It is hard to believe another year has already come and gone! For many of us the start of the year is a good time to get organized at home. It is also a great time to make a list of all the things to do to get your Vacation Rental Ready!
If you are like me, and don't live in the same city as your rental, it is especially important to create a list of what needs to be done so that your rental business will run smoothly for another year. I usually try to make a trip to our property to take inventory and check on things before it gets busy. Here are some of the things that we routinely do at the beginning of every year to make sure our rental is in top shape for our guests to enjoy.
1. Routine Maintenance of AC, Heating & Appliances:
Have you ever had to take a call from a renter complaining about the AC or heater not working properly? It has happened to us once (no fun), and luckily I was able to get it serviced right away so that the guest was not inconvenienced. Many times a routine maintenance check up can diagnose any major issues before they become a problem. Better to pay for a routine check up than have to refund someone a night or two stay because something was not working. All air filters should be replaced and appliances should also be checked and cleaned. For the refrigerator it is a good idea to clean the coils yearly and replace the water filter every 6 months. Washing machines should be cleaned and hoses inspected, dryers should have the exhaust duct thoroughly cleaned yearly. This is also a good time to clean your grill and replace any old grill tools and cleaning brushes that may have worn out.
2. Linen Inventory & Replacement
Good quality clean sheets and towels are very important for a vacation rental business. I know I spent a lot of time finding just the right linens when I was setting up my Vacation Rental. However, this is also one of the things that gets worn out the fastest in a rental and should be refreshed frequently. It is a good idea to inspect all towels and linens yearly to see what needs replacing. Washcloths sometimes can become discolored from guests who use them to remove makeup. Providing makeup remover wipes for guests can extend the life of your washcloths and keep your sheets and towels free of stains. Make sure you are not just addressing the sheets but deep cleaning blankets and comforters frequently too. And don't forget about those kitchen towels and pot holders that can get really nasty looking fast!
3. Check Kitchen items
Besides linens, your kitchen equipment can also receive a lot of wear and tear. Many people book vacation rentals over hotels because they can save some money by cooking and not eating out every day. Unfortunately, they sometimes don't take as good a care of your things as you would. It seems like I have to replace my skillets often because they get scratched up quickly. Take inventory yearly and make sure you have a full set of everything from dishes to glasses and cutlery. Dishes and glassware chip and break easily, and before you know it, you don't have a full set of dishes or glasses anymore. I get frustrated with this, but my husband always tells me it's just a cost of doing business!
4. Stock up on Guest Bathroom Amenities
It truly is the little things that make guests happy, and providing bathroom amenities is a great way to make a good first impression. We all know that many times guests do not have a chance to get to the grocery store and stock up right when they check in. It is thoughtful to provide a guest toiletry kit that includes a bar soap, hotel shampoo and lotion for each bathroom to get them started. That way if their flight does not get in until late at night, they can freshen up and start enjoying their vacation. We provide bath amenities from our own Lake Life Collection of hotel amenities. Check out our online store, Vacation Home Amenities, where you can buy affordable amenity kits in small quantities made just for Vacation Rentals.
5. Take stock of Cleaning Supplies & perform a deep cleaning
Most of us do this throughout the year, but it is always a good idea to make sure that you have sufficient supplies for the coming season and that everything is in good working order. Do you need to order new bags for the vacuum cleaner, does the mop need replacing? This is a good time to do a deep cleaning of items such as the windows, baseboards, ceiling fans & blinds. Hiring a company to shampoo carpets and clean grout is usually a minimal cost and does a lot to present a fresh clean home for your guests.
6. Change smoke detector, TV remote & Door lock batteries
A chirping smoke detector is not something you want to wake up to when you are on vacation. Imagine your renter, trying to figure out what to do in the middle of the night to fix it. Where is the ladder? Where are the batteries? The best thing you can do is be proactive and put fresh batteries in at the same time every year. That way you are not fielding a call from an angry renter. And while you are at it, replace all the remote control batteries for your TV's etc. so everything is in good working order. If you have a electronic door lock as so many rentals do these days, make sure to put a new battery in that too. That way you won't have any issues setting access codes etc.
7. Update your Guest Book
A guest book is a nice thing to provide to keep your guests informed of all the great things to do near your rental. After all, who knows your property and the area better than you do? We have been constantly adding to and updating our guest book since we started doing business in 2009. Aside from adding all your great new finds, you should also make sure to take out or delete anything that is no longer of valid. We have had a few of the restaurants we recommend change names or go out of business entirely. Make sure that what you are recommending stays relevant to the coming year by updating your book regularly.
8. Review your Rental Agreement & Liability waivers
Make sure to review any rental paperwork yearly to make sure you are using the most updated version. This should be a fairly simple thing to do. Our basic Rental Agreement has not changed much since we started but we always make sure to update all our agreement templates with the new year and any policy updates. Depending on what type of listing service you are using, there are also many subscription type services online where you can upload your agreement and/or waiver and get an electronic signature. We like Docusign & SignNow.
9. Update your Online Listing & Refresh pictures and content
If you are like me, you set up your listing online several years ago. It is so easy to just forget about it and let the business run itself. However, this is a huge mistake. We are in a business that is changing rapidly with many new properties being added all the time. Take the time at least once a year to refresh your listing with new content and updated pictures. Make sure to check out your area competition and evaluate if your pricing is in line with other comparable properties in your area. Update any pricing and contact information on your website.
10. Upgrade technology if needed
As much as technology is supposed to make our jobs easier, it is also sometimes hard to keep up with. If you operate your rental in a city other than where you live, some of the newer technology can make things easier for you. This may be the year to invest in one of the thermostats you can program online. I know that is something I want to implement for my property this year - that way I don't have to call my cleaning lady to turn the heat on every time it looks like it is going to freeze (which isn't often in Texas). We use Nexia for our door lock and they provide thermostat integration. Also, with WiFi being so crucial, you will want to have the most up to date equipment (if you provide WiFi) for your guests who may have to work during their vacation.
11. Evaluate listing sites
The Vacation Rental Industry has gone through some big changes the last few years, some good, some not so good. It is always a good idea to look and see which listing sites have been generating the most leads for your bookings. Maybe it is time to add a new listing site or sign up with a property management service.
So there you have it! Being a VR / AirBnB owner has certainly had it's challenges. The more prepared you are for the coming rental season, the better. Make a list so you can take inventory and take care of your business - it is the best thing you can do to make your property run smoothly! As VR owners ourselves, we are always looking for things we can do to improve. Is there anything you do to prepare your property for the rental season?
Read our new blog - Tips and tools for Managing your Vacation Rental remotely
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