So you’ve figured out that cleaning Airbnbs can be quite lucrative – yes, it is! Or it can be anyway. The following is a little sage advice from someone who has learned the hard way, that cleaning rentals takes a bit more of a business approach than you may initially think.
Several years ago I started cleaning vacation rentals in a Colorado ski town, in addition to the other 25 jobs I had at the time. I may be embellishing a bit with the 25 jobs, the actual number is closer to 5. I was also Airbnbing out part of the condo I was living in for my landlord, so I’ve had the unique experience of being on both sides. Let it just suffice to say that holding 5 jobs in addition to running an Airbnb was quite challenging! To say I had to be incredibly organized, was an understatement. Fortunately, what I learned during that time, helped me immensely later on.
GET TO KNOW WHO YOUR CLIENTS ARE AND WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO THEM
This is probably the single biggest piece of advice I have for people starting out in this business. After a few snags and miscommunications with clients, I get pretty insistent about meeting people first so we can do a walkthrough together. Sometimes this just isn’t possible. If you have homeowners who live in a different city, they likely aren’t going to be able to meet with you. But if it’s possible to meet with them – do.
Let me tell you why this is important. Airbnb cleans are generally going to fall into one of two categories.The fast turnovers, which are usually the easiest. You have owners who do high volume and they are primarily concerned with getting the unit turned over quickly. These people are pretty easy to communicate with, i.e., easy to work with, as long as you are dependable and do a good job. The second is the Type A perfectionist, and can be quite tricky to work with. This is one of the main reasons I suggest you meet with people before either party decides to move forward.
I have learned a lot about how important it is to be on the same page with your potential clients before you start. It alleviates a lot of problems later. If I had followed my gut on that one, I could have saved myself a horrible experience. Lesson learned.
PRICING YOUR CLEANS
This is another reason that walkthroughs are valuable for both parties. Not only is it beneficial for you to see what is involved in a clean, it can help you determine how to price it out. The first thing you need to consider when you bid on projects, is whether you want to charge a flat rate, or you want to bill hourly. I’ve done both, but my preference is the latter, just keep in mind that you may work with someone that wants to bill with a flat rate. Flat rates are fine, but I think hourly is more fair for both sides.
Flat rates can work well with easier cleans where you can pretty much drill down the amount of time it’s going to take to knock it out, but if you have larger more complicated cleans, I would at least insist on starting with an hourly until you can assess how long the clean is going to take. Most people are on board with this, again, communicating expectations in the beginning is key. I have found it beneficial to go through my own checklist of things to talk about with potential clients. This of course varies depending on whether or not they actually live in the unit. For example, I had a client who lived in another city, and he would ask me to keep things stocked in the condo like laundry soap, paper towels, etc.
Laundry is always the thing that takes the longest, do they have extra bedding and towels? Can laundry be done in the unit, if not, will it cost money to use machines? If so, where are they? These are all things to factor into your pricing. I would use $25 an hour as my baseline, but I’ve had cleans that were much easier and faster with no laundry, so take those things into consideration when working with someone.The more bedrooms and bathrooms, the longer it will take. Once you get a few cleans under your belt, you should have a pretty good idea of how long it will take you. Take a peek at what others are charging and try to be competitive, but don’t sell yourself short either. Keep in mind that whatever they are paying you is coming out of their bottom line too.
BUILDING TRUST WITH YOUR CLIENTS
Once you get the client, your work isn’t done yet, maintaining their trust is another story. I have been pretty fortunate and my experiences have been mostly positive. Keep in mind that in the Airbnb world, hosts and guests leave feedback for each other. You are part of that equation. The cleanliness of the unit is often something that is commented on in feedback. You don’t want anything negative mentioned. Just try to never be on the receiving end of negative feedback about cleanliness. That’s not a good thing! Remember, this is your business. Even if the host is never going to see the unit after you clean it, treat it like they will.
The message here: ALWAYS do 100%. Always. I find it good practice to take pictures, even if you don’t need to, it’s a good idea. There is a place on Turnover Airbnb for this, I highly suggest you use it, thats what its there for. The site also has a place for a checklist, another little perk to take advantage of. Encourage the homeowner to upload a checklist if they haven’t done so already. If they have, make sure that you add anything that you discussed that they may have missed.
In summary, the one thing I can’t emphasize enough is communication. Most of my clients are really nice people who are easy to work with. Foster those relationships and you will be well on your way to having a lucrative cleaning business!
About the Author: Lisa is a professional Airbnb Cleaner located in Denver, Colorado. To view Lisa’s profile or to book Lisa for your next short term rental cleaning, visit her profile or find an Airbnb cleaner in your area.