13 Replies Latest reply: Jan 4, 2019 9:59 AM by ccantu88 RSS

    Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?

    ccantu88 New Member

      We have a small cabin up in the mountains of CO, and we utilize a husband/wife team to help care for our property. He charges a monthly fee for 'caretaker' duties - checking in on things, minor repairs, splitting wood, etc., and she charges a cleaning and trash disposal fee per stay. We stay in regular contact with both of them, send over each bookings directly and pay their quarterly invoices promptly. However, during a call with her a few days ago, she made a comment about being sure to 'take care of your caretakers' and mentioned that another property owner gave them a Christmas bonus. I then reiterated our appreciation for what they both do for us and asked her to let me know me know if there's anything else we can do in the new year to help them as they care for multiple cabins on the mountain. I felt bad for not sending them a bonus, and it honestly had not crossed our minds to do so because of how much we pay them on an annual basis. We are relatively new as vacation rental owners, so just wanted to check in with this group to see if this is a customary practice and if so, how do you determine what a holiday bonus amount is? Thanks for any insight, it's much appreciated!

        • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
          margaret CommunityAmbassador

          I give my housekeeper the equivalent of one cleaning each year as a Christmas bonus. I also send her a $25 bonus each time cleanliness is mentioned in a review throughout the year. She works hard, does a great job and I want her to know I appreciate her. 

            • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
              sunnycs CommunityAmbassador

              margaret wrote:

               

              I give my housekeeper the equivalent of one cleaning each year as a Christmas bonus. I also send her a $25 bonus each time cleanliness is mentioned in a review throughout the year. She works hard, does a great job and I want her to know I appreciate her.

              Exactly the same for my staff .  My maintenance man also receives a "monthly retainer," but I feel that the year-end bonus allows them to feel like they are sharing in our success over the past year. 

            • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
              ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

              My housekeeper and her husband are worth their weight in gold, and over the past 15 years have become our "partners"  (Yes, that is a dig at HA).  We do not give them an annual bonus, but we do ensure that their monthly check from us is at least a certain minimum amount, regardless of whether or not we have had rentals.  We also established a 'bonus' system for extra pets and other certain guest demographics.

               

              Does your husband/wife team have other employment or is caretaking their primary source of income?  If caretaking is their business, they are your service contractor and I would do something like what margaret recommended, or a bonus that is a percentage of the average monthly fee at the end of the year.  Good, reliable people are hard to find....take care of them when you strike gold.

              • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                Sorry, NO! I don’t provide a bonus unless I feel the guests were exceptionally messy or stayed a long period of time. The reason is this.....most days my cleaning lady is getting the home clean much quicker than most, which means that most of the guests (thankfullly) have left the place in relatively clean order and she is just sanitizing, laundry and vacuuming. So, some days the hourly is quite large and others maybe not quite as much.

                 

                I Like to surprise her occassionally as we have become friends by buying her lunch or inviting her over when I am there for a girls time with other friends.

                 

                I think that to “expect” a bonus is not a good idea, at least for me.

                 

                When I started this little business 9 years ago, I put an ad in Craigslist and literally had hundreds of responses for cleaning help. I was happy to land on who I have used and have another neighbor as a back up in the event she is out of town, or just unable to clean that day.

                 

                So, I think it is more of a personal choice, rather than an industry standard and could be something expected in certain regions, obviously not where my VR is located

                  • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                    margaret CommunityAmbassador

                    I don't believe my housekeeper has any expectation for bonuses. I agree that some cleanings are easy while others are more work. At the end of the day, my housekeeper does a great job and I want to let her know how much I appreciate her. My maintenance is mostly dealt with through our HOA but when I need someone for things they don't handle I have people I can call on. Since none of these people are regularly caring for my properties, I only give the "extras" to my housekeeper. The review bonus idea came from someone on this forum quite a while ago. I think reviews mentioning cleanliness are very important so I adopted the practice. My housekeeper truly appreciates the little bit extra and I think she makes an extra effort to try to earn those review bonuses.

                      • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                        twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                        Margaret....I am glad that is working for you and others. I guess I “expect” the reviews to indicate the property is clean and most of mine do say that.....isn’t that why we hire a good cleaning person, otherwise it is time (for me anyway) to find someone else. I am not suggesting that we take them for granted for sure, but as with any job our best should be expected.

                    • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                      green_mango Active Contributor

                      I have a local handyman who is quick to respond when needed, and I give him a small annual bonus ($50) - I only needed him a couple times this past year, but I like him to know I appreciate his help, and it's nice to know he'll make time for me if needed for something urgent.

                       

                      Our cleaner gets an amount approximate to or more than her single cleaning fee - cleaning is $150, but I think I gave her closer to $175/$200 this year.

                       

                      I don't know if either of them expect an annual bonus from me, but I would *not* be happy if they dropped hints asking for it - that just rubs me the wrong way. 

                      • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                        patpat Contributor

                        I give our cleaning ladies a card with restaurant gift certificates equivalent to a little more than a single cleaning. They seem to really appreciate this. We use a cleaning company and the cleaning company leaves us a holiday gift for each property they clean each year, usually a big box of cookies.  Also, throughout the year, the company has a drawing each month for the staff. For every compliment a staff member gets, their name gets thrown into a hat. I make sure I pass along every single compliment spoken to me, sent by text, left in the guest book, on our survey form, or in a review. I think that means more than anything to them,

                        • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                          ccantu88 New Member

                          Thanks everyone for providing your feedback, it's very helpful! I like the idea of incenting 'above and beyond' performance with a bonus, so I will be thinking about appropriate ways to do that. The husband on our team charges $60/month for caretaker duties, and I'm not always certain what he does each month, but I know he at least ensures there is split wood during the winter, our driveway is driveable with the snow, etc. There are a few minor repair jobs that I don't think he always catches or takes care of, but there are others he does, so his monthly fees likely even out. Our housekeeper charges $100 for cleaning and trash disposal and her hourly rate is $25/hr. Our cabin is 860 sq feet so it's small, and I do think that most cleanings are likely laundry, sanitizing surfaces, and vacuuming....however, on our last owner visit, we found a throw pillow on our couch with a dried up snot plug (sorry, it's gross but true!), our brand new $300 Shark vacuum stopped working within a year and when my sister visited, she said there was so much hair clogged up in the rollers that it burned it out (and we have a no-pets policy), and we have guests telling us about broken appliances...so maybe this kind of turns into a different situation of....our caretakers have hinted at a bonus, cleaning is questionable, and they're a husband/wife team....and it's a very small mountain community, not a lot of options for either service, and this IS their sole source of income...perhaps now I"m really asking for advice on how to best handle this. We are going back up at the end of February and I'm looking to have a business meeting with them. We can't afford to lose them as service providers, but I am very open to providing a proper incentive to keep all parties happy. The feedback on this thread has been very helpful, so thank you!!

                            • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                              green_mango Active Contributor

                              Oh that's frustrating - it sounds like they need to step it up.  I suggest a $25 bonus each time you get a review that mentions cleanliness in a positive way.  Also being really hands on - give good feedback and let them know clearly what else needs to be done (snot on pillow - how long had that been there?!).  I'd be upset too!  For what it's worth, I'm also in a small mountain town and very reliant on my cleaner - 99% of the time she's great, thankfully.  I've got a backup list though for when I need someone else in a pinch.  I joined our neighborhood's Next Door site and another owner made a regional FB page for vacation rental owners so we all keep a list of people we've found helpful. 

                              • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                                patpat Contributor

                                ccantu88, you say you can't afford to lose them, but I would wonder if I can afford to keep to them. If things are going uncleaned and unreported, it's hurting you in the long run. In your meeting with them in February, you might want to watch really closely to see how they react to the idea of how you are setting up your bonuses. Is their heart still in it? I would be afraid that it might be more money out the door. Then again, it might just be what they really need. It would be nice if you had references from other owners they work for who give them bonuses that you can talk to to see if, indeed, the bonuses make a difference. Who knows, maybe they are seeing a slack in performance as well. Then you'll know bonuses are not going to help. Perhaps a system where you add x amount monthly to the year end "bonus bag" for the compliments, AND you get you to deduct from the bonus tally for each negative remark or complaint. Running an ad might not be a bad thing either, as the responses might be a total surprise. You never know who is willing to help for necessary income. Also, I find that a survey form I leave with the welcome letter for guests, with a couple of the questions asking if anything needs updated, or if anything needs to be replaced really helps. I clean one of our properties and I can't possibly know if any of the small appliances (coffee maker, crock pot, blender, toaster, etc.) go bad unless guests tell me. There is just no time to test everything. Since I clean that one property, I also inspect the other two. Not sure, but maybe this is another reason my cleaners do such a good job - they know I'm in and out. Maybe you could make an arrangement with a neighbor to periodically inspect? Our area is rather remote as well, and it's hard to get good help. Good luck!!!

                                • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                                  ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                                  The bonus issue aside, it does sound like you need to have a discussion with your team.  My husband outlined what we expected to have done on a monthly basis with our maintenance person, and invited him to make suggestions as to what could make his job easier or what more he felt he could do to make our property more attractive and enjoyed by the guests. Likewise, I did a full house cleaning together with my housekeeper, going over what my expectations are for each and every cleaning, and worked out what would be a fair base rate that we were both happy with.  I asked her to tell me what products and tools she prefers to use, and went over how to operate and maintain each large appliance.  I too made the mistake of providing a high end vacuum which I have since replaced with a vacuum that she chose and knows how to keep in good operating order.  We also talk about the bed and bath linens and what décor or room items slow down turnaround cleaning. We also discussed what constitutes a poor guest -- i.e., when she would be entitled to additional fees and how to document such incidents.  As a result, we are all happy with the business relationship and the finances.

                                   

                                  Over the years, this has resulted in our team taking "ownership" of the property and pride in it's presentation to the guests. This may not be the relationship that you want to develop with your husband/wife team, but when you are a remote homeowner (as I am) they are who make your business possible.  If they are not up to snuff, find a replacement team asap.  If all that they need is a clearer view of your expectations, and they can meet those expectations, then let them know that there is a reward for performance.

                                    • Re: Do you provide holiday bonuses to your caretakers?
                                      ccantu88 New Member

                                      ashevillelookout and patpat you both make some excellent points, thank you! I love the idea of adding a survey for each guest to help report on items that need repair, replacement and just the overall state of things. Since we only get out to this property 3-4 times a year, it is difficult to really pop in and inspect things. And I don't think it's reasonable for them to check each appliance after each guest leaves either given the fact she cleans multiple cabins and sometimes has more than one same day turnover. I also appreciate the insight about going over the property with them and reviewing a monthly maintenance expectation as well as what to do in instances where a guest doesn't leave things tidy. I'm adding that to our agenda for February. We too, are remote owners, so we have to have a high level of trust with those who care for our property.

                                       

                                      Great feedback and advice everyone, thank you again!