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Vacation Rental Property Management

WHY LIST YOUR COTTAGE WITH US?

We are not striving to be the BIGGEST vacation rental company, just the BEST!

We see our relationship with our cottage owners as a partnership.

We are the customer service experts. We provide the marketing and sales force to bring renters to your home. We welcome guests to the area and get them all settled into their vacation home and do all we can to make sure they want to come back again. We have the infra-structure, software, office space and staff. We are here, in Boothbay, taking reservations twelve months a year. We understand our business and our customers and help our cottage owners make their homes as attractive to renters as possible.

You have a beautiful home in Mid-coast Maine. You strive to make it wonderful and welcoming. You share your home and your family memories with your guests and help them make their own memories. You provide a home that is clean, safe, well maintained and manicured.
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Together, we make the perfect team. Together we are able to connect guests with the perfect cottage for their vacation dreams.

To do this we: 
  • Staff our office with locals who know the area and understand Maine Hospitality 
  • Screen and match renters to your Home. Think of us as match-makers. Connecting guests to the perfect vacation rental 
  • We put our experience of over 20 years in the industry to work for you! 
  • We evaluate your home for "Rental Friendliness" 
  • We help you understand what renters want and how to make your home attractive to them 
  • We help you with everything from furnishings to yard care- as much or as little as you want us to 
  • We help you come up with contingency plans in the event 'something happens' 
  • We help you manage your expectations and help you understand what can go wrong and how to avoid and/or prepare for problems 
  • We provide state-of-the-art web marketing and advertising 
  • We have invested in great software and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make us visible -and easy to find 
  • We provide a social media strategy using our social media clout to bring attention to your property • We help you generate social media attention for your property 
  • We always demonstrate integrity and high standards of ethics in all we do 
  • We will never put a tacky ‘for rent’ sign in the middle of your beautiful yard like other companies do 
  • We offer as much or as little service as you wish: Property winter checks, wellness checks, repairs, lawn care, seasonal opening and closing, cleaning, additional marketing, photography of your property, wellness checks, tasteful signs and more

References available upon request. You can contact us at: audrey@cottageconnection.com Or 800-823-9501


WHY USE A RENTAL MANAGER?

Being a leader in the vacation rental industry for over 20 years has made us "the one to beat". Our prices are fair and reasonable for the services we provide both you, the property owner and the guests. Here are a couple resources we have created over the years to answer the question 'Why Use a Rental Manager?'


Vacation Rentals are Gaining in Popularity

By Audrey Miller, Cottage Connection of Maine, Inc.

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I probably don’t need to tell you much about the vacation rental industry.

Vacation Rental Homes are increasing in popularity over the past few years. But we here in Maine have been in the vacation rental business for generations. As a matter of fact, our slogan should be “Return to ME”. Why? Because people return to Maine time and time again. They come with their parents and then they return years later and bring their own kids to have the same wonderful experience they had as a child

I probably don’t need to introduce you to the vacation rental industry because if you live here in Maine, chances are your neighbors are renting their house, or maybe you are too.

However, to the rest of the travel industry, vacation rentals are ‘the new kids on the block’. They are gaining in popularity because they offer cost-effective options for groups. Vacation home rentals provide a truly authentic and ‘local’ experience giving travelers the ability to cook their own meals, shop at the local farmer’s market and mingle with real-life neighbors. Rentals are also ‘cool’. Because rentals are still ‘not mainstream’, they create a buzz, like: ‘We found this amazing house in Boothbay ... right on the ocean … and we can bring our dog!’

Although I don’t have an exact number, our area seems to have between 450 and 500 homes for rent in the summer season. There has been an increase in the number of vacation rental homes over the last few years as more people seek to share their second home with visitors who want to vacation here. Some rent as an option to being able to keep a cherished family cottage in the family for future generations, some just want to cover some of the taxes until they can live here full time in retirement. 

Whatever the reason, there are professional agencies ready to assist you with this complex process. After all, we want a vacationer’s experience in a cottage to be a memorable one and one they want to repeat again and again.

Published in the Boothbay-Wiscasset “Homes & Services Guide”, 2014

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We talk to many property owners who are considering the trade-offs between self-management and professional management services. Our management services cost money. So they want to know how we earn it. Are we cost effective? Can they do it themselves? Here are some thoughts we have shared with owners who are trying to answer these questions.

First, owners who self-manage don't save money. They earn it. They earn it by being available 24/7, by being at the beck and call of their renters and by working hard to find those renters in the first place. And the challenge is not just finding renters, but fixing things, cleaning the properties and taking care of less-than-satisfied guests. Examples of how self-managers spend their time earning the commissions or fees they would have paid to a professional manager include:

  • Responding promptly to emails by impatient renters who are quick to look elsewhere 
  • Answering (on average) ten inquiries for every confirmed rental 
  • Negotiating rent with bargain-shopping renters 
  • Being available to renters at ‘check-in’ and then inspecting and ‘turning’ the property for the next renters 
  • Dealing with linens 
  • Responding to renters who argue that a malfunctioning tub drain justifies a full refund 
  • Finding a backup cleaner when the regular cleaner doesn't show up 
  • Dealing with lost keys or key code problems at two o'clock in the morning 
  • Getting a prompt response by an electrician or plumber in the middle of summer 
  • Dealing with unplanned, unforeseen problems

Maintenance, Renters & Marketing

Are problems rare? After 20+ years in the business, we think we have seen just about everything. But every year, we see something new. As rental managers, we have become experts in the problems that routinely arise in putting a renter into a home owned by a non-resident. We anticipate and avoid recurring problems through preventive maintenance and wellness checks. We have networks of service vendors who respond to us faster than they would to an individual homeowner because we send them year-round business and they know they will get paid promptly. We keep backup cleaners on call. And if something extreme happens, we are more likely able to put your guest in a different home than you probably could on your own. Keeping guests happy is extremely important to the future of our industry and keeps them from writing disparaging comments about you in social media. Our Inspectors serve as our eyes and ears for our homes, helping us keep properties safe from unruly or unauthorized renters and helping to see maintenance issues before they are BIG issues.

phones1.gifSelf-Managers must be readily accessible by phone and email. Websites designed for owner-operators make it easy for property owners to market their own properties. But those owners must be willing to make themselves available whenever a potential renter wants to chat about the property. It is time-consuming and repetitive. Renter’s expectations of normal office hours are different then what they expect of a self-manager. And there is the added challenge of maintaining availability calendars.

Refunds - who gets one? As professional managers we also earn our keep by relieving homeowners of the infrequent but inevitable nightmares and perceived nightmares. We work hard to keep your renters happy and satisfied but also work to keep refunds within reason.

Renters who go straight to the property owner expect to pay less and the rent-by-owner. websites tend to attract bargain shoppers. Renters assume that a property owner who is not paying for professional management can give the renter a discount over market rates. We have a large pool of renters who are more interested in getting the home they want than in getting a bargain. Renters who are shopping rent-by-owner websites often send multiple email requests, soliciting discounts, to see who will give them the best price. We monitor the rental market and have a good sense of when to discount and by how much. We also know how to use value-added incentives over discounting as a way to attract renters. We use our relationship with businesses in our area to create 'packages' rather than discounting rental income.

Legalities, Insurance & Taxes

Self-managers create liability for themselves, often exposing their net worth by failing to inform their insurance agency that they are renting without using a professional manager. We have basic requirements of our homeowners in terms of insurance coverage as well as strongly suggested coverage that saves a lot of hassle when 'something happens'.

As professional property managers we further minimize a homeowner's liability by using bonded workers covered by workers' compensation insurance.

We are set up to take credit cards and offer online payment to renters. This virtually guarantees more reservations. Our bulk business lets us use these services at a lower rate than an individual can get on their own.

We collect and pay ‘tourism’ taxes on your behalf. Many self-managers are not familiar withfinances.jpg the tax laws and simply do not charge tax to the renters or pay tax to the State of Maine. This may appeal to renters as a savings and it is less paperwork for an owner. But local tax authorities are mobilizing and starting to access property owners Federal Tax returns to identify owners who have reported expenses.

We belong to organizations that lobby for our industry and keep us abreast of political and legal changes before they occur, often allowing us to fight and successfully block laws that are not friendly to our industry. As active members of VRMA we are part of the national conversation. As president of the newly formed VRPOM, Audrey Miller is not only in touch with what is happening here in Maine, she is actually helping shape the industry in our state.

TO SUMMARIZE

Property management is not a stress-free job. It is not fun for those who do not have the systems in place to make it work smoothly. Self-management can work for a homeowner who is both motivated and willing to do a lot of work. Some who self-manage know what they are getting into. Others don't yet appreciate how much stress is involved. We are equipped to do the heavy work for homeowners. We make rental home ownership a more pleasant experience.

WHAT OUR PROPERTY OWNERS SAY

"I really feel that our cottage gets better care than if we were trying to do it ourselves. You see what needs to be done and you know how to get it done, while being cost conscious at the same time." Kathryn I.

"Other companies say they will try. You say you will try and you deliver..." Louise S.

"After 3 years of utilizing your services for the rental of our property, we want to express to you our gratitude for another year "well done". Your guidance of us in our efforts to make our property more attractive to potential renters has resulted in financial gain for both you and for us. Our follow through with your many suggestions provided us with a 100% increase in our rental activity since the first year of rental."

We have made improvements in the property that were not expensive but did take some energy on our part. It was truly worth it as we now are enjoying a productive rental season. We hope that you will continue to think creatively so that both you and we can benefit from our arrangement." Alice and Andy M.

"Being a cottage owner and working for CCM was a real eye opener. I had no idea how much work goes on behind the scenes, before, during and after your clients plan their vacations. From helping a renter find a cottage that best suites their needs and wants, to all the equipment maintenance and small repairs, and all the cleaning that gets done, it is more work than I could have imagined. I now know that I would not rent our cottage to strangers without the knowledge and support from the CCM staff. You dedicated employees go the extra mile to meet or exceed customer expectations." J. Frazer

WHAT OUR GUESTS HAVE TO SAY

"Memories of our stay at the cottage will never fade. Your staff tended to every last detail. It was great." John and Mary M. (Sea Hut)

"I just wanted to let you know again how much we appreciated and valued our week at Newagen Cove Cottage. Everything was, in a word, perfect (which is not a word I use lightly). Beginning with the website which was easy to navigate and which accurately depicted the remarkable array of cottages you offer to the warm, competent and accommodating staff who patiently answered all our question....And a return to Maine, through the kindness of Cottage Connection, will be what keeps us going through the coming year." Felice K. (Newagen Cove)

"What a wonderful vacation! Your service makes everything so easy that makes it a vacation. I really liked the combination of professionalism with a personal local touch." Guest Survey (Stone Cottage)

"I really want to thank you again for the high level of service you have provided. I am a hospital president in a small community hospital, so I really appreciate it when great customer service is being provided." Bill C (Island View)

Our business is vacation rentals. It's our chosen profession and we are confident that we can provide you with the advice and quality service you are seeking. We can be reached at 1-800-823-9501, or via email at:rentME@cottageconnection.com

Cottage Connection of Maine, Inc. is a proud member of the Vacation Rental Managers Association and the Better Business Bureau and operates according to their rules of ethics and high standards in property management.

Cottage Connection of Maine, inc. | P.O. Box 655, Boothbay, ME 04537 800.823.9501 207.633.6545 | rentme@cottageconnection.com