Are you a visionary without an integrator in your vacation rental management company?

Are you a visionary without an integrator in your vacation rental management company?


Vacation rental management companies almost always start with humble beginnings and big visions for a better future. Some of us started out as “renters by owners” struggling to find a great management company, so we started our own. Others come from the real estate industry and see an opportunity to add a business that provides more predictable income. Many are guests who like the concept so much that they decide to get into the game. Others acquire an existing business to jump-start the process. More recently, there are even franchises to buy.

Regardless of the background, becoming a vacation rental manager begins with a business vision driven by a passion for the industry and a desire to create a better life for the owner.

Then reality sets in: This stuff is tough.

In fact, having started a multitude of businesses and studied many other industries over the past 30 years, I consider this to be one of the toughest small businesses around. You have to do so many things well to produce the result of a great stay for your guest while also serving as a great property manager for the owner. From property inventory growth to marketing, reservations, guest services, landlord relations, housekeeping, maintenance and landlord relations. . . the list continues.

At first, it’s exciting, and your passion carries you. Challenges invigorate you and you have the energy for the many problems you need to solve.

Then the inevitable happens.

This business you started to provide a better life for you and your family is starting to become a burden. Although you have grown your team and it helps you a lot, teamwork presents another challenge in the form of a need for leadership and responsibility. There just isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done.

You start to wear yourself out.

You realize that the business you wanted to own is now yours. The burnout you feel affects the rest of the team you’ve built, causing turnover. Every time someone mentions “work-life balance,” you just cringe. You’re trying to scale the business thinking, “If I get to X number of properties, things will be better.”

The brand you build will take a hit. Your passion for this business may even begin to wane. You wonder if you should have entered the field in the first place. You may even decide it’s not for you and take an early exit. Or maybe you stick with it and work through a difficult situation – a situation where life seems to be about nurturing the business you’ve created, only to find it’s not what you thought it would be.

Sound familiar?

After 25 years in this industry, I have not only experienced this myself, but I have also seen it happen time and time again.

So what is the answer?

Many decide this is too much and sell the business. Although it can quickly relieve pain, it probably won’t produce the most optimal result because the company is not in the best condition for an exit.

Others seem to have it figured out. They seem to have it all together and are developing businesses they love to own. These companies are successful brands with teams that love what they do and guests and owners who are loyal to the brand.

Studying hundreds, if not thousands, of management companies over the years, I can tell you that I see a common thread in companies that get past this sticking point.

Enter “The integrator”.

In their book, rocket fuelGino Wickman and Mark C. Winters describe the powerful relationship between the “Visionary” and the “Integrator”.

The founder is the Visionaryand the Integrator is working to gain ground by harmoniously integrating the management team.

The integrators manage the day-to-day. They excel in leadership, management and holding people accountable. They integrate the essential functions of the company: sales and marketing, operations and finance. Integrators manage and execute projects with constant force, cadence and effort. They clarify and align the team’s goals, values ​​and priorities to carry out the business plan. They filter the visionary’s ideas to remove roadblocks for the leadership team.

It seems simple enough. However, the problem is that an integrator is not always easy to find in the business world. In the seasonal rental sector, the shortage is acute. In many cases, the integrator of a VRM is the general manager (GM). Some use the title of COO or Vice President. There is currently no academic degree or industry-specific training to encourage talent to consider this business as a great opportunity to apply their abilities. So many VRM founders fill both seats. They attempt to play the hybrid role of visionary and integrator, and this rarely succeeds.

At my company (Better Talent) where we are looking for talent in droves for the VR industry, one of the most common roles we are asked to look for is CEO. I always appreciate being able to talk to a visionary who is self-aware enough to realize they need an integrator. It is common to think that this role can be filled for a nominal fee. The reality is that this is rarely possible.

The Integrator can make the difference between the visionary realizing his vision or not, and it takes a investment in the right person to make it work. It is also something that takes time. Just posting a job on Indeed will get you plenty of resumes, but you’re unlikely to get the perfect candidate. Then, once you find the right one, you have to invest time to fully integrate them into the role of integrator.

That said, it’s worth it. In fact, the biggest companies in this industry have achieved this.

The “Visionary” owner took the time to identify yin with his yang: his “Integrator”. They continue to take the time to cultivate their relationship and they compensate them appropriately. They define the vision and the integrator makes it happen.

Yes, it requires a substantial investment of time and resources, but the return on investment is exponential.

The real question is – as you experience burnout, hamster wheel, turnover, etc. – can you afford not to identify and invest in an integrator?

Personally, I would never run another business without one.

As a visionary, not only will this make a huge difference to your day-to-day operations and bottom line, but it will also transform your experience as a business owner and as a professional now free to work in your field of genius.

Until now, you may have thought that you couldn’t afford to hire an integrator, but after describing the critical relationship, I’ll leave you with this:

How can you afford not to?

Future: GM boot camp for vacation rental management companies.

The role of GM/COO is quickly becoming the most important role in a vacation rental management company. However, there is very little training or community specifically for this role. Therefore, VRM Intel is hosting a high-level GM bootcamp that brings together industry veterans with current GMs and COOs and people who want a career as a GM at a full-service vacation rental management company.

Are you interested in attending or sending someone to a VRM-specific GM Bootcamp? Click here.