How to Handle Emergency Maintenance Issues…

…Practice Aloha.

(#2 in a 5 part series on the 5 Best Headache Cures for Kauai Vacation Rental Owners)

At some point during your property ownership, you may get THE call.  The dreaded but likely inevitable call you really wish you didn’t have to deal with.  The washing machine broke, there is a family on vacation in your unit, and they need to do their four loads of laundry ASAP.  And they’re not happy.

You’re in the middle of a four-day work seminar and this issue doesn’t seem to fit anywhere into any moment of your pre-planned, pre-packaged day.  How can you possibly put out this fire?

There are only two things you need remember in this situation.

First, do not lose your patience.  That’s where it can all go wrong before it can start to get right.  Remember in those times that the people who are in the middle of the issue, your renter and your maintenance crew, are the people most affected by the broken down washer.

Put yourself in the renter’s shoes ~ you’re on vacation and you go to use the washer to clean your only pair of Aloha print board shorts, but the washer won’t start.  You start to panic because you’ve been looking forward to sitting on the beach and looking awesome in those great board shorts!  How bummed out are you?  Now your only option is to wear your backup shorts that you bought 3 trips ago that are all faded… talk about a buzz kill.

How about your maintenance staff?  They are probably in someone else’s rental property either fixing a light switch or painting baseboards when they get your call that the washer is not working.  It’s not too likely that they are sitting in their truck with the engine idling just waiting for someone to call in an emergency.  All the same though, they tell you that they can wrap up the current job that they’re on and get over to your property ASAP to get the situation dealt with.  Once they get to the unit and wade through the renter’s belongings to diagnose the issue, they will probably have to make a few trips to the hardware store, perhaps even get up to Lihue to the Home Depot to get a new appliance.  After all is said and done, the emergency washing machine probably cost them about 5 hours of their day and because most of them are pretty great human beings, they will only charge you for the time actually spent in your place, probably 2-3 hours.

Second, now that the problem is solved, the renter is back in his awesome aloha print board shorts and looking great on the beach, and your maintenance crew is back to fixing that light switch or putting the last coat of paint on those baseboards that he started yesterday; there is still important work to be done.  All that inconvenience for both the renter and the maintenance staff needs to be addressed.  How do you do that?  It is imperative at this point to show one thing to both of them; your sincere appreciation for their patience, and their help.

For the renter, you may want to send them a gift card to Keoki’s paradise or Lappert’s Ice Cream so that they can go have a nice relaxing experience after having to stress about wearing a 3rd string set of board shorts to the beach.

For the maintenance crew, perhaps you throw in a tip, an extra $20-30, for having them jump to help, putting off their priorities for the day so that they could help you out in your emergency.

Each will understand one thing at the end of the ordeal.  You appreciate what they went through, and they will feel good about their experience with you.  From the renter, you’ve just forged a deeper relationship that is well on its way to building trust that can lead to repeat business.  From the maintenance staff, you’ve just solidified that same trust, resulting in a willingness to help out the next time you find yourself in an emergency.

Basically, when it comes to dealing with maintenance emergencies, one phrase says it all: “Practice Aloha.”

Then, get back to enjoying your life.  If this isn’t they type of thing that you want to do, or worry about, why not let us handle the details?  Give us a call, you’ll be so glad you did.

Be sure to follow the blog in order to get automatic delivery of the next in the series, where we’ll discuss Understanding the Process of running a vacation rental.

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Lisa Stevens is the Owner/Manager of Koloa Kai Vacation Rentals, which she runs with Jed Stevens, her husband and General Manager.