How to Handle Cleaning with a Full Time Job

29 Replies

Does anyone have any tips on how to handle cleaning of the unit after guests leave? There is a small window of time each day to clean and it is almost impossible to do it yourself while working a full time job.

@Collin S.

Either have the guests clean up after themselves, or hire a cleaning company that will stop in take care of bedding and towels and such.

How close do you live near the property?

Originally posted by @Christopher Phillips :

@Collin S.

Either have the guests clean up after themselves, or hire a cleaning company that will stop in take care of bedding and towels and such.

How close do you live near the property?

It is next door.

Originally posted by @Collin S. :

Does anyone have any tips on how to handle cleaning of the unit after guests leave? There is a small window of time each day to clean and it is almost impossible to do it yourself while working a full time job.

You have a couple choices. One you do it yourself and for weekday checkouts you block off a day to allow you to clean after work. If the cost of cleaning is less than one days rental then it makes sense to hire someone when needed. If your rent is less than what it costs to pay a person to clean then it makes sense to block a day after they check out to allow yourself time to clean.

I increased my annual revenue by paying a cleaning person and having same day check-in check outs.

Originally posted by @John Underwood :
Originally posted by @Collin S.:

Does anyone have any tips on how to handle cleaning of the unit after guests leave? There is a small window of time each day to clean and it is almost impossible to do it yourself while working a full time job.

You have a couple choices. One you do it yourself and for weekday checkouts you block off a day to allow you to clean after work. If the cost of cleaning is less than one days rental then it makes sense to hire someone when needed. If your rent is less than what it costs to pay a person to clean then it makes sense to block a day after they check out to allow yourself time to clean.

I increased my annual revenue by paying a cleaning person and having same day check-in check outs.

This makes perfect sense! Great strategy, thanks!

@Collin S.   Find a cleaning lady like mine.  She does it for free and I get to sleep with her.  

I manage and own 5 vacation rentals that are 5 hours away from where I live. I have 1 cleaner that cleans one of them and another cleaner that cleans 4 of them. It’s pretty much as simple as that. If you have an awesome realtor like @Avery Carl like I do it makes things easier. And I get to sleep with her. (@Paul Sandhu )

For most short-term rentals of VRBO or Airbnb guests already expect to pay for an additional cleaning fee (at least for vacation rentals). I tend to agree with the advice to hire a cleaning lady or cleaning service. That would allow for quicker turn around so you don't waste rentable days. My guests check out at 10 am and the unit is usually cleaned and ready by 4 pm for the next set of guests to check in. Also, if you can provide a cleaning person or  company with an assured stream of business, you can certainly negotiate better rates. Some cleaning services also have  their own laundry facility services, so they don't have to wash sheets and towels in your unit. Usually best to have a least two sets of lines, towels, etc, for quick turn-around. I do ask guests to strip the beds of lines and pile dirty towels and linens on the floor, to take out the trash and to load and start the dishwasher. I stayed at a competitor's unit where they asked me to put sheets in the washing machine, start the cycle and do a bunch of other pre-check out clean up. I felt that was kind of overkill and did not provide for a very nice guest experience. So I try to limit any cleaning demands from guests. 

I have another investor in my area recommend an awesome cleaning lady and handyman for my 2 properties. I don't get to sleep with any of them. 

@Villy Ellinger   Would you charge any extra if your tenants could sleep with the cleaning lady?

@Paul Sandhu Ha-ha! To avoid  any "on the job harassment" situations, I would advise against it :-). Not sure any of my commercial liability insurance policies cover THAT situation. 

On a serious note, actually it doesn't really matter if the cleaning person is a family member or not, I think that any person who provides a professional cleaning service should be compensated for it. Even if the owner cleans their own unit, they can still charge a separate cleaning fee for that and build it into the rental quote. I do understand though that in different markets things work differently, so it might not always be the right strategy :-).

@Collin S. I have a wonderful cleaning woman from Jacksonville. PM me if you'd like her number.

@Collin S.

I know this is contrary to the majority of the advice on this topic but my wife and I have been trying as hard as we can to do everything ourselves. We charge each guest a 10$ cleaning fee and look at that money as extra income. We both work full time jobs and there are days where it is impossible for one of us to get home to flip our rental. In those cases, we utilize the services of a cleaning company. BUT, if one of us can get away from work for an hour over lunch, we always attempt to do so. We are just getting started in the STR business and want to absolutely minimize the amount of additional expenses we have. Another useful tip is to get two of everything you need to wash/switch out. We have two sets of sheets, towels, duvet covers, pillow cases, and silverware so it only takes us about 30 mins to clean and prepare the rental for the next guests. In my opinion, it is definitely worth it to hustle as much as possible to increase that cash flow.

My biggest pet peeve in vacation rentals is how dirty some of them are. In some cases I know the owners worked full time jobs and just popped in during lunch to change sheets and towels. If you are going to be in the hotel business, hire a cleaning person to properly clean the unit.

@Sean M. You have a good work ethic, and you sound like my wife and I as far as taking care and running STRs.  After we had about 12 STRs, my wife quit her regular job as the office manager of a law firm in order to clean houses.  Keeping them clean is necessary before they could be rented out again.  We make more money in one week from 2 houses than she made at the law office.  

We have two of everything as a backup like you, extra washers, dryers (gas and electric), stoves (gas and electric), refrigerators, dishwashers, sofa beds, modems, televisions and repair parts for all the previous items.

We don't charge a cleaning fee because most of our tenants leave them fairly clean.  If we did charge a fee, our thoughts were that the tenants would make sure we earned it.  All our tenants are refinery contractors...welders, pipe-fitters, boilermakers, inspectors, electricians, etc.

@Mindy Jensen

Yes 10$ does sound cheap but we run an Air BnB out of the guest suite attached to our home.. It is a 1 bed, 1 bath, roughly 400 sf apartment that is really not hard to clean. If the cheap cleaning fee is what sets us apart from the competition than I am happy to keep it there. The way we look at it, it takes us 30 mins to clean the rental and if we charge 10$ each time, we are paying ourselves 20$ an hour (minus the costs of a few replacement items like TP, soap, coffee, juice, etc.)  We are planning on keeping our prices where they are for the first year in order to build a solid reputation before raising them a bit. 

@Paul Sandhu

That sounds like a great business model and is exactly where we want to get someday.

@Sean M. The thing that helped us the most was that we buy bank foreclosures.  Our rule of thumb is to offer 1/4 of the appraised value for the house.  6 months of rent will pay for the house.  It can take 7-12 months to collect 6 months of rent.

The second most helpful thing is that we buy most of our furniture and appliances from estate auctions.

The third most helpful thing is Youtube.  You can fix most any problem with a video tutorial.

Originally posted by @Mindy Jensen :

@Sean M. , $10 cleaning fee is unheard of in STR. I see either $75-ish or the cost is baked into the nightly rate.

From what I have seen there are two different business models. Either put a healthy fee on the cleaning or include it in the daily fee. When I rent a unit, I avoid places with the cleaning fee if I am only staying a day or two, but it is totally fine if I am staying the week. The cleaning fee seems to discourage one night stays, or at least it does for me. I am not sure $10 makes much sense. It seems better to just have it in the price if you are going to be that low, so you can advertise no cleaning fee.

@Joe Splitrock

Thanks for the feedback! We will look into maybe just increasing the nightly price 5$ and take out the cleaning fee to make our listing more appealing to the one night'ers.  I really appreciate the honest input. I learn more on these forums than I do anywhere else. 

Originally posted by @Sean M. :

@Joe Splitrock

Thanks for the feedback! We will look into maybe just increasing the nightly price 5$ and take out the cleaning fee to make our listing more appealing to the one night'ers.  I really appreciate the honest input. I learn more on these forums than I do anywhere else. 

That seems like a horrible idea, you are going to reduce your minimal fee of $10 to $5 and make less money?  At $5 you may as well just offer free cleaning....  Many of us would argue you are working for free at $10 already, I don't care how long it takes. 

I don't know how competitive your market is but hopefully it isn't that competitive where you have to be concerned about raising your price $10...  If that is the case your prospects of raising future rents would be tough...  Unless you were thinking about a price hike of $1.75 increase in room rates next year....

@John Woodrich

I believe you misunderstood what I said. After taking into account some of the feedback above, I am considering taking out the cleaning fee altogether and increasing the nightly rent. 

That is fine if you think we are working for free but the majority of our guests only stay for a night or two.  This past month, we made over 100$ in cleaning fees.  Now that might be chump change to some, but for my wife and I who are just getting started, it is a big help. We are using this easy, low maintenance AirBnb to pay our mortgage and then some.

Originally posted by @Sean M. :

@John Woodrich

I believe you misunderstood what I said. After taking into account some of the feedback above, I am considering taking out the cleaning fee altogether and increasing the nightly rent. 

That is fine if you think we are working for free but the majority of our guests only stay for a night or two.  This past month, we made over 100$ in cleaning fees.  Now that might be chump change to some, but for my wife and I who are just getting started, it is a big help. We are using this easy, low maintenance AirBnb to pay our mortgage and then some.

I understand what you are saying - just think you may be trying to micromanage a little too far unless your area is that competitive. I agree with the idea of just increasing the nightly price but I don't think you have to undercut your services to do so.  Maybe experiment with what you are doing now and then switching it to nightly rent $10 higher and see if it has any impact.

Originally posted by @John Woodrich :
Originally posted by @Sean M.:

@Joe Splitrock

Thanks for the feedback! We will look into maybe just increasing the nightly price 5$ and take out the cleaning fee to make our listing more appealing to the one night'ers.  I really appreciate the honest input. I learn more on these forums than I do anywhere else. 

That seems like a horrible idea, you are going to reduce your minimal fee of $10 to $5 and make less money?  At $5 you may as well just offer free cleaning....  Many of us would argue you are working for free at $10 already, I don't care how long it takes. 

I don't know how competitive your market is but hopefully it isn't that competitive where you have to be concerned about raising your price $10...  If that is the case your prospects of raising future rents would be tough...  Unless you were thinking about a price hike of $1.75 increase in room rates next year....

The $10 cleaning is a per stay cleaning fee. He is offering free cleaning, but increasing his room rate by $5 per day. If a guest stays three days, he is collecting $15 now instead of $10 and is offering free cleaning.

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