If you’re wondering how to find a dependable cleaning lady (or gentleman – this is 2019 after all), know that it is a difficult task. When you find one, it’s like winning the lottery. A strong economy and tight job market don’t help the situation.
That’s why hosts must show appreciation to their cleaners, whenever possible. After all, being stuck without a cleaning crew, when your vacation rental is two time zones away, could put your operation out of commission and force cancelations.
Becoming an Airbnb Vacation Rental Owner
A little background about me. I started up a blog called Abandoned Cubicle roughly three years ago. After a few decades of churning through Corporate America, I was ready to leave it behind. Real estate became my golden ticket, and the opportunities to buy rentals after the housing crash of 2008 were abundant.
I wound up purchasing four long-term rentals for over four years. I was (and still am) learning the ropes about being a landlord and property manager. Having been a landlord for 6 years now, the worst problem I’ve had to deal with has been letting in locked-out tenants. (Knock on wood!!)
I never really had ambitions to take on short-term Airbnb-style hospitality business. But, the rental market dynamics were changing quickly. You simply couldn’t find good deals in our market any more. Modest, but solid starter homes that were going for $150,000 were spiking up to $175,000 or higher.
Sure, a few lower price homes popped up now and then, but they all needed serious rehab. And dropping a lot of coin up-front on a rental property isn’t a smart investment move unless it’s a deep discount or auction property taken on the super-cheap…
Airbnb Has Proven a Profitable Side Gig
So, in 2017 while visiting my parents in northern Michigan, we wound up putting an offer in on a cute upper-level condo. We figured this place, if any, would make a fine vacation rental. Northern Michigan, especially along the Lake Michigan shoreline, is a wonderful getaway during the summer months.
The condo needed some cosmetic TLC and it took a couple of long weekend trips to replace the flooring, the fixtures and set up all of the furnishings. It was exhausting work. But also rewarding. I headed off to the airport that January day feeling good about the potential this condo had. Even in wintertime, we’d see a handful of guests looking for a ski weekend getaway.
It’s important to note that I did my homework and ran the numbers in Excel before deciding to make an offer on this unit. Our long-term rentals clear roughly $500 in net income each month, and I wanted our vacation rental to do as well, or better than that baseline. If for no other reason than I knew the vacation rental would require more intense management than the highly passive long-term ones.
Here we are, about a year-and-a-half into being hosts, and the experiment is proving successful. Summer months bring in tremendous revenues, but even the winter ski season and fall have been lucrative. What’s our secret? We have an amazingly CLEAN space. The reviews tell no tales – our guests always recognize the cleanliness of the condo.
How to Find and Keep a Cleaning Lady
A host simply cannot be successful in a competitive market, if his or her place is a dump or even just a little unkempt. Luckily, my parents live in the same complex as our condo. They used their network to round up a few candidates and I ended up hiring my first cleaner the last weekend of set up, that frigid January.
Things were going pretty well with her. Never a missed cleaning and never a complaint from guests. I felt I’d hit the jackpot since this was such a crucial part of the business: The Turnover. Every single time a new guest arrives, the place has to SHINE. Clean sheets, clean towels, shower curtains, dusted, swept, cleaned out the fridge, etc. etc. Every. Single. Time.
Sadly, my new cleaning friend decided she’d become too busy with this job on top of her others, and she quit cleaning altogether, right before high season was about to begin in late May. D’oh!!!
Top ways to find cleaning crews for you AirBNB:
- Craigslist ad
- Word of mouth
- Outreach to friendly competitors in your area for referrals
- Check listings in TurnoverBNB
- Use Handy.com
Handy is worth a look as they provide cleaning crews at a reasonable cost. They perform background checks, have rigid standards, and use experienced cleaners. If your rental is located in a larger market, Handy may be an option to consider.
TurnoverBNB and a New Cleaner to the Rescue!
Good thing for me, this first cleaning gal connected me with a friend of hers who cleaned a lot of area houses during the summer months. We’ve been fast friends ever since. Around this time I also stumbled upon TurnoverBNB, which has made it incredibly easier to manage cleaning job scheduling.
(TurnoverBNB also has an excellent feature that lists available cleaners in your area. I haven’t had to use this feature yet. Knock on wood…)
Now a SuperHost with several 5-star reviews, I can give a ton of credit to my cleaner, and tools like TurnoverBNB, Beyond Pricing, and Venmo. TurnoverBNB, in particular, spares me countless precious minutes keeping my cleaner up to date on bookings. I simply get an email after each turnover, letting me know the place is ready to go. Whew!!
Here’s the bottom-line: You can find a wonderful vacation rental investment opportunity, and you can set up all the right tools to manage the place. But you need to show your cleaning crew appreciation regularly, especially if you don’t live near your rental.
I’ve given our cleaner a couple of raises already, and occasionally send spot bonuses of $50. I’ll still hear about the occasional “misery days”, where she and her crew are backed up during the seriously busy summer season. But somehow, she gets the job done without fail, and I couldn’t be happier.
Make sure you communicate often with your cleaner and be a good listener when there’s a problem. Tools like TurnoverBNB make the process of managing cleaning a lot easier, but you mustn’t forget the personal side of the equation.
How about you? Do you have any tips on how to find a cleaning lady or gentleman? Comment below!
(Featured Photo by Oliver Hale on Unsplash)