I recently had a cohosting situation that put into stark reality the importance of making expectations crystal clear. Let me explain what happened and a few important lessons I learned from it…
I got a call from the cleaner on a Saturday morning, right after a guest had checked out. She said that the garbage disposal was broken and was backing up into the sink and smelling up the whole kitchen. Of course, we had a guest checking in later that afternoon (isn’t that always when problems happen?)
I have been hired by my clients to take care of problems as often as possible.
So I made a judgement call and took care of it. I found a plumber who could do an emergency replacement that very day. He went, got it fixed, and the next guest checked in without being any bit the wiser. The total cost, including the cost of the new garbage disposal, was about $300.
Later, I told my property manager, saying something like this: “hey, we had an emergency this weekend. I took care of it and filed a claim, but just in case the claim gets denied, it’ll cost about $300. FYI.” (but of course, I said it a bit more tactfully than that)
She was not pleased.
From her perspective, nothing matters more than the bottom line, and she was understandably upset that I had made a decision which could potentially cost her $300. But from my perspective, the top priority is our guests’ satisfaction, and if it costs a little bit of money to achieve that goal, it’s worth spending. Plus, in this case, it wasn’t really something that could have waited…you’ve got to have a working sink if you’re going to advertise a kitchen!
This brought up an important conflict of interest that I think is always going to eventually rear its head in a cohosting situation.
As a property manager, your priorities are going to be different from the homeowners’.
So you need to make crystal clear when you start working with them what the expectations are.
How much money do they need to make every month?
How much in the way of maintenance do they want you to handle without consulting them?
How much money are you authorized to spend in a month without getting their permission?
I know it’s awkward to talk about some of these things. But you’ve got to be upfront from the get-go. If not, you’re just going to get yourself in trouble and frustrate your homeowner. You won’t be able to keep your clients very long if you’re not clear on what their needs and expectations are.
But the flip side is also true. You need to be very clear with your clients about what your expectations are.
In my case, I had to be very upfront with the homeowner: I won’t manage a place that’s not kept up. If it’s at all in my power, I’m not going to let a guest stay in a place that doesn’t have a working sink (or toilet, stove, fridge, whatever). Those are my standards of hosting; if they do not want to comply with those standards then it is better that we don’t work together.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being flippant. I know that being this upfront and direct is incredibly hard for some people. But the fact of the matter is, it’s a requirement for being a cohost. If you can’t do that, then you probably shouldn’t be in this business.