property manager who refuses to set up on-line booking by the time you are reading this article, then it's time to change services. Select a rental agent who cares enough about you as a client to market your property 24 hours a day on the Internet.
Remember, when the rental office is closed, the only way that someone can book your unit is on-line via the Internet. If your property manager does not offer this service, you are losing business. Customers who search on-line normally want to book on-line and they will go somewhere else if they cannot book your property at the moment they are ready to make to a buying decision!
Don't settle for anything less than great customer service, a responsive, professional and well-trained staff and owners who are available and care about you and your property. Your rental property is a big investment and having the right management services can make a lot of difference in your annual rate of return and the long term value that you derive from the property.
Article Source: http://www.content.onlypunjab.com
Don Kanare is a real estate agent with Lakeshore Realty located in Incline Village, NV at the northeast corner of Lake Tahoe. Don writes a daily column about the new listings, price changes and general market commentary on Incline Village Real Estate. You can find Don's column on his web site at: www.InsideIncline.com