By Alex Gaggioli
Running an independent property can feel like a juggling act. It takes time and effort to optimize processes, manage people, and make sure the details are accounted for. At Cloudbeds, our customer coaches work with independent properties every day and they understand what it takes to run a smooth operation, and how to fix common problems.
I sat down and had a chat with one of customer coaches and implementation managers, Ipo, about what property owners do to set themselves up for success. Before she worked at Cloudbeds, she managed a team at a large San Diego property. Her insight into running an operation comes from many years of experience, from accounting to managing a large team.
How to Set Your Property Up for Success
1. Prepare for the Day
Well optimized properties know that preparing for the next day is the best way to ensure a smooth operation. Nightly audits and reports will prepare you and your staff for whatever the next day has in store. Your property likely already has a system for daily and weekly reports, but there’s always room for improvement.
Arrival and departure reports are essential to complete every night before the next day begins. Knowing the number of people checking in, checking out, and in-house guests will help you allocate your resources accordingly.
Preparation is the key to success for managers and employees. Housekeepers, front desk staff, and other employees will benefit from knowing how many people are flowing in and out of the property. For example, if your hotel is booked, both today and tomorrow, but there’s an 80% turnover, your staff will know it’s going to likely be a non-stop, hectic day.
In contrast, if the next day doesn’t look busy, you can plan for you and your staff to work on other side projects beyond their daily duties.
2. Keep Up with Your Accounting
At the end of the most recent quarter, Ipo and other customer coaches helped several properties with their accounting. The biggest problem they encountered were mismatched reports and bank statements because properties hadn’t been auditing their properties regularly.
In order to save yourself time and frustration at the end of each month or quarter, it’s important to run and audit daily financial reports. Here are some tips on how to keep your accounting on track:
- Run daily financial reports including revenue reports, payment reports, and transaction reports, Many property management systems, like Cloudbeds’ myfrontdesk, offer daily financial reports that automatically pull in all the available information from the system.
- Change your cash drawer regularly. When you leave your cash drawer open, it’s hard to account for discrepancies in cash and other payment types. The longer you leave a cash drawer open, the harder it is track down problems such as missing cash and account for adjustments.
- Check in and out your guests. In the case of myfrontdesk, and other PMS’s, you need to make sure the system reflects the activity of the hotel. This will keep all the reports accurate and show revenue accurately. Software and reporting works great when you do your part to keep it up-to-date.
- Make sure all your reports match. Your revenue report, transaction report, daily reports, etc. should all show the same numbers. If they don’t match up, track down where the problem is sooner rather than later. It will help you a lot when tax season comes around. See the reconciliation report section below.
- Record All Your Payments. Track all payments in your property management system (PMS). Depending on how you operate your property, you may collect payments a number of different ways. No matter how you collect payment, make sure you put it in your PMS so your reports reflect the real activity.
3. Create a Reconciliation Report
A reconciliation report is an important part of any business’ accounting activities. A reconciliation report helps you actively check that all your numbers add up on various reports. It takes the balances of two accounts and makes sure they are in agreement. Basically, you want to make sure that the money coming in and out is accounted for.
We suggest using the auto-generated reports that your property management system creates. Then, using a separate spreadsheet, make sure all your numbers match up. Ipo created a sample spreadsheet for properties to use as a foundation which you can find here.
Here’s how it works, for any type of property, you want to create categories based on room or bed types or however you categorize your accommodation type. In the case you are a bed and breakfast, you would break down your revenue by room types such as Queen, Cabin, Double Queen, Double Twin, etc. You would then have a column for every day which then has the amount of revenue per room type.
Here is a sample of a property’s reconciliation report with dummy data. You can see the items or room types listed on the rows to the left while the dates make up the columns. You will also notice rows for rate adjustments and sales tax adjustments. As a property owner or operator, you know adjustments are inevitable, and a reconciliation report will help you account for them on a regular basis.
4. In-House Report
At Ipo’s previous property, her team printed off a physical copy of the in-house report every day for safety and liability issues. In the case that your internet goes down or your system glitches, it’s important to know who is on your property. Printing a physical copy of guest names will help you find and contact guests in the event something comes up.
5. Daily Trainings
Properties often experience some sort of lull during the day. When Ipo was a manager, she implemented a training program for her front desk team during their down times. For her program, she focused on soft skills that would improve their day-to-day encounters with guests. Some topics included working better as a team, staying motivated, emotion intelligence, etc.
Daily trainings are a great way to keep your team occupied during down times. Trainings are just one of many projects you or your staff can complete between rushes.
Operating a property of any size is no easy feat. Completing tasks on a daily or routine basis will help you and your staff run a smoother operation and ease frustration. Create and follow a strategy to manage your finances, your guests, and your employees. When you add small tasks to your everyday routine, you’ll set yourself up for success in the long run.