235. Permission To Pivot Your Airbnb Business

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 [00:00:00] Sarah: Hello, welcome back for another great episode. My name is Sarah Karakaian.

[00:00:03] Annette: I am Annette Grant, and together we are–

[00:00:05] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks For Visiting. 

[00:00:06] Sarah: We’re going to kick off this episode like we do every week, sharing one of you, our amazing listeners, viewers, Instagram friend, who uses our hashtag STR–

[00:00:14] Annette: YouTube subscribers.

[00:00:16] Sarah: Oh, there she goes. She’s pushing that YouTube. It’s good over there. 

[00:00:19] Annette: We put up good stuff there.

[00:00:20] Sarah: We really, really do, and it’s different from the podcast. And it’s the podcast. It’s all the things. But with that, we are sharing, um, one of you, our listeners who uses our hashtag #STRShareSunday. We will share you on all of the things. Get some free marketing. Why not? Annette, who are we sharing this week?

[00:00:39] Annette: This week we are sharing @berrycreek brokenbow, exactly the way it sounds. Again @berrycreek brokenbow. And there’s a special shout out to this co-host and property owner, Megan. She is one of our members inside of our hosting Business Mastery membership, and she was also a speaker at our live event.

[00:01:00] Sarah: And she had some mic-drop moments.

[00:01:01] Annette: She did. And speaking of our live, be on the lookout folks. We are going to be releasing the dates soon. But let’s talk about Berry Creek Broken Bow and what I love about Megan and her Instagram handle. First of all, Berry Creek, there are several berries in her lineup of homes. There’s Cranberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry. So I love that she’s kept a theme with all of her– naming her rentals here, but keeps them all under the Berry Creek umbrella of berries.

 But some of the stuff I love, she does a great job of infusing static posts with reels and then also letting you know what’s going on in the area. But the biggest thing I want to point out about Megan is that when you go to her Linktree or her link in bio, a couple of things happen. You can either book her places via Airbnb, or you will see her direct booking site.

[00:01:50] Annette: And I want to motivate everyone, when Megan spoke at our event, she talked about listening to one of our podcasts while doing the dishes, and then immediately it was about direct booking, and she stayed up to the wee hours of the morning creating her direct booking site. And we are proud to let everyone know she is doing about 30.

I mean, this was as of the end of 2022, so it might be more now. She was doing around 30% of her bookings were direct. From taking that one evening and putting this together herself. And I just want everybody to take a look at what she’s done there. And the other thing I love that she’s done when she takes people from Instagram to her direct booking site, right there, she has her cell phone number. 

She has her email. She’s like, call me, text me, email me. I want to make sure that you book my place. I’m sure there’s a ton of people that never call her, text her, they email her. But just to know that she’s there in that capacity, I’m sure is really just comforting for the guest and gives them a vote of confidence.

And also, segue into this episode, I know Megan. I believe she was a former teacher and then pivoted into co-hosting or in the education field and now co-hosting, but we’re going to talk about pivoting today. Yes, the power of the pivot. But thanks again for using the hashtag. Megan, we will see you soon.

[00:03:03] Sarah: Yeah. Megan’s a rockstar. You should just follow her because she’s a go-getter and she’s got the whole thing. Today, Annette and I wanted to chat about some things that were inspired by some events happening in our rental management company. But then we want to also just talk about you as a human, as an entrepreneur, and how it’s okay to pivot and it’s okay to have done something for a really long time and for you to follow your gut and your brain, and make a major change.

[00:03:30] Annette: And we call it just closing the chapter on it. So for instance, here is a powerful pivot, close a chapter. There have been some properties that were, not to say they were not perfor–actually one of them was top performer. Ooh, let’s put that out there. A top performer, but maybe there were some things logistically that the amount of time the team, and I don’t even want to say it wasn’t a fit 

anymore, but it was time to pivot to something else. And I think the point of our episode is we want everybody to take a step back. This is a really good time of year. We have a lot of people in our membership that are doing it. Some of them are selling properties, some of them are quitting jobs and they’re pursuing co-hosting. There are some people that are just switching up their calendaring. They’re switching up their cancellation policy.

And so really, this is giving you that permission to pivot. And what we want to do is invite you today to take a look at all the things that you’re doing, and would you make that choice again? Would you pursue the same thing? So let’s talk about these specific properties, Sarah, and that evaluation of why they were not chosen again.

[00:04:29] Sarah: Yeah. So to give you a little bit more context. We own properties and we also manage for others. Which is why you might like the Thanks for Visiting brand because it’s never been our pursuit to have as many properties as possible. For us, quality of life, quality of stay, and just having the same alignment across all of our products, all of the homes that we have in our portfolio were really important to us. So there’s that.

What we’d like to say is, these are the things that don’t fit on the spreadsheet. There aren’t columns for this on the spreadsheet. These aren’t on the P&L. These are intangibles, but that are so important and probably more important than the things that can to fit into the cells of the spreadsheet and on the line items on the P&L. 

[00:05:10] Sarah: Yeah. I don’t want to be vague. I’m going to dive in here to some more specifics for everyone listening. We manage properties for other people. My goal as a property manager has always been for all the properties in our portfolio to be the ones that I at least own wholly or have part ownership in. And so that is my ultimate goal. And that is still, if I could choose that goal again, I would’ve continued to choose it. That to me is, has been my mission for a really long time. Now, it’s made sense for me to manage for other people because it’s been a great opportunity to increase revenue, to get that experience of managing for other people. I’ve really enjoyed it

[00:05:43] Annette: And support, having a team. 

[00:05:45] Sarah: Yes. 

[00:05:46] Annette: That I would say is probably the major. Yeah.

[00:05:48] Sarah: And what does that mean? So that essentially the properties that I own, that we are managing with a team, get managed “for free” because we were able to offset our labor costs with the people that we manage for that we don’t own the properties on.

And that revenue more than covers the cost of managing the properties that we own, obviously with the amazing help we get from our amazing team, and a little bit to pay myself and then a little bit for a profit margin as well. So that’s all good. And that is all spreadsheety stuff.

Here’s what’s not spreadsheety, is the 80/20. If our team is spending 80% of their time on a property that might perform well, but it certainly isn’t bringing in all of our revenue, that doesn’t always fit on a spreadsheet, although that is numbers related liability. There were some properties that we were managing where the owner and I couldn’t get on the same page in terms of safety.

 Can you talk about a specific there? Let our audience know exactly what we’re talking about.

[00:06:46] Sarah: Yeah. And I do want to protect because I guess my portfolio isn’t so big where we couldn’t maybe figure this out. So I do want to protect my owners a little bit too, because what they’re doing isn’t illegal.

[00:06:54] Annette: Right.

[00:06:54] Sarah: I want to make sure I’m very clear about that.

[00:06:55] Annette: And the homes are very– you would’ve never managed them in the first place.

[00:06:58] Sarah: Exactly.

[00:06:59] Annette: These are just when, as you dial it in.

[00:07:00] Sarah: Yes. But for me and for me to be able to sleep at night, there were just some things that the properties had that, for example, we would have beds in third floors and while there is a way to escape, it didn’t make me feel good the way that a guest could remove themselves from the home if a fire occurred. There was nothing something illegal going on. It was perfectly legal.

[00:07:22] Annette: They were bedrooms, they weren’t makeshift things.

[00:07:24] Sarah: No. And then there were some homes that had amenities like hot tubs, and pools, and fire pits that didn’t have the protection around them that I would prefer if I own the property. They weren’t illegal. They were allowed, they were permitted. We were allowed to do it, but it wasn’t up to my personal standards. 

[00:07:41] Annette: And then there were also, just to add some more color here, there were certain other things, for instance, some of these properties, the parking, in the beginning, it didn’t seem like it was really going to be that big of an issue. There was some permits and things like that, but it was pretty stringent. There wasn’t really ancillary parking. There was only one pass. And it showed itself to be a little bit more challenging than it would’ve seemed in the beginning.

[00:08:02] Sarah: While we talk about guests reaching out and the inability to anticipate their needs and explain to them how to access the property, how to park, all those things, it was this never-ending mountain to climb in terms of getting the guest in there and having a really good checking experience. It was just hard.

 And when I went back to my original mission of managing properties that I at least have part ownership in, and the Thanks For Visiting itself, this podcast, the YouTube and all of that, Annette and I are having so much fun, we’re helping so many people, and I needed to take stock in what I could do to free up, and I like to call it our, my mental mortgage. I had a great team and I honestly they’re so amazing that I’m not even involved all that much as I used to be like in their day and night.

[00:08:44] Sarah: And they’ve really taken a big load off of my shoulders in terms of having to be there in person all the time. But that doesn’t mean the back of my mind that I’m not always troubleshooting and trying to figure things out and improve the systems and processes for this properties and guest involvement. And so I guess what I’m getting to at is ultimately I went back to my mission. Would I choose at mission again? Yes. To manage properties, mostly, that I have at least part ownership in.

 And any of our listeners out there who might be a client of mine, don’t worry. I am still here to manage ones that I don’t own, but I had to go back and say, if I can make 2023 exactly as I wanted, I wanted to make our management portfolio more– just lift some weight off of that.

[00:09:18] Annette: And I wanted to give you kudos, Sarah, that you could call any of these clients today, and I am pretty much a 100% sure that they would gladly give their property back to you.

[00:09:29] Sarah: Yeah.

 That’s also the thing too Sarah and I were talking about this weekend of never quitting something. You never quit your job on your worst day. You never break up with that person in your biggest knockdown, drag-out fight. You never make these huge decisions when you’re in that valley. And so that’s what’s been really nice too, is making that decision from a good place of closure, not of, had a terrible guest and it was just a bad few days in there or something, that wasn’t the case there, at all.

[00:09:54] Sarah: And some clients weren’t even any of things we discussed. It was just one of those things where when I really thought about it and just intangibles, I can’t even put into words here on the podcast for you all, and I was very honest with them. I said, “There’s nothing wrong with the property, with our relation– you’re actually amazing owners and amazing partners in this relationship, but I am having some mental mortgage.” I don’t want to say issues, but just I’m paying attention–

[00:10:18] Annette: There was an interest rate hike on that–

[00:10:21] Sarah: There was.

[00:10:22] Annette: I’m sorry. 

[00:10:23] Sarah: And for me, simplifying was what I needed to do. And I told Annette before we pressed record, I said, even still, I’m like, ah, was that the right call? Because we did say goodbye to some revenue and I can rest easy knowing that I can always either get more clients. I figured out how to do that. And I can’t unlearn that. I know how to get clients.

I know how to be a fantastic property manager. I could either call those clients back, ask them, say, “Hey, I am actually mentally ready to take on properties again,” or get new clients. But here’s what I know listeners, and here’s what I want you to get away with this, and I want to pivot a little with the conversation of, what I know is, to be a great business owner, I’ve learned from people who are rock stars, is they make decisions fast, and they don’t take too long to vacillate on something. I’m not saying to be impulsive. But if you’re revisiting something, there’s probably a good reason for it.

[00:11:12] Annette: Thanks for revisiting.

[00:11:13] Sarah: Thanks for revisiting this issue. And let’s take it back to something that’s not co-hosting related or property management related. I had a career before I moved to Columbus, Ohio, and it is the career that I wanted to do since I was three years old because I can open my mouth and have an opinion, I want to do that thing. And I did it, and I was successful. And like Annette said, I was actually at a great point in my career when I decided to pivot. Because something was just telling me it was time to close the chapter. And Annette, I know you have experiences.

[00:11:39] Annette: By the way, Sarah let me know today, she used to do nine shows a week. That blew my mind.

[00:11:45] Sarah: Oh yeah, if anyone doesn’t know, so I used to be an actor. And yeah, so I was her–

[00:11:48] Annette: Nine. Sometimes you had two show days on the weekends. You would do a matinee and an 8:00 PM on Saturday and also on Sunday.

Good for you.

 And yeah. And so, I mean, that was all going great, but I just was like, you know what, I want to try something else. And the something was pulling at me. So right now if you need to hear this, if something is pulling at you and you’ve been vacillating on it, and journaling, and just not making a decision, we encourage you to give it a go.

[00:12:10] Annette: Or even if it’s just buy the first property. Again, it doesn’t have to be a home run. It can just be a base hit. You don’t have to have these cash on cash returns and everybody’s like, I would never think about that. There’s so many other lessons to be learned. You can learn how to navigate the guest.

You can always sell that property. I know we’re saying a lot of things in making these decisions easy, but sometimes you do just have to go for it. And like the podcast, you just got to press record, buy the place.


[00:12:35] Sarah: Can we please talk about our first episode, Annette? So the first episode where– they still are the seven steps first guest. But our first, interviewing someone, we went to– we live in Columbus, Ohio. Annette made me go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for some meetup because she’s obsessed with networking and I love her for it. And I was like, yeah, let’s go. I mean, because I have this adventure. And we were staying in a tiny home that I was in someone’s backyard.

[00:12:57] Annette: On a slab.

[00:12:58] Sarah: It was good. In an alley. It was good. And those words sound weird, but it was good. And we did not have fancy podcast equipment. We had Apple provided earbuds. Earphones.

[00:13:07] Annette: We were scared ask him, remember? We were like, did he remember? Is he going to be on the show? We all sat in the tiny house. 

[00:13:13] Sarah: We literally put my phone in the middle of the coffee table, plugged in the earphone so we wouldn’t get feedback or whatever, and had them just laying on the coffee table, and we talked to him.

[00:13:21] Annette: Mm-hmm. Speaking of pivoting though, that gentleman was someone that had been hit pretty hard during the 2008 recession and he was a mortgage broker, I think. And then that’s when his income had decreased. And he built that tiny home to make some extra cash. And he was like– man, I think he was making $3,000 a month on that tiny home. And what was cool, he was going to take that tiny home and then put it on a piece of land that he had bought by a lake, live in the tiny home, while he built his primary home there, and he was going to rent out the tiny home again. He had a plan. But anyways, he was pivoting with a lot of things too. And he started– the tiny home was great. I mean, definitely he built it, you could tell, but it was good.

[00:14:03] Sarah: And this leads me to just pivoting the conversation a little bit more. So number one, the podcast. Annette and I wanted to start a podcast. We had never been podcasters before, but we just did it. 

[00:14:12] Annette: Oh, I was dabbling.

[00:14:13] Sarah: Annette dabbled and I used to be an actor, so I’m no stranger to the mic. So that’s, to be fair, yes. But still, we were new to each other, and we were new to asking people to be a part of our crazy world.

[00:14:23] Annette: Oh, we were nervous.

[00:14:24] Sarah: You were very nervous. But here’s also what you can do if you’re right now facing a decision. It doesn’t even have to be a short term rental related decision, but what Annette and I often do is really think about worst case scenario. And if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re in real estate, you are most likely in a position of having some life experience that you can leverage to offset any hiccup that might happen if and when you decide to pivot and it doesn’t go as planned. Because we can’t promise that it didn’t go as planned.

 COVID hit and it was just like, what is going on? And lot of tough things happen then, but you have to just rely on yourself, I think, to know that your instincts are going to kick in and you’re going to navigate your way through it. And what you find on the other side of that decision is sometimes the best. You’re like, oh my gosh. I didn’t know it, but at the time, this is the most amazing thing that could happen to me.

[00:15:11] Annette: Yeah. And I want to offer this to everybody, because this, I feel like the short term rental world is like just inundated with this. Not everything has to be this extreme profit or any profit. You could literally host to just cover your mortgage. That’s fine. You could even host and maybe not even make that much money. Let’s say it’s your primary home or maybe it’s your second home, and you don’t need to make that money.

When we started our podcast, for instance, there is no money for years and years and years. Not everything that you do, including hosting, has to have this amazing payout monthly. Your why can be so many different things. And I just think that that’s something that we get really caught up in is the profits. Especially when people are talking about short term rentals and real estate, because that’s like the thing that gets touted the most, is three x, what a short term is.

[00:16:00] Sarah: Well, you get afraid to make that first move, to run to first base and then to take it to second base. And I’m talking about goals here, and not other things. But you get so afraid to make a mistake, or at least I do sometimes, that you never take that first step. And my goodness, if I haven’t taken the first step in a few things in the past five years of my life, I mean, I love where I’m at right now and it’s been a really high– it’s been a mountain. But it’s been great too.

 And I also want to bring up too letting go some of the clients. I let go of a person that I originally had started hosting with. He’s now hosting like 50 properties or something. But I want to say there were so many mistakes in the beginning too. We’re going to work on some new YouTube videos of the first properties weren’t in LLC. I was mingling. I didn’t know about having all these separate bank accounts and I was just doing the thing.

[00:16:46] Annette: And so also don’t get analysis paralysis and worried about if you’re making some missteps, because I can let perfectionism sometimes take over, and so you got to get going with it. But going back to what Sarah– circling back to the very beginning, is we just want everybody to know your numbers because Sarah and I do love numbers. We love talking about profit, we love talking about financial goals. But we are also very honest in putting those other line items that might not be on that P&L, might not be found on that spreadsheet.

[00:17:16] Sarah: And might I add, that thing can be a gut check. I really do believe it’s okay to say I don’t know what it is. My gut is telling me to do X, Y, Z.

[00:17:25] Annette: Or not to.

[00:17:26] Sarah: Or not to do X, Y, Z. And even if you can’t formulate into words what that is, obviously you don’t want to navigate your entire life on gut feelings, but if there’s just something telling you to do it, which is what happened with me changing my portfolio for 2023. I just had to listen to myself. I’m a smart person. I’ve made mostly decent decisions in my life and I have to see what’s on the other side of this decision. 

 Yes. And we love that. So if you’re listening and you have anything like this, please email us. Let us know if you’ve pivoted to a property, away from a property, away from maybe helping someone host or not host. Let us know that. Share your stories with us. You can also go to our website where we have our Thanks for Visiting hosting hotline there and let us know, but we just wanted to talk about that today because there is a lot of chatter in social media about just more money, more money, more money, and bringing on more clients or buying more properties all the time. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

[00:18:18] Annette: I just know all your listeners out there, over the years, we understand, we know who you and we love who you are, but we thought, as I was just chatting with Annette about the changes that I’m making in my life and I was like, I think our listeners need to hear. Because every day there are people like, well, why don’t you just do more? Why would you do that? You already have this set up.

 So we’re going to also let you know it doesn’t come without opinions flying in. There are so many people like, why don’t you own more properties? Why don’t you have more of this? Why don’t you own in all these other states? Or why don’t you remote? And it’s just that’s not what we do right now. And. It’s also about quieting the noise. So when you’re pivoting or when you’re just making decisions, you’re going to have to quiet the noise. 

[00:18:56] Sarah: You are going to have to quiet the noise, and you’re going to be confident in who you are, what you want to do. Even if you’re like, I don’t even know what I want to do next, but I do know that I need to simplify right now, and this is what’s important to me right now. Because you can always pivot back. You can always go back. But making decisions quickly, I can tell you on this side of things has been a really great tip that I’ve gotten from many a podcasts and business coaches. And they’re just right. Even with the decision, there are no wrong decisions. Failing fast. There’s all these great things. Because man, the things you learn when you get back out. 

[00:19:25] Annette: Success is on the pile top of all the failures. 

[00:19:29] Sarah: Oh, my God. You should see your face right now, I’m thinking about all the fears. 

[00:19:31] Annette: All right. But yeah, reach out to us. Let us know. Let’s do this thing. Whatever it is that you want to do or not do.

[00:19:37] Sarah: Yeah. And with that, my name is Sarah Karakaian.

[00:19:39] Annette: I’m Annette Grant, and together we are–

[00:19:41] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks For Visiting. 

[00:19:42] Sarah: We’ll talk to you next time.