This post is six of a six-part series. I am assuming that you already know you want to be an Airbnb host, that you have properly prepared both your physical Airbnb space and your Airbnb hosting abilities, that you know how to prepare for your first Airbnb guest, and that you have decided you truly want to hire an Airbnb property manager.
First, you must understand if you truly need an Airbnb property management company as discussed in the prior article. With the tools available, you can often reduce your time commitment considerably while increase your income and the guest experience. Seriously, if you haven’t read it, I lay out exactly how I remotely manage all my Airbnb listings, some I’ve never seen in person.
However, some people are not cut out to be an Airbnb host for any number of reasons. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I salute you for knowing yourself. But knowing yourself if just half the battle. Now, you need to find and choose a good Airbnb property management company.
Anyone can and do promote themselves as the best Airbnb property management company in town. It’s hard to understand truly what separates them from each other. This blog post will help you sift through the madness and find the right one. The right one never finds you because they have more than enough work to keep them busy.
A good Airbnb property management company will not find you. You need to find it. Click To Tweet
Choosing the wrong Airbnb property management company will cost you time and money. Choosing the right company will save you time and earn you more money.
Pros of Hiring a Good Airbnb Property Management Company
- More “you” time!
- Year-round impeccably clean home
- Professionals handling home maintenance, repairs, and upgrades
- Faster respond times to guests (increases conversion rate from inquiry to reservation)
- Round the clock on-call emergency contact
- Knowledge (how Airbnb works, handling insurance claims, recommendations for trusted smart locks, etc.)
- Connections (established and trialed cleaners, maintenance staff, etc.)
- Increased occupancy and nightly rate as they should be monitoring this regularly
Cons of Hiring a Bad Airbnb Property Management Company
- A time suck if you have to deal with cleaning, maintenance, or guest issues
- Lower occupancy and nightly rates
- A big problem if you want to take over management but your listing is on their account!
- Bad guest reviews
- No personal touch with guest
- Stolen or damaged items going unnoticed
Small Versus Large Airbnb Property Management Company
I recommend you seek out a smaller and local Airbnb property management company. This doesn’t mean they’re automatically your best bet, but I suggest you start here. Any one individual listing is more important to smaller companies while you might get less attention in larger companies.
In larger companies, they have a process and the listing either does well on it or not and it doesn’t make financial sense for the larger company to devote many resources to figuring out why a listing is struggling. I receive weekly inquiries from hosts who have hired an Airbnb property management company and are unhappy or know they can do better.
Consult Online Reviews
The company must have an online presence even if they’re small. Why? Maintenance of an online presence is essential for your Airbnb listing. Do they respond to Airbnb guest reviews? They should.
An online presence whether it be a website or page on an online review site gives you peace of mind and allows them to demonstrate to future hosts (ie you) that they have prior hosts who are very happy with them.
Many property management companies encourage hosts to leave reviews without earning them. If a review in unprompted, it’s likely very long as the host is passionate about the good job this company has done. Here is one review from a prior host for my Airbnb property management company:
If you were to contact this host, even if they no longer used my services, they would be more than willing to talk to you about the great job I did for them. Why? Because I made them a ton of money while taking very little of their time.
I encourage you to contact some of these reviewers. If they don’t respond or aren’t very forthcoming with telling you how great the company is, then it could be a fake review.
Similarly, don’t take all negative reviews at face value. Just as some guests leave unfair negative reviews on Airbnb listings, the Airbnb property management company could be the recipient of an unfair review from an unruly host. Luckily, the reviewer is more than happy to talk to you about their bad experience. Ask them a few questions to understand the cause of the negative review and judge for yourself if it was earned by the company or the host.
No need to ask the company for their reviews as they can use this as a point of influence of your decision by focusing your attention. Instead, just do a simple search on google or facebook. Or, you can check the following review platforms:
In addition to online reviews, consult their website. Is it maintained and professional or full of typo’s and hard to navigate? Just as this gives you a view into the quality of your Airbnb guest, it gives you a view into how this company operates.
After Airbnb fired me, I went to work for a local Airbnb property management company and one of the first things I did was rebuild their website which they still use today. This led to more credibility when we sold the hosts’ and brought us more organic business. If a company is not willing to do this, you have to wonder why not.
Maintain Control Of Your Online Presence
It’s your home and it should be on your profile for one simple reason: you don’t want to have to start all over if/when you decide to move on. It happens all too frequently that the Airbnb property management company encourages the host to allow them to list the property on their master account because it’s a “strong account” with many positive reviews and a Superhost. While this is a legitimate argument, you can get to just as strong a profile within three months.
Even if hiring an Airbnb property manager, always maintain control over your online presence. Click To Tweet
How To Locate (not choose) An Airbnb Property Manager
Worst case scenario first: It’s possible that there are no Airbnb property managers in your area. If this happens to be you, then you’re out of luck. Unless you want to start your own…
There’s really nothing you can do. I don’t recommend you hire a traditional property rental company for your vacation rental. In this case, consider my Elevate Host Airbnb optimization which will automate much of your work allowing you to manage your Airbnb for about an hour per week. If you don’t want to hire me or want to be self-sufficient, I lay out all the details for you to implement on your own in my prior article.
However, the vast majority of areas either have companies or individuals providing these services. You have a few options. You can probably find at least a few companies or people providing this service with a quick google search ‘Airbnb property management [your city]’.
Otherwise, try creating a posting in the Airbnb Community Center. This will not get you a property manager quickly, but the folks who respond are going to be very targeted. I posted about an Airbnb property manager in Dallas in 2016 and I still get replies on it.
You can also put feelers out on the myriad of Facebook groups for Airbnb hosts. Here is a list of the most popular ones. Before posting to the group, perform a search within the group by typing in the name of your city:
- AirBnb hosts (Remember, hosts, it’s Airbnb, not AirBnb)
- Airbnb Professional Hosts
- Airbnb’s Finest Hosts
- Airbnb Professional Hosts – USA
If you are looking and having trouble finding one, place a comment below with the location you are looking and I’ll try my best to help you out.
Or, if you have a narrowed down your search to a couple of Airbnb property managers and you’re not sure which to choose, comment with the names and I’ll provide my opinion.
Questions To Ask Your Potential Airbnb Property Manager
The above strategies should narrow down your options to just two or three. Usually, they will want to talk to you on the phone or do an in-person meeting. Accept this offer. This is your opportunity to ambush them with questions they won’t hear from other unprepared hosts thus they won’t have a canned response.
Choose a few of the below questions to ask based on what’s important to you or what’s lacking from the information you were able to gather from them with your online research. Always dig for more. Ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ often:
- Do you monitor guest reviews?
- There’s only one right answer: yes. You can also ask if they respond to guest reviews.
- What is the biggest issue you have with managing all of your properties?
- The only wrong answer is if they say none. There is always room for improvement. This answer should be rather thoughtful and quickly determined. They shouldn’t be trying to sell you. Instead, they should be trying to ensure you’re a good fit for them. If you sense they’re hiding information, kindly let them know that you’re both trying to decide if this is a good fit.
- What percentage of their existing hosts are Superhosts?
- It’s hard to achieve Superhost status. The reason you ask this is to see if they start defending why they are not. It’s ok to not be a Superhost, but if they place the blame on others, etc. then you probably want to avoid this company.
- How do you handle early check-in and late check-out requests?
- They should be able to accommodate this when possible, most of the time.
- Will I have my own account or does my listing go on your account?
- How do you hire cleaners?
- Bad cleaners will cost you money. It’s the number of complaint of guests. The company should have a process in hiring cleaners. They should send the same cleaners to the same properties whenever possible. Ask about their cleaner turnover. You do not want a constant flow of new cleaners into your home as it’s a security risk and inefficient. Do they randomly quality check cleanings?
- How do they price your calendar?
- They should have a very specific answer here. They should not use Airbnb’s Smart Pricing. Manually is ok, if they actively do this. However, a connection to a third-party vacation rental pricing partner is ideal.
- How long does the average host stay with the company?
- If a new host leaves after six-months on average, this is a red flag. Anything more than one year is good.
- Who would the guest contact at 11pm on a Friday night? Or 6am on a Tuesday morning?
- Here you will understand how they deal with emergencies.
- Do they use an Airbnb message automation service?
- They should say yes. Quick responses get more reservations.
You should also bring up any criticisms you found in their existing reviews and understand what they’ve done to fix those issues.
Be prepared with any of these 11 questions when deciding on an Airbnb property management company. Click To Tweet
What Does An Airbnb Property Management Company Charge?
On a commission basis, most full-service vacation rental property management companies will charge between 10-20% of the nightly rate, excluding cleaning fees. If you have a property that will get $400+ per night on average, you can negotiate a lower percentage. A healthy property management company should be making about $20-$50 per night.
Pro Tip: Shady property managers will overcharge the cleaning fee and make a profit on that portion. The cleaning fee should be at a break-even cost.
If you are more risk averse, some companies will pay you a fixed rate each month no matter how much they rent it for. Generally, I advise against this option as you will make much less in the long-term.
A company like Guesty providing remote property management services charges between 2-5% of your monthly revenue including cleaning fees, but they are not considered a full-service Airbnb property management company.
For the amount of work they do (the good ones!) this is an absolute steal, even for 20%. I would know, I started my own Airbnb property management company.
What To Do If You’re Unhappy With Your Airbnb Property Manager
Let’s assume you found this article after you already hired a bad Airbnb property management company and you want to fire them. First, you need to read the contract.
Next, you want to find what your options are. It’s possible you don’t have many. Finally, you always want to remain on positive terms with the Airbnb property management company. They should be a professional organization.
You should be open with them from the very beginning about your dissatisfaction. Just as you would be upset if a guest left you a negative review without bringing anything to your attention during their reservation, you can expect your property manager to feel the same way. Give them the opportunity to remedy your unsatisfaction.
Try to give them at least one-month notice. Most reservations are made within a month. Personally, I don’t demand payment for any reservations that have not yet started, but most Airbnb managers do. This is something to be negotiated upon contract termination even after you signed the contract.
Don't blindside your Airbnb manager. They're doing the best they can. Give one-month notice. Click To Tweet
If you do not have control of the account and will have to start a new listing, you need to coordinate calendars. The professional Airbnb property management company should be more than happy to do this until the reservations on the old listing run out.
Sometimes, you will be assessed a cancellation penalty for any existing reservations. This, too, is to be negotiated upon contract termination. It’s my view that the company should be more focused on retaining Airbnb listings rather than get extra money from dissatisfied hosts.
All Airbnb property management companies are not created equally. Far from it. Like anything else in life, it’s best to spend some time figuring out what you want before you pursue. Understand your needs and communicate your expectations to the Airbnb property management company will save you time in the long run.
As discussed above and in the prior post, you may even be able to be your own Airbnb property manager without much of a time investment.
If you are having trouble finding a local Airbnb property manager or deciding between two options, please post and comment and I’ll help in any way I can.