By Sage Viator, Executive Housekeeper, Padre Escapes
Here at Padre Escapes, we currently employ a small team of full-time inspectors year-round. This is not to say that one cannot run a successful vacation rental company without having employees solely dedicated to inspecting units once they are cleaned, but we think inspections are the key to our success. We have opted to add an extra layer of security between housekeeping and guests/owners that are checking in.
Because we are a drive-to destination for neighboring cities such as Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, as well as the Rio Grande Valley and the surrounding areas (all just a few hours away), we allow check-ins on any day of the year (seven days a week/365 days a year), and same-day add-ons are always allowed. This does allow the potential for more revenue to our owners but also limits how far ahead we can schedule cleans or inspections because schedules can change on a regular basis.
One of the most important aspects of control is the quality of work put out by the individual cleaners/subs and their accountability. That in itself is hard to perfect without some sort of inspection process. I have heard of companies implementing certain software systems that “inspect” the clean by having cleaners submit pictures; some companies opt to have their cleaners “self-inspect,” whereas others hire dedicated inspectors to go behind the cleaners as we do. I think all three of the aforementioned systems can work to a certain degree. However, I suppose the million-dollar questions are which one works best, and which one is the most cost-effective? As we all know, it’s not often in life those two criteria coincide. Before we go any further, I am not claiming our system is better or more cost-effective than any other system. I am simply sharing with you all what has proven to work for us in our current market.
For as long as I can remember, we have employed inspectors to check the work of the housekeepers. Personally, I think having a third party dedicated to inspecting the cleaners’ work eliminates any sort of bias one may encounter when having the cleaner “self-inspect.” The picture software seems like it would be useful for ensuring items/décor are neat and orderly. However, as far as cleanliness goes, I don’t think there is a substitute for being there in the flesh to see, smell, and feel the stages of cleanliness. How many times have you received a call about a strange odor in the unit or gritty floors? These things probably wouldn’t be captured in a photo or video.
We have had some pretty stellar cleaners in my time here, but we have never tossed around the idea of dispensing with inspections. Because we conduct a thorough inspection after every clean, only a simple walk-through must be conducted on the days leading up to the arrival if the unit has been unoccupied.
The walk-through consists of setting the air-conditioner to the desired temperature, checking TV/Wi-Fi, checking for any dead bugs, opening the blinds, and leaving our personalized “Welcome Flyer.” To maximize the productivity of our inspectors when they are not inspecting or doing walk-throughs, they are also responsible for guest service requests, which include technical issues (TV/ Wi-Fi), changing air filters, running items to guests, performing inventories, and vacant-unit checks.
Is our program successful? Unequivocally! If you divide our year-to-date reservations by the number of legitimate issues, we come up with a factor of 0.0048, or less than half of 1 percent. That is the value of the inspection process!
Is it cost-effective? We include the cost of inspection in our cleaning fee, thus turning the inspection process into a profit center.