A clean and well-maintained property is the cornerstone of success in the short-term rental industry. Achieving a good standard, however, is a far cry from a simple task.
As long-time rental property managers in the Gulf Coast, we’ve gained a deep appreciation for the distinct challenges involved in keeping a rental property in top-notch condition — challenges that are very different from those of maintaining a private home.
A key difference is the frequent turnover of guests, which requires more frequent cleaning and maintenance. Also, the time available for cleaning is often limited to the short windows between check-outs and check-ins, making it all the more demanding.
It’s not quite the same as cleaning hotel rooms either. Short-term rentals feature kitchens, dining areas, outdoor spaces, and distinctive amenities, each requiring specific cleaning and maintenance procedures.
But worry never. At Luxury Coastal Vacations, we have honed various strategies to streamline tasks for our staff and ensure a seamless experience for all our guests. In this blog, we’ll share ten of these effective approaches with you.
Get your pen and paper ready; it’s time for a masterclass in cleaning and maintenance!
1. Distinguish regular cleaning from deep cleaning.
While we all aspire for pristine conditions, performing a deep clean after each guest check-out is neither practical nor financially workable. The better approach is to opt for a more efficient and cost-effective cleaning routine. But what sets these two approaches apart?
- Routine Cleaning
Routine cleaning is a lighter and more cost-effective option. The primary goal is to maintain the impeccable appearance of the most visible areas of your rental, just as depicted in your photographs.
Routine cleaning tasks encompass dusting, vacuuming, mopping, and various other duties.
It’s essential to periodically replace bed linens and towels, as well as sanitize surfaces like countertops, sinks, and appliances. Thorough bathroom cleaning is a must, involving disinfection of toilets, showers, bathtubs, mirrors, and other critical areas.
A crucial aspect of routine cleaning is hair removal. Always provide your cleaning staff with lint rollers and emphasize the importance of meticulous attention, not only to others’ hair but also to their own.
Even during routine cleaning, your team should be attentive to any missing or damaged items, and a careful inventory check of amenities like plates and cups should be part of the routine. Any discrepancies should be reported accordingly.
- Deep Cleaning
Deep cleaning, on the other hand, involves more extensive efforts. This should be carried out once or twice a year and includes tasks such as cleaning beneath heavy appliances and furniture, dusting blinds and fans, inspecting walls and ceilings for cobwebs, and treating wooden surfaces, among other duties.
Deep cleans are an effective means of keeping your rental in excellent condition and preventing long-term issues. However, they require a lot more labor and can cost at least three times more than routine cleaning.
You’ll probably need to block at least a day in your calendar for this purpose. For this reason, it’s smart to schedule deep cleans during quieter months, such as January and February. If your property experiences high demand, consider booking dates in August and September, just before the peak season.
Deep cleans are more demanding, time-consuming, and can cost up to three times as much as routine cleaning. Professional vacation rental managers in the Gulf Coast must learn to differentiate between the two.
2. Call in the experts
Thinking of doing the cleaning work yourself? Think twice.
In this industry, particularly if you manage multiple properties with high turnover, it’s more practical to entrust the cleaning to professional services or independent cleaners.
Cleaning is not a straightforward task; it’s rather intricate and requires experience and expertise. That’s why it’s wise to rely on seasoned professionals with the necessary skills and a trained eye to ensure your rental looks impeccable.
Wondering how to find such experts? Here are some avenues to explore:
- Cleaning Companies: these established cleaning services employ many well-trained cleaners and are reliable options. They typically offer greater availability and service quality, providing you with added peace of mind. On the other hand, they can sometimes be a bit expensive, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons.
- Freelance Cleaners: independent cleaners are another option, but remember that the selection process is your responsibility. It’s essential to note that the market is flooded with unqualified individuals offering cleaning services. Therefore, it’s crucial to assess their experience and check references before making a decision. Also, remember that more experienced freelance professionals often charge higher rates for their services.
- Referrals: seeking recommendations from other hosts in your area is a great approach to discovering qualified professionals. You can directly contact fellow rental owners or make use of online resources, such as a Facebook group for cleaners in your region.
Extra tip: to ensure top-quality results, even with a top-notch cleaning team, you might want an extra pair of eyes going through everything. Our properties at Luxury Coastal Vacations undergo cleanliness inspections by our in-house inspectors after every cleaning session.
3. Embrace your cleaning staff as part of the business
All capable rental property managers in the Gulf Coast region know very well how important the role of cleaning staff is in the success of a rental business.
A growing practice is to provide performance-based bonuses to cleaning staff that directly tie into your earnings. The aim is to inspire them to align their efforts with your overall success and recognize the broader impact of their work.
Still, some owners might not like this approach. Fortunately, there are alternative and creative methods to reward cleaning professionals and keep them motivated. The key is to ensure your staff understands their contribution to the bottom line and feels valued and appreciated.
Pro tip: consider blocking check-ins during major holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving to give your cleaning staff the opportunity to spend time with their families. It’s a small gesture that they’ll undoubtedly cherish.
4. Establish feedback practices
Establishing a feedback system is a strategy that can lead to improved outcomes for any business, and the rule also applies to cleaning short-term rentals. Providing comprehensive feedback serves as an additional means to boost team morale, motivation, and personal development. It’s surely the most effective way to foster a productive and collaborative relationship with your cleaning team.
Yet, keep in mind that effective communication requires active participation from both parties. Therefore, it’s equally crucial to lend your staff an ear and empathize with their challenges. Whenever possible, offer guidance and support.
It’s also important to recognize that your cleaning staff are the experts in their field, not you. Trust their insights and opinions. If they raise valid concerns, it’s wise to hear what they have to say and take their advice.
Bonus tip: holding regular meetings with your cleaning crew to discuss various topics, including methods to enhance rental cleanliness standards, is an excellent practice. You can also keep open communication channels for them to share any challenges they encounter using smartphones.
5. Don’t overlook linen care
Another important vacation rental insight? Maintaining clean and high-quality linens is key to creating a comfortable and welcoming vacation rental property.
When it comes to guest amenities, like bath towels and linens, the golden rule is to provide one full set of bath linens per guest — a bath towel, two washcloths, and a hand towel. Keeping some extras for emergencies is also a smart move.
To keep your sheets and towels looking good as new, it’s essential to watch out for stains that can ruin the pristine look of your linens. Pre-treatment is your secret weapon. A mix of water and non-chlorine bleach, along with a good soak for treatment, works like magic. So, ask your crew to keep an eye out for those pesky stains before they toss your linens in the washer.
Meeting guest expectations is crucial. Guests anticipate fresh, crisp linens during their stay. At Luxury Coastal Vacations, we take linen care seriously. Our linen program is top-notch, with all bedding and towels, including those cozy comforters, getting professional treatment after every guest’s stay.
Insider’s tip: offering disposable hypo-allergenic makeup wipes in the bathrooms is a small expense that can go a long way. Not only do they make guests feel pampered, but they also help keep your towels in tip-top shape and reduce the need to replace stained ones in the long run.
Meeting expectations with cleaning standards is crucial. When booking a vacation rental on the Gulf Coast, guests expect fresh linens during their stay.
6. Give your staff a hand
When it comes to smart cleaning strategies, did you know there’s a way to help your staff streamline their tasks by involving your guests?
That’s right. If you make cleaning supplies readily available to guests during their stay at your rental, they’re more likely to use them. These supplies can include items like sponges, detergent pods, and even extra trash bins, allowing them to tidy up and dispose of garbage before checking out. Just like the makeup wipes, this is a small investment that can lighten the workload for your cleaning team.
Another approach is to establish clear cleaning guidelines for guests to follow each time they check out, such as clearing out any food from the fridge and washing dishes.
7. Set up task lists & cleaning guides
Another excellent way to help your cleaning staff is by providing them with lists and clear guidelines that outline your expectations for how you want the space cleaned. Doing so helps them focus on essential areas requiring special attention and ensures that no detail is neglected.
It’s even better if these checklists and guidelines establish a specific sequence or cleaning procedure, covering all the necessary steps cleaners must undertake between check-outs and check-ins. You can even create different checklists, such as one for minor, often overlooked tasks like cleaning inside fridges and microwaves, and unclogging shower drains from hair. The other list can include more complex duties.
Another idea is to include visuals like photographs and even links to instructional videos to minimize room for error. In today’s digital age, cleaners often have their smartphones with them all the time, so your online guides will always be in their pockets.
Providing checklists and step-by-step guides is a great way to lend a hand to your cleaning staff. It’s even better if they are available online and include instructional photos or videos.
8. Buy in bulk
Vacation rental properties require a much higher volume of cleaning compared to a typical household, which means a greater need for cleaning products. It’s always wise to keep a well-stocked inventory to avoid the risk of running out of things when the need arises.
An excellent strategy is to buy these cleaning products in bulk at discounted rates. This will save you both money and time, and some websites even offer the convenience of saving your order information, allowing for easy reordering with a simple click when the need arises.
By maintaining a well-stocked supply of cleaning products, you’ll be well-prepared to promptly address any cleaning requirements that may arise during your guests’ stay at your rental. As we know very well, fast problem resolution, as you’re aware, can significantly contribute to positive reviews and guest satisfaction.
9. Embrace preventive maintenance
Besides cleaning, maintenance plays an important role in preserving the condition of your rental. That’s why professional rental property managers choose a proactive approach through preventive maintenance, rather than a reactive one. This approach involves regular inspections and repairs aimed at addressing potential issues before they develop into major and costly problems.
This method includes various tasks, from minor to major. For instance, it spans from changing the batteries in smart locks, remote controls, and smoke detectors, as well as inspecting and replacing light bulbs to scheduling professional inspections for crucial aspects of your rental, such as roof checks, HVAC system maintenance, and pest control measures. A yearly fire safety inspection is also imperative to ensure that all safety equipment is in proper working order.
Remember: preventive maintenance is not only about preserving the condition of your rental but also ensuring the safety of your guests.
10. Use tech tools
It may seem odd to consider technology as a part of the cleaning process, but experienced vacation rental managers in The Gulf Coast can vouch for the numerous tech platforms that enhance efficiency.
For instance, Property Management Systems (PMS) often offer interfaces for cleaning staff to access and verify their schedules. By using task management tools, you can set up reminders for critical maintenance and upkeep tasks. These tools provide the flexibility to select fixed intervals or establish alarms based on the number of guest stays.
Moreover, technology is a valuable asset in other areas, such as recruiting skilled cleaners, managing schedules, defining tasks, and making communication with the workforce easier.
Here are some platforms you might want to explore for cleaning assistance and other property management tasks.
Extra tip: tech can also assist in routine inspections. Cleaners can take photographs of the issues they find. Apps like Solocator will even help you with date-stamped photos, which are very handy as clear evidence if any disputes arise with guests regarding damage claims.
Think all of this is a bit overwhelming? Bet on a professional vacation manager in the Gulf Coast to take care of it all for you.
Managing cleaning and maintenance, especially when dealing with a large number of properties, can be quite demanding. It’s always a wise choice to rely on experienced property management professionals like us.
At Luxury Coastal Vacations, we boast an extensive network of long-established cleaning and maintenance teams that operate throughout the Gulf Coast region.
With years of experience in keeping properties to the highest standards for guests, we consistently receive outstanding reviews, not only for cleanliness but also for all other aspects of vacation property management.