I have had to step away from blogging for a few weeks to manage my own STR, prepare for taxes for my container home business, and work with several real estate projects. What I felt like sharing today is that I am having to learn by trial and error to really launch my STR business, which has struggled by not being sufficiently involved. It seems every time that I try to do something with this property it goes sideways including hiring "professionals." A real stressor in my life. I was able to find a quality coach that is helping me for free for now, to determine if he is willing to coach me, or not, based on the actions that I take, aka coachability.
I think it's pretty cool that my coach has enough respect for himself and his time to not just take any client. He reviewed my listing and read my reviews, which was sufficient for at least giving me a trial shot. I learned so much in our one hour session so I will be sharing these tidbits and the results as they occur. For now I want to just share about finding management/co-hosting/ marketing. I'd like to share some tips for STRs to those of you who own, manage, co-host, or are just thinking about it.
What's the difference between managing, co-hosting, SEO, and marketing (in the world of STR)? I learned today that due to state laws, many managers and co-hosts use the terms interchangeably due to state laws, workarounds. (Texas does not regulate STRs at all but some cities do.) The services are very varied so when seeking help, you must ask some specific questions based on your needs and it is good to know your state laws.
The basics. Listing set-up, managing the listing position, understanding and utilizing pricing, guest interactions and communications, managing the actual property, and managing the funds.
Questions You Should Ask:
1) How knowledgeable are you about ALL the STR platforms and which ones do you recommend?
2) What is your pricing and marketing strategy and can you demonstrate proven results?
3) What is included and how much do you charge?
4) Do you require up front money and contracts?
5) How many properties do you own yourself and can I see your status?
1) They need to know AirBnB, VRBO, & Furnished Finders (at a minimum). They need to know the platform trends. For example, recently AirBnB integrated Google so it has meddled with the old search algorithms so the macro SEO is irrelevant now. What is relevant is micro SEO, meaning, the searchability of the listing within AirBnB because it is literally impossible now to create any change on Google with Google's algorithm is complex and deeply seeded. They are also going to start penalizing based on cleaning fees. Meaning, they will advertise the fees up front but will move you down the list if you are higher than average.
2) They need to tell you specifically what they will do to boost your account. If they just give you generic examples they are wasting your time and money. I say money because you are losing money for every day not booked. What's good for the goose may not be good for the gander so a generic answer isn't the right one. Pricing is not Marketing. It is one of 4 elements of marketing. If they don't address all 4 they are not going to get you the results that you want. As a former coach used to say, "It's not about the price. It's about the value."
3) Rates can vary by size of team, services provided, and results. Personally, I am finding 15% to be reasonable. There are many who want 30% and there are some as low as 7%, Just like anything else, the cheaper it is, the more properties they have to manage, and more likely not making yours a priority. Read the google and bbb reviews. Price and performance are not necessarily cause and effect, but likely just a correlation. Everyone has different needs so their pricing is for their operating costs and financial goals, not necessarily are they better.
4) I don't care what kind of bs rolls out of their mouths, do not sign a contract and do not pay up front. Most want something up front but honestly, the best ones will be open to proving themselves to you. Like Kevin. I am pretty sure I will get immediate bookings when I relist, even in today's not so great market, but he didn't ask for one penny. I asked him. That's when he said, "Let's wait and see what you do. I don't really want to work with people unless they are going to be a good partner. I am a boutique Co-Host so at the most I am willing to manage is 50. Today I have 16. (BTW all 16 are Super Hosts!)
5) I tend to prefer people who also own so they know what we are going through too. It tells me that they know the impact of each decision made. I have spoken to several that own one or more properties and they are always much more knowledgeable and helpful.
Two months ago I barely knew how to upload a photo. Today I know 5 platforms, the pros and cons of each, and how to maximize results for my listing. Listen to the experts. Do what they say. Do it consistently.
I hope this helps you or your clients!
(PS - I took my listing down today and will be re-launching by next week and I fired my previous management company to do it myself with a coach.)
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