Building Your Business on Trust

    If you grew up anywhere in the U.S., you know what McDonald's does. Their job is to sell fast food. But have you ever stopped to consider what business McDonald's is actually in? I don’t mean fast food; I mean owning the largest portfolio of high-traffic real estate on the planet.
    Executives at companies like McDonald's and Starbucks are fully cognizant of the distinction between their jobs and the businesses they’re in. In practice, this difference is a crucial piece of their long-term strategy.
    Let’s look at our own industry: vacation rental management. You might say that our job is to deliver additional income and peace of mind to our homeowners. You could also say that our job is to help guests create wonderful, lasting memories. And if what I’ve heard from Vacasa housekeepers is any guide, our job is cleaning, constant cleaning.
    Each of these answers is true. But as vacation rental managers, what’s our actual business?
    Our business is trust.
    What does trust mean?
    In a seminal article, the Harvard Business Review categorizes trust into three distinct categories within any given organization: Strategic (top managers), personal (direct managers), and organizational (company-wide). These types of trust are distinct, yet interrelated. If a property manager violates the personal trust of his direct reports (for instance, a housekeeper or a maintenance pro), organizational trust could be at risk, too.
    Think of an iceberg in which only the tip is visible above the waterline. Strategic and personal trust live below the waterline, out of sight of most of your customers. Above the waterline is organizational trust, which everyone sees. All three are part of the same whole.
    Above the waterline is where your customers see you and where you get your chance to build consumer trust. Aligning your leadership team, strategy managers, tactical managers, and downline employees to foster and support consumer trust is the key to long-term success.
    Why is trust so important?
    A company dedicated to eliminating inconsistent messaging, subjective standards and false feedback in favor of honest assessments and continual improvement will naturally build a foundation of trust.
    Here’s the cool part: Trust is reciprocal! Trust leads to a tangible ROI. Building and maintaining trust between the leadership team and employees, managers and direct reports, and company and consumer has a direct effect on performance and homeowner retention.
    Trust is a crucial ingredient in growth and success. Guests must trust that homes will offer precisely the vacation rental experience they’re looking for, homeowners must trust that the company will do its best to maximize their revenue while caring for their homes, and employees trust that the company is invested in their success.
    Take a hard look around your company and see if there are trust issues you need to address, no matter how complex they are or how long they’ll take to fix. Trust can be broken, but it can also be repaired. What’s required is dedication and a will to see it through.


    By Brian Butler, Director of National Sales at Vacasa

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