What to Ask YOUR Property Management Company Before Signing a Contract

Interviewing vacation rental property managers can be exhausting…especially when you’re not always sure what to ask. If you find yourself wishing you had asked something sooner or regretting the last vacation rental management company you chose, our guide to essential questions to ask your property manager is for YOU. When you’re in the market for a new vacation rental manager, plan out your interview questions ahead of time to save time.

Of course, the company representative is going to tell you every service they offer, run over contract options, and present you with potential profit numbers. What we want to ensure is that you ask nitty-gritty questions you may not think of in the moment to get beneath the surface — questions that a professional property manager should be prepared to answer. So, grab a pen and paper or simply pull up our questionnaire during the interview. Let’s dive in!

10 Essential Questions to Ask Any Property Manager

1. What percentage of your bookings are direct?
In a nutshell, booking direct is when guests book directly with your property management company, not through a third party. It’s always better when the majority of a company’s bookings are generated directly to cultivate repeat guests and keep everything under your control. In fact, direct bookings with Cabins for YOU generate around 90% of our total reservations annually!

But wait, isn’t any booking good, no matter where they come from? Yes and no. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Airbnb and VRBO offer so many options to potential guests your property can get lost in the mix, making initial and repeat bookings a gamble. Plus, they often charge additional fees that can deter potential reservations, and their rules are constantly changing and limiting the marketability of properties. OTAs can even force cancellations and refunds…

2. How and where will you market my property?
Marketing your property in an ever-growing vacation rental industry means a lot of hard work. It takes more than a great webpage to make a property stand out in a crowd of rentals. You need to know how and where a property management company will push your property to the forefront — and keep it there.

Along with an SEO-driven website that’s constantly updated to extend our organic reach, Cabins for YOU lists your property with several OTAs, posts across an array of social media followings — totaling 1.4 million on Facebook alone — creates targeted email campaigns plus ads, implements strategic dynamic pricing, and features snippets on 30+ area-related websites. Not to mention, our Vacation Specialist team speaks directly with potential guests to encourage them to book YOUR property!

3. Do you use smart, data-locked keyless entry?
Modern times call for modern measures, especially when renting out entire homes to 100s of guests every year. When interviewing your property manager, ask if they monitor, maintain, and install secure digital locks.

Keyless entry means no more lost or copied keys, the ability to manage who enters your property, and peace of mind for guests and owners with one-time-use codes generated for every stay. Cabins for YOU offers free installation of a digital keypad and lock plus provides new keycodes to guests, taking care of all the technical details for YOU.

4. Are you available 24/7 for my guests?
Answering calls throughout the night, addressing concerns during the day, and promoting extended stays while guests are at your property are crucial to a positive guest experience. Issues will inevitably arise (even with every preventative action), so your property management company must be available for your guests 24/7.

Guests who stay with Cabins for YOU can reach us via social media message, text, email, and phone. We also have an emergency line at night for anything particularly urgent, like loss of water or heat. We even send out a personalized digital guidebook with details regarding YOUR property before guests arrive so they have vacation rental information at their fingertips.

5. Is there a guest loyalty program?
Fostering guest loyalty begins with a great experience from booking to arrival to departure. Maximizing guest loyalty means going the extra mile for YOUR guests — with a guest loyalty program. Offering exclusive member benefits ensures repeat bookings with rewards for future stays.

CFY Rewards at Cabins for YOU is the only local guest loyalty program in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas. Currently, we have around 7,500 members and counting (with roughly 100+ new members every month) — aka potential guests for YOUR property!

6. What is your average guest review rating?
An easy way to glimpse guest satisfaction at a vacation rental management company is to inquire about their average guest review rating. If they shy away from the topic, chances are they aren’t the property manager you’re looking for.

On Google alone, Cabins for YOU earned 89% positive feedback in 2021 — including nearly 2,900 5-star reviews! That’s a lot of happy guests, and it doesn’t stop there. We send out surveys after each stay to check on guest satisfaction and follow up with anything we need to improve so our ratings keep soaring.

7. Do you employ a full-time maintenance staff?
Keeping your property and amenities well-maintained is vital to attract guests, promote repeat business, and generate revenue. Your potential property management company should have a full-time maintenance staff to quickly address any issues that may arise as well as help prevent issues at your property.

Along with a full-time experienced maintenance staff, Cabins for YOU has contracts with local housekeeping teams trained to meet our highest standards and employs professional inspectors to ensure your property is properly maintained and cleaned between stays.

8. Do you have an owner portal where I can see every detail?
Being able to check in on your vacation rental, bookings, and commission details anytime — without having to reach out to the company directly — offers peace of mind and a better sense of control over your investment. Ask if the candidate company provides an online owner portal to monitor performance.

Partnered owners with Cabins for YOU receive a personal account for our owner portal that can be accessed online or via the mobile app. You can view and place work orders for your property, read company updates in the newsletter, download month-end statements and P&L reports, view your commission YTD, pull a reservation summary by dates, and even make your own reservations.

9. Are there any hidden fees I should know about?
Be upfront in your interview. Your property investment deserves the best care, and it starts with total honesty between partners. If the property management company has something to hide…walk away.

At Cabins for YOU, your personal owner representative ensures you know exactly what you earn and pay and helps every step of the way. We certainly don’t hide fees; we pride ourselves on being an open book with our partners.

10. Do you offer customizable contracts?
Flexibility is huge in the vacation rental industry. Too many property management companies expect owners to fit into the same contract…when that’s simply not realistic today. Every owner is unique and has different goals. Your property manager should be willing to hear what you have to say about any detail in your contract.

When you’re considering partnering with Cabins for YOU, we offer multiple contract options and are open to discussing the terms and hearing any input you may have. If this partnership is going to work, we need to be open and honest from the start. Our primary goal is to make sure YOU feel comfortable, secure, and very happy with your decision.

Remember: every property management company is different, so finding your perfect match may take some time. Asking the right interview questions will help narrow down your options quickly. Consider starting with an experienced candidate by scheduling an interview with Cabins for YOU today.