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Management

Fire Folly: Here’s What to Do After a Catastrophic House Fire

house fire

Each year approximately 350,000 American homes experience a fire.

While that number has dropped drastically since the 1980s, few things in life can be more traumatic when it happens to a homeowner. A fire can destroy precious memories and turn your life upside down in a matter of minutes.

Here’s our checklist of what to do after a house fire to help you move forward after tragedy strikes.

Reach Out to Your Insurance Company

Although you might feel devastated and confused on what to do first after a fire, contact your insurance company as soon as you can. This will get the ball rolling on filing a claim and determining what is covered by your insurance policy.

Be sure to obtain a copy of the fire report from your local fire department for your insurance company. Your insurance company will also provide guidance on any immediate needs of your property. You may need to board up windows and doors and have water pumped out of the home.

A standard home insurance policy covers any damage done to your property by the fire and smoke including its structure and possessions. Additional living expenses should also be covered if you have to temporarily live somewhere else until the home is repaired (if salvageable) or until you find a new home.

Some insurance policies also offer loss of use funds to help you out with daily expenses such as groceries and toiletries. This is in case your credit and/or debit cards are destroyed in the fire.

What to do After a House Fire: Tell the Police

Although they’re already aware of the fire, contacting your police is a good idea if you won’t be able to return to your home for a while. They will be able to help protect the property from anyone entering it to steal items while you’re gone.

Find a Temporary Place to Live

Children and pets are particularly stressed out after an emergency such as a fire. Do your best to comfort and soothe them.

Although it won’t feel like home, you’ll have to make arrangements to find a safe place to live until the permanent situation is sorted out.

If a friend or family members can help out, or if staying in a hotel isn’t an option, the American Red Cross and Salvation Army can provide options. These two disaster relief organizations can also help you replace any medicine lost in the fire.

Either way, the goal is to find a safe and comfortable enough place to stay for you and your family while you get your life back in order.

Save All Receipts

Save receipts for all spending you do following a fire, whether it’s for groceries, lodging, clothing, and anything else you need while displaced from your home. These will be needed to determine reimbursement from your insurance company.

Make a List of Damaged/Lost Items

This task can be daunting, but it’s necessary so your insurance company can pay for the replacement of any covered items. It doesn’t matter how big or small the possession, if it was destroyed or damaged add it to your list.

Keep in mind that with some insurance companies, proof of purchase such as receipts may be required. If you have access to a computer, looking these items up on your credit card statement or checking account history may be proof enough.

Replace Important Documents

If you lost any IDs such as passports or driver’s licenses or other important documents such as automobile titles and tax information, add these as well. These will need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Replace Cash

Believe it or not, your regional Federal Reserve Bank can replace any damaged bills if half or more of each bill was untouched by fire. Carefully place each bill in plastic wrap to preserve it.

Melted coins can also be brought to the closed Federal Reserve Bank.

Lost or damaged U.S. savings bonds can be replaced by the Department of Treasury by filling out and submitting Form PD F-1048.

Get Finances in Order

A mortgage still needs to be paid even when a home is made uninhabitable by a fire. While living in a temporary place you will still need to make sure you pay your bills on time.

Contact your credit card company right away to replace any cards that were lost or destroyed by the fire. If you have an emergency fund, now’s the time to use it to pay any unforeseen bills or buy supplies until you’ve returned to your home.

Request Permission to Enter Your Home

Your fire department will tell you when it’s safe to re-enter your home. Parts of the structure or roof can fall down while you’re inside the house, and floors can be dangerous to walk on.

They will also tell you if utilities are safe to use. Do not attempt to turn utilities back on until you receive the OK from fire officials. This can cause further damage.

Be prepared to see broken windows and holes in the roof of your home. Sometimes it’s necessary for the fire department to create ventilation in a building to slow the fire’s spread and improve visibility. Fire officials sometimes cut holes in walls for the same reasons.

When you do re-enter your home, it’s a good idea to wear protective clothing such as long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, footwear with rubber soles for grip, and work gloves. Goggles may not be a bad idea as well. You’ll want to protect yourself from any soot and odors as you access the damage to your possessions.

Hire a Fire Damage Restoration Company

If your home is salvageable, you’ll want to hire someone such as this service to clean up and remove any fire and smoke damage from your home.

It might be tempting to take on this job yourself, but unless you know what you’re doing, it’s not a great idea. A professional fire damage restoration company knows how to safely and thoroughly restore your property to its original condition. Your home may also be full of odors such as melted plastic and other materials that can be hazardous to your family’s health.

Employees that work for a restoration company are certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. That means they’re qualified to safely remove anything damaged by fire, water, and smoke.

Hiring a trusted restoration company will help your house feel like home again as quickly as possible. It’s also one less thing on your mind to worry about following a fire.

Don’t Be Ashamed to Ask For Help

Losing a home can be a heartbreaking experience. Don’t be timid about reaching out to loved ones for emotional support and a helping hand during this trying time. Having someone trusted to talk to and getting strong emotionally will help you move on.

Ask for help if your children and pets need to be supervised while you attend to important matters about the fire. It may also be necessary to swallow some pride and accept donations from people, whether it’s cash or food. Many people have gotten through a fire aftermath thanks to the generosity of friends, family members, coworkers, and even strangers.

Just don’t forget to thank these people and let them know how truly grateful you are for their charity and support.

Reduce the Risk of Another Fire

Whether your current home has been restored and is deemed safe to move back inside or you had to move into a new property, you’ll want to take steps to reduce the risk of another fire.

Install Fire Alarms

The most important preventative step to take is to make sure there’s a working fire alarm installed on every floor of your home. Keep the batteries fresh and check them every few months to ensure they and the alarm are in working condition.

Never Leave Cooking Unattended

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Never walk away and leave any cooking unattended, especially if you’re frying food.

Smoking and Candle Lovers Take Care

After cooking, smoking is the second leading cause of home fires. Many disasters have occurred because a smoker fell asleep with a cigarette in their hand or failed to put one out efficiently. Cigarettes should be snuffed out completely in an ashtray, not tossed into a trash can.

Candles shouldn’t be left unattended, especially if you have children and/or pets in the home. Although they only account for 2% of fires, they can easily be knocked over.

Keep Fire Extinguishers On-Hand

Store fire extinguishers throughout the house, particularly in the kitchen, near your grill, the fireplace, and other areas where a fire could start. Know how to properly use one and teach all members of your household how to safely operate it.

Learn More About Home Ownership

Now that you know what to do after a house fire, please read our newest blog posts on Property Talk. They will teach you all you need to know about home ownership, safety, and maintenance.

Management

Top Resources to Develop Your Real Estate Knowledge

tower

Any successful real estate investor will tell you that real estate education is invaluable.

A lot of this knowledge will naturally come from the real estate experience of buying, selling, and managing investment properties. But if you were to rely solely on that, you’d make some serious real estate mistakes that could slowly kick you out of the business.

Does that mean you have to invest thousands of dollars in getting real estate certifications?

Not necessarily. Rather than investing in formal education, why not just pick up a few real estate books and get practical knowledge of this industry. Knowledge is power. But as Follow Up Boss puts it, “Books are filled with ideas, but information is only power when applied.”

Your chances of succeeding in real estate business are higher if you learn from other successful investors. Fortunately, many successful real estate investors have taken the time to write their story. Here are the top 8 real estate books to read.

1. The Art of the Deal

Author: President Donald Trump

Written in 1987, the Art of the Deal is a top-rated real estate investment book that has passed the test of time. One thing we can all agree on is that Donald Trump is a real estate mogul. In this book, Trump uses real-life examples to show how deals are negotiated.

2. Real Estate Loopholes

Authors: Dianne Kennedy, Garrett Sutton, and Robert T. Kiyosaki

Written by renowned real estate moguls, the Real Estate Loopholes is all about strategies. The book analyzes various tax strategies to adopt and the consequences of growing a real estate portfolio.

3. Mastering Your Real Estate Career

Authors: Chuck & Angela Fazio

If you’re looking into starting a real estate business, this book should be on top of your list. The book begins by giving you an honest assessment of whether real estate is the best career for you, then teaches you how to build a roadmap to success.

4. Listing Boss

Author: Hoss Pratt

In this book, Hoss Pratt critiques the 12 essentials that will not only make you a savvy listing agent but a buyers’ agent as well.

5. The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing

Author: Ken McElroy

With over 30 years’ experience in real estate investing, Ken McElroy’s voice has made quite an impact in the real estate world. In this book, Ken outlines the steps you should take to achieve financial independence through real estate income.

6. Crushing it in Apartments and Commercial Real Estate

Author: Brian Murray

Brian Murray is a perfect example of how someone can start from scratch and build a multi-million dollar real estate company out of sheer determination. In this book, he teaches the strategies to grow your portfolio.

7. The Book on Rental Property Investing

Author: Brandon Turner

The Book on Rental Property Investing is a real gem for those looking into making real money out of real estate investing. This book is the ultimate beginner’s guide to buy and hold real estate investing.

8. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Author: Robert B. Cialdini

To succeed in real estate business, you need to have impeccable communication and negotiation skills. If you’re lacking in this department, the Psychology of Persuasion can lay the foundation for you and steer you in the right direction.

While there is a ton of information out there regarding real estate investing, these books are a great place to start, and are recommended by pros. Hope you’ll find them worth reading. Feel free to comment and share.

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Management

Top Reasons To Invest In Home Security Systems

home front

Anyone investing untold thousands of dollars in their home would be wise to take every possible action to protect that investment. It only stands to reason.

And while installing better locks and putting bars around windows and other similar measures play a role, the number one affordable way to guard your home is through a professional home security system.

Before we explore 5 of the top reasons why it makes sense to use one, check out the top home security systems review by HomeSecuritySeek.

1. Lower The Risk Of Being Burgled.

Did you know that your chances of suffering a home burglary incident are some three times greater if you lack a home security system? Burglars aren’t stupid: they pick on the easy targets. And home security alarms and cameras make it harder for them to break in and rob you without getting stopped or at least getting caught later on.

Most burglaries take only around 10 minutes, and police aren’t able to get there in time. But the prospect of being caught on film is enough to send most of them off in a flash – before they take anything valuable.

And don’t think you’re safe if you’re normally home at night, have a firearm, and are ready to call in police if necessary. The fact is, 60% of modern burglaries take place during daylight hours. This means you need all-day security.

2. Your Home Is Full of Expensive Stuff!

Your building itself could suffer minor damage from a burgle job, but even the average burglary results in 2 or 3 thousands dollars worth of merchandise disappearing. Valuable jewelry, high price tag electronics, cash, checkbooks, credit cards, and rare collector’s items are the first things to go.

Think of a monthly home security bill of only $25 to $75 as that much additional insurance. And since you often get a discount on your homeowners insurance from 5% to 20% when you install home security, the system will pay for itself in a few years anyway.

3. Protecting Your Family Physically.

While this point is basic and won’t take long to state, it’s easily the most important point of all. If you or a family member do happen to be home when an intruder tries to break in, a security system may well send him away.

That means more than just saving money – it could mean avoiding serious bodily injury or saving lives!

4. Extra Fire Protection.

Aside from monitoring for intruders, modern home security setups also include fire detection equipment. The fire department will be contacted right away if it becomes appropriate.

Think about it. If the smoke alarm goes off when nobody is at home, and if a fire has time to burn down half your home before the fire department even knows about it – what good does that do you? This is a huge “extra” that makes your home that much more secure.

5. Turn Your Home Into a “Smart Home.”

Also an impressive part of the latest home security packages is the ability to transform your home by making it “smarter.”

Automatic locks, lights, and doorbells; camera views of who’s at the door and an easy to manage control panel; the ability to adjust the HVAC system via smartphone – and more, are all a part of the deal. On the other hand, you can get a scaled down version too if you want to minimize fees and keep things simple.

These are just five of the numerous make-sense reasons why everyone who has invested significantly in their home or business property should protect it with a full-orbed security system. As soon as you research the details, you’ll discover many more good reasons!

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Management

The Opportunity of Selling Private Label Agrochemicals to Commercial Real Estate Businesses

building interior

One of the biggest aspects of commercial real estate is property management. When a realtor’s firm is dealing with multiple properties under their management, arranging lease terms and finding new corporate tenants takes up most of their available time.

The last thing they wish to handle is problems on the facilities side of things. What they’re often overlooking is the opportunity for growth by supplying a network of facility managers with custom products which solve their specific maintenance needs.

As a private label seller, you can offer some very interesting niche agrochemicals and turf enhancers that can provide this opportunity to facility managers. In this article, we’re going to explore why you should consider this.

Corporate Real Estate: Managing Properties for Profit

Realtors often manage properties on behalf of commercial businesses that don’t have the time or energy to deal with the handling of the property, grounds and facilities. That’s why they use the facilities manager at the realtor to take that hassle off their hands.

The realtor, in turn, charges for their continual services. Included in the service contract are charges for staff, equipment used, and materials supplied in the course of tending to the grounds. It’s in the materials side of the equation that realtors are leaving money on the table.

Different Corporate Needs Vary Depending on the Facilities Type

Every corporate client is different and has a variety of needs. This is because their property use is entirely different.

For instance, a warehouse that trucks in goods, repackages them and then ships them out again to regional warehouses across the country has completely different requirements to a commercial beets grower or a commercial garden that needs its lawn to look presentable.

Let’s look at some examples in more detail:

Commercial Garden

A commercial garden requires their lawns to look immaculate. That might be a continual challenge when their main focus is on botanical plants and managing the growth of seedlings up to full-blown plants to impress visitors and keep them returning year after year. The lawn might become a little bit of an afterthought.

The weather conditions might not suit healthy grass. For one thing, the soil has to have the right pH level for grass to grow and stay healthy. It also depends on local weather conditions and the degree of cloud cover during the day to decide whether the grass receives enough sunlight to prosper. Sometimes it suffers and loses its lush green appearance.

In this situation, a product like rapid green turf paint is going to solve this problem. Produced by a specialist manufacturer that has considerable expertise in delivering chemical solutions that are non-harmful to the environment, plants, grass, people or pets, this solution changes the color of the grass at the molecular level. It’s not magic, but kids would believe it was if they saw it happening through a slow-motion video capture. The liquid product also has a wetting agent that helps it to get more evenly distributed, so each blade of grass receives a similar amount of treatment.

The result is a consistently lush green lawn in record time. For a commercial garden needing a solution to their brown lawn problem, their facilities management team just saved their day.

With this being said, green turf paint is clearly an excellent opportunity for your private label business to appeal to larger clients such as these facility managers but also, schools, golf courses and hotels. This product frequently has great reviews online so when your customers start seeing results, you can expect bulk repeat order contracts as they seasonally apply the grass paint to their large site grounds.

Warehousing

With warehousing, a host of private label product solutions come to mind that a commercial realtor team could take advantage of.

In the wintertime when it tends to snow, this turns to slush or ice underfoot, supplying a private label rock salt grit gives employees preventative measures from falling and embarrassing themselves in front of their co-workers. They also are less likely to get injured, put in a worker’s compensation claim, and be off work recuperating for a sustained period.

Other forms of private labeling include selling non-slip mats to avoid staff falling over when moving around and products that help clean up spills quickly to avoid unnecessary accidents once again.

Farming

Some commercial realtors also arrange the lease of farmland from the landlords to farmers who don’t have enough to buy their own farm yet but can work someone else’s land productively.

For farmers, utilizing pesticides and other treatments for their crops to stay healthy and avoid infestation means they can harvest successfully that year. Inconsistent spraying of pesticides, where some areas get too much product and other tracts of land receive too little, may prove to be unsuccessful for the cultivation of healthy crops. Come harvest time, they’ll suffer economically, and it may even put them out of business in severe cases.

One of AmegA Sciences USA’s products for private label reselling that a farmland maintenance contract can include is your branded variant of 80/20 Specialty Surfactant. It’s a compound that reduces the inherent tension between a liquid and a solid which helps the liquid penetrate the solid more successfully. When the 80/20 Specialty Surfactant is used on farmland over crops, it ensures that a wide range of usable pesticides for crops and fertilizers for the soil penetrate deep enough to benefit the crops and soil. Without its use, the pesticide and fertilizer likely won’t be as effective.

The product also benefits from an active wetting agent that helps both the surfactant and the pesticide or fertilizer to be distributed more evenly. No more problems with some crops receiving too much treatment and others receiving too little. The surfactant is free of alcohol and non-flammable too, so it doesn’t pose any risk when used in a sprayer machine running up and down rows of crops spreading the treatment.

A manufacturer like AmegA Sciences USA can help you adjust and customize the foaming formula, brand it under your own label and bulk distribute it so you can resell to landlords and farmers, no matter how large their orders are!

Expanding Beyond the Existing Client Base

For enterprising commercial realtors looking to expand beyond their limited client base, they have the opportunity to get private label products created under their own brand to market to other business customers.

In this scenario, they can use the products they’re most attracted to in the facilities that they actively manage, to ensure they work as intended. This provides a testing process to validate that the product is better than others in the marketplace – they can even cross-test their private label product with other commercial ones available to see which is best. Once they have several private label products ready to sell, they can go ahead with testing the market.

Launching the Product to Business Customers

Compare different successful product launches over time to learn what works and what doesn’t. Appreciate the nuances about different launches to understand what the firm can do to improve their odds.

Use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to test the corporate market by tapping search terms that businesses are using to solve the pain point that the private label product addresses. See what level of interest there is to test which product is likely to gain the most sales early on. Then, pick that product as the first one to get some early momentum on sales, to cover the startup costs of expanding with new ones.

Once that’s a success, move onto the 2nd most successful seller via private ads. As well as Google, Facebook is excellent for PPC advertising because it allows compares to find similar corporate customers to add to their existing client base.

There are a number of different ways to approach private labeling when selling to a real estate business. The facilities management angle is the best initial approach, as it provides a bed for promising products that can be tested out in a smaller quantity, before full scale order contracts can be secured. Once products are proven out on a small scale, there’s far less risk to the business to make the alterations to use your product in a wider commercial environment. The likelihood of success is also substantially higher than when starting from scratch too. In this case, the data is already there, and the concept has been proven.

Even though we’ve explored how facility managers are an excellent opportunity for your private label agrochemicals, we could have equally written about private schools and university campuses, golf course chains or even hotel chains. Reach out to a couple private label agrochemical manufacturers and see about getting your own custom-branded solutions if you want to try and resell to this diverse and firmly established market that’s always looking for innovation.

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Management

Tips on How to Create an RFI in Construction

builders at site

RFIs create an active channel of communication in the construction industry. It is used to answer questions, clarify ambiguities and fill the information gaps in the construction process.

For instance, one can submit RFI on a project drawing which is unclear, or a specification of an outdated product, incomplete or inaccurate or when a requirement is vague. Specific questions must be asked as quickly as possible to avoid any delay, miscommunication or rework.

RfIs are also capable of creating confusion and complications when the RFI is not complete, and the communication means completely unclear. Read below to discover a few essential tips on how to create an RFI in construction:

When Seeking an Information

RFI is often used to determine the preliminary stage of construction work. The size of the project matters too. Larger construction projects have more complexities and must be resolved before seeking formal proposals. RFI here can be of great help. There are three reasons for seeking an RFI:

  • Modify project specifications
  • Clarification on a specific task
  • Resolve a construction deficiency

Check out the tips to follow when stuck with the question: how to create an RFI in construction.

#1. Read your contract again

Begin by rereading the contract. A thorough understanding of the agreement is essential. Be well informed of how to make a construction RFI as per the contract, the timeline of the response and by when you can claim for the delays/lack of responses if it happens.

#2. Give it an apt title

Unfortunately, a lot of times only general titles are found as the title of an RFI. These don’t serve any purpose as they don’t provide any idea of what is contained in the RFI. A title should be a little descriptive. It adds the necessary information to the question asked and makes the intent of the issue clear. It provides the description needed if required in the future.  This is how to write an RFI construction.

#3. Follow a Format

It is essential to collect and securely scribble all the information. Usually, a pro forma RFI template is utilized in the construction industry for consultants and subcontractors to put forward a problem. Online tools most of which are cloud-based or mobile can assist in managing the construction process with the templates liked and picked by the company. Some of the critical items of an RFI template include: project name, date of RFI, serial number of RFI, address details, recipients of copies, RFI title, due date, specifications, the name of RFI issuer, company details, and response date.

#4. Allocate RFI to the right person

How to work with RFI for construction? Firstly, when allocating the RFI, it should be assigned to the right person. It is as important as asking the right question. Otherwise, there is no point asking a structural engineer prepare RFI regarding some mechanical issue. Furthermore, while you assign the RFI to the correct person, do not forward it to just one person. Coordination is important. To do so, send the RFIs to a group of people who need to be informed to know it all. However, the RFI may be structural but may affect the light fixture placement, to ensure that the electrical engineer knows about it too.

#5. Pen down the question – Clear and concise

A request for information starts with a problem. The query should be on point and specific. Read the following points to understand this.

  • is the question complete? Does it contain the information needed to answer the question?
  • Are the drawing references included?
  • Are the previous RFI references (if applicable) included?
  • Are the material types or reference submittals included?
  • is the reference grid line location or floor mentioned?

Above all, the question should appear professional yet simple. Do not use too many words. Abstain from using any fancy language. Your frustration should not form the basis of the question. It is how to work with RFI for construction.

If the RFI doesn’t answer the above questions, the receiver of the RFI an either decline or pursue some other projects. This is perhaps due to the reason he won’t be able to understand how to write an RFI response construction.

#6. Add attachments

Everything that can assist in answering the question should be included in the RFI. Though there are  plenty of things that can be attached, here are a few examples:

  • Pictures of the site
  • Highlighted or clouded drawing
  • Any email communication
  • Drawings of the existing building
  • Details or survey results
  • Drawing references – cut sheets

Attachments are just means of illustrating the problems and making it more apparent. More information means the person can understand the problem more easily and precisely.

#7. Add a Due Date

Just like everything else about a project, this too should have a due date. When the thing is not needed urgently, give it the amount of time required for responding. However, if the response is urgently required, then add a due date to it.

The primary schedule determines the amount of time allocated to RFIs.

Summing up

The receiver of an RFI can add to the success of a construction process if he knows how to respond to an RFI construction. Just make sure it is in line with the above description.

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Management

How to Prevent an Accidental House Fire

house fire

House fires cause over $7 billion in damages every year according to the American Red Cross, and the unfortunate fact is that most can be prevented.

Conducting regular fire safety checks and knowing what to do in the event of a fire can help prevent you from becoming a part of that statistic.

Below are some of the most important preventative steps you can take.

Test Your Smoke Alarms and Sprinkler Systems

It’s all well and good having smoke alarms and sprinkler systems in your home, but if they’re not working properly, they’re going to be pretty much useless in the event of a house fire.  Both smoke alarms and fire sprinkler systems should be tested periodically to ensure they are in good working order.  Most smoke alarms beep when the batteries need replacing, and you can hire fire alarm engineers to test your sprinkler systems and ensure they are set up correctly.

Inspect Your Heating Sources

Whether you use gas or electric, or another method of heating your home, you’ll want to ensure your systems are inspected on an annual basis.  Space heaters are one of the main causes of house fires and these should be inspected both before and after use for damage or deterioration.  And, when in use, ensure they are in an open, ventilated space, at least three feet away from anything flammable.

Don’t Leave Your Stove Unattended

Over 50% of house fires are caused by cooking. One of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening in your property is to ensure you remain by your stove while it is turned on.  If you do have to leave the room, ensure you remove the pan from the griddle first.  In addition, it’s important that you don’t have anything flammable located near your stove.  This includes curtains, oven mitts, and towels, all of which could catch fire without warning.  More cooking-related fire safety tips can be found here.

Store Flammable Products Correctly

Aerosols, gas lighters, and a wide range of household cleaners are flammable and could become dangerous if not stored correctly.  It is recommended that you keep these in a secured, dark space as opposed to leaving them in sunlight or in an area that gets hot.  It’s wise to do this if you have children especially.  Also, be careful with candles.  These should never be left unattended and should be placed away from combustible items like blankets.

Keep Fire Extinguishers Handy

Finally, it can also be a good idea to invest in some fire extinguishers for your property.  Water is not the best solution for every kind of fire, and could actually make matters worse.  Place these in the most ‘at-risk’ areas of your home, such as in the kitchen and near your fireplace.  Ensure you know how to use them correctly and that they are not seen as toys by the younger members of your family.

A house fire can be devastating but if you keep the above preventative advice in mind, you shouldn’t find yourself ending up a statistic.

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Management

How Small Vacation Rental Business Can Compete Vs Million Dollar Marketing Budgets

home interior

When you own a small bed and breakfast or small vacation rental property, trying to compete with the likes of Agoda or Booking.com seems like an impossible task. That said, you can build a solid brand name in this industry with a very small online marketing budget. Seems impossible right?

Read on if you would like to discover how you can build your vacation rental brand with less than $1,000 or you can read about low budget marketing strategies here.

Corporate budgets when it comes to online marketing go into the millions making it virtually impossible to invest in areas such as search engine optimization or Google Ads. However, rather than plan your marketing around a large budget and fast results, there are ways to contend in what is a very saturated industry when it comes to online marketing.

All you need is a solid and progressive strategy. Your target as a vacation rental owner, property management business or bed and breakfast owner is to continuously discover ways to maximize your occupancy rate.

We will start with the obvious, which is the fact that you should list your bed and breakfast or vacation rental property on multiple websites to gain more visibility. However, this is not the definitive answer to becoming competitive.

Therefore, we will help you further by introducing a strategy that will help you build your brand and gain regular bookings to increase repeat guests as well as gain recommendations through word of mouth in order to increase your occupancy rate.

Use Websites That Allow Free Listings

It may seem like the obvious route, and it is, but the only way to start to gain visibility is to sign up to as many online websites that will allow you to list your property free of charge. All you need to do is simply sign up and start to add your hotel and room types or vacation rental properties.

Airbnb is arguably the most popular website. The problem is, there are quite a few vacation rental owners that will stop here and only list their property on the one site. Yet, there are plenty of other websites that offer free or cheap listings. See the top 10 vacation rental websites here.

You may also be thinking that managing multiple websites is an administrative nightmare. We will come to how you solve this issue in a later section.

Listing your property on as many websites as possible will increase its visibility across the world wide web. There are millions of people worldwide using these sites as well their apps because the website marketing teams have multi-million-dollar budgets in order to build awareness and bring in as much traffic as possible.

When someone searches for a property in your area, your vacation rental or bed and breakfast will appear in the search results. Now in your mind compare having your listing on just one of these websites or on ten websites.

It should be quite clear to you that your listing has a much better chance of gaining bookings when it is listed across multiple sites.

Why Using Free Websites Can Be Difficult to Be Price Competitive?

Even using free websites, you are going to be competing against the thousands of other properties that are listed on these websites. This is an issue and will always be an issue as more people discover these sites.

Another problem is that because these websites allow people to list their properties for free, as soon as you do get a booking, the website takes around 20% of the booking as a service fee. You can read about Airbnb host fees here to get a better idea of what you can expect to pay per booking. Furthermore, you should be aware that these websites also charge their guests a booking fee.

Firstly, to stand out above the crowd you will need reviews. Make sure that you undercut other properties that offer similar facilities in the same location when you first list your property. Also, explain why your price is lower “You have no feedback and need good people to give good reviews so don’t miss out on this bargain”.

As long as the photos and descriptions are 100 percent honest and reflect what the guest can expect, then soon enough your online marketing strategy will be taking its first steps into building a reputable brand.

Keeping Your Guests Happy Using Online Real Time Chat Apps

Make sure that for each website that you use, you install their app. All of them come with a real-time chat function facility. You can install this on your phone and have notifications pop up.

This helps you in two ways:

  1.       You can quickly answer inquiries to gain bookings
  2.       Your current guests can contact you easily if they have questions

Online marketing is not just visibility, it is also about communications. That is why you see so many websites with real-time chat facilities available so potential customers can contact the support/sales teams instantly. Read about 10 live chat advantages here.

Building Your Own Website and Brand

It may take some time to build up feedback across the several websites you have listed your property. However, during this time, while offering your guests an experience of a lifetime, you should also be introducing them to your website.

Why do you need a website?

Earlier we mentioned the 20 percent fees and the booking fees charged by the vacation rental websites. On the other hand, if the guests feel that they enjoyed their experience so much at your property, then they may book again in the future. On your website, the prices will be around 20 percent cheaper to book and does not charge a booking fee.

Now you may see this is an opportunity to make profit, but repeat guests expect discounts. Plus, by offering a lower rate per night on your website, you will be giving them an incentive to book again. Furthermore, if the guests truly enjoyed their experience, staying at your property, then they will recommend your website to their friends and family. Now you are building your brand!

Aren’t Vacation Rental Websites Expensive?

Building a custom vacation rental website can be very costly. Plus, custom sites tend to have quite a few bugs which can potentially lose you sales – especially if the booking system if the calendar is not working.

A Vacation Website Should Have:

  • a booking system
  • a real-time chat facility
  • an automated calendar
  • a place to list your properties
  • payment gateways with multiple options
  • a branded site
  • mobile responsive pages
  • Fast page loads speeds

Sounds expensive right?

Well, there are website builders out there that have all these functions built in, and they cost next to nothing to operate.

The company offers a series of themes that are all vacation rental websites with every feature mentioned above built in. Shopify is the website builder for the e-comm industry and Lodgify is the vacation rental website builder or the travel industry.

The point of using a website builder like Lodgify is that you have 24/7 support, a mobile responsive theme, and all the vacation rental software tools you need to manage your business all built into the website. Themes are updated regularly to keep up with modern tech such as new screen sizes and devices that come onto the market and more.

As a result, you pay very little for a website that does everything you need and as opposed to paying for a web development company which will charge a maintenance fee, you will already have all this built into the website builder.

Managing Multiple Calendars Online

Now you have your own website, and your properties listed on several websites, you have one problem. How do you manage multiple calendars?

Well, this is where the Lodgify website builder software comes into action. There is a channel manager tool that connects to calendars on other websites. When a booking comes in on one website, it sends out a broadcast to the Lodgify site telling it to block off the dates on the calendar. Next, the Lodgify channel manager will then broadcast this to all the other websites.

This avoids double bookings, which results in cancellations. In turn, cancellations will be frowned upon by the websites your property or properties are listed on.

It is also the perfect time hack because you do not have to log on manually to every website and block off the calendars each time you get a booking thanks to the channel manager.

Playing the Long Game with Your Travel Industry Online Marketing Strategy

As you probably already know, unless you are prepared to spend millions on marketing or to raise investment to make your accommodation business idea work, there is little chance of succeeding within this competitive industry. On the other hand, you can be patient and build your brand slowly and methodically.

Start by gaining visibility by listing your property on the most popular websites for vacation rentals. Use a good pricing strategy to gain your first bookings to encourage reviews. Lastly, have a branded website prepared so you can give your guests the option to return at up to 23 percent less than they paid using the website they originally found your property.

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