Even the sturdiest of things are bound to break down eventually.
If you’ve been in the rental game long enough, you know all too well that maintaining property takes a lot of work. It’s one thing to deal with tenants and restock supplies, but quite another to manage unexpected repairs and renovations. There are just some things you need to deal with that go well beyond your everyday landlord duties.
Problems related to plumbing, wiring, and roofing are bound to pop up one way or another, and, if you aren’t prepared, you might be in for a long, drawn out ordeal—which is why you need a to have a team of trusted vendors on call. Trust us, the sooner you can solve a problem, the better you can serve your tenants, whether it be for extended stays of a few weeks, or even longer periods spanning several months.
The text below will be looking at the three specific types of maintenance property owners come across: property repair, utility maintenance, and furniture maintenance.
Excited to assemble your A-team of home service specialists? Read on to find some tips on how to find the best help possible in all three of those areas.
1. When To Look
The simplest answer for when to look for home service specialists for your investment property is now. Repairs could come in two years or as early as tomorrow—the point is to be prepared for every possible scenario.
There are different levels of maintenance, depending on urgency. There are routine checks that should be done regularly, repairs that need attention, and emergency matters that need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Depending on what type of repairs you need done, you need to have home service specialists who can handle these at the drop of a hat. Ideally, you’ll want to have multiple vendors on call so that you can manage any problem in case your first (or second or third or fourth) choice is unavailable.
To cite a specific scenario, one of the most common problems you might encounter is water damage. In most cases, water damage isn’t as urgent as other types of repair, but, left alone, it can create some serious problems down the line.
Furthermore, if you’re managing a property on an online platform like 2ndAddress, TripAdvisor, or AirBnB, small problems like water damage are things that can take away from you earning a 5-star review. You’ll be surprised how big a difference a small leak or stain can make.
Having a trusted home repair specialist on call will ensure that your problems are resolved immediately—a convenience that will definitely save you a lot of money and headache in the long run.
2. Where to Look
Now that we’ve established that having trusted vendors on call is an absolute must, we’re now ready for the next step: finding these people.
In our information-saturated age, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of choices both online and offline. There are probably hundreds of vendors in your area, and it’s takes some homework before you can find the right one.
The easiest way to get started is to ask for a referral from someone you can trust.
According to Tallyfy, word of mouth is the primary driver behind 20- to 50-percent of purchasing decisions—and it’s easy to see why. If someone you trust can vouch for a vendor, then that’s reassurance enough that their service is worth it.
If you have a property manager handling your space, you can probably get a list of contacts from them. In some cases, your property manager might even be cable of doing the job, which can save you the effort of poking around listings.
Starting with word of mouth means that you get to have real life feedback about a contractor’s service. So ask someone you know about vendors they’ve had good experiences with and go from there. If you can get recommendations from multiple sources, even better. Chances are, you’ll get connected to a vendor with a proven track record.
Of course, there are also reliable online listings you can consider. A website like Angie’s List can help you find the kind of handyman for almost any kind of job. Just make sure to pay attention to customer reviews; look for workers who have been around for a long time and who have a long list of happy customers to boot.
Customer reviews can also give you a good picture of how these vendors might relate with your guests. Remember that if you’re renting out your investment property for an extended stay, then it’s likely that repairs might need to happen while a guest is renting out your space. A vendor who gets along with people can really be an asset.
Find handymen who provide a variety of services. The more work they can offer, the less you’ll have to look around. Consider it an optimal investment.
One more thing: make sure they’re available. There’s nothing worse than unreturned calls and missed appointments when you have an urgent repairs to deal with.
3. Who to Trust
Now that you have an idea of where to find reliable vendors, you’re going to want to know how to narrow down the field. There are lots of skilled home repair experts out there, but the ones who truly have your best interests in mind are much more difficult to come across.
So how do we narrow things down to at least help you select the best possible handymen to help take care of your property?
If you’re working off referrals, then half the job is done. A vote of confidence from someone you trust is a strong way to start off your professional relationship with a potential vendor.
If you have several candidates that you’re screening, here are a few tips that you can use to find just the right worker for you.
First, screen out for professionalism. Take note of how well your candidate respects the schedule you’ve set for their interview; punctuality is an underrated asset you want out of anyone working for you, and the lack thereof is a major red flag.
If your vendor shows up on time or early for an interview, it also shows that you might be able to trust him to show up on time when an emergency arises.
Next, do a quick check on your candidate’s equipment. Make sure they have the hardware to get the job done—remember you want someone who can handle even the most unpredictable of scenarios, not someone who fumbles through every repair job.
The last thing you want is for a vendor to do some experimenting on your rental property while a guest is there.
If you’re interviewing someone who hasn’t been referred to you, don’t hesitate to ask for past clients that you can contact. Remember, finding the right vendor is an indirect way of investing in the long term viability of your property, so the due diligence is something that is definitely worth the effort.
Once all your due diligence is done, carefully compare the prices of each vendor. Are their rates proportional to their service? Is a certain vendor worth the premium price? Does a certain job really cost that much?
The more research you do, the less likely you’ll get ripped off.
In the end, real trust can only be developed overtime, but once you’ve knocked the three above tips down, you’ve already won half the battle.
Bear in mind that keeping your investment property at its peak state is absolutely vital to long term profitability. A well maintained apartment will keep your guests happy over an extended period of time, and maybe even encourage some repeat bookings.
In that light, you should think of your home repair specialists as investment partners as opposed to one-off contractors. Develop the right relationship with the right contractor and you’re bound to create a win-win situation for years to come.