Software to Encompass all tasks

18 Replies

I currently own 2 rentals and am always conscious of the scalability.  My cleaners have been missing a few small things as of late, and it seems to be sucking up some time and energy.  My initial solution was a checklist in the pantry for the cleaners to follow which worked for a while and then faded.  While trying to find a program online to import my Icals and come up with checklists that the cleaners had to submit at the end of each clean, I realized this is vital as I scale regardless and add more team members.  Is anyone here using a software that integrates icals and team members with tasks? 

So far the top 2 I am trying to learn are monday.com and smartsheets, but they are a little funky for me and I am wondering what everyone uses to manage all the interworking parts of their business as they expand.  Thanks!

@Reese Newell So this is my take and it really depends on the area of your STR and how busy it is. My STRs are busy pretty much non stop year round in my market and my cleaners are going non stop as well. During the true peak season they are slammed. The reality is that they have to get the basics done and whatever else they see and then move on to the next STR. They are also humans and have lives outside of cleaning and they are not perfect as we are not perfect and are going to miss things from time to time just as if we were the ones doing the jobs. So here is my opinion - form great relationships with your cleaners and take care of them - if you send them long lists of items or tasks it can overburden them. I'm sure some will disagree with me. Having said that, the extra things you need to get done need to be communicated to them and once they learn your setup at your STRs if they are professionals they will get done. Having said that I have the same group of cleaners that handles all of my STRs. I don't have a random cleaner coming in each week and in that case I think a list like you mentioned might be in order. My best recommendation is to form a great relationship with your cleaner and take care of them. They will miss things from time to time, but they should be good to resolve those things as well. If this isn't happening, then maybe look for another cleaner. That's just my two cents. It will be interesting to see what others think.

Thanks for the reply @Ken Boone , I certainly do not want to overburden them or make it very complex.  In some ways it may simplify the process.  The only alterations would be these for them: At the end of a turnover they would look at a checklist of the 5-10 things that are most often overlooked and just simply check they did them.  Other than that, they send photos of damage when they arrive and leave and this would then be done through a consolidated app so the information is there instead of via text (This will be the same for them, but simplify for myself as I move in to other markets).  Lastly, the other part that makes this vital is as I grow, so will my team, and having 5-10 team members down the line in one program will make life much simpler than communicating with them all separately.  I prefer to have the communication aspect down now before things grow and I have to scramble to do so.

The other nice aspect would be organizing my own tasks that need to be done in there as well, although a simple google doc or spreadsheet can be a smaller term solution for this.

My wife created laminated check lists for each room. The cleaners  can write on them with wet erase markers then wipe them clean after each use.

No issues with things being missed after switching to this method.

Thanks @John Underwood , I currently have that in our pantry.  I'm just thinking down the line for restocking supplies and such as well if it is all centralized it will make the restocking process easier as well.  I would also like to have my other team members as I grow have oversight to whom is there at what times.

It would also be a space where I can organize other team members tasks as well as my own for what takes priority or needs to be done over the weeks, when construction is going to be done.  

@Reese Newell Initially we used a larger cleaning company that they had a developer build them an app.  The cleaners used the app and we could access it as well.   The cleaners took before and after pictures and logged them for each visit and it had all those things built in it with task lists etc.  That is the one and only reason we stuck with that company as long as we did.  We finally ditched them because their service sucked, when we needed pics, they were sloppily taken and really were not usable, and then they kept lying to us about things being done when they were not done and over billing us for repairs.  As in billed us for 1.5 hours when the handyman was there for literally 5 mins.

So yea a handful items of things to check at the end of the clean - no problem.  When I read your post I was thinking of someone else that insisted on this huge list for their cleaners with like 80 items on it to cover everything and that really turned the cleaners off.

This happened to me a lot, and I switched to 'getproperly' which helped SIGNIFICANTLY, but it will NOT erase all problems. I now go in person every 2-3 months with my own checklist that is extremely exhaustive (2 lamps per room, 2 pillows per bed, outlets in good condition, mirror in each bedroom, bed not wobbly, curtains not wobbly, curtains cleaned etc. etc. etc.)

The benefit of getproperly is you sync it to your calendars with ical, then you invite your cleaners to it, then you create a checklist, their checklists can require a photo per item as well. I have about 50 photos I require my cleaners to take after each cleaning which does 2 things.

1. If they take a photo of something, they will for sure realize theres a problem if there is one. Like I have them take a photo of the empty dryer, because they kept forgetting they ran a load in there, and guests were annoyed the dryer had towels in it. I have them take a photo of the clean backyard, becuase guests were complaining there were bits of trash in it.
2. If a guest ever complains and goes for a refund due to issues, I always have cleaning photos I can send to airbnb that proves 'no, the house was in fantastic condition, i have no idea what they're saying, look at these photos' and generally airbnb goes 'hmm yeah you're right, this looks fine'.

You can use Google sheets, use Google Forms with it ( part of its "Tools" tab) you create a master Data sheet and create a checklist form that they check off, it all gets recorded on the Google sheets form with date and time. On the form you can have an inventory count ( EX: how many rolls of Toilet Paper are left?) In the sheet create a condition that a cell turns red if a number is at or lower than a certain number, then you know its time to re-stock.

@Reese Newell I’ve used TurnoverBnB.com for years. Bit of a love hate relationship given it’s a poorly coded app and half the functions kick you over to the web anyway, but it has customizable checklist with photo upload and recently added inventory capability as well. I looked around at a lot of the different solutions out there and found them either more expensive or with an overhead like that I simply did not want to maintain (ex: Properly requiring photos anytime I wanted to change a checklist). It’s currently free for your first property so it doesn’t hurt to check it out and see if it would work for you.
As I’ve posted elsewhere, I also use yourporter.com for short term rental management, which also includes a cleaning portal that can be used if you are only managing one cleaner per property. I have increasingly been testing that capability out after stabilizing my cleaner team, even though I can’t do some of the more convenient features like add or remove checklist items on the fly.

Hope this helps!

@Reese Newell We've been having this problem too as of late with the labor shortage.  Cleaning prices have gone way up and quality has gone way down.  We implemented two things:

1.) Properly - As others mentioned this will sync with your calendar and force your cleaners to check off each item

2.) A Third Party Inspector - You need someone else to go in there to inspect each clean and make sure it was done right.  If something was missed they fix it and give feedback to the cleaner so that it doesn't happen again.  This person is an extra layer of accountability but eventually even this person will need to have surprise checks of their work to make sure they keep their high attention to detail.  

Originally posted by @Joshua Strickland :

@Jefferson Brown Curious how you implemented the third party inspector. Is it a company/person who specifically does that or do you use a handyman or something like that?  Also do you have them inspect every clean or maybe every third?

Hey Josh!  You can do it a couple different ways.  If you can find a maintenance person to do it then they can also fix issues while they are there which is great.  The trick is finding a maintenance person who also has the attention to detail.  For that reason we actually worked with a seperate cleaning/property management company and paid them $50/inspection.  Then they bill the cleaning company if they have to spend time cleaning something that should have been done in the first place.

As far as frequency I think it depends on your business.  We have larger properties with higher nightly rates and we're also in areas that charge a LOT for cleaning so we have some wiggle room with this expense.  If you're like us I would recommend inspecting every clean.  But if your nightly rates are lower and you're already stretching it with your cleaning fee then do what makes the most sense.  Hope that helps.

Originally posted by @Scott Kunz :

This happened to me a lot, and I switched to 'getproperly' which helped SIGNIFICANTLY, but it will NOT erase all problems. I now go in person every 2-3 months with my own checklist that is extremely exhaustive (2 lamps per room, 2 pillows per bed, outlets in good condition, mirror in each bedroom, bed not wobbly, curtains not wobbly, curtains cleaned etc. etc. etc.)

The benefit of getproperly is you sync it to your calendars with ical, then you invite your cleaners to it, then you create a checklist, their checklists can require a photo per item as well. I have about 50 photos I require my cleaners to take after each cleaning which does 2 things.

1. If they take a photo of something, they will for sure realize theres a problem if there is one. Like I have them take a photo of the empty dryer, because they kept forgetting they ran a load in there, and guests were annoyed the dryer had towels in it. I have them take a photo of the clean backyard, becuase guests were complaining there were bits of trash in it.
2. If a guest ever complains and goes for a refund due to issues, I always have cleaning photos I can send to airbnb that proves 'no, the house was in fantastic condition, i have no idea what they're saying, look at these photos' and generally airbnb goes 'hmm yeah you're right, this looks fine'.

@scott kunz that is all great advice and I like it.  I have a few questions with it.  As far as some others have mentioned, has it not been too tedious for the cleaners to take all of these photos? And I have tried getproperly but the photo orientation and having to click in and out to get to screens seemed very intensive for its basic purpose, do you know if they’ve solved this? 

Originally posted by @Patrick Liska :

You can use Google sheets, use Google Forms with it ( part of its "Tools" tab) you create a master Data sheet and create a checklist form that they check off, it all gets recorded on the Google sheets form with date and time. On the form you can have an inventory count ( EX: how many rolls of Toilet Paper are left?) In the sheet create a condition that a cell turns red if a number is at or lower than a certain number, then you know its time to re-stock.

 Awesome stuff @Patrick Liska, I am going to be trying this today.  Are you able to have this populate infinite times so the cleaners can do it at each turn and fill it out as in it is a form that can be utilized over and over again.  I am excited to try this out.

Originally posted by @Cliff H. :

@Reese Newell I’ve used TurnoverBnB.com for years. Bit of a love hate relationship given it’s a poorly coded app and half the functions kick you over to the web anyway, but it has customizable checklist with photo upload and recently added inventory capability as well. I looked around at a lot of the different solutions out there and found them either more expensive or with an overhead like that I simply did not want to maintain (ex: Properly requiring photos anytime I wanted to change a checklist). It’s currently free for your first property so it doesn’t hurt to check it out and see if it would work for you.
As I’ve posted elsewhere, I also use yourporter.com for short term rental management, which also includes a cleaning portal that can be used if you are only managing one cleaner per property. I have increasingly been testing that capability out after stabilizing my cleaner team, even though I can’t do some of the more convenient features like add or remove checklist items on the fly.

Hope this helps!

 @Cliff H, this was the app that I was using and found a few things annoying about it and why I was looking for a simpler solution.  My bank is a small credit union that I am trying to develop a relationship with, and since they don't connect with turnoverbnb for payments, they charge me 5% per turn on top which felt a little high.  I can solve this by opening an account at another account to pay for things like these.  As you stated, properly is the best right now, but does have its bugs which is why I was trying to elevate a little beyond it, I appreciate the response!

Originally posted by @Jefferson Brown :

@Reese Newell We've been having this problem too as of late with the labor shortage.  Cleaning prices have gone way up and quality has gone way down.  We implemented two things:

1.) Properly - As others mentioned this will sync with your calendar and force your cleaners to check off each item

2.) A Third Party Inspector - You need someone else to go in there to inspect each clean and make sure it was done right.  If something was missed they fix it and give feedback to the cleaner so that it doesn't happen again.  This person is an extra layer of accountability but eventually even this person will need to have surprise checks of their work to make sure they keep their high attention to detail.  

 @Jefferson Brown, very interesting stuff.  I stated why I did not want to use properly above, but I do get its functionality.  I am going to try after all of these great responses to set up google forms and implement it with Monday.com to have the same checklists and more functionality for my daily life all in one place instead of the additional apps.

The 3rd party inspector is an interesting concept, as of right now, as I only have 2 properties and am trying to iron out all the wrinkles that will make it difficult to scale, I am going after most turns to point out things, I really like this idea.  Finding the person may be difficult, but it will be a much simpler task once I add a few more properties to my company in the area!

Thanks everyone, great ideas! I will provide my own experience with these, google forms, and Monday.com if I am able to build out a simpler solution that can help everyone.

Reese,

You should be able to have it so that the cleaners can get to the form each time, you can even do it for maintenance, have the contractor fill out the form, it all goes back to your main page which becomes your database and records for the property because it would all be dated and time stamped.

I think your best bet given labor shortage that are hitting many vacation markets is to have a great relationship with your cleaner, and make sure you take care of them during the holidays.

The other thing we do is have a handyman go through our properties 1x per month to replace filters, test fire alarms, and look for any other issues that might need attention.

Mike