How To Grow Your R2R Serviced Accommodation Business
Scaling Your Serviced Accommodation Business is not an easy task. You may have successfully set up a handful of units, and are keen to replicate your success. Now what? Short of cash? Perhaps not, read on to find out how you can fast-track your growth.
How it all started
A bit about me… My first encounter with property management was 2.5 years ago when I attended the Serviced Accommodation Masterclass with Touchstone Education. Prior to that, I had no property experience and worked as a sales manager for a large corporation. Moreover, I was fed up, couldn’t see a future in it and felt like a slave to the job, which a lot of people reading this will probably relate too. This is why I invested in my education.
Where I am today
Forward the clock 2.5 years, and I have 37 Serviced Accommodation units, with a mix of Rent 2 Rent, managed properties and some properties that I own. Repeatedly, the biggest question people always ask is “how did you scale so fast?” I answer that it’s down to the strategies and techniques I use to keep my running costs and set up costs low. Also, by focusing on a certain market, I also minimise operational costs. Finally, this means I am maximising my profits, which in turn allows me to invest in more serviced accommodation units.
I’m always clear when I train people: I’m not an all-round property expert, but I am an expert in this particular strategy. I 100% believe it’s the best technique to generate quick cash flow. Many people want to use property management to get out of their day job, or to increase their cash turnaround. When buying properties, this can take time and the gains from a buy to let property may only be a couple of hundred pounds per month, so you would need quite a few of them to make it worthwhile. Rent 2 Rent and serviced apartments, on the other hand, allow you to get your operation up and running and start earning money fast. This will allow you to scale back other activities and focus on the things that really matter to you.
Fast-Track Scaling Your Serviced Accommodation Business
1. Never Pay A Deposit
This is a deal-breaker for me. If a landlord makes me pay a deposit, I will walk away from the deal. What sense as a business owner does it make to have money tied up, doing nothing? None! You have to remember, you’re the one offering a great deal to the landlords, not the other way around. You need to know how to position it correctly to them. Once you do that, you will never pay a deposit again. Not paying deposit means that your initial outlay cost is cheaper, and you can, therefore, use the deposit money to set up your next unit.
2. Never Pay Rent Upfront
In fact, you should always get 1-2 months’ rent-free, again, if you know how to position it correctly. My goal is to always have money coming from bookings before I have to pay the landlord anything. You need to get into the mindset that you have this amazing offer for the landlord. Once you know how to seal the deal, it’s easy to get 1-2 months’ rent-free. When you have saved yourself 1-2 months’ rent, and also saved on the deposit, you can use this cash to set up further units.
3. Don’t Pay Upfront for Furniture
Without a doubt, this is the most expensive part of setting up a serviced apartment. But there are multiple ways you can do it in order to be more cost effective:
a) Lease Furniture
There are many companies out there who will let you lease furniture. This means you pay them a monthly fee instead of paying £5-7K upfront to furnish your property. Again, this helps with the cash flow and avoids high initial costs, leaving you with further money to invest in more units.
b) Furnished Apartments
There are lots of apartments out there that are already furnished, and in a pretty much in turn-key condition for use as a Serviced Apartment. You could add a few soft furnishings to put your own design stamp on them. I have multiple apartments which come fully furnished and have only spent £200-300 on soft furnishings before taking them to live for bookings.
4. Correct Power Team
It is VITAL if you want to scale your business to have a solid power team around you. Having the correct cleaners, maintenance, and guest relations teams means that you will not get dragged into the nitty-gritty of operations. If you are both running your business and worrying about cleaning and maintenance, you will not be able to focus on scaling up.
5. Managing Director/Operations Manager
I hired an operations manager when I got to 4 properties. I quickly realised that I was terrible at systems, organisation and did not enjoy that side of the business. What I was good at was bringing on new properties, doing deals with landlords and constantly sourcing new business opportunities. As I had zero concerns about the operations side of the business thereafter, I was able to focus on growth and scaling the business.
You may be able to scale your Serviced Accommodation business and build up an impressive portfolio of serviced apartments, but the bottom line is that if they are not full, you will not generate a profit from them. You need to make sure you are setting up apartments in the correct areas, where you know there is a demand for your target market. Do not go mad and set up properties all over the place, then run them half empty. Start in one area, systematise operations, fill up your units and duplicate your success elsewhere.
7. Focus On Direct Bookings
Running a Rent 2 Rent Serviced Apartment business means you need to watch your margins. Paying 15% to Booking.com is a hefty chunk, and if you service the apartments every 2-3 days your operations costs are going to be high. I use booking.com as a lead generator, but always try to convert the current guests in the apartment to a direct booking so that I don’t have to pay a 15% commission to online travel agents. I only focus on the contractor market, where most of my bookings will stay from anywhere between 3-18 months, with no booking fees and 1-2 cleans per week. This keeps operation costs low, which maximises my profit.
I hope these tips help. If you want to connect please do so on the following:
Scaling Your Serviced Accommodation Business with Gordie Dutfield