Let me share with you how I built my profitable holiday rental business.
Around 10 years ago I bought my holiday cottage. It was very much a second home with (I can’t believe I’m now saying this) no plans to let it out! Coincidentally I started a part time job working for a luxury holiday cottage agency.
Who knew that these experiences would help build the business I run today!
The holiday cottages, barns and apartments this agency managed were gorgeous. I would look at them with envy. And seeing the revenue their owners could earn per week, was an eye-opener. I wanted in!
This was do-able. Nothing that I couldn’t achieve.
At this time my holiday cottage was a bit bland. I knew my cottage had all the basics – great location (in a quiet village), pretty from the outside (stone built) and inside it had many original features. I knew my plan wasn’t about ripping everything out and starting again (as I couldn’t afford to do that and I soon realised I didn’t need to).
It was about making the most of the asset I had. But where to start?
After trial and error, much research and deliberation, I realised that to make my holiday home a success and for it to make the money I wanted it to, I would need to focus on 4 key areas. I broke these down into the 4Ms:
I had to start thinking like a business owner. No more could I treat it as a hobby, as a nice-to-have second home. I also had to believe in myself and banish any voices telling me otherwise; “you’re going to charge how much per week?”. I also had to adopt a guest-focussed mentality where their needs came first. Not easy to start with, I admit, as our holiday home to that point had always been about us and our needs.
Number crunching was never (and still isn’t) my thing but I knew I had to do it. I worked out what income I wanted to achieve at the end of year one and worked backwards. Then, I looked at my start up costs (higher in the first year), running costs and worked out a small budget to make the necessary changes to my cottage. I then set the prices I’d charge per week and projected my monthly income to cover these costs.
I started to break down what exactly was being offered in the agency’s holiday properties. For example what on a photo looks like a very stylish lounge (and it is) consists of a high street sofa, co-ordinating scatter cushions, a feature wall in a bold accent colour, perfectly sized pieces of art, oak side and coffee tables, with table lamps. And bingo!
I’d always had an interest in interiors and an eye for styling. But was this enough?
I enrolled on a home staging and styling course. This taught me the basic rules of interior design but more importantly it taught me what’s important when it comes to “staging” a holiday home. And in particular where to spend money and where you don’t need to! How you can make a room look amazing and to make it stand out from other’s, by making small tweaks to the way it’s presented.
How to achieve a champagne look on a lemonade budget!
There’s no point having an amazing cottage if no-one knew about it. At the time I knew nothing about websites or social media. Now of course, I know how to use these effectively to bring in the bookings. I also taught myself to design and build my own cottage website in WordPress which I’m rather proud of (www.luxuryspringcottageyorkshire.co.uk).
I soon realised the importance of nurturing relationships with past and future guests through contact such as e-newsletters.
Without each one of them firmly in place I would not have succeeded. If one was missing then my business would have crumbled or at least not grown as high as it has. And please don’t make the mistake that most owners do, of only focussing on Marketing. Make sure you get all 4 Ms sorted and sussed.
If you need help, I’m here. All my blogs, advice, hints and tips fit into one of these categories: Mindset, Money, Makeover or Marketing.