Every week brings a new mistake, If I re-brand mistakes as learning opportunities guess what? I never stop creating learning opportunities!
It all happens in cycles, property booms and busts every 21 years, students come and go every September, tourists come when the sun comes out and really don"t in November. Whether your strategy is buy and hold, HMOs or guest accommodation there are elements over which you have no control.
While I was twiddling my thumbs in the Winter I did the right thing and made sure that everything was ship shape for the following Summer. Paintwork was touched up, furnishing refreshed, accounts ship-shape and everything cleaned to within an inch of its life.
Last week a shower packed up, the knob had become increasingly stiff, a little lubrication and fixing the control on a bit more tightly had done the job before. I gave the knob a good heave and it came off in my hand, the inner workings completely severed. No big deal perhaps, unless you happen to have a fully booked 10-bed guest house with ten of these little beauties.
Going back a couple of years to when the guest house was developed, there was a certain shortage of funds which had resulted in the purchase of 10 end-of-line generic shower units. Buy cheap buy twice! well, twice has come. After some nifty searching around it was discovered that the same fitting does not exist in any recognisable form so cue Dave-the-plumber to solve the problem.
Dave put his problem solving hat on and sourced a branded version (so that parts would continue to be available) at a great price. We scheduled in 2-day room closures, bought some matching tiles (of course, they had to be hidden away in the wall not surface-mounted, note to self: always buy extra tiles) and, with a bit of luck, the job will be done by the end of July before any of the others units fail on me. (since writing a second one has given way…)
Having to change bookings should surely be easy? After all, it"s your business! No such luck these days. Bookings made on booking.com and other such sites absolutely have to be honoured by the host. If you don"t fulfil your obligation here you have to pay relocation costs (no matter how high) so finding 10x2-day closures at short notice in one of the busiest months was no picnic. Phone calls to guests begging them to cancel is the best way forward, if a free upgrade can"t be found, working on Sundays (fewer bookings) and, absolutely, having a reliable plumber who will turn up when scheduled. The biggest cost of this job is losing out on 20 days" peak season bookings so there can"t be any wasted time. Plan is in place and the problem sorted by the time I go on holiday myself. (Great news today, Dave has sorted getting them done in a single day closure so as well as being great value he appreciated the need to keep closures to a minimum).
There are no mistakes, only lessons. Learnings this month:
Leave some slack in the system so that you can be free to solve problems
Value your team and they will reciprocate by putting themselves out for you
Buy cheap, buy twice!
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.