Dec 2019

CFD 580 – Dealing With Bad Reviews Before The Holidays Q&A

This is a review based business, and that means you will probably get some bad reviews at some point. The question is what do you do about them? More than bad reviews, we’re talking about preparing for the holidays, click bait photos, and more.

Questions and Answers

  • For the inventory checklist, how detailed do you get? 

You can be as detailed as counting the silverware, the question is “at what point will you file a claim?” It probably doesn’t make sense due to the manpower and hours it would take to follow up on that. A better way to think about it is “is there enough silverware in the unit?” The benchmark for detail should be somewhere around where you would file a claim for.

  • Preparing for the upcoming holidays

Now is the time to get ready for the holidays. Change the batteries for any automatic door locks, replace the pilot lights for any gas furnaces, get blankets into the units where the climate gets chilly. Have a chat with your crew now to find out if they are going to be working during the holiday.

  • We had a guest break the do not obstruct the camera rule. How long should we wait to leave a bad review without the guest retaliating? How is the guest punished for not paying the fee?

Many of the platforms have a content policy and if the guest leaves a review that violates the policy it will be hidden. The review is basically the guest’s experience with your service so that means it can be very subjective. When leaving a review, neither party will be able to see the review until both have posted it. Ideally you should wait until the last minute of the fourteen day period to avoid a retaliatory bad review. If the guest has already left the review, then you have to rely on the content policy to help you out.

In terms of fees and guests not being willing to pay, just state the facts of what happened. Remove the emotion and Airbnb may be able to take care of the fee for you.

  • I have a new short term rental unit, how long should I need to wait to get my first booking?

The first issue with the caller’s unit is that since they are targeting business travelers their unit may be too large. Two bedroom units that are pet friendly don’t usually have vacancy issues. They tend to be perfect for small families going through an insurance claim so linking up with a local insurance company may be a good move. For J, if he’s going to be working with a two bedroom unit, he’s going to gear it towards a market that he knows works well with that much room. Take a look at the events that are happening locally and focus on the kind of customer you want to serve. Another thing to note is that the winter season is slow for the area where this caller is from.

There is a stream of revenue that’s right in front of you, you just need to get clear on who they are and get in front of them. What are they searching for and how can you appeal to them?

  • Being insurance friendly

Note in your titles for your listings that you are insurance friendly. This has made a big difference in the occupancy rates of J’s units.

  • Regarding an arbitrage unit, are you protected by your lease if there is a change in ownership?

If you’ve done your lease correctly, they can’t end your lease early as long as you pay your rent and follow the terms. That doesn’t guarantee that they will renew but they can’t terminate it.

  • What size of unit should I target to get past the ordinances in place and actually reach the owners?

Part of the reason we focus on short term rentals is because we ultimately want to own real estate in the long term. Phase 1 is getting one unit, phase 2 is picking up a few more units, and phase 3 is being able to pick up units at your leisure. Start with the size of buildings that you intend to own and the numbers make sense. 

Don’t go larger than owner direct, you should be able to get the owner on the phone when you need to in the event of a problem. 

  • What’s in it for a real estate agent to help me?

The short answer is commission. In general, real estate agents will be able to assist you, even if they don’t have all the knowledge of the short term rental model. In many ways, you will have to train them in what you need. 

  • How do you feel about click bait photos?

This is a horrible idea. When it comes to photos, you are competing for the click and people will not click on click bait style photos. Professional photos are far superior for communicating your brand and business than pictures of Eminem.

  • Do you secure your WiFi router?

On most routers, there is a way to access the control panel of the router that connects all your various locks and devices. The way J protects this is by taking a photo of the physical information on the back of the router, than blacking it out with a marker and electrical tape to prevent a guest from accessing the info. 

  • Is there anything operationally different for the insurance guest?

No matter who contacts you first, the person will always have to go back to the insurance company. Because of this the insurance guest takes longer to close and there are more questions involved. Also note that insurance guests tend to use a lot of data so keep your internet plan in mind. 

Insurance guests don’t care about recommendations for restaurants and have a number of different concerns that you need to communicate that don’t apply to regular guests.

  • How will bad reviews influence a new listing? Should I start a new account?

The simple answer is to start a new account. The only factor the caller may want to preserve is the age of the account, but that is more than made up for by the benefits of having a fresh account. By having additional units you would also generate a number of reviews that will minimize the impact of bad reviews if you go the route of not creating a new account.

Sometimes things go wrong and a listing will just need a fresh start.

  • If you have multiple listings, what website or platform do you recommend using?

The platforms you use should be relative to the types of customers you are trying to attract. Most people should start on Airbnb because of the built in training wheels that help you get started. As you get more experience, it’s easy to graduate to other platforms.

  • I’m operating in a market with a lot of amateurs, have you ever come across this?

Every market has a significant number of amateurs because the barrier to entry is so low that almost anyone can give it a try. This is why the concepts that J teaches are so important. Do your best to start earning repeat business and you won’t be competing with the amateurs in your market. 

  • How do you handle changing codes between guests?

J has his team change the codes at 11 am which is also the departure time. The new code is not given to the arriving guest until between 3 or 4 pm. This all fits into the process checklist that makes sure everything is done and ready for the new reservation.

  • How do you address an inquiry when they don’t have a complete profile?

Many of the platforms have been dealing with discrimination issues and one of the ways that Airbnb has chosen to address it is by hiding the profile pictures of users. They may actually have a profile picture, you may just not be able to see it.

  • I have three listings and am looking to grow, should I be on multiple platforms?

To get a true ROI from systems and processes, you should definitely look to get on multiple platforms and acquire more listings as soon as possible.

  • How do you feel about owner financing for short term rentals?

There’s nothing wrong with owner financing a short term rental, you’re just going to give up speed.

  • Do you have pointers for managing email?

Google filters are your friend, you will get tons of messages which is why we use tools like Smartbnb to make communication easier. Communication is one of the things that can crush you if you don’t do it right.

  • When should you jump to another platform besides Airbnb?

When your customer is on those other platforms, but don’t concern yourself with scaling until you have systems in place to handle between 7 to 10 units. Keeping track of finances and operations becomes more challenging as you grow so build the systems first.

  • A question about operating units out of state

It doesn’t matter if you start during high or low season, there are pros and cons to each and they tend to even out over the course of the year either way. 

There is no one system to have in place when looking at a new city, you need all of them in place to have the best chance of success. Having everything in place allows you to simply duplicate what you’re already doing so you can get rolling faster.  


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