Vacation rental management has become a boom industry, but more and more property managers are realizing you don’t have to start from scratch.
The technology exists nowadays to get a massive head start in terms of how quickly you can scale your rental business. But there’s another step you can take to make life easier at any point in the lifetime of your company too.
Opting for a vacation rental franchise cuts out a lot of the growing pains you’re going to experience if you choose to go it alone. Joining a franchise marries your business to an established brand and can be the “jet fuel” that elevates everything you do.
Joining a franchise isn’t a binary choice between making it on your own or working for somebody else. For many, it represents the best of both worlds: the independence of running your own business and the convenience of not having to build a brand from scratch. The franchise will also throw in all the systems and processes that can take years to develop. Doing that yourself takes time away from the important work of winning owners and five-star reviews. The vacation rental industry is being professionalized so fast, you may feel you don’t have time to waste.
Join a Community
It’s not just the team at franchise headquarters that you’re going to rely on. Franchisors are pretty smart at leveraging their community to create a trickle-down effect of knowledge and skills. By joining a reputable franchise, you’ll expand your professional network 100-fold overnight, and every single one of those people is going to have a vested interest in your success. Every business owner has a role to play in building the franchise’s reputation, and everyone benefits from that.
The pool of experience you have to draw on explodes, and no question goes unanswered. They are your work family, and they’re going to be prepared to invest their own time helping you learn from their mistakes and victories. You’ll benefit from these candid relationships with people facing the same challenges as you from day one.
Let’s Go Back to School
Any good franchise is going to give you a boot-camp style experience that ignites a rocket under your learning on day one. Any franchise that fails to do this is probably the kind that takes, takes, takes (more on them later). Good franchise brands will be armed with a comprehensive training program that covers everything you, as a property manager, needs in your toolkit. You can tell a lot about a franchise from what they choose to teach. It’s no good if this process is a one-time deal either. Good franchise operations will make sure courses are kept up-to-date and made available on an ongoing basis. Building a business within a franchise is all about personal and professional growth.
Branding and Reputation
The biggest headache for some property managers can be attracting and retaining owners. But how do you attract them in the first place? The franchise brand has a huge impact and value here. As a franchisee, you can leverage the reputation of a company that has already won the trust of thousands of owners representing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of investment.
That kind of pedigree turns heads and makes your approaches much more credible. It’s the power of the track record of a recognized brand—owners get peace of mind. If they have had a poor experience with a previous manager, you can also back that up with the insights they were lacking with their last property manager—better property management technology, owner dashboards that keep them informed, more comprehensive reports, and the insights needed to deploy more sophisticated property management strategies. These can range from dynamic revenue strategies to opening up their properties to a far wider network of guests that are already booking through a national franchise brand.
Owners also realize how important property management software is these days. Any good vacation rental franchise is going to supply premium, proprietary technology to help you run an ever-expanding portfolio of rentals. A typical property management company, because of its size, leans on out-of-the-box software that isn’t tailored to the needs to the company and its owners. With a franchise brand, having a proprietary tech advantage can be hugely beneficial to your owners and operations. There will also be lots of support from the team at HQ to help you get the most out of it too.
A Long-Term Investment
Although there are countless advantages to going down the franchise route, fees can be excessive compared to the value offered. When it comes to fees, your franchisor should be offering you a solution that is cost-neutral. Meaning that your current operating cost structure will remain the same but will also bring more benefits and a clear return on investment over the long term.
Be clear on what the terms, obligations, and potential return on investment will be, too. How much autonomy will you have over your business? Think of the opportunity as an investment in each other, and stay clear of franchisor-franchisee agreements that are one-sided. Make sure you do your due diligence, and ensure the franchisor’s personality, skills, and values align with yours.
If a franchising opportunity doesn’t help build a moat around your local business and isn’t offering an enticing value proposition with a great community that supports one another inside the ecosystem, then keep doing what you’re doing and continue to build and nurture your business.
Ryan Dame is the co-founder of vacation rental management franchise Casago, based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is part of a leadership team that has successfully doubled the company’s footprint in two years by helping entrepreneurs build vacation rental businesses across the US and Mexico.