If you don’t live near your holiday rental property, a good, reliable housekeeper is your lifeline. As well as cleaning once a week and between guest stays, this person will often be your right hand man (or woman) on the ground. Letting guests into your property on arrival, and reporting any problems (such as maintenance) to you, are among their other duties.
Many owners also pay their housekeeper to be on call, and respond to any problems your guests may report, that they can’t deal with over the phone.
Therefore it is very important to find someone you can trust with the keys to your property. You need to feel this person is reliable enough to carry out your wishes, and personable enough to deal with guests face to face. Because your housekeeper is so important to your holiday rentals business it is important that you invest some time in looking for the right person for the job.
Talk to the other owners in your area
If you own in an area with a lot of other holiday lets, you should already be networking with them. Newcomers to the holiday lettings industry often see other owners as their rivals and avoid talking to them. In fact other owners can be your most valuable resource because they can give you advice based on their experiences. Another owner may know that their housekeeper or friend’s housekeeper is looking to take on more work. Being in the same business as you, they will know what qualities you are looking for, so you will be able to trust any recommendations that they make. As long as you and the other owner stagger your arrival and departure days or times, there is no reason why you can’t use the same person’s services.
Introduce yourself to local housekeepers
Most holiday rental changeover days happen on Saturday or Sunday. If you visit your area at the weekend you’re almost guaranteed to see cleaning service staff or housekeepers hard at work in other holiday homes. Approach them, have a chat and ask if they’re interested in taking on new clients. Many of these workers will be employed by property management companies, but might want the extra hours you can bring in, or know a colleague looking for a side job. Top tip:
Often your housekeeper will have other clients. They might be doing one of their other jobs, or be busy with a social arrangement when an emergency happens. Or you might get that last minute booking you were hoping for, on a week when your housekeeper has arranged their holiday. It’s always a good idea to have a back up person you can call if you find yourself in a situation like this.
Have a look at the bulletin notice boards in the supermarket, or the windows of small local shops. Cleaners or cleaning services, handymen and maintenance people often leave their business cards there. Asking if you can post your own “help wanted"
sign with your contact details is also a good idea.
Use a cleaning service
If you are unable to visit your property regularly, researching housekeeping and maintenance services in your area is always a good idea. A cleaning service won’t provide the same level of personalised service as an individual but will probably be more flexible about when they can clean for you.
Be thorough when recruiting
When you are hiring an individual ask for references from previous employers. Call every referee they give you, to be sure they were happy with their work.
When you interview your housekeeper ask the right questions. See it as an opportunity to get your expectations and the conditions of employment across, and make sure you’re both happy. Here are some good questions to ask: Do
you work alone or employ any other staff? How
many holiday homes do you currently clean? When
are the arrival and departure days? What
cleaning products and equipment do you use? Are
you available for back to backs? Please note:
Back to backs mean when one rental party is leaving and another is arriving on the same day, so your cleaner would have to get the house prepared for your new party.
Have realistic expectations
Remember your house keeper isn’t a robot with special mop and broom attachments. You can’t set them to turbo speed and expect them to do a deep clean on a five bedroom house in an hour. Before you hire them, make sure they understand and agree to what is expected of them. It is important to be fair and reasonable. For example you should expect your housekeeper to arrive and be ready for work on time, report any problems they find with the property to you, and complete their agreed cleaning duties within the time you have allowed. For example a typical between rentals cleaning routine will include cleaning under the beds and sofas. Any large out of the ordinary jobs would be part of a biannual deep clean. Please note:
If your cleaner had to spend extra time cleaning because your guests left your place in a particularly bad state, then you have to pay them for the extra time they spent. The same also applies if your housekeeper has to respond to a guest’s problem, such as bring a spare set of keys around if they lock themselves out.
The Cleaning and Maintenance Checklist
has a complete plan of action for keeping up appearances in your holiday home. The download includes the Between-Rentals Cleaning Checklist
and Seasonal Maintenance Checklist
. It serves as a good indicator of what you should expect from your house keeper. Download Now
And most importantly …
A hardworking and reliable housekeeper is an invaluable asset to your holiday rental business. Because they are your eyes and ears on the ground, be sure to develop a strong working relationship with them. Make sure you treat them with the courtesy and respect they deserve, or they may take their services elsewhere.
Copyright HomeAway.co.uk, July 2010