Webinar | Structure, Systems & Streamline: Expand in Holiday Homes
- Watch the replay: Jane and Kelly covering Structures, Systems and Streamlining
- Jane managed holiday rentals on Aaron, Scotland
- Jane now runs Jane Mack Consulting to help other holiday rental owners grow
- Add structure so you can focus on other parts of your business
- Add systems to reduce manual tasks and errors
- Streamline to focus on the most important parts of your business.
Structure, Systems and Streamlining video
In this session, Jane Mack of Jane Mack Consulting and Kelly Odor of Bookster discuss how to set up Structures, Systems and Streamlining to get the best of your holiday rental business.
So when I talk about simplified and multiply, it's like, only offer the services that you can do really, really well, focus on them and do them great.
Bookster is dedicated to providing support and techniques to help holiday rental business grow and prosper.
Structures, Systems and Streamline: approaches to grow your holiday home business
Jane Mack of Jane Mack Consulting talks with Kelly Odor of Bookster.
Jane shares her advice from successfully growing her own holiday rental business.
- Introduction to Jane Mack Consulting
- What is structure?
- How does the structure impact the growth of holiday rentals?
- What systems exist?
- Which systems are essential to grow a holiday rental business?
- What are crucial measures for streamlining for growth?
Who is this video for?
This event is for holiday rental owners and managers like you, if you:
- are interested in growing profits through your existing properties, or
- you want to expand the number of properties in your portfolio.
- Jane Mack of Jane Mack Consulting.
Hello and welcome.
This is our webinar covering Structure, Systems and Streamlining for Growth.
And that's the key word here for growth in Holiday Home Management.
So if you don't know me, my name's Kelly Odor and I'm the marketing director for Bookster.
And if you're to Bookster events, firstly welcome.
So Bookster is a property management software company.
We're based here in Sunny Scotland, and we concentrate on three main areas to help property owners, property managers just like yourselves to manage really kind of time consuming repetitive tasks of running a holiday rental business.
So you can see we cover three really core areas.
We have the channel manager and we partner with local companies such as the Edinburgh Address, international companies, global companies like booking.com.
We have our property management software, which helps you with those tasks like collecting payments, collecting damage deposits, refunding, all these things.
And we have tools to help you attract direct bookings, including web design that has been made, especially for this industry.
It's very specialized.
Introduction to Jane Mack Consulting
So, moving on for myself, our special guest today is Jane Mac from Jane Mac Consulting, and she's here to offer advice and guidance based on her knowledge and experience of running hold rentals of her own and now her own coaching company.
So to help Jane, I'd really like to put up a poll on the right hand side.
If you give me a second, I'm gonna put it up.
It's a really simple question.
The question is, what do you want to grow this year?
Okay, there we go. That's, it Should be going live on the right hand side now.
So it's looking at what you want to grow.
Are you wanting to grow your revenue?
Are you looking to add more members to your team?
Are you thinking about adding more properties or some kind of combination or something else?
This is really gonna help Jane focus on certain topics today, so she'll be able to provide a good presentation for you.
Now, while you are looking at that, Jane has got a fascinating history in HOL rentals.
So Jane, would you like to introduce yourself and, and share your story?
Absolutely. Kelly, thank you so much for having me on here.
Yes, delighted to be here and, and share my story and share my knowledge and expertise with everyone.
So, hi everybody.
I'm Jane Mac, and my business is Jane Mac Consulting.
I've not always been in consulting.
My previous business was actually a holiday, property management company, which my husband and I bought ooh, back in 2010.
And we bought the company, over on the Isle of Aaron here on the west coast of Scotland.
And it was just managing holiday lets, so we weren't doing any letters or bookings, we were just managing them.
And very quickly we saw a gap in the market that actually all our owners wanted the bookings and the advertising.
So we decided, well, if they're looking for it, let's provide it.
So we grew the business and we expanded it, added in all the bookings and all the advertising.
We had to do a lot of streamlining in the business.
There was lots of added services that didn't really sit with what we wanted to do.
So, you know, we did a lot of stripping out services and learned an awful lot about what was needed and what wasn't, what worked well and what didn't.
And we went from being just my husband and I to having a team of seven, which was fantastic because we couldn't have done it all without a brilliant team behind us.
And we just grew, you know, the plan was just to grow the business, see what does this, you know, this is our life now in the Aaron.
And then, we ended up selling it to one of the UK's largest holiday letting companies that was never in the plan.
We were approached by them because they wanted into our market, excuse me, but they couldn't get in because we were here.
So we ended up selling to them and, but they also continued working for them.
So we continued running, running the local office here on Aaron.
And just after so long, you know, lots of things started to change and I knew, do you know, it's time for me to move on, but actually I'm gonna take all my knowledge and experience, I'm gonna help others now in these holiday led businesses to help them grow their business.
So yeah, I started doing that from over a year ago now.
And also I've hosted, well, I've not, I'm the host of the Grow Your Holiday Let podcast as well, so, I know Kelly, you've been on that podcast sharing all about Bookster, so yeah.
So yeah, between doing the podcast and helping others, yeah, I just keep sharing knowledge and experience of the industry.
But for anybody who's interested, I'll actually include a link to the podcast.
I think that would make sense. Jane, I haven't got it with me right now, so I could add it when I send out the summary, or you could put it in the comments if you'd like on the right hand side.
That would be amazing. I could indeed.
Why cover Structure, Systems and Streamlining?
Now the topic that we're covering today, structure systems, streamlining, we've never covered this topic before in Bookster, and it was your idea.
I know we were talking about a few different ideas.
Why did this one particularly appeal to you?
So I realized quite early on in my business that, and I specifically suppose in the holiday letting industry, you know, with all the aspects of holiday letting we have to do, like we've got to do housekeeping, we've gotta deal with maintenance.
There's the actual properties themselves, then there's the bookings and the inquiries and the guests.
And if you have multiple properties that you're looking after on behalf of other owners, then you're also managing your owners.
So there's a lot of stuff there happening.
It can be very consuming, it can be very overwhelming.
And I realized very quickly that actually you really need to have a good structure in place.
So in order to grow and actually do it with more efficiencies and be able to grow with, you know, being more, much more organized, then having the structure is actually gonna give you the, the way to do that, because it's also gonna help you being able to step back from your, like your day-to-day tasks.
Because I find very quickly that, you know, you can get pulled into every day tasks every day.
You can have all these great plans to do lots of different, you know, things you wanna do in your business, but you're getting pulled in all directions, you know, with the everyday things, you know, your team might need you or guests need you, or you know, you need to go to your property and you're find yourself doing all this stuff, but actually your time can be better spent elsewhere in order to grow the business.
Because until you step back from those everyday tasks, it's very hard to take your business forward.
So you, you end up in that hamster wheel effect, don't you, of just doing everything all the time and there's, there's no break from it.
So I realized when I started to structure the business properly and sort of break things down and, and segment things, actually I could then step back from it and I could actually focus on the business side rather than running out to check a property or check housekeeping or, or all those everyday things that need done, but you don't have to do as the business owner.
So that's why this is quite a, something I feel really passionate about because I know that so many property managers get caught up in that hamster wheel and feel they can't get out of it.
But you absolutely can because I did.
I was caught in that wheel and I did actually get out of it.
And it just takes some steps to take and it takes time and you have to put the, you know, put the effort in to do it, but you can do it.
And when you do, it just makes life so much easier for you.
You can actually see the bigger picture after that rather than just seeing the day to day running of everything that you need to do, but you can actually then take your business forward.
So yeah, I'm quite passionate about this, this side of things.
Out of interest, how long was it that you were kind of running your business before you realized, oh, okay, I need to do this differently. I need to start implementing some other systems?
So I was, it was probably a couple of years I've been doing it and I actually got sick one time, and when I was sick, I ended up still from my bed trying to tell people how to do stuff.
And I thought that this has to stop because I should be able to, if I wasn't well, should a take the time off.
And that's why I didn't take the time off and I got worse because I actually thought I have to keep being in, I must be in all the time.
So it wasn't until after that that I thought right after these that, that sort of illness time, I realized, ah, things had to change.
And that's then when I started going to, you know, what, let's just separate things out.
How can we do this better?
What can we do to make things easier?
Because that's the one bit, there's that as a sort, a big common effect in the hospitality industry is burnout with people.
And if that's one thing you, we need to try and avoid.
So getting that structure in place so that you don't burn out so that you don't, you know, so everyone doesn't rely on you is such, a really important thing to do.
That's really interesting.
And actually the fact that you kind of reached a, basically a crisis point, that moment where you realized, no, you just couldn't do this anymore.
Yeah. Yeah, that's really interesting.
Yeah, just I've seen in the poll on the right hand side, we're looking at % of people are looking to increase revenue and % of people looking to do a combination
of maybe revenue team members and properties.
So hopefully that can help you when you're talking along.
Yeah, lots of stuff will come up in there about all those, the sort of high, I think that when you actually put it all together, this is what will help that business and your staffing and your revenue and when you put it all together.
So it's, yeah, it's a lot of, it's like putting the pieces of the jigsaw together.
Structure for growing your holiday let business
Amazing. Okay, let's have a start then on structure.
So when you talk about structure, what do you mean and, and why is this so important for a property owner who is looking to grow their business?
So the structure itself is basically thinking about it as this is how you operate your business.
This is how you run it on a day-to-day basis.
And it's who's responsible for the different tasks.
You know, it's how you can actually, and it's how you have it set up so that it runs.
So, and as you grow, you can change it.
So nothing is set in stone. That's the other thing.
You know, as you, as you grow, you'll change the structure and you'll, you'll move things around.
And you'll find different ways of working that works for your business, but it's getting that actually in place is what's gonna help you move it forward so you can step back.
And, you know, the structure itself, you know, this can be anything from, you know, and obviously it's gonna depend how many, staff, how many team members you've got or you know how much you're doing yourself.
But we're looking at things like, you know, if you're looking at staffing, so you think, well actually where, where do I need the support?
You know, have I got lots of guest inquiries coming in that I need somebody to deal with?
Is it admin stuff? Is it marketing?
And it's sometimes we get a wee bit, I suppose, worried about staffing 'cause we think, well, what if I don't trust them?
And what if I can't, you know, I'm not good at delegating staff.
You know, where do I get them from?
And there's so many options out there.
You know, it can be virtual staff, you know, there's so many VAs out there and marketing support out there that doesn't have to be somebody local to you if it, maybe you're in a rural area and actually you haven't, there's not a lot of resource around you for that.
But then again, you might want to use somebody local because you wanna support the local economy and offer, you know, employment in it, in the area.
So there's lots of different ways to do it.
So that's like looking at your actual staff you need.
So it's about looking at what do you need support on, where can you get it from?
Also thinking as well as in this industry, there's a lot of jobs of, or tasks even in the running the business which are on the ground.
So you do need physical people here on the ground where your properties are.
So you're thinking about housekeeping, thinking about property checks, dealing with guests.
You know, do we need to go and see a guest if there's been a problem?
And also maintenance, one of the biggest parts, which is maintenance and who you get for that.
So having all these different areas, if you think of the structure, thinking, well actually I need different people to deal with these different areas, depending on the size of course, of your business.
But having somebody in charge of separate areas on your behalf means you can step back from that area and let that person take charge in it.
So, which means it's one area that you don't have to deal with.
It's one area that you can then put your, your time and energy into focus into something else in the business.
But it's like deciding, well, how are we going to work it?
Am I gonna have, excuse me, am I gonna have a maintenance, you know, person on hand?
Am I going to have somebody who's managing the housekeeping?
Maybe two roles are combined to begin with as you grow and then they become separate.
So once again, don't feel that you have to suddenly get five staff in, you know, housekeeping and property checks and guest inquiries and maintenance.
You can have some combined and then separate it as it goes out.
And as the business grows, you know, some of the things we tried over time where having, the staff by, for example, my team would be like managed properties by location.
So we would look at the location and that person would be responsible for the guest bookings.
The maintenance and property checks in that location didn't overly work for us.
As the business grew, we had to change it.
We went by department, so we had a maintenance person and we had a housekeeping person and we had like a somebody who dealt with bookings and like the, all our arrivals.
So we separated it that way.
So it's putting that structure in for your business so that everyone has a role and responsibility and those people know what they have to do.
So those jobs and those tasks are getting done.
Which means you can step back a bit from it.
It does mean of course, mean structure is so, so important.
It does mean you do have to put a little bit of time and effort into it because when you do get staff on board, you do need to do some training and you will do, there will be an element of handing over to them.
But, and I know sometimes this can be the kind of the barrier for some people where they think, I just don't have time to do it, and you know, how, you know, how long is it gonna take me to train them?
And I'm quicker doing the usual, always quicker, I'm quicker doing it myself.
Which people always say, but think of the bigger picture and think of down the line.
Think actually if I take the time now to train this member of my team to do these jobs, actually down the bigger picture is I can step back down the line.
So the more you continue doing it yourself, the longer it's gonna take for you to step back from it.
So it's taking that bit of time to train, taking that bit of time to invest in your team to make sure they know what they're doing, and give them those responsibilities.
Absolutely is, is so important down the line.
And but until, as I say, when you have that structure in place and you have, you know what everyone's doing, you take your time away and you focus on your business.
So maybe you're looking at how you wanna look at your marketing or maybe you want to re-look at how you bring on more properties.
You know, you'll have things that you want to do.
Maybe you wanna improve the guest experience and you you wanna work on some sort of strategy for that.
You can't do that while you're doing all the daily tasks.
So that's where a structure comes in and it's really, really important.
And even like for maintenance, you know, I think most people will have a, a list of suppliers that they use.
You know, it might be that you at some stage employ somebody in maintenance.
So you've got on hand maintenance person who's there all the time.
You don't, you're not always relying on have to phone somebody and, and get somebody out to your property.
Once again, that could be, as you grow, you can employ that person.
But it's about having, you know, having these people around you that, you know, if this happens, that's who I'm going to use.
Because that's, that's how our structure works.
That's how we flow. And it just gives you that extra support as well in, in the business.
Do you mind me asking about, your team?
I'm thinking if you're a smaller company, maybe you don't have the money to be able to take on a new member of staff, for example, who's gonna oversee the cleaning and so on.
Yeah. So when it comes to those options, did you ever try outsourcing it?
So actually getting an external company to organize it on your behalf?
Or did you work more on, on growing your team?
We focused, at first we focused on the team.
So it was growing the team because it was, everything was so hands-on.
Now bear in mind, back when I started doing all this at the end, we didn't have all these systems that the industry has now.
If I'd had the systems that are out there now, oh my god, my life would've been so much easier.
So when, so we were very much, you know, growing the team.
I mean, I literally started with a part-time person who worked like four days a week.
They were part-time hours, so it really was very small just to take that pressure off me and to have that extra support in there.
Over the years we did end up, we did outsource the housekeeping, only because at that stage then act, an actual housekeeping agency got set up in the area.
So because we never had that before.
So that's the other thing with, depending on where you are, your location will also play a part in it.
Some people will have amazing, you know, like maintenance and hour support in terms of hour plumbers and call outs.
And you could, you don't need to employ somebody yourself.
Because you've got that, some people, some locations will have, external companies where they can outsource like the housekeeping to the cleaning and all that too.
And you think, well actually I don't need to employ somebody there.
But we didn't. So we ended up having a bit of a mix to begin with.
Our housekeeping, for example, a member of my team, we had somebody who would, it was pretty much a joint role.
The person would sort out the arrivals, they were in charge of the housekeeping and any cover and make sure we knew that every housekeeper was going to the properties they needed to go to.
They also helped with the weekend cover in terms of for arrivals and being on call when somebody arrived.
But then, our actual housekeepers, the people who cleaned the properties, were all self-employed, so I didn't employ them.
So that was a bit of a mix.
And I know some places will employ the housekeepers, actually they are actually employees of the company.
But that wasn't an option for us.
So they were all self-employed, so I didn't need to pay them.
So that obviously keeps your costs down from that point of view.
So I think everyone's gonna be very different and it's going to a lot of location will play a part that, and obviously the size of the business in terms of, you know, the, as you say, the, the money.
You've got to be able to invest in these, In a team member.
But the other thing as well to remember is sometimes if you think, well, if I invest even a little bit and that person can just take that little bit of pressure off and let me focus on a different area, that's, once again, it's that investment's gonna help you grow.
It's kind of looking at the bigger picture down the, down the road as well.
Yeah, I mean, the other thing, and obviously when, when you do have a team in, the nice thing is when you have a team in like the, like, like I was saying before, we didn't have all these fantastic systems years ago.
Whereas now you've got these, you know, these systems, these property management systems where everybody can access.
So once again, it doesn't just sit with you when you have a really good system in place.
Kelly, you'll know yourself, you know, how easy is it for, for you to have, like for team members to have access to accountant Bookster?
If you've got several team members in in your, in the business?
Yeah, I mean the team members in for, certainly for Bookster, I can't speak on behalf of other software companies, but in Bookster you can have unlimited users for your account.
Right? And then for security, each user will have their own secure access details and their own security level.
So your cleaner will be able to see a much more reduced, but very different piece of information than your prop,
So your cleaner will be able to see a much more reduced, but very different piece of information than your prop, your pricing manager and your owners.
If you have owners as well, they can see other information.
Right. And then I guess for each member, they can also do different tasks as well.
So your cleaners could confirm if a clean's been done Mm-Hmm.
Whereas an owner would be able to go in and view statements and then download statements.
Right. So it, it's, it's very different, but you're right, actually having your own access and making sure it's a secure access is really Yeah.
Particularly important, especially now with, with all the security.
Yeah, Definitely problems, I guess.
And also I think when you've got everything in one place there as much as possible, it once again eliminates the, the sort of the, the, the items like things getting lost or things getting forgotten about or, you know, manual entry because it's all there.
Which means if you're not there or if you are ill, like I was, you don't need to worry.
You can just, everything's there in one place for, for people.
So that to me is just godsend to have because I'm, I wish I'd had all that years ago.
Ours was a bit fragmented years ago.
Before I move on, just think about an actionable tip.
If you were gonna give one tip to people who are thinking about their structure, what would it be?
Actionable tip to add structure to your holiday rental business
I would start looking at the support you might need in terms of staffing.
You know, we are not meant to do this alone and it doesn't have to be a case of hiring five people all at once the first time.
So I would say have a look and see what can you outsource or what could you have if you have somebody even part-time who could take on some tasks for you, you know?
So have a look to see where are you spending lots and lots of time on which actually somebody could be doing for you and you could be better spending your time elsewhere.
So that's always just worth looking at your time, where's it spent on, what could you be doing instead?
And, you know, could you bring somebody in to help you?
And the other thing is always remember that nothing's set in stone so that person's ours can grow.
You can bring more people in when it's just getting started.
Just taking that first step sometimes to get a bit of support in will really start the, the ball rolling on it.
It's interesting you're saying that because that's what I recommend, and we'll come onto this I guess when we talk, look at systems, but that's what I recommend people do when they're thinking about systems is actually breaking down.
What are you spending all your time on?
Because if those things can be reduced, whether it's through staff or outsourcing or a system or whatever it might be, that's gotta be a good thing.
Yeah. So yeah, having that, a lot of people I think don't realize how much time they're spending, so actually having it written down and being able to evaluate it is just, yeah.
Useful data. Definitely.
Systems for growing your holiday let business
Definitely. Yeah. Okay, let's move on to systems.
I guess from Bookster’s perspective.
So as a booking management system, we are kind of one small part mm-Hmm.
Of a property owner's overall network of systems.
And from my perspective, I live and breathe booking systems and how they support property owners, but what other systems are there that can help a property owner grow their business?
So yeah, as you say, Kelly, you know, the, the likes of having Bookster and having these property management systems in place, you know, that automation is, is basically your main winner, first of all when it comes to systems, having it automate as much as possible because that is gonna save you so much time and it's going to rule out, I always say rules out manual entry, which can also lead to mistakes being made.
So automation is absolutely key.
But looking at, you know, other systems we have, I always say this is like, don't overcomplicate things, right?
Keep it simple. And certainly if your business is more sort of an early stage, and you're just starting out, or even if things are starting to move, you can still use things like a good old Google doc, you know, a spreadsheet.
I am a total spreadsheet person, I always use a spreadsheet.
So sometimes we just need something to log in that keeps everything in one place.
I would say whatever system you have anywhere, always make sure that other people can access it.
Where it needs to be, because from a cyber free, previously, having that access means that other people can take part, you know, can delegate and take tasks from you.
You know, there's loads of property like project management systems like Asana and Clickup, you know, all these things.
But the reason I'm thinking these are the sort of systems having somewhere where you can get stuff out of your head.
So this is one of the big things as a property manager, we have so much on our head all the time, right?
And there's so many ideas and things we have to do and things we think about.
And this is about having, if you have somewhere where you can get things out of your head, do you know what, even if it's a notebook, then so be it.
Don't overcomplicate it.
If it works for you, absolutely use that.
But the big thing is it's about having somewhere where you can take the information, have it stored, so you can either go back to it, remember it, use it down the line, other, so that's like your very sort of, so a very personal way of, of doing things in that way.
But also look at all the systems for the processes you have as well.
So if you think about, you know, there's health and safety requirements, there's annual checks, you know, things like boiler servicing, far risk assessments, excuse me.
So it's all these annual jobs as well.
So you wanna have a system in place where you can make sure that these processes are getting done, they're getting done in a timely manner, they're getting done efficiently, and it's all organized in a way so that it's ready and nothing runs out of date.
And that you're adhering to any, you know, health and safety requirements that need to be done.
And the other big thing I would say is for any of these processes you have always, always document them.
I was obsessed with documenting stuff as an how-to guide for every single thing we did.
And it means that for a start, you'll remember, 'cause even if it's something you do year on year, you can look back and go, you know, what did we do last year?
Who did that? How did we do it?
You've got the information there.
But also if you do start to grow your business and you're starting to take on, you know, members in your team, then it's all there for them to follow.
So it's gonna cut down your training time, and it's then go, you know, you literally hand it to them, say, there you go.
That's how we do that process. And it keeps everything quite consistent as well.
And it keeps that uniformity.
So anybody who comes in to the business, you're all doing the same thing.
Everyone's following the same process.
And that just becomes a really big part of the training.
And, you know, eventually when I had, when I documented everything, every new process that come in, I documented it straightaway.
Now I'll get held in one folder how to do everything.
You know, I, I had one stage took months off for maternity leave because I could literally hand stuff to my team and go, there you go.
That's what we do.
And every month of the year, this is the processes we need to follow.
These are the set what we need to do.
And they were able to do it.
So, you know, you've got your automations there, but you also need to have your certain processes.
What do you do throughout the year? How do you do it?
And get them documented.
So you've got it all saved there and makes everything so much easier and quicker, as you go down the line.
I'm a spreadsheet person, so I've got spreadsheets for everything.
And I've got long-term lets, and so the things like, you know, your health and safety and the checks and the gas checks and so on, it's all in there.
Yeah. Every year I refer back to it, make sure I'm doing the right thing and I've ticked everything off.
But yeah, I'm completely all about the spreadsheets, but you know, there are so many systems that people can use and, you know, you were talking there about the processes and I'm thinking, you know, we, you've also got systems for maybe if you're doing your marketing and you wanting to design new things, you know, there's, there's lots of different systems and tools out there that you can be using to help you.
And you, you'll end up building this kind of network of tools and systems really that are in place.
That's it. And you end up, you grow as the business grows the way new processes you do.
And, and you'll, you'll add to those processes and you'll, you'll add to your documents and then some things you'll stop doing.
So you can get rid of that, you know, everything evolves and changes, but it's just having that documented there and knowing what you have to do makes such a difference rather than kind of always winging it every time.
How do we do that? How, what was that again?
And I know some people just go with it and then realize I've got nothing in place.
I dunno what we're doing with this. So it's about just as you go, as you go, just build each process as you go and document them as you go. Makes it so much easier.
So is that your one tip or is there something else that you would add here?
Your big tip for that?
Actionable tip to add systems to your holiday rental business
I would say that it's having those, know the processes and document them, this is huge.
I would 100% yes, say document it, because as you grow that's what make life so, so much easier.
Especially with teams coming in and training, it's so much easier.
We've got a question in from Ruaridh.
He says he is a young professional that is fortunate to have started on the STL journey through Airbnb.
He wants to scale using the revenue from the business and from his savings.
Can you give any advice on where to start? ie do I acquire other property first or build an LLC first?
Okay. So, Ruaridh thank you for your question regarding the LLC.
So that's not an area of expertise I am fail, fail with and I always say get sort of the proper legal advice.
Maybe speaking to your accountant that's something first regarding just how you would operate the business and what the sort of rules and regulations are all around it.
I think if you acquire another property, it could be worth going and acquiring even.
I mean, I've seen people who've acquired a number of properties before set themselves up as a business.
I think it depends on what your kind of long-term plans are as well, what you're wanting to get out of it.
It could, because for some people they just buy a couple of properties that's all they want and that's just how they're going to run it.
I would certainly get your advice through an accountancy sort of professionals regarding that and how it's going to affect in terms of revenue and how you can run it and tax.
I think it's always really important to get the tax information, and advice when you're going ahead with these things just so you know exactly where you're gonna stand with it.
But certainly if you're, you're going just down the route of one or two house properties and certainly try and buy one that's already let, also, that makes life much easier because you kinda have everything in place there.
But certainly I would go down the accountants, I'd get the advice on the tax side as well for you.
I would add to that.
I don't where you're based Ruaridh, but obviously there's lots of legislation coming in and that's gonna have a direct effect on the, the income that you're gonna be able to make because you're gonna, in some places you may have to pay quite a large sum of money in order to be able to have a licence in other places it's gonna be a lot cheaper in other places you don't have to pay anything.
Yeah. So knowing that information as well, what I think is should make a big difference to what you want to do on that, that journey that you're going through.
Definitely an exciting point to be in though.
Exactly. It's a nice place to be when you're ready to invest further into another property.
So good luck with it really. I hope it all goes really well.
Streamlining for growing your holiday let business
Amazing. Okay, so let me move on to our last topic for today, which is streamlining.
So I know that running a property let business is very fragmented.
You mentioned this earlier. There's so many tasks and there's so many things that need to be done.
And I can see it is a very time consuming role.
So what steps could a property owner take if they're looking to streamline? Where would they start?
I would always, I'm a big fan of simplify and multiply, right?
That's me and I that comes from my experience of what we did in the business.
I think it's very hard.
It can be very hard to grow and grow when you've got all this other stuff going on.
So what I sort of mean by that is, you know, if you're, if you're like, for example, I'll give you my me as an example, so it makes it really clear what I'm talking about.
So when we had the business at the beginning, there were like five add-on services.
So it was property management looking after holiday, lets, but there were like five add-ons.
There was a key holding, there was a property check only, there was towel hire, there was nursery hire, there was all sorts of stuff.
And I realized that with all the stuff going on, you've always have to think about these other services you've gotten.
How much are they costing to run and are they needed?
But it was always another add-on.
And actually we ended up stripping all that out 'cause we realized actually I don't want a, I don't want to do all these services, but secondly that it's actually costing me more time and effort than it is actually worth a revenue coming in for them.
So when I talk about simplified and multiply, it's like, only offer the services that you can do really, really well, focus on them and do them great.
So you can grow in that area.
When we're trying to do too many things, sometimes we've not got the focus on providing the right service in the place that we actually really want to.
So whenever we were able to strip those out, it meant it freed up, you know, time, head-space as well.
In terms of us being able to expand the business further with advertising, with bookings and, and all the lettings.
So, you know, we always say, look at, look, if you've got extra services you do, you actually need to do them.
You know, are these tasks actually necessary to do, you know, what's it costing you?
And certainly with towel hire, we realized I was spending more money on replacing towels every year than we were really with making.
So really it wasn't worth the service and the hassle.
And, you know, can, maybe they can be combined into current service.
Maybe it can be combined in, in something else you're doing.
You know, just looking at the cost of it is really, really important to make sure that what you're, you know, what the work you're doing, is actually getting rewarded for it.
And as I said, it's much less complicated.
I am very much in the world of simplify your life.
Do not make things complicated.
And, you know, do what works for you.
If it doesn't work for your business, then don't do it.
And I know quite often we can get very sort of, sort of taken by what everybody else is doing.
You know, they're offering this service and that company's offering that service.
I better do it as well. You don't need to, they, it is not necessary to do everything that everybody else is doing.
And what you want to focus more on is the fact of actually what, what can you do that you can be known and stand out for against your competition?
You know, what can you, what can you be known for?
And if that's one amazing service, then that's absolutely fine.
You know, you don't have to offer all the different services or, or different levels of management.
Sometimes people think I should have different levels to offer.
Do you? Yes. If you've got the resource and the time and it works for your business, but you don't have to.
So I'm very much about, you know, simplify it, take out what's not needed, you know, work out what it is you're doing and actually is it worth it?
And figure out, you know, what, what, what's going to make you stand out?
What do you want to be known for?
So for me, we wanted to be known for really good property management on the island and then, you know, kind of the go-to for your advertising, your lettings.
So we focused purely on those two services and took everything else out.
Yeah, that's really interesting.
And you're reminding me, I saw a video, from a property owner yesterday.
She was talking about damage deposits.
It wasn't specifically damage deposits, it was a recycling deposit and I think it was a cleaning deposit, I'm not quite sure.
But anyway, this particular property owner had been arranging these deposits previously and then realized actually it was more complicated, time consuming and costing her money in bank charges to take this deposit and then refund it at the end than it was giving her any benefit 'cause she never needed to use it because her clients were amazing.
So she created this video, she put it out saying, we're not going to do that anymore.
We're yeah, we're simplifying. And I thought that's perfect.
Yeah, exactly. And that, that's a really good example of just somebody who's realized the timing, effort and the cost and actually it's not bringing you anything.
And that's, that's the thing.
And there's nothing wrong with changing your services.
There's nothing wrong with, and I mean, you might strip out some to add in a different one and that's what it's all about.
It's about, you know, simplifying your business so it works easier for you and it's so much more efficient as well.
But it's getting the right service that works for you that you can offer at, you know, the right cost that you're getting rewarded properly for it, but also your time in it, your effort in it, and you, it's something you can do really, really, really well.
For in Bookster though, Kelly, I mean there must be, well, you know, obviously I don't know the, the full ins and outs of it, but what, what can Bookster provide that might help like a property owner streamline their business and some, have they got any features that you can, you can use on it?
I mean, to be honest, the answer to that is a webinar in itself.
Because the whole point of the software and the services that we offer is to help property owners streamline and automate that.
The life does become, I was gonna say easier, but it is probably not always easier.
It might just be that you can refocus on other tasks.
Or maybe you just go and do something else.
And I know within Bookster, part of our USP is that we have this underlying premise that we want to simplify rather than complicate tasks.
We want you to be able to let us just get on with streamlining tasks so you're not having to go in every day and just constantly tinker up and down, sending this email, checking that you don't need to because the software's doing it for you.
And I know that will apply to, you know, other software and other systems out there really that are just there to help you simplify Yeah.
Just and automate and, and just get on with things.
Yeah. Oh, definitely. Yeah.
Well, that's a longer question for another day.
About processes, systems and simplifying, couldn't we?
I'm just noticing we've got a couple of questions, so just give me a second.
Hannah has asked, oh, Hannah's referring to a different, the, the question from before, what legislations are coming into place regarding purchasing property?
If this is the reference to what I said then it's not about purchasing property.
There is legislation coming into place about being able to rent your property as a holiday home or even kind of rent a room, kind of to a, to a guest.
So there, there is different legislation in place.
So in Scotland it's already in place, in England it's probably coming in place probably, I think it's this year, If not early next year in Wales.
There is some legislation there already. Spain already has quite strict legislation, so it depends on where your properties are.
But I'm happy Hannah, afterwards to drop you a note, we can have a chat about it.
Amy has asked a question on Bookster, we can add gas and electrical checks, which is really helpful, but there's no way to run a report or get an alert when it's close to running out with or so properties.
It is a faff going into checks.
So now you've got a spreadsheet.
That's good, you've got a spreadsheet.
We also have, an ongoing plan for what we're doing with those reports.
So, leave that one with me and I'll come back to you on that one as well, Amy.
Okay. Let's see. Oh, Jane, actionable tip.
Your actionable tip for streamlining?
Actionable tip to Streamline your holiday rental business
Yeah, I would, I would absolutely say work out and know what makes you stand out from your competitors.
If you're not sure, then work on it and see what it is that, what do you really want to be known for?
What do you want to be known for and be really, really good at, because that's what you can use in your marketing and if you're speaking to potential new customers, maybe you know, property owners.
But I think, you know, for me that was a big winner for us was knowing where we could stand out from our competition, you know, so we were able to simplify everything down and then have a particular really good service we wanted to, we offered, and we focused on that service and how we, that was our big selling point for our competition, for standing out in the competition.
So figure that out, know what it is and use it and everything 'cause it will really help you.
That's fantastic. And, Hannah's come and asked you a question.
You just focused on marketing and management and that's something that Hannah's been aiming to do.
But her concern is the loss of income coming from the cleaning and the laundry.
So did you originally do all the services and then reduce, and if so, how long did it take you to keep that loss of income because she started outsourcing some of the cleaning last year.
Okay. Yeah. So Hannah, what we did was, for, for several years we had the housekeeping in-house.
So because our housekeepers were all self-employed, you know, our property owners basically they, we didn't actually get much from the housekeeping and the, and the linen because that was paid to the housekeeper.
So the way we were, we operated as we had, we had a property management fee that we charged our owners.
So that was our revenue, but as part of that management fee, we would organize and arrange the housekeeping.
And we would pay the housekeeper on behalf of the owner through all the money through rentals.
So we always had that same recurring revenue coming in because it was a management fee we used, so I'm just reading your question again.
So we always did property management including organizing the housekeeping and everything to do with the house, the property all year round.
And then obviously the advertising and bookings, the other services we had, we, to be honest, for what they were bringing in, it was like towel hire was something like pounds a year.
So that was like once, that didn't matter that that was gone because we're actually, when we were able to add in the bookings that more than compensated for having all these be added on extra services.
But the housekeeping outsourcing, which we did in the latter years, once again, we didn't lose from it because we didn't actually pay it, it was the owners that paid it.
So we ended up increasing our management fee to pay the housekeeping agency a fee for the housekeeping.
And once again, the owners would pay the actual linen costs, which we did on their behalf.
So we never actually lost out from it.
It was just, was probably, it's just the way we structured it in terms of having a property management fee was the main way forward, which was our recurring revenue from that.
So, hope that makes sense, Hannah, hopefully I've answered that okay for you.
If not Hannah, you can always drop us a note and we're happy to talk about it further.
I wondered about the towels.
So is that for people to go to the coast, to the beach?
So this was, there were a number of houses years ago, properties, but they didn't provide towels that, so I, I did change all that down the line.
So basically it was optional.
So some properties provided the towels and some didn't.
So the ones that didn't provide it, we had a towel hire service.
So if guests were arriving and didn't want to, you know, bring all their towels with us, they could hire them from us.
So, but that meant us going out and sometimes taking them to the property, sometimes they never brought them back to us and then we'd have to go and collect them.
Then we'd have to wash, you know, launder them and wash 'em and dry them.
So actually it was much more hassle than it's worth.
So when we stopped doing that, I told the owners, I said, you know what, if you don't provide them, you do now.
So you need to go and buy towels.
And that's added into laundry costs because we weren't doing it anymore.
And the market, to be honest, the market changed as well, Kelly, the market moves that people were expecting it, guests then expected towels to be at a property.
So the people who were kind of a bit behind, we brought them forward and said, no, you need to provide this now.
So you know, it's always just watching your market as well, seeing what your market's doing, what are guest expectations doing as well because sometimes that can determine a service that you think, actually we no longer need this, but we need to offer something different.
So it's looking at that market and seeing what else you can do, to, to really improve your guest experience as well.
Ooh, that's a whole topic as well, that whole new topic.
Okay. Hannah's happy with that. That's great.
Ruaridh’s come back. How much value do you place on niche, short term / hotel versus location? His friend's themed Airbnb became very popular in Australia.
Well, there's an episode in my podcast, which was done between myself and Heather Bayer.
She's vacation rental business school and she talks about niche marketing.
So honestly, she'd listen to that because actually having a really niche, short-term rental can be really, really profitable and popular because you're focusing on a very specific set of people rather than trying to sell it out to everybody. 'cause we all know the same when you're trying to sell to everyone you sell to, no sell to everyone, sell to no one.
So actually niche, a really specific niche can be a fantastic way to go.
So I do urge do listen to that, that episode.
I think Kelly's gonna put a link to the, the podcast on it, but it's Heather Bayer and it's about niche marketing.
She talks all about the niches, macro niches, and then micro niches, how to go even further down and how to research it and how to research it and what you could do. So I would, I would recommend a niches are a really good way to go if it's once again, research it in your area if it's something that that would be viable. But it's definitely a good way to go.
This is just a free guide I have, which is, basically how to get booking and expand in a difficult market.
So it's just four different strategies that you can take to look at implementing into your business to help you sort of grow and, and take your business forward.
We all know how difficult the market has been over this last year.
So these are just different ways of how you can actually, you know, make some changes in your business on different things to implement.
So we'll call it a wrap for today.
If you've not had enough of hearing my voice, we do run a drop in session half past every Wednesday, and I'm running the one today, so you're more than welcome to come along.
Again, the link is in the notes of the chat up at the top. But you're welcome to come and ask us any question about any topic and we will do our best to answer.
Jane, what's the, I've got a whole selection of different ways to contact you. What's the best way, if anybody would like to get in touch?
Yeah, so obviously I'm on, you know, I'm on all socials, like Facebook and Instagram. You could just email me as well, Janet, to my consulting if you wanna get in touch with anything. Yeah, and obviously my website's there, which is also my social links and everything on it, and I'll contact page, so I'm very easy to find.
You can contact me any way.
That's amazing. And I'll ask you to come along to one of our Drop-in sessions as well, so anybody who's wanting to to talk live to you there can come along as well.
So I am gonna say thank you Jane.
Is there any final top tip, final bit of advice that you'd like to give for today?
I would just say, do you know everyone's business is so, so different and I would say focus on your own business and don't get so worried and sort of caught up on what everybody else is doing.
Focus on your business because it's only you that's gonna grow it forward, nobody else is going to.
So put the blinkers on sometimes.
Focus on what you want to do, where you want to be, and put the steps in place to get there.
Yeah. Amazing. Okay, let's end there then.
Thank you very much to everybody who's come along today. I hope you've enjoyed it.
Thank you Jane, for joining me today.
And as always, it's been insightful and interesting, so thank you and I look forward to seeing you all on the next one.
Jane Mack of Jane Mack Consulting joined Bookster to share her advice on using Structures, Systems, Streamlining to grow your business.