Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
I think developing assets is an important step. Also promoting from within (if the person has the right mojo) is also easier than bringing someone in fresh. I had decided that I needed to step away from sales but I also knew that they needed a framework to operate within. I'm a process guy so I'd already developed a prospect database, pitch pack and a sleek brochure. It was just a case then of taking them through each of those and getting them comfortable with the delivery. Same for pricing - we already had a pricing database and a method of review, it was just a case of articulating that. I'd also recommend getting down on paper (to a procedural level) what it is that you want to outsource - you'll be surprised how much you actually do when you break it down step by step. I was lucky in that one of my customer service staff stepped up and said that they'd love to do the sales job. Inadvertently now that I've stepped out of sales the new owners don't know me and therefore I don't get weighed down by owner escalations.

There is a certain degree of discomfort when stepping away from work that you are used to doing - a feeling of guilt that no-one can do it better than you and that you are letting your business down somehow. You have to hold your breath and push through this. I felt this discomfort when I gave over my properties to my team to manage for the first time. I did it again when I gave up sales. Then again when I gave up pricing. I will feel it again when I give up the next thing...I don't know what that is yet, but I know that each time I give up the next piece of work I'm one more step higher up the mountain!
So well put! @Jed take note of @Craig here -- a perfect example of the 'accelerator mindset'
 

DOhlgren

Property manager in Victoria BC.
Inner Circle
I ran my vacation rental company for just over 8 years then not only burnt out but had a heart attack to match. Sold out to a guest that was moving to Victoria BC and then went to do just the bookings for two years. Got totally dissatisfied with how things were going so left in January 2020 and started over from scratch, hopefully with everything that I have learnt over the past ten years.

Now happy to say after my first year I am again just over 20 properties under management and staff went from 7 down to just three and we are thriving, happy and best of all healthy. I love the interaction with both my owners and my guests, they seem to become great friends quite readily.

Thank you to the VRMB community for helping to re-kindle my enthusiasm for this wonderful business we have. By following and using lots of ideas I have picked up here, my load is much lighter, more modern and not a "drag" but rather a pleasure to get up in the morning and see who I can help today.
 

BSexworth

Envoy
Inner Circle
I have been watching this thread all week. I'm so burned out it is not even funny. Then tomorrow I'll be ok. Then the day after that, I'll be so done with this again.

Part of my issue is that I feel as though I am everybody's punching bag. Rather than excited to be traveling again, we've had a ton of guests this February and March that are super-critical and demanding. Last year at this time I was in a foreign country, unable to come home, and every morning I had to wake up to more cancellations and either outright refunds from Airbnb or demands for refunds from other guests. I spent the first 6 hours of every day responding to negative comments and threats. Fast forward a year and I'm being berated because a cleaner finished late, or because I can't do an early check-in even though they asked for it months in advance or because the "something" is not working (blender, dishwasher, AC), or because a smoke detector "went off" - you get the picture.

I didn't want to come on here and vomit, but something has got to give. There's no bringing someone up from the ranks because we're a small two-person company. I also don't know how to offload parts of the responsibility to anyone else, because who is going to have the same responsiveness if it is just a part-time hourly gig for them? And everyone is busy. In our St Pete area, it's a 10 day advance notice to get an electrician out. We pay pretty prices for our plumbers because they can usually get there in a day or two, and they have (some) emergency service. Need a service call for an appliance? 10-11 days also, though one made an exception for me last week because I'm a good customer. And on the other side of it, are the guests and their reactions to something going wrong. Instead of understanding that there is always a "first time" that something stops working, apparently I should have known anyway that the blender was about to go out, that the dryer drum in a one month-old new dryer was going to stop turning, or that the string was going to come off the ceiling fan and they'd be unable to turn off the fan.

I'm not really sure what I'm looking for here. Commiseration? Samples of pithy guest responses? Appliance failure prediction sensors? Speed pills for the cleaners so they can get a 4-5 hour job done in 2 in case a guest actually shows up early?

I need an attitude adjustment!
 

StacyW

Counselor
Inner Circle
Accelerator
I finally put my big panties on!! LOL, but for years we operated in a very scared state. My mom who runs accounting was running the business from her side which is never good. My husband and I are recently taking it over and for the first time I made scary decisions. In the midst of a pandemic where every dollar counts, I decided to kick some people to the curb, home owners that is. I feel a homeowner can make you burn out so fast if they are horrible. It was an awesome experience and it was very giddy after kicking them to the curb. I am making more money and have less headaches. I already have a few more with 2 strikes that I have given my staff permission to fire if they are rude to them. Life is too short to deal with aholes!!! Now renters can also kill ya, about mid way through summer my managers and I are done, we have no sympathy for anything at that point. We have to work hard to care about the person who rented a house because it had a foosball table and its broke and that was the whole reason for their stay and their whole trip is ruined. Uhm walk outside we live in one of the most beautiful areas!! When I go on vacation I go above and beyond to thank staff as I know they hardly get recognized for all they are doing. I love the enneagram test and I am a 7 so I am horrible at details and have 20 ideas a day, so doing the same thing over and over is hard for me. I have been in this family business one way or another for over 30 years. I have left 2 times, and now am stuck(long story) so making sure that once we implement a new idea I step away quickly as my lack of details will kill a project fast. Get to know yourself and what you are good at and make sure you don't micromanage the rest! Hang in there, we need to all have a conference with some margaritas SOOOOON!!!
 

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
Part of my issue is that I feel as though I am everybody's punching bag. Rather than excited to be traveling again, we've had a ton of guests this February and March that are super-critical and demanding. Fast forward a year and I'm being berated because a cleaner finished late, or because I can't do an early check-in even though they asked for it months in advance or because the "something" is not working (blender, dishwasher, AC), or because a smoke detector "went off" - you get the picture.

I didn't want to come on here and vomit, but something has got to give...

I need an attitude adjustment!

You sound an awful lot like my Property Manager in the Orlando area!

Many PMs have simply quit the business over the past year, as the property owners have discovered that due to sky-high real estate prices, and exchange rates that work in their favor, that they can sell and get out with a profit. So the number of available properties is going down... which is a big win for those of us left behind!

But she says that the business is also changing; that guest's expectations are ridiculous, their demands impossible to meet, and that they show up with a magnifying glass looking for anything and everything they can possibly complain about so they can angle for a big refund. She texts me in such an excited state when she actually meets an appreciative, nice guest! It's kind of sad really...

I'm really surprised by the grief you are experiencing over finding trades who can respond fast enough in the St. Pete's area. (Love the Dali, by the way!) One of the things that I have found to be a great workaround is to join Nextdoor.com People on that site are always sharing details of handymen and trades that they have used and really liked. One of the best things about it is the workers are often located right in the neighbourhood where the people providing recommendations are from, so it's somebody from just a few blocks away, meaning they can often (and will) come on short notice.

It is also a great way to have your ear to the ground about what is going on in the area of your vacation rental if you're not local to it. It was a good way to keep tabs on the ubiquitous 'covid parties' that kept cropping up in the VR areas around Disney World last year, and to get info about the sheriff's responses, etc.

It can also be a place of positive advocacy for vacation rentals and responsible ownership. I have gone on there and assisted local residents by explaining why and how they consistently end up with bad guests in certain homes driving them crazy, and what to do about it. And raised my hand and explained that not all owners are irresponsible jerks who don't care about the neighborhood, in response to derogatory comments that will inevitably pop up.
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
I have been watching this thread all week. I'm so burned out it is not even funny. Then tomorrow I'll be ok. Then the day after that, I'll be so done with this again.

Part of my issue is that I feel as though I am everybody's punching bag. Rather than excited to be traveling again, we've had a ton of guests this February and March that are super-critical and demanding. Last year at this time I was in a foreign country, unable to come home, and every morning I had to wake up to more cancellations and either outright refunds from Airbnb or demands for refunds from other guests. I spent the first 6 hours of every day responding to negative comments and threats. Fast forward a year and I'm being berated because a cleaner finished late, or because I can't do an early check-in even though they asked for it months in advance or because the "something" is not working (blender, dishwasher, AC), or because a smoke detector "went off" - you get the picture.

I didn't want to come on here and vomit, but something has got to give. There's no bringing someone up from the ranks because we're a small two-person company. I also don't know how to offload parts of the responsibility to anyone else, because who is going to have the same responsiveness if it is just a part-time hourly gig for them? And everyone is busy. In our St Pete area, it's a 10 day advance notice to get an electrician out. We pay pretty prices for our plumbers because they can usually get there in a day or two, and they have (some) emergency service. Need a service call for an appliance? 10-11 days also, though one made an exception for me last week because I'm a good customer. And on the other side of it, are the guests and their reactions to something going wrong. Instead of understanding that there is always a "first time" that something stops working, apparently I should have known anyway that the blender was about to go out, that the dryer drum in a one month-old new dryer was going to stop turning, or that the string was going to come off the ceiling fan and they'd be unable to turn off the fan.

I'm not really sure what I'm looking for here. Commiseration? Samples of pithy guest responses? Appliance failure prediction sensors? Speed pills for the cleaners so they can get a 4-5 hour job done in 2 in case a guest actually shows up early?

I need an attitude adjustment!
@BSexworth really sorry to hear about this. In fact, in the various emails I receive weekly from owners and managers around the world, this has not been something that I've heard yet.

My default "marketing textbook" instinct is to ask whether these people are the same guests you had pre-covid who are now overly demanding (or if it's a new demographic of people) -- the latter certainly representing a different problem. Like literally, is the same repeat guest now being demanding or is it a new generation of first-time guests who simply don't have the right expectations?
 

Oliver_Minnestay

Attaché
Vintory
Wow, this thread really got people going! I am part way into my third year working for a 4+ yr. old management company, and we are definitely still in startup mode. We dream of days when we can afford to hire more staff. The first step is cementing the perfect core team. We all wear several hats. I ran housekeeping for 20 months and now oversee the entire owner pipeline - from BD to current owner relations. I'm loyal because I love enough of my job, the growth potential in our market (Minneapolis) and business is serious, and hope that some day I can wear less hats while taking on more responsibility (we all know this doesn't mean being less busy). Minnestay's owner would eventually like to be absentee, so we can presume we're working toward a self-sustaining model with serious growth and high efficiency, but Matt, your discussion of burnout really got me thinking: What is the goal of most startups? Is it to grow into one of the "giants"? Or to get to a size where the financials really work, as @Filipa mentioned above, and then focus on excellence and quality of life?

Too often we don't define what our larger goals are concerning growth and sustainability. We all know that once your portfolio exceeds a certain range, you're embracing a highly capitalistic "cookie cutter" model, and relations and administration becomes less personal and more (coldly) systematic. Growth and systemization are critical up to a point, but beyond it... Death is a natural part of life, so I don't view closing a business as failure.

I'm curious about owners who have put everything into their business, deserving all the money they could get from a sale, and how they might weigh a sale against the notion that the buyer is probably Vacasa (in what high % of instances)? If giant companies are "sustainable" but also "too big to fail", and they are constantly trying to absorb competition, what does that say about our economy and work culture?

Preventing burnout and increasing sustainability are critical aims if the industry isn't to become only a series of VRM monoliths. Getting pretty meta so I'll stop here, thanks for the thoughtful inspo!
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Preventing burnout and increasing sustainability are critical aims if the industry isn't to become only a series of VRM monoliths
Could not have said this any better myself. This season of our Unlocked podcast is themed "Magic Zones" aka. the sweet spots in which we achieve 'enough' and create enjoyable lives (as opposed to endlessly chasing 'more.') The root of all this is defining "what is your enough?"

For me, people like @Mark or @DMartinez or @LindaLou or @LynnG or @Sibylle are quintessential "vacation rental success" stories.
 

Lin

Lin
Inner Circle
I have been watching this thread all week. I'm so burned out it is not even funny. Then tomorrow I'll be ok. Then the day after that, I'll be so done with this again.

Part of my issue is that I feel as though I am everybody's punching bag. Rather than excited to be traveling again, we've had a ton of guests this February and March that are super-critical and demanding. Last year at this time I was in a foreign country, unable to come home, and every morning I had to wake up to more cancellations and either outright refunds from Airbnb or demands for refunds from other guests. I spent the first 6 hours of every day responding to negative comments and threats. Fast forward a year and I'm being berated because a cleaner finished late, or because I can't do an early check-in even though they asked for it months in advance or because the "something" is not working (blender, dishwasher, AC), or because a smoke detector "went off" - you get the picture.

I didn't want to come on here and vomit, but something has got to give. There's no bringing someone up from the ranks because we're a small two-person company. I also don't know how to offload parts of the responsibility to anyone else, because who is going to have the same responsiveness if it is just a part-time hourly gig for them? And everyone is busy. In our St Pete area, it's a 10 day advance notice to get an electrician out. We pay pretty prices for our plumbers because they can usually get there in a day or two, and they have (some) emergency service. Need a service call for an appliance? 10-11 days also, though one made an exception for me last week because I'm a good customer. And on the other side of it, are the guests and their reactions to something going wrong. Instead of understanding that there is always a "first time" that something stops working, apparently I should have known anyway that the blender was about to go out, that the dryer drum in a one month-old new dryer was going to stop turning, or that the string was going to come off the ceiling fan and they'd be unable to turn off the fan.

I'm not really sure what I'm looking for here. Commiseration? Samples of pithy guest responses? Appliance failure prediction sensors? Speed pills for the cleaners so they can get a 4-5 hour job done in 2 in case a guest actually shows up early?

I need an attitude adjustment!
We have also experienced an onslaught of demanding and nit-picky guests (Orlando by Convention Center). My first thought was that maybe we've let things slide during a dead year but no, these guests have a definite attitude issue. My competitors are all going thru the same thing. Even our super efficient and smiley resort manager has been yelled at by out of control guests several times in the last few weeks.
It must be covid-fatigue syndrome. Perhaps dreaming about a vacation for 10 months creates an unattainable vision of perfection and not being able to check in 3 hours early (because a back2back clean is underway) triggers an avalanche of disappointments - no matter how perfect the VR. I hope it is a short-lived phenomenon.
 

AlexC

Counselor
Inner Circle
The problem with my thinking on this is that my solution might cause burnout as much as the problem itself as it exists now does in the short term, but I think it’s the only solution that also delivers on the things I value and want to build a business on vs. trying to build a company that just wants to grow and make you lots of money with as little work in the company as possible from myself.

Anyone who has read a post of mine knows they go forever, and I am trying to get better there, so I will try to keep this very simple and say that burnout comes from no longer wanting to achieve the below goals or no longer being able to achieve the below goals because a business is not set up to do so, but you still have a profitable company that you put lots of work into.



The goals for just the basic property management part of this industry are simply to compete, win and innovate. However, they are broken into the two constituencies of Owners and Guests.



Guests

  • Compete – get in front of potential guests who are considering multiple properties and show them your property value proposition
  • Win – be the highest priced, but still best option for your guests on a place to stay for whatever reason they are visiting for if they considered all the other homes in your area of similar size and type
  • Innovate – Problem solve on the things that prevent you from doing 1 or 2


Owners


  • Compete – get in front of the owners you want to manage properties for that need management
  • Win – Be the most sustainably profitable option for owners in your market
  • Innovate – Problem solve on the things that prevent you from doing 1 or 2


The problem with these goals is that they are extremely difficult to actually achieve, and in some cases, impossible if a business isn’t structured to do these things. The good thing about them is that if you are serious about going after those goals, you will constantly be doing number 3 for both constituencies. Don’t overlook that the fundamental concept behind these goals is centered around being competitive against other hosts/managers, and if you are passionate about winning (as I think most here are), you can get tired, or need a vacation or have the feeling of burnout for a little bit, but you’ll never be burnt out because you are in a fight against a whole lot of other people who want to make some money off the same people you are trying to make money off of and that competition is something entrepreneurs live for I think.

With that said, these two constituencies conflict in such complex ways for your business that actually building systems and frameworks that are capable of achieving these goals can be exhausting and after a while, I can see how they would lead to burnout if it became clear you can’t achieve them (so not having achieved these goals yet, I’m still at risk of burnout), but even though its 2 steps forward one step back sometimes, I’m moving forward towards them, so I think I’ll be able to pull through to a stage where owner profitability, which is directly tied to my company profitability, and earning the profitable demand from guests no longer are at such odds as they are early on. Once at that point, man, the ways a business in this space can grow and impact communities are endless….maybe my company is too young for me to not be so idealistic, but that’s the stuff that keeps me from burnout!
 

JOest

Jenny Oest
Inner Circle
I'm a one-man show, and I've been riding the burnout roller coast for several years. And yes, it's roller coaster with the highs from fabulous guests and fabulous reviews and referrals, to the lows where a guest tries to extort money and when you don't respond, paints the walls with human feces.

Burn out comes when you just can't walk away for a moment to regather yourself.

Several years ago in San Antonio when we had an inner circle roundtable, I mentioned that I needed a back-up so that I could go on vacation or even take a sick day. Toward that end I've eating that cookie one bite at a time. I've worked and continue to work to outsource individual elements of my business to "experts".

I have a reservation system that allows me to automate a lot of previously manual/paper processes.

I use Zapier to automate some of the gaps.

I have a revenue management company helping me for a small monthly fee with dynamic pricing using all the latest tools and techniques (NOT set it and forget it).

I have a new onsite cleaning company that is excellent, as well as an onsite maintenance manager. They are part of my "staff" yet I only pay them for cleans and maintenance as needed so that I don't have to fund their entire income.

I'm working to automate all of my financial Trust Accounting which is a final step.

When all of this is automated, my role will be more of an "overseer" - perhaps just where it needs to be to either

a) enjoy the experience and reap the benefits, and take a vacation for once, or
b) sell the business and retire.

I'm still a one man show, and my business has been growing, but I'm feeling less of the burnout. Unfortunately, I still need that vacation.

Jenny
 
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