5 Things I Learned From My Mistakes Managing Properties in London and Los Angeles
I want to share these important lessons as succinctly as possible. Hopefully you can learn from me without having to make the same mistakes yourself!
For 4 years I experimented with managing apartments and apartment complexes in London and Los Angeles. I met lots of interesting people who taught me much of what I know today. Starting with…
- The customer is not always right
For many this is obvious, but for me at the time it was not.
At first, I asked my employees and partners to attend to the slightest whim of customers. I kept repeating it like a mantra: "Always, and in every case, agree with the customer."
Then one day a particularly angry customer rang up customer service because he was having a problem in one of our properties. The problem, however, stemmed from the customer himself. My colleague answered the phone and explained clearly and calmly to the customer that he was making a mistake himself, and therefore had to pay attention to his own actions.
In their place, I would have immediately gone on the defensive and apologized. I was expecting an angry response from the customer, but it never arrived. Instead, the customer apologized and left us a very positive review. The moral of the story is simply that the customer is NOT always right—nobody is—and acknowledging that, in a calm and polite way, is often the best thing you can do.
- Software and automation are crucial and those who don’t use them will "die"—but human contact is still key
Nowadays there are many tools and software products that simplify the life of hoteliers. To remain competitive, it’s important to know and understand these tools as well as possible.
So—arm yourself with patience and look for tools that can automate as many repetitive tasks as possible. Tasks that are best done by software should be done by software!
However, contact with the receptionist rather than the owner of the property still has value, especially in family-run properties where the customer expects to come into contact with an important figure in the hotel.
- Checklists are essential for everyone in your property
Do you use checklists? If you don't, you might want to think about starting.
From cleaners to receptionists to business owners, checklists can help ensure your team remembers every tiny, important detail in their work. The tasks that these members have to perform are often repetitive and, for this reason, having a list of tasks to mark as “complete” every day can help with efficiency and productivity.
I recommend one of our articles to help you get started!
- Property images and small details make the difference
I still regularly see beautiful properties with photos that are dark and fail to capture the reality at all. My advice? Look for a professional photographer (the more professional the better) and invest in high-quality imagery. The investment pay for itself multiple times over.
The founders of Airbnb understood this concept perfectly. In the early days, to encourage owners of apartments to join the platform, they would go out themselves, through the streets of New York, to photograph all sorts of apartments—and to photograph them well!
- It’s not expensive interiors that matter, but balanced and harmonious interiors.
I have stayed in properties all over the world where it was clear that the investment in interior design was significant.
I’ve also stayed at properties where it was clear that the investment was relatively low—but the yield was incredible. Every little detail was in harmony and entering the property gave me the feeling of entering a new world. Investing well and taking care of the details that are "special" can be a powerful weapon in attracting customers and ensuring they have a unique, positive, and memorable experience.