“When It Rains, It Pours” OR “Money Dad”

murphys_lawIt seems like only yesterday that I was sitting here in front of this very same computer screen writing a post about the end of rental season.  That was actually seven months ago!  Posted March 30, 2014, “As Another Season Comes to an End.”  Really?  Already!

Well … as of yesterday … season is back.

Over the past few years I have watched as the trends have change and our “season” has expanded.  Back in the day … we had only two seasons in the desert.  The season when everyone wants to be here and “Oh Hell No!” when no one wants to be here.  But weather changes, knowledge of vacation homes grows, word gets out.  Yesterday, November 1st … snow in the Midwest and parts of Canada!  Really?  Already!

Back ten, fifteen years ago, our properties would fill up for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Three, four days tops.  But these past few years we have filled more and more of our properties for the entire month of November.   And these numbers are growing.   Why?  Well … until recent years November was Low-Season.  November is an absolutely gorgeous month in the desert and as the knowledge of vacation rentals has spread, as well as the low rates … more and more visitors have discovered what our local residents already know about November … perfectly-perfect weather and no crowds or waiting in line at your favorite restaurants.  These days most vacation rental companies and private owners have added a Mid-Season, but November rental rates are still a significant bargain.

So over the past week Vacation Rentals of the Desert has prepared about thirty properties and we’ve all been very busy greeting and settling these guests in for their extended stays … for some, three to six months.

In this post I want to tell you about just one property, and the old saying, “when it rains, it pours,” comes to mind.  Looking back, it’s funny … but “during” … it was pretty stressful and it certainly tested my diplomacy skills with both the owner and his visitor!

 

I’ve managed this particular condo on and off for many years.  I actually signed the original owners way back in the 1980’s and remember being blown away with the updated décor and amenities of the property.  It was beautiful.  Fast forward to the 2000’s and very little change to the property and you will get an accurate picture of how it was three years ago.  The condo was comfortable, well maintained, had a drop-dead gorgeous southern mountain view, but was in desperate need of updating and some general TLC.  The son, who has inherited the condo from his parents realized that improvements were desperately needed,  agreed to keep his rental rates very low and make improvements every year with the income generated from rentals.  So the plan was set …

True to his word, every year he has made significant improvements.  New living room furniture, new dining room furniture, new den furniture, new patio furniture, landscaping, new mounted TV in the living room over the fireplace, new TVs in the bedrooms, new blinds in the living room and den, new art work for the walls and never a penny spared in maintenance and cleaning.

This spring the owner and I did a walk through to decide what updates should be done over the summer.  It was decided that the dated entertainment center in the den and the antiquated TV and electronics, would be updated and a new chandelier would be purchased for the dining room.  We also came up with a laundry list of small maintenance items that would be addressed by our handyman.

Unfortunately the new chandelier didn’t come through this year … so far anyway.  Between the three of us, the owner, his wife and me, we have not come up with the “perfect” chandelier.  So the search goes on.

There were delays … scouring the internet for the “perfect” chandelier, locating a console that went with the existing den furniture, and just life …

But with the looming arrival of the season’s first tenant, the owner selected and ordered the console and made arrangements to have all 7.5 feet of it shipped and delivered to our office.  It arrived about three weeks ago along with the big screen TV and the electronics.  We lived with the console, TV, etc., in our office until our handyman could schedule the delivery and set-up.  We have a small office and the console, standing on end, was a giant monolith that we were forced to live with for a few days.  A couple of times, while deep in thought,  I caught myself mumbling “excuse me” as I squeezed by it on the way out of the office.   I chuckle thinking of it as yet another physical instead of metaphorical obstacle we had to handle  … hopefully not a precursor of our upcoming season!

We were now about two weeks away from the visitor’s arrival date.

So our handyman Alex, delivered the console and set up the TV and electronics then disposed of the old entertainment center and dinosaur of a TV … what the heck was inside those things anyway?

First on the maintenance list was to address the master bedroom drapes.  Yes … I said drapes.  Drapes as in black-out drapes, sheers and heavy brocade!  Great for sleeping during the day but outdated and kinda “not very attractive,”  also an absolute cleaning nightmare!  So over time some of the plastic do-hickies that hold the curtain hooks were broken causing the top pleats of the drapes to hang funny and just look bad.  The owner wanted our handyman to “fix” the drapes.  Good luck trying to find those plastic do-hickies and someone willing to make the repair.  Our handyman tried but alas I ended up calling the owner.  With two arguments on my side … 1) no affordable fix for the ugly drapes and 2) the benefit of yet another upgrade to the property, I suggested that we get an estimate for replacement blinds.  The owner agreed and I quickly got on the phone to my preferred “blind company,” Metro Shutters and Blinds.  Bill always has the best rates!  Well … as long as we were getting a bid for the master bedroom, I asked Bill to include a bid for the guest bedroom as well.  It also had a triple layer of “not very attractive” drapes.

Bill came back with an amazing cost and the owner agreed to have the work done.

We are now about twelve days from the visitor’s arrival date.

The blinds are ordered and arrive and hung in about a week.  The blinds look fantastic and instantly update the room.  Now Alex, our handyman returns to fill the holes left from the old curtain hardware and do any touch-up paint needed.  But… after thirty years of floor to ceiling, wall to wall curtains … the paint is impossible to match and the wall is a mess in both bedrooms.  With now only five days till visitor’s arrival, the owner gives his OK to paint.  So Alex paints the wall around the master and guest bedroom windows … then he paints another wall … ‘cause new paint butted up to old paint just doesn’t work.

By the time all is painted, we’re now at four days left till the visitor arrives.  Now the cleaners can go in to do a deep cleaning and windows.  This is a two day process.  The condo has been closed up and unoccupied for about six months.  Everything … and I mean EVERYTHING has to be cleaned.  Every dish, cabinet, towel, etc. must be cleaned.  We even find critters between the sheets on clean beds after a summer of vacancy.

The day before the visitor’s arrival, our carpet cleaning service is in doing their thing when we get a call.  One of their cleaning techs went to put his bottle of water in the refrigerator while they were working and reported that the light was on but the fridge was hot inside!  Dadgummit!  The housekeepers said it worked when they did the deep clean the day before.  So we’re back on the phone with the owner!  This is when I start calling the owner “Money Dad.”  Thankfully the appliance repair company could make it over that day and they had the part for the $400 repair in their truck!  The refrigerator was running cool within the hour!  Wheeeew!

The next day, the day of the visitor’s arrival, the condo looked great.  All updates (other than the chandelier) were made, maintenance, repairs and emergencies addressed.  Money Dad was pleased, broke but pleased.  On to the next property ….

Then the visitor called at 5 p.m. to report that the air conditioner was not working and that he was from Canada and not used to this kind of heat and he was not happy.  The unit was blowing cool air at 11 a.m. that morning when we turned on the unit … scout’s honor.  We send our handyman Alex over to check the system and  I am now praying that it is just an A/C fuse or something, anything immediately fixable.  Nope … I’m told it’s the fan blower and not just any fan blower but a specialty part, an expensive-variable-speed-something-something that no A/C repair company keeps in stock.  We have to wait till the next morning.  Dadgummit!

I dread making these calls to unhappy visitors … and it crossed my mind to explain all we had been through over the past weeks to make the condo extra, extra wonderful for their stay.  If only they knew about all the improvements that had been made.   Improvements that they were not even aware of when they booked the reservation a year ago.  But I just couldn’t figure out a good way to say … so sorry about the A/C but you have a new console in the den and new flat screen TVs and new DVD players and a new Blue Ray player and new blinds and new paint (on some of the walls) and clean carpets and a super clean condo and a working refrigerator.  I don’t think that argument would have helped … but as it turned out, even though our visitors were not happy, they were very kind and understanding.  These are the kind of people that I will work tirelessly to please!

So … I explained to our overheated visitors from Canada that since it was approaching the evening hour and since I had no available properties to move them to and since it was to drop to the 50s over-night, that I hoped that they might-possibly-maybe be able to sleep with the windows open, the ceiling fan on and make it through the night … and that we would immediately reimburse them some of the rental money for their inconvenience that could be used for dinner in a nice air conditioned restaurant.

To which he promptly told me that there were no screens on the master bedroom window!

Oh!

No screens = Bugs!

So our handyman built them a brand new screen for the bedroom window while our very kind and understanding, overheated visitors from Canada went out to dinner.  By 8 p.m. the new screen was in place, the condo had cooled down, the tenants were fed, tired but comfortable and happy.

The next morning the air conditioner was repaired and I delivered the bad news to Money Dad … $1,000.

So … we welcome back “season” … and all the fun and excitement that comes with it.  Now let’s see how it goes with our other 139 properties … “knock on wood.”

 

3af380b7437c8dde1d2f6def5fa373Logo Vector Final 11-24-09

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