Industry Insights

Trust & Verify – Best Practices for Ensuring Top-Quality Cleaning

July 11, 2018 |

When it comes down to it, the quality of our cleaning teams can make or break our vacation rental businesses, and the work they do arguably makes the biggest impression on our guests.

You can have amazing properties, your reservations team can do a stellar job being attentive to guests, preparing them for their vacation and building their anticipation of a great stay. However, all of that is likely to be forgotten if a guest checks into a home that does not live up to their expectations – and it’s up to your cleaning team to prevent that from happening.  

The “Cleaning” in the Vacation Rental Industry

For vacation rentals, “cleaning” means far more than just changing sheets or scrubbing toilets.  In our industry, “cleaning” encompasses all the things that show guests you sweat the details and are attuned to their needs. In particular, this means effective staging: Are the beds made with hospital corners? Is the toilet paper folded into your signature display? Are the cushions arranged with care and precision? When all the visible elements of the property are presented flawlessly, guests will be confident that you’ve taken care of all the less conspicuous details as well.

On the flipside, if the property is not cleaned to your standards, or if the staging doesn’t match the listing photos, it will erode a guest’s trust in you and your brand. Disappointed guests will likely leave poor reviews and they most certainly won’t be keen to rebook with you in the future. It is essential that customers’ expectations match the reality of the product – and that reality must be of impeccable quality. Consequently, a rock-solid partnership with your cleaning team is paramount.

Inspect every property after every cleaning?

Many property managers mitigate the risk of an unprepared property by having every property inspected after every cleaning. However, in a world of shrinking margins for property managers, physical inspections are unrealistic, inefficient and costly for most property managers. We recently spoke to a property manager who was not only paying for the inspector’s time, but also hundreds of dollars in mileage reimbursement month after month! What’s more, if an inspector arrives at a property to find it hasn’t been prepared properly, they are in a predicament – often left with only a brief window of time to do or redo work before guests arrive. A stressful situation for everyone.

In our experience, the most successful property managers aren’t the ones footing the bills for regular physical inspections. Rather, they take steps to prevent inferior cleanings from happening in the first place, and they take a far more modern, efficient, and cost-effective approach to quality control.

Here’s how you can establish trust with your own frontline cleaning team and seamlessly verify their work:

    1. Establish clear operating standards – Trust is built through knowing that you are aligned with your team about the level of standards and quality for your guests. “I trust Susan because I know she thinks like I do.” This is verified by people’s actions and it only takes once or twice to feel confident that providers are on board. One PM we know relayed that during a water shortage, her provider independently picked up bottled water for the guests. That’s when Suzanne knew her vision and values were shared with her team, and she didn’t have to worry about her standards not being met.
    2. Foster a sense of shared ownership of the guest experience – We’ve talked about this before and we’ll do it again: the best property managers see their cleaners as partners, not just employees. Encourage your cleaning team to take ownership of the service quality and the impact it has on guests. Invested cleaners will pay attention to details and make the extra effort to ensure a 5-star guest experience.
  1. Monitor guest reviews – When you first begin working with a new service provider, track your guest reviews and cleaning ratings to see how guests indirectly rate your provider’s performance.  Obviously, it’s always best to catch issues before guests check in, but reviews make for a great last line of defense.
  2. Share those reviews Make a habit of sharing positive reviews with service providers. It’s a good practice and reinforces a job well done. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to build that shared sense of ownership we mentioned. Pay attention to how cleaners react to the reviews. If they are delighted by the feedback, it’s a good sign that your service provider feels a connection to the work and to your guests. People perform better when they like the work they do and take pride and satisfaction in delivering perfection to your guests.
  3. Feedback on feedback – It is equally important to monitor how service providers respond to constructive criticism. Have you ever given helpful feedback only to be met with excuses, indifference or the equivalent of an eye roll? This could be an indication that the provider doesn’t have the internal motivation to excel and perform the job to your standards. This is the kind of provider you will likely always have challenges with and to whom it would be very difficult to entrust your business and your guests.
  4. Use Verification Photos – Rather than sending out an inspector to assess cleaning quality, use Properly to request instant verification photos directly from your service providers. Photos help you ensure the property is staged precisely to your standards – and it lets you do it in near real-time, without the cost or hassle of physical inspections.

This post originally appeared on Properly Blog. Visit Properly’s website to become an even better host with our tool for managing turnovers effortlessly and follow us on Twitter for more home-share and vacation rental updates!

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