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How to know whether to hire a property management company vs. doing everything yourself

Being an AirBnB host or Vacation Rental host is a tough gig. It’s a lot of work, there are a lot of skills needed which aren’t immediately obvious, and a ton of tasks and action items which need to get taken care of regularly and on time.

Deciding whether to hire a property management company to take care of your rentals is a huge decision that most hosts are going to have to make at some point - especially if they’re trying to scale from one or two rentals to five, or even ten. Thankfully, AirBnB property management companies are abundant, and we hope this guide will help you decide whether you want to do it yourself or outsource.

Ultimately, it’s going to come down to asking yourself the following question: “Do I enjoy what I do, and am I committed to building a sustainable business by myself?”

AirBnB hosting isn’t just about cleaning a house and welcoming a new group of guests - it’s a combination of customer support duties, engagement, cleaning, property upkeep and renovation, advertising, marketing, and loyalty building.

Even with a smaller number of units this can quickly become something which resembles a full time job.

Why you should manage your rentals on your own

There’s a common misconception that managing rentals effectively is something which belongs squarely in the domain of professionals and people who are trained to do so. This couldn’t be further away from the truth. Hospitality especially with short term and vacation rentals, is a labor of love, and something which anyone who’s passionate enough about can learn to do well.

There are two main reasons why you should manage your own rentals.

Reason #1: You’re passionate about hospitality and are dedicated to building your business, your way.

Lots of people that host on AirBnB have ideas on how they want to build their brand, what sort of atmosphere they want to foster, and what sorts of experiences and impressions they want to offer.

This is a lot easier to implement if you have complete control over your rental, and the associated peace of mind which comes along with knowing that at the end of the day, there isn’t much out of your control which can happen to mess up that vision.

Here are some signs you’re probably leaning towards managing your own rental:

○ You have a vision for what you want to offer your guests.

○ You have a plan for what you want your brand to be known for, and for what you want your unique features to be.

○ You’re OK with doing a lot of the manual work yourself and stepping when, for example, a cleaning and turnover crew falls through.

○ You’re doing it for reasons which exceed just wanting to put money in your pocket.

○ You’re willing to fill in the gaps in your knowledge and experience quickly and make an effort to not let things fall through the cracks.

○ And lastly, you’re genuinely passionate about hosting visitors, travelers, and guests!

You’ve got a vision, and you’ve got a strong sense of what brand you want to build. The best way to implement this is to manage your own rental, and scale when you need. You can always onboard more people later on down the road to help with the day to day management, but your initial vision is always going to be a core driver of your business.

Reason #2: You don’t have the resources or margins to hire a management company.

Not having the capital or overhead to hire a management company is probably the biggest reason people completely DIY the management of their rentals. If you’re paying down the mortgage on a house you’re using as a rental, or if your upkeep costs, taxes, HOA fees, and other expenses are close to what you’re bringing in through bookings, you probably shouldn’t outsource management.

That, or if you’ve done some math and came to the conclusion that an hour of your time spent on property management is more affordable than an hour of a property managers time.

It’s a reality that as the AirBnB and Vacation Rental market is getting more competitive - more rentals in any given area, higher expectations when it comes to location, and a generally increased demand for incredible service.

It’s a reality that the easiest way to maintain an incredible level of service while staying profitable is to minimize the percentage of revenue that you give to third party services. If you get into a good routine for cleaning, maintenance, upkeep, and turnover, managing three, four, even five units without a professional management company helping you is very doable. You just need to be rigorous with the schedules you keep for things that happen between each party of guests, and get a routine down pat. An experienced host can turn over an apartment in half an hour, while those who’re just getting started can spend quadruple that time.

Figure out what your most efficient routine is, especially if you’re trying to manage rentals solo, and perfect it. Not only will you spend less time, you’ll realize how much you can scale, if you choose to do so, and whether you’ll need to hire someone to help you do so.

Reason #3: You have the margins to hire a management company, but you also have enough time to try and do so yourself

There are plenty of hosts out there who could probably afford to outsource management of their AirBnB, but they also have enough time on their hands to do all of the work themselves.

I recommend that if you’ve got time to kill, and if you can (relatively easily) squeeze in 10 hours a month per property, you should commit to the self management route. Like with any activity, it only gets easier as time goes by. You’ll run into challenges early on, and you’ll probably feel that you’re spending way too much time on things like cleaning, engagement, etc. Cleaning and turnover efficiency are completely related to how much experience you have. Within a month or two, you’ll be able to prep a rental in under an hour. Automation can help with the engagement, and you’ll find that the time spend managing your AirBnB begins to drop pretty consistently.

Whatever you end up choosing to do, hosting on AirBnB and other vacation rental platforms can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll do.