Whether you’re just taking off into the Airbnb space or you have been at it for a while now, there are a few things to know that saves headaches and uncertainty along the path. Luckily if you’ve landed here you are well on your way to gaining the experience that comes from some of these hard earned lessons.
Here are some things NO ONE will tell you about starting and growing an Airbnb business
You will become a handyman.
There just isn’t any way around it. “Sure” you may think, “I’ll have to change a lightbulb here and there, the odd task or two, nothing major”. Wrong. Of course, you will have to do that – but you will have to do much more. Imagine your own home and all the little things you have to do weekly, monthly and then add in all the surprises that inevitably pop up. It can get overwhelming if you are not mentally prepared for it.
Cleaning gutters after a heavy storm is one example. Installing smoke detectors when the batteries die is another (Solution? I recommend buying the kind with the 10-year battery to avoid this). It doesn’t end there. Do you have televisions in your listing? You will need to become familiar with how to troubleshoot the televisions if they abruptly stop working. A broken hinge on a fence in the side entrance of a property? Well that can turn into an all day event; complete with power drill, skill saw & tape measure- and you still might end up with a gate that doesn’t quite shut correctly.
The list goes on and on.
The only way to prepare for it is to be ready to put your shoes on at any time, day or night and go take care of any problem that arises – or at least have someone on call who can.
Expect The Unexpected.
The properties I manage are located in the mid-west and storm seasons here can be quite active. I was contacted by a guest in the middle of the night who complained about the power going out on the property. This commonly happens during severe storms and the first thing to do is have the guest check the breaker box. Unsuccessful with the breaker I had to over there.
Upon arrival I was stunned to see the cause of the problem. A GIANT tree branch had fallen in the backyard during the storm and knocked out not only the power line running to the house but also landed on some wooden patio chairs that had to be replaced.
The next day I had to called in a professional arborists to haul off the debris and called in the internet service provider to re-install the wires into the house. All in all the storm set me back quite a bit, and it is an example of how often even the things you EXPECT to happen can go differently than you imagine – so stay flexible.
As you scale, You WILL need to outsource.
Many of us began using Airbnb as hosts the same way – either by renting out a room in our own home or by starting with a small property and scaling up from there. While it is possible to run an Airbnb business as a “one person show” – it is much easier and (in the higher levels of hosting) much more common to find more than one host working together.
This can be as small as a husband / wife team or a couple of family members helping out. The key here is to play on everyone’s strengths. Do you have a family member (a father, uncle, cousin, etc) who is good with their hands and a quick problem solver? GREAT, offer them money to come and fix things – this can turn into quite the lucrative relationship for both of you.
Have more than one property? What about hiring a neighbor kid to take out the trash cans and bring them back in once a week? Know someone who is available almost 24/7 with a cell phone in hand and excellent communication and problem solving skills? Think about the people you know and always be open to outsourcing.
Assign them the role of filtering through and responding to guest complaints and issues so you don’t have to waste your time on easily solvable problems – you only have to worry about the big decisions. These are the kinds of solutions to problems that outsourcing can greatly help you with and it’s a never ending game. So as you (hopefully) grow your business – make sure you build your team wisely.
Guests will complain – even if you’re doing a good job.
Imagine you’re in charge of hosting for a multi-million dollar, newly restored 3-story mansion overlooking the city skyline -with over 100 years of history and absolutely breathtaking amenities. This property brings you in several thousand dollars a month (easily) and along with having a raving 5-star review history. It NEVER fails to impress.
Now imagine you receive a complaint one day from a guest you were particularly trying to make a good impression on – about a single black hair in the shower drain.
How would you react?
This actually happened to me. If you’re like most people starting out in this business, you would respond apologetically. You would speak with the cleaning service about paying more attention to this to avoid this issue in the future, and most likely do whatever was within your power to show the guest staying in your listing that you care and want to make it right.
All of that is correct – but it is not complete. In addition to solving the problem, you also need to KNOW that mistakes not only happen but actually make your business better. You need things to go wrong in order to learn how to grow as a business. In short – problems (especially easily solvable non-serious guest relation issues) are a blessing in disguise.
If your business isn’t growing and every problem that arises (ESPECIALLY the problems guests bring to your attention) are an indicator of possible opportunities for growth. It will happen a lot. Don’t let this discourage you at all – just remember that every problem a guest has is an opportunity to impress them with your solution. If you can’t solve their problem – impress them with how hard you try to solve their problem, and watch your 5 star reviews accumulate.
About the Author: Corey is an experienced Airbnb co-host from Kansas City, Mo. To visit his profile click here!