Many Holiday Property Managers who have built their businesses over many years have a book of clients that they have taken care of for a long time. This can often be without any formal documentation that agrees exactly what is and is not included in the fees. The danger with Holiday Property Management is that it can end up being a “catch all” for everything and anything that can happen or can go wrong at a property and for the guests that stay there.
When anything goes wrong, the first point of contact is nearly always to the Holiday Property Manager, no matter how unrelated the problem can be to the property. This is great as this is what we are here for. However, what happens when a quick call for some ideas or guidance turns into you picking up an admin nightmare that requires spending many hours on the phone and liaising with various parties and countless visits to the Town Hall or local police? No doubt you can deal with all of this as you more than likely speak the local language, have the contacts and relationships in place and know the way things work to navigate around the systems and red tape as necessary.
However, what happens with your time that is spent on things like this? Is this accounted for? Are all services like this included in your agreements and fees with your clients?
Anyone who works in the service industry is more inclined to want to fix things. To take away other people’s problems and make everything work again. So over the years, your remit and what clients start to believe is included in their monthly fees grows and grows, without the appropriate adjustment in your fees. This can sometimes mean that you get busier and busier, working longer and longer hours, but without being able to break through and have enough income to employ enough people to keep your head above water.
Or your ability to provide the contracted services to all of your clients to the appropriate standard is put under pressure, which can have a pretty drastic effect on your reputation.
No one likes to refer to contracts and what is and is not included, but the nature of the business that we are in and the nature of the people who work in it, can mean that the boundaries move and more often than not, this is not in your favour. Having happy clients is important, but being able to provide all of your services at a rate that is fair to everyone and maintaining standards should be the priority.
A pitfall that can happen if you do decide to charge for your extra time, is that your clients that have become used to having a 5 star service for economy prices, complain so much that it is simply not worth the effort of battling to justify the charge. However, is this fair on your clients who do pay larger monthly fees to include more services, or to those who do understand that additional work requires more time, effort, skills, experience and overheads and therefore accept and understand the additional charges?
Transparency is key and getting things clear and understood from day one makes things a lot easier. So how do you tackle this? Firstly, if you haven´t reviewed your contract or service agreement in a while, take some time to have a look at this and see how clear the services that you provide are explained along with what is included in the fee agreement and what is not, but can be provided at an additional fee.
Start including these service agreements or contracts as part of your standard quoting process for all new clients. People like to know where they stand and appreciate the opportunity to know what it is they are paying for and what is available to them in terms of additional services for additional fees.
Once this is in place, start talking with your existing customers about what you do for them now, in relation to what the original agreement included. Show how much the scope of your services has changed with examples and discuss getting the contract and agreement on a more balanced footing again. There may be some clients who resist, but if you show a calculation of how much their fees work out for you as an hourly rate, losing some clients that actually cost you to keep them, may be a tough decision worth taking.
There is always give and take in all of this. And sometimes you have to consider the additional value that a client brings to you in other ways such as a pipeline for new clients and activities.
There is never really a quiet time for Holiday Property Managers. We just have different things to do during different seasons. Admin and contracts are often put to the bottom of the pile as there is always a supplier, client, problem or issue to deal with and when you are doing all of the extra services without charging for them, this cycle is not easily broken.
If you are a Propierge customer, we can help give some guidance and working examples to help you with this, as this is just one example of the value added services that come with being one of our customers.
If you’d like to find out more about how Propierge is not just another Rental Management System and to see what additional help and support we can provide across both Operational and Holiday Rental Property Management, please do get in touch.