Archives October 2019

4 tips to help you hold onto good cleaners

I recently had a bit of a blow up with one of my cleaners. She was chronically late and unreliable, so when I finally made the hard decision to stop working with her, she did not take it well at all. Lots of ugly and unprofessional name-calling ensued, leaving me rattled but also more confident than ever that I’d made the right choice.

But something about this experience really got me thinking. When I started working with her she wasn’t like this at all. She was friendly and professional, and always got the work done in a timely manner. What had changed to sour our relationship so drastically?

She would say I didn’t appreciate her. I would say she had gotten complacent and overcommitted. Perhaps the best answer lies somewhere in the middle.

So how do you help your cleaners avoid getting to that place of overcommitment and burnout?

Here are 4 tips to help you keep a long-term, healthy relationship with your short-term rental cleaner.

  1. Set clear expectations. Have a checklist (preferably with photos of how you want certain things to look, if you’re picky). Walk her through the checklist to make sure she understands. If you see her slipping on quality, say something. Don’t let her believe that she can get away with a half-done job.
  2. Speak kindly and be understanding of her situation. Your cleaner probably has a family and other clients to juggle. She may be trying to get to your cleanings without reliable transportation or some other similar challenge. So don’t assume that her world revolves around you. Speak to her kindly and respectfully, with plenty of “pleases” and “thank yous.” Give her as much notice as possible for the cleanings you’ll need. And be understanding if she goofs up once or twice – she is, after all, human just like you are.
  3. Express your gratefulness often. If your cleaner is doing a good job – tell her! Bring it up if you’re communicating about work. Text her out of the blue just to say you appreciate her work. Give her a bonus at the end of the year, or even mid-year if she’s done a really bang-up job. It’s worth it to invest in a good relationship with a cleaner who will be with you for a long time.
  4. Pay her fairly. Don’t jump on the cheapest cleaner you can find. In fact, when I find a cleaner who’s good at what she does AND cheap, I insist she raises her rates with me. Cheap cleaners are forced to overcommit themselves to pay their bills, which will eventually lead to poor work and cleaner burnout. Plus, insisting on paying more than what the cleaner is asking will go a long way towards making them feel like a valued and important member of your team (which they are).

What other suggestions do you have to help you hold onto those amazing cleaners? Let me know in the comments!

7 tips to help you deal with unauthorized smoking in your Short-Term Rental

One of the most common problems you’ll deal with as a host of short-term rentals is smoking. If you’ve been hosting for any amount of time, I’m certain you’ve dealt with some version of this problem before. And if you’re brand new, I can promise you it’s coming.

Of course, there are plenty of variations on this problem.

What if you live in the home and have allergies? What if guests are smoking weed and it’s illegal in your state? Maybe they’re vaping and don’t consider that smoking? How do you successfully collect a smoking fine? How do you avoid a retaliatory review if you’ve tried to collect a smoking fine?

I could go on, but I think you get my point.

And while no one could ever fully address every potential problem that could arise because of guests smoking on the property, I’ve learned enough in my years as a host that I can probably address most of them.

Here are 7 tips to follow to avoid fighting with smoking guests (or the resolution center after they check out).

  1. Make sure your house rules are CRYSTAL CLEAR. If you don’t allow smoking inside, or vaping, or smoking of any kind, make sure all of that is explicitly spelled out in your house rules. Also make sure to specify what the smoking / vaping fee is, if any. This is the only way you’ll have a chance at Airbnb backing you up in the resolution center if a problem happens.
  2. Make lots of scary warnings – even if they can’t be enforced. The reality is that most requests for smoking fees won’t be approved if there isn’t other damage. However, the guests don’t usually know that! In my listings I say several times that smoking of any kind will incur a $300 penalty and immediate eviction from the property. I’ve never actually kicked anyone out for smoking, and only rarely ever even try to get paid the smoking fee…but don’t tell my guests that! The threat of those consequences tends to keep most people in line.
  3. Get cameras. Smoking is notoriously difficult to prove, because if all that’s left is a smell you can’t send that through the internet as proof. If you can get video of your guests smoking your case will be so much easier to prove. (**NOTE** If you install cameras, make sure to disclose them on your listing!)
  4. Take pictures. Along the same lines as the camera, make sure your cleaners are instructed to take pictures of any ash residue or smoking-related damage they see so that you can include that in your claim.
  5. Get a smoke remediation quote in advance. Smoke remediation quotes by licensed companies can be EXTREMELY helpful in collecting smoking fines. However, they take time to get and often the clock is ticking when you’re trying to collect a resolution claim, so I always recommend getting one in advance to have on hand.
  6. Invest in an ozone machine. Ozone machines are great for getting out that nasty smoke smell in a hurry. The only thing is that they can’t be run when people are around, so make sure you have enough time to clean the place AND run the machine before the next guest checks in!
  7. Choose between the fine and the review. Many people ask me how they can collect their $200 smoking penalty, AND avoid getting a retaliatory review after the guest checks out. I say, for the most part, the answer is you can’t. You need to decide whether it’s more important to you to go after the money, or try to keep your ratings high. It’s very unlikely that you’ll get both.

Over the last few years, as I’ve implemented all of these changes, I’ve seen the number of guests smoking on premises where they shouldn’t be steadily going down. Now what used to be a major, almost weekly headache is simply a minor occasional annoyance. It’s made a world of difference!

What are some tips you have? Share them with me in the comments!