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GeneralHow-To

Step 7: Setting Up Worry Free Cleaning And Maintenance

What are the most important contractors/services you will need on day one of your rental journey?  Cleaning service and maintenance service for your vacation rental.  These two services are your eyes and hands on the ground.  As your first guests arrive, you do not want to be running around trying to find these contractors. Therefore, it is key to start this search ahead of time.  But, what should you look for?  This post will take you through all the attributes to look for in your cleaning and maintenance contractors.

Intro

While you are working on the previous step, Step 6: The Process of Closing, it is important to get some essential services in place.  You will need to find both cleaning service and maintenance service during the closing process.   These services do not take a long time to get in place, but there can be considerable leg-work to find the right ones.

These are important to have in place for the closing because 1) you want to start making money, and 2) you will want to meet these folks in person and show them your property after the closing.  If you plan on renovating or coming to town after the closing, but before you have guests, you can put this off a little bit.  Ultimately, you want to show these people your place, discuss any special requests, and have them ready for your first guests. You may also need to purchase linens or have some repair/remodel work done before your guests arrive.

Cleaning Service

Cleaning is the most important service you have.  The cleaners will be the people doing your after-stay inspection.  They are also getting everything in top shape for the next guests. Therefore, you must be able to trust the cleaning company completely.

Organized

There are several key qualities that your cleaning company should have. First, they need to be extremely organized.  For instance, ratings will take a major hit if new guests walk into a dirty property.  I suggest that you find a cleaning company that confirms your cleaning schedule at the start of the week.  This way, you know they have all of your reservations.  I had to fire my last cleaning company because I had two guests over 8 months walk into a dirty condo.  It would be best to establish how you will communicate your schedule and changes to the cleaning company upfront.

Reliable

Second, you want to find a cleaning company that is reliable and can respond on quick notice.  You hated turning down bookings because your cleaning company cannot handle them.  It would be best if you are looking for a cleaning company that has several crews.  If it is just one person cleaning and taking a vacation, the substitute cleaner may not do a good job; or worse, they may not have a substitute cleaner.  Also, vacation rentals tend to be seasonal; you want a company that can surge while maintaining its quality.  I prefer a cleaning company that has an inspector to look over things after the cleaning is finished.  This allows one final look before my guests arrive.  Also, I have the inspector text me letting me know the condo is ready.  This way, I can accommodate early check-ins, and I know that the cleaning company actually performed the cleaning.

Provided linens

Third, it is preferable to find a cleaning company that provides their own high-quality linens.  The cleaning company that I fired required us to buy all of our own linens and towels.  My condo sleeps 6.  So, I had to buy 24 towels, hand towels, washcloths, and 2 sets of sheets, blankets, and comforters for all 4 beds.  I had well over $1000 in linens.  Every time someone damaged them, I had to send more down to the cleaning company.  At the end, when this company returned my linens, I had 7 different kinds mixed.  This means that my guest had various quality sheets and towels depending on whose they got.  So even if the cleaning company charges a small linen fee, it is worth it.  The initial $1000 would have bought me 66 months of a typical linen fee. First, though, it is important to inspect the quality of the linen provided by the cleaning company.

How to find a cleaning service

Looking on google is a great way to find a cleaning service.  It will help if you read the comments to find out details about the companies.  Facebook is another great place to find cleaning companies.  Most communities have an HOA, COA, or community Facebook page.   Nextdoor is another great place to post questions.   I would recommend interview several companies to find one that fits you.  I found some highly rated but rather snooty, highly rated others but did even have contracts and a couple of highly-rated individuals.

Questions to ask

Some questions to ask the cleaning service during the interview are:

  • How long have you been at this?
  • How are linens handled?  Do I have to provide them?  How do you keep my linens separated?  Is there a linens fee?
  • Do you have any referrals?
  • How many crews do you have?  How are busy seasons handled?
  • Can you provide a w-9?  All legit businesses can.
  • How much does a cleaning costs? How much is a deep cleaning?
  • How much notice do you need for new guests?
  • How do I communicate the schedule with you? For example, how do you let me know the unit is cleaned?

General maintenance service – your clogged toilet company

Your general maintenance company is your handyman on call.  This company is the jack of all trades and master of none.  You are looking for a 24/7 company that will come quickly if there is a problem.  Ideally, this company would be located near your property.  Also, your maintenance company should do a quarterly maintenance walk-through.  They should look for leaking sinks, broken appliances, checking the HVAC, and change the furnace filter.  For instance, garbage disposals tend to break often and need to be checked.  These people usually charge by the hour or a fixed price for scheduled maintenance.

The general maintenance companies are usually a single person.  I have not found that to be a problem.  Sometimes, scheduled maintenance needs to be moved due to schedule conflicts.  I have scheduled things like shower remodels, a door fix, and quarterly maintenance.  One suggestion is to find two great companies and alternate maintenance.  This way, they both get to know your property.  Also, this allows you to have two people to call in case one person is not home.  You can use the same methods as above to find a couple of companies to interview.  Here are some questions to ask when interviewing your maintenance person:

  • What are your operating hours?  Do you have a backup person for vacations?
  • How much do you charge? What is the quarterly maintenance fee?
  • What types of things do you?
  • Can you provide a w-9?  All legit businesses can.
  • Do you have any referrals?
  • How long have you been at it?

Other Services

If needed, you should make sure that utilities, cable, internet are ready to change over at the closing.  Here is a list of phone numbers to have in case of emergencies:

  • A local locksmith
  • Appliance repair
  • Door repairers –especially if you have specialty doors
  • Local HVAC specialist
  • Number of all your utility companies

Other considerations

It is necessary to collect a w-9 from any of your contractors, i.e., anyone you pay.  There is an exception for COA/HOA, but it is still good to get one from them.  At the end of the year, you need this form to issue everyone 1099 misc/1099-NEC.

Now, it is time to get ready for your first guests.  It is getting exciting.  Our next step, “Step 8: Getting Ready for Hosting“,  goes over those last-minute details and discusses various hosting services.

Remember, if this sounds overly complicated, Relaxing Condos offers coaching services to get you started with any of your vacation rental business needs.  If you found this useful, please share it on social media using the buttons below. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Newsletter, Special Hot Tips, and our cost estimating guide delivered to your inbox!

— Jake

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