Northwoods Farmstead

Behind the host with Northwoods Farmstead


Welcome to Boostly Podcast Episode 541.

In this episode we talk to guests Mitch and Katie, owners of Northwoods Farmstead, a short-term rental based in Sister Bay, Wisconsin.

They discuss how they got started in the short-term rental industry, and how they put a lot of thought into the guest experience and branding for their business.

They also mention that they did a lot of research to find a profitable area to invest in and they kept coming back to a popular local tourist destination in Wisconsin called Door County.

Here's the video for this episode:    

Timestamps (audio)

00:00 – Intro
02:25 – How did you get started
07:28 – There always going to be some problems
11:58 – How important is branding
17:02 – What sorts of things can people expect
25:02 – What has the tech done for business
32:50 – So what has been the biggest challenge you've faced
35:12 – Quickfire questions
39:14 – Outro

Whilst you’re here

Follow Boostly on the following channels to get more tips, tactics and knowledge on how you can increase your direct bookings

Visual – YouTube

Audio – Boostly Podcast




Transcript from the Episode

[00:00:00] Liam: Today we have a treat for you with the behind the host, um, where we're going behind the host with someone that's created a unique experience with their guests in mind. This is the behind the host miniseries. On the Boostly podcast. Uh, we dive into hosts from all over the world. Businesses so that you can, uh, see their tips and some of the stuff that they've implemented that you may be able to implement in your hospitality business as well.

[00:00:25] So tune in for the next 20 or 30 minutes as they tell their hosting story. Before we do introduce today's, uh, amazing guests, uh, let me just mention a quick win that has happened in the hospitality Facebook community. From Jenny Coles, who's a member of the, uh, the Boostly Academy, as well as the hospitality community.

[00:00:44] She sent out a, do you know anybody email? And this is something which Mark Simpson talks a lot about how you can send out, uh, emails to your previous guests to encourage them to book direct, or do they know anybody who books direct off the back of that? She's had a previous guest who stayed via. [00:01:00] Get in touch with her and come a book direct for a return trip.

[00:01:04] So well done. Uh, gin for sending out an email. Take an action. It really goes to show that by, you know, following the advice, going out there and, and taking action, you can invite guests to come back and get more direct bookings and more profit for your business. So, um, if you are listening to this and you'd like to shout out for your hospitality business or, or for yourself, for something that you've done well or a win within your business, Come and join the hospitality community on Facebook.

[00:01:30] Uh, every Wednesday we share our wins, and you may be read out on this podcast, so, Come and join in the fun. So, let's introduce to you our special guest today. We are joined by Mitch and Katie. Uh, their business, which is Northwoods Farmstead, is a short term rental, uh, based in Sister Bay, which is in Wisconsin.

[00:01:50] In the USA today, we are gonna dive into how they've got the branding spot on for their business, the guest experience that they've really put some thought into. [00:02:00] And just some of their processes, systems, and ultimately their style, which really stood out. We got to meet each other, uh, about a month ago when they were inquiring about websites and straight away I just saw their, their place and thought, wow, this is something which other hosts can really learn from.

[00:02:15] So welcome along, uh, Mitch and Katie.

[00:02:19] Mitch: Thank you so much for having us. Uh, we're really excited to be here.

[00:02:23] Liam: So let's get started. How did you get started in, uh, short-term rental and what brought you to being a host.

[00:02:29] Mitch: Yeah, so Katie and I had talked, um, a lot about, uh, looking for an investment type that was maybe different, um, than, you know, maybe what we were brought up with.

[00:02:39] Um, and we both have always had, uh, kind of a passion for traveling and traveling together. Um, and so this kind of naturally fell right into, you know, what we were interested in and what we had, you know, a, a passion for. Um, and so it, it kind of was one of those things where it was, uh, Felt like [00:03:00] a dream for a long time.

[00:03:01] And then, um, when we started to actually really look, um, we did a lot of research trying to dig into, you know, areas that we felt like might be profitable, uh, might be good areas, um, to, uh, to potentially invest in and. , what we ended up coming back to is just over and over and over again, we kept coming back to an area, uh, that's in our home state called DOR County, Wisconsin.

[00:03:23] Um, it's a place that, uh, is a, a really, really popular local tourist destination. Um, and it's, it's kind of a fun story too where, um, you know, a bunch of my roommates from college grew up in the area there. Um, and so we have kind of a connection there. Katie and I have been going there together on vacations for the last 10 years.

[00:03:43] Um, and, uh, and so it was kind of a, a place where it was, uh, a little bit special to us. Um, and so it just, it made a lot of sense. Um, and it's, you know, it's about three hours from our house, um, so we're, you know, accessible to a point. Um, but uh, [00:04:00] but yeah, that's kind of what led us to, uh, to get started in the space.

[00:04:03] Liam: That's cool. I mean, if it's a place where you two go to, uh, you know, go on vacation, go on holiday, well, you know, there's gotta be a good sign that there's demand for it there, which is cool. And it's quite brave to pick somewhere, you know, three hours away as opposed to immediately In your, uh, current location, when you done that, was there, was there sort of a distance that you set yourself or was it just a case of, you know, it was, it just seemed right and the right sort of distance away?

[00:04:27] Was there any, um, a. Apprehension around picking a place

[00:04:32] Mitch: out the way. I think that maybe depends on who you ask . Um, I, I think for, for Katie, uh, I don't wanna speak for you, but, um, I think that was a lot more comfortable. Um, I think for me, I actually kind of walked it back into that, um, in that like, I looked a lot farther away to start.

[00:04:49] Yeah. Um, and, uh, you know, I, I'd been kind of looking. Some of the traditional US investment areas, like, you know, the s Smokey and uh, Rocky Mountains and, you know, [00:05:00] down in Florida and places like that. I looked at a lot of those places. Um, but we just kind of kept coming back to DOR County. Um, and you know, we, we looked at a bunch of places.

[00:05:09] Um, we made a few offers outside the state. Didn't end up getting them. A few offers here. Didn't end up getting them. Um, and, uh, this one property just kind of kept coming back to us and, uh, we just kind of fell in love with it and we're like, let's make it happen. So, um, yeah, it ended up, uh, working out really well.

[00:05:26] But, um, I think at first naturally just, you know, as, as any post that's getting started, um, you know, may, uh, run into some of those thoughts of, you know, three hours away, that seems like, okay, if there's an issue. You know, it's not like I can just buzz over there and go fix the issue. Like, um, although that has happened a couple times.

[00:05:49] Yeah. . Um, but, uh, but you know, it's far enough away where, you know, we've really relied on building a team, um, that we can rely on, um, in our market and. [00:06:00] They've, uh, they've done very, very well for us. Done, you know, they've been able to handle just about everything that's come at us. Um, and so, yeah, I think, uh, initially it was a little scary, um, just because it is like, you know, you're hosting people that you can't just, you know, buzz over and, and help 'em when there's a problem.

[00:06:18] Um, but, uh, that's really led us, I think to like build out some of the systems that we've, that we've built out to, to try to be successful from a.

[00:06:26] Liam: That's cool. And, uh, I remember a, uh, behind the host we done with, uh, a guy called Sean McGregor and, uh, from, uh, stay BC I think the name of his business is, and he said that actually he looks for places which are far enough away, where you've got no choice but set up some of these processes and systems, which is cool.

[00:06:42] So that sounds like what you done. Yeah,

[00:06:44] Mitch: it's, uh, I think it's, it's an interesting thing to get used to, you know, because it's, uh, there, there are times I, I vividly remember some of the first like things that would pop up where we've had, had little issues that pop. and I would just like drive myself nuts of like, oh my God, this is like [00:07:00] a huge problem.

[00:07:01] How do we fix this? And really, it was a pretty small problem. Sure. Um, and, you know, but it's like, we gotta fix this immediately. And, and all of that goes into the guest experience and, and you gotta make sure that those things get squared away right away. But, um, just this, this past weekend we had a small issue and it was like, I kind of reflected back on it afterwards and I was like, man, that was like really stress free

[00:07:22] Like I just didn't have to do much. I just made a couple phone calls and it was. That's cool.

[00:07:26] Liam: And at the end of the day, when you're a host there, there's always gonna be some problems. It's how you deal with those problems and what you will then put in place after those problems have happened to, to stop it from happening again, which is all part of the journey, which is really cool.

[00:07:38] So let's speak about your branding. Um, for anybody who, uh, doesn't know Mitch and Katie, you can go and check out now. If you're listening to the podcast, uh, it's north woods And you'll be able to check out their awesome logo and their branding. Whose idea was the branding, the logo, and how has it helped your business so far?

[00:07:59] Mitch: Yeah. That's how

[00:07:59] Katie: you, [00:08:00] um, so. I just with a career in communications and working in marketing, knowing that branding is just so important. And I think too, you know, when you look at, at the host experience and the guest experience, like having something that is unified, and when you look at it, it's like, oh, you know, it's Northwoods.

[00:08:17] It's kind of like when you see the North Face logo, like, you know what, it's North Face. Um, so we're really, we're, we're incredibly fortunate. Mitch's sister, my sister-in-law is a graphic designer. So really kind of, we sat and talked about, you know, what, what would we call this place? And, and it sits on North Woods Row, which was, you know, convenient and it used to be a farm.

[00:08:39] Um, so it's still got, you know, the really big old barn on it and then a smaller barn next to the house. And so, you know, calling it a farm or farmstead was really, um, something that kind of just fell into. And from there then, you know, it was really looking at, you know, what are things that we like, you know, from a design perspective, what's our color scheme?[00:09:00]

[00:09:00] We obviously went with more of a modern farmhouse decor, so a lot of like really solid colors of white and black. Um, You know, kind of our own estate, Magnolia home for those, um, so big Joanna Gaines fan. So really kind of bringing in like the subtle pops of color. And so, um, when Mikayla, our sister-in-law came back with the design, it was just, it was absolutely perfect.

[00:09:23] Um, and then just incorporating that throughout the house then as well, so that even things like we have blankets on the bed, um, you know, that have the logo embroidered in it. We have a really big fire pit outside and. We've got big blanket throws that have, you know, an embroidered in it, um, the logo. So it's really kind of all about the experience, um, while you're there and just making sure that that branding is, is threaded through really everything we do from the first communication that you get from us, you know, when you book our place really to, while you're there and.

[00:09:56] And essentially when you leave. Um, so branding's just a [00:10:00] huge part, um, at least of my professional career. And so having, bringing that to our, our house, our home was, was really important to me. And I appreciate Mitch for letting me drive him crazy, um, with all the different logos and, you know, going back and forth on things.

[00:10:18] But, you know, I really do think that it, it creates a, a different experience, you know, when you do stay with us because of it.

[00:10:25] Mitch: And I, I think just to add to that, uh, you know, maybe a tip that, uh, I think other hosts could potentially learn from how Katie handled that, um, was that we, we kind of knew that we wanted to take this approach from day one mm-hmm.

[00:10:40] and that we wanted to really try to build a brand around our home. Um, and so we did some of the. Really early, I would say, um, in terms of like, we were doing the branding and going over the logos, like while we're under contract on the property. Um, and I think what that could lead [00:11:00] to for, for other hosts, whether it's, you know, hosts that are much more experienced than us or you know, somebody that's just looking to get started, is that, that really once we picked the brand that we were going to go with, um, and once we kind of established what that brand meant to.

[00:11:16] As you see, I'm wearing our, our sweatshirt here right now. But, um, but, uh, one, once we kind of established that, um, that really kind of like guided the design perspective of the inside of the house. Um, so when we were doing all of the renovations that we were gonna do to our home, um, Katie led that whole process because everything that she designed, um, with how things would be laid out and the types of, um, you know, uh, Going throughout the house and everything like that was all designed to kind of fall in line with the farmstead.

[00:11:49] Liam: That's what I absolutely love about, uh, y you know, your guys' property and, and about you both is that many hosts who are listening to this will be saying, well, I'm just getting started with one. How important is the branding? [00:12:00] How important is that side of things? And that advice, uh, that you've given there Mitch, is, is absolutely key because just finding, uh, something to, to go with, you know, choosing.

[00:12:09] Um, the, the brand and the avenue you're going down and then keeping that consistent, like you said, Katie, all the way through from the, the emails to the point when they turn up to the feel of the place, the actual, you know, the surroundings with the bonds nearby, it all ties into that brand. Uh, so many times we see hosts who, you know, may have, say, an urban apartment and, and call it luxury when it's not, or try try and be something that's not quite to that brand.

[00:12:36] Whereas for you guys, you've got something which is. You know, from, from Word go all the way through the experience is what somebody would expect from that brand, which is is really awesome. So, uh, you've done really well. And what would you say to somebody who maybe hasn't got a brand? I mean, one of the things you've just shown there is, uh, for anybody listening to the podcast, uh, Mitch is wearing the, the, the north, uh, Northwood farmstead, [00:13:00] um, hoodie, which is cool.

[00:13:01] So what would you say to hosts who. Haven't actually got a brand or they've just got a name for their property and that is it at the moment, as opposed to a brand.

[00:13:12] Mitch: I mean, I think that's probably more of a Katie question, , but I think for me, like it taking the time and, and spending the, you know, time and or money, um, to, to start to build the brand around your place.

[00:13:28] Mm-hmm. , I. is, you know, probably, I think the reason people stay away from it a little bit is probably because it's potentially negligible impact immediately. Um, in terms of like, okay, this might not mean something to our first year revenue. Mm-hmm. , you know, but what it will mean is that you'll be a much more sustainable business over time.

[00:13:50] Um, and that was something that I think that thought process. I had, and then it was a, a melding of, you know, Katie taking over from a branding [00:14:00] perspective. And, you know, me just knowing that taking that approach would be much more sustainable over a, you know, 3, 5, 10 year window and that we, we would be able to.

[00:14:11] You know, build a memorable branding experience with each of our guests over time, so that over time in year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, you know, we would be able to maximize how many of those guests were coming back and booking direct with us, um, as opposed to, you know, coming back and, and booking through, uh, Airbnb or VRBO or, or wherever.

[00:14:29] Hundred

[00:14:29] Liam: percent and we're gonna dive into the, uh, direct book and things. Definitely. Uh, so, um, awesome. So talking about your brand, what type, type of guest avatar do you tend to attract and whereabouts do you list currently for your property? You wanna

[00:14:44] Katie: handle that one? Yeah. So I mean, the great thing about DOR County is that there's over 2 million visitors a year.

[00:14:50] So you really get a lot of people from a lot of Midwestern surrounding states. We get a lot of people from the Chicago area, um, St. Louis, but. We get everything [00:15:00] from a family that's having, you know, like grandparents with their kids and their grandkids that come up for a weekend to, we've had a lot of bachelorette parties this summer.

[00:15:10] Um, cuz we can sleep 10 and we're right outside downtown and we're kind of, um, conveniently located near, um, two really big wineries that are in the area. So we get a lot of bachelorette parties. We also too, get a lot of wedding parties. Um, there's a, a really beautiful new venue, wedding venue, um, probably about a mile from our house, so we get a lot of bridal parties as well.

[00:15:33] And obviously with it being able to sleep 10 and having a great outdoor space. You know, we tend to get a lot of people, um, that are in larger groups. So we really kind of pull from a really, um, diverse demographic of people who stay. But a lot of people, um, I would say are probably from, you know, surrounding Midwest states, um, which is really cool, uh, just because as Midwesterners I feel like we really all kind of stick together.

[00:15:58] Um, but we, we [00:16:00] kind of pull from everywhere. Um, I

[00:16:04] Mitch: don't know if there's anything to add to that. No, that's, yeah, I think, I think our place naturally, um, with some of the amenities that we have and some of the features that we have, Uh, naturally, you know, uh, caters itself really well to, to family gatherings and, and to, um, like, like Katie said, um, you know, maybe friend gatherings, whether that's a, you know, a friend's weekend getaway or a, you know, bachelor, bachelorette party kind of thing, or, um, things like that.

[00:16:29] I think it suits those groups very well. Um, so we've gotten a lot of those groups. That's cool. And

[00:16:35] Liam: that's definitely one of the things where as soon as I saw we, we had the podcast today, I instantly could picture your outside fire pit so that that image of the area where friends, family can gather, um, you know, is, is certainly, um, leaves an impact and is very memorable.

[00:16:49] So I can see why those are the type of guests that you, you track and, you know, having that amenity, having good group spaces and being able to sleep. These big groups will, [00:17:00] you know, it definitely works along with the brand and. What sort of things can people expect from coming to, to the area? You know, what, what sort of activities are there to do and things that you'd recommend, uh, for your

[00:17:10] Mitch: guests?

[00:17:11] Yeah, so, so Dork County is a, like, like we said earlier, it's a, it's a really, um, popular, um, kind of localized, uh, tourist destination in the Midwest. Mm-hmm. , uh, basically for those that don't know, um, DOR County is the peninsula of Wisconsin that juts out into Lake Michigan. Um, and so they call it the Cape Cod of the Midwest.

[00:17:33] Um, and so it's, it's a very, um, kinda rural, um, and like old touristy town, um, place, which is, is, it's really, really fun. . Um, there's, there's two state parks. Um, actually three state parks, um, but uh, two that are real close to to us. Um, one of which, uh, is the second busiest state park in the state. That's Peninsula State Park.

[00:17:58] Um, that's kind [00:18:00] of, I would say maybe the crux of a lot of the visitors are, are coming to, to go to Peninsula State Park. Um, there's also a Newport State Park, which is a, um, a certified dark sky. Um, which is really cool. Um, in that literally, I think it was what, yesterday or, or the day before that? Yes. Um, we saw a bunch of people posting pictures that, um, that you, you, they were able to see the, um, Northern Lights.

[00:18:27] Oh. Um, So that was really cool. Um, so I think it's, it's a lot of that type of stuff. A lot of people go there for the, the small town kind of shopping, um, that's going on. Everything's like locally owned up there. They don't do a lot of like, chain, um, stores or chain restaurants. So every business is all like family owned and operated, um, which is, you know, I think adds a lot to the experie.

[00:18:53] So it's just, it's a lot of that type of stuff, a lot of lighthouses, a lot of people go to see all the different lighthouses. I think there's 11 or [00:19:00] 12 through Outdoor County. Um, so it's, it's a lot of that type of stuff, kind of like the outdoors experience, um, all along Lake Michigan, which is, you know, obviously the scenery.

[00:19:10] Unbelievable. Um, along with kind of the fun nature of, you know, some of the, the local restaurants, wineries, um, and a lot of things to do. That's

[00:19:21] Liam: cool. And it definitely, um, you know, sounds like a brilliant place to visit. Definitely. Uh, the dark sky side of things that, that's awesome. Cuz people want these rural country escapes, don't they?

[00:19:30] They want to get out of the city, which is really cool. So let's dive in more about the behind the business. So let's talk about routines. Uh, obviously, so this is your, your first short term rental. Uh, how long has it been going for, by

[00:19:44] Mitch: the way? So we bought it in October of last year. Um, so we've been, we've been going for, you know, I guess technically our first guests were like Christmas, right?

[00:19:54] Yep. So, um, the first month and a half or so, we were, you know, doing a lot of renovation to the house, um, [00:20:00] and trying to get ready. Um, and then our first guests were around Christmas. Um, and so, um, since then, you know, it's been, you know, nine months or so of being operat. That's cool.

[00:20:10] Liam: And what does your day-to-day routine look like?

[00:20:13] Do you both have other sort of job commitments or careers and, uh, how do you split up the work which is required with, with hosting?

[00:20:21] Mitch: Yeah, for sure. Um, so we've tried to, and, and it's been a little bit of an evolution, I will say, for sure. Yeah. Um, but yes, we both have full-time jobs that we attend to. Um, and you know, this is just, um, done kind of in our free time.

[00:20:36] Um, but, uh, we've, we've definitely evolved a little bit and, and it's, I think it'll always be ever-evolving just a little bit. Um, in terms of the things. Uh, the things that I'm managing, the things that she's managing, um, you know, where is there overlap? What are we doing together? What do you know? What does she handle?

[00:20:54] What do I handle? Um, but generally speaking, I think, uh, 30,000 foot [00:21:00] view, we've kind of split it into like operational stuff. Uh, falls in line with my skillset really, really well. Um, and a lot of the, you know, marketing and guest experience stuff falls in line with her experience really, really, really well.

[00:21:14] So we try to split it, um, in such a way that, you know, the things that I like and I'm really good at, I can handle, and the things that she likes and she's really good at, she can handle. He

[00:21:23] Katie: does all the spreadsheets. I call him Mr. Spreadsheets cuz there's a spreadsheet for everything. And he can come up, whip up an equation within 10 seconds when I have a question of how much is it gonna be if I do this, um, from a numbers perspective.

[00:21:37] So he's very much like I. Operations when it comes to, to that. And I am not operations, so I struggle with Excel. So he's definitely the, the king of that .

[00:21:48] Liam: That's cool. It sounds like you've got it kind of like, uh, divided up, which is cool. And, and both using, uh, your skillsets in each area and the marketing on one side and the, the operation and and finance side on the other.

[00:21:59] [00:22:00] So that's awesome. And when it comes down to, uh, Tech that you use, what sort of tech do you use within your business? Do you have things like pmms or, or any other tech that you rely on and out of all the tech you use, what has been your favorite and the most useful?

[00:22:14] Mitch: Yeah. Uh, so this is a great question.

[00:22:16] So I think again, uh, Um, this is maybe something that I think, uh, some new hosts could learn from, and some might think I'm crazy. Um, but I, I think we , we approached this from the perspective of we knew that we wanted more than one, um, of these, and, and, you know, we've, uh, We've continued to look for for more.

[00:22:39] Um, and I think, we'll, we'll hopefully find some that we like, but we knew that, um, we were gonna want more than one of these and, and probably in multiple areas. Um, and so we really took the approach from day one that, uh, we were gonna find any way that we could possibly find to optimize the efficiencies of our business.

[00:22:59] So even though we [00:23:00] only have one property right now, I would say we use just about every software that exists, um, to try to make things as easy as possible for us. So, um, we do have a P M S, um, we use lofi, um, for that right now. Um, we use Price Labs for our dynamic pricing. Um, we use Rank Freeze, um, for tracking how we're performing on, um, rankings on.

[00:23:24] Um, we use Air d n a, um, a lot for kind of judging, um, where we're at against our competition, um, in the market. Um, we recently adopted Hospitable, uh, which we're super happy with, uh, love Hospitable. Uh, it's been, uh, a big upgrade. We were doing automated messaging before, um, but the system that we were using wasn't working up to our expectations.

[00:23:48] Mm-hmm. . Um, and so we, we adopted hospitable. Month, month ago. Month ago. About, yeah, about a month ago. Um, that's been great. Um, we use, uh, [00:24:00] another, another one that we use that's probably, maybe different than some other people. Um, we, obviously, you and I talked about our website, um, and kind of the work that we put into that.

[00:24:10] Um, we put a lot of energy right out of the gates into, um, keyword research for Google, uh, for our market and finding the, the terms that we knew would be, uh, directly applicable to people searching on Google. Um, and so we did a lot of, uh, a lot of work into that. So we used a tool called Uber Suggest, um, to tran our, um, our organic rankings on Google, um, which has been really, really good.

[00:24:39] Um, we used Convert Kit for email marketing. Uh, QuickBooks for, for managing the backend. Um, and then we use touch Day as well for our digital guidebook. Um, so we use a lot of tech. Uh,

[00:24:52] Liam: I was gonna say, I feel like I've got a list like as long as, if I was listening into this, the amount of value, I mean, especially for, for people [00:25:00] who are getting started, just having those, what would you say that tech has done for your business?

[00:25:05] How much easier has it made things to, to, to.

[00:25:08] Mitch: I mean, it's like, I can't even quantify it. I mean, it's, it's honestly like, it's, it's made it so that truly, like we really don't have to do much of anything, um, aside from respond to like inbound messages from current guests that have questions about things, um, or deal with the occasional maintenance.

[00:25:31] Um, like just this weekend we had a, a leak in a toilet, so we had to call our maintenance guy and, you know, get him over there and, and try to clean that up. So, um, that's, it's honestly, it's made it to the point where like from the second somebody's searching on Google for, for, for us or for a place in the area, um, to Airbnb or you know, the second day book to the time they check.

[00:25:54] Everything is completely automated. Um, so it's just made it so much easier, um, for us to be [00:26:00] able to, to run the business efficiently while still, you know, operating our full-time jobs.

[00:26:06] Katie: Yeah. And I think the other thing too is, um, touch Stay, which is our digital guidebook. You know, a lot of people when you go to, when you, you know, you rent a place on Airbnb or V R B O, kind of like what we're on, you know, they're like, you gotta refer to the binder that's on the table and then you hope you get there and it's on the table and it's, it's not somewhere hidden.

[00:26:24] And I think the great part about Touch Stay is that, you know, since it is digital, it's right on your phone. Um, our. Get it when they get their instructions to check in where it's like, Hey, here's our guidebook of our favorite things to do. Everything from shopping to eateries to if you like, biking, if you're there to cross-country ski.

[00:26:42] Um, and so for us, it really is able, it really allows us to be able to update that in real time, to really reflect the season. That's, That's going on. Um, so we're going into fall. So a lot of like the pumpkin patches and apple orchards are open. So for us it was just, you know, the other day going in and, [00:27:00] and loading in what apple orchards, we recommend people to do their own apple picking.

[00:27:04] Um, so we're really able to like, add it into real time, which I think also too creates an awesome experience considering that DOR County is a seasonal place. Um, and now that, you know, labor Day is um, over. You would think it would start to slow down, but the fall colors are starting and, and DOR County is known for that, you know, with the trees turning.

[00:27:23] Um, so for now it's like, you know, we're now moving from summer mindset of here's where you can launch your boat to, this is where you can go apple picking and, you know, pumpkin picking with your family. Um, so I think that that also too, it makes it really easy for us to be able to manage the experience, um, as well moving forward just because we do have all of these tools in place.

[00:27:45] So it's a simple, you know, click and we're already moving in the fall, so it's.

[00:27:50] Liam: You know, that is such a joy to hear. Cause so many people will be listening to this thinking about, you know, their pre-launch or thinking about purchasing a, a short-term rental and to hear you can do it with the right tech [00:28:00] in place from three hours away.

[00:28:01] You mentioned to be able to have a relatively low, uh, number of things to have to do because this tech is taken care of it. Um, you know, that's gonna inspire so many people. . Also, the other thing, having digital guidebooks, like touch day that you've got there, but also being interested in updating it, putting guest experience, and I know some of the stuff on your website.

[00:28:23] Um, and again, we'll give the website at the end for, for people listening. Um, you know about where, like you say, they can launch their boats in summer and now you're changing it to where they can, uh, Go see the foliage, uh, go, go and pick the apples and that side of things. In autumn, it's actually have an interest as a host and that definitely shines through.

[00:28:42] So one of the things you mentioned there was you've gotta have, uh, you know, certain people who's on your team and who helps you with the business.

[00:28:50] Mitch: Definitely. So obviously Katie and I split everything, you know, from marketing and, and operations. Um, but we have, uh, a really great team on the ground, [00:29:00] um, that, uh, we were, I would say pretty particular, um, when, when we were looking, um, you know, when we were.

[00:29:07] When we first close on the property, you know, trying to, to meet some of these people face to face. And, um, and, uh, we have, uh, we, we found, you know, the people that we felt that we could trust. Um, and those people have really done an excellent job for us. Um, so, um, our, our cleaning team is, uh, team, uh, uh, powered by Holly Coles, uh, is her name.

[00:29:29] Uh, it's Coles Property Services. She's done an excellent job for us. Um, you know, we get consistent reviews. Every review we get, it seems like, uh, people are chiming in with how clean our place is. Um, and, uh, her and her team just have done an exceptional job, um, with, uh, with taking care of our place, um, and, and letting us know.

[00:29:51] when there's issues. Mm-hmm. , you know, like, uh, I, I mentioned the, uh, the leak in the toilet that we had last weekend. Um, that was, I wouldn't have known about that. [00:30:00] You know, she texted me a picture and said, Hey, there's a leak. Um, you're gonna need somebody to get over here and take a look at it. Um, you know, so having a team that we can rely on to be able to tell us when there's problems so that we can.

[00:30:12] You know, be able to jump on the phone. And that was literally, I guess it was only Monday cause it was on Labor Day that I was trying to make these calls to get people in there. Um, and, uh, you know, we were able to, to then rely on, um, our handyman Greg, um, who literally buzzed over there on a moment's notice while we were in between guests.

[00:30:30] Um, so we had guests check out at 10 in the morning. We had guests checking in at four. Mm-hmm. . Um, and, uh, you know, I, I reached out to our guests that were checking in and said, Hey, heads. Um, we do have an issue, um, that we're working on resolving. I wasn't sure at the time if we were gonna be able to get it fixed before they got there.

[00:30:49] Um, so I, I try to just communicate clearly from the get-go that there is this issue. Um, we're trying to get it fixed as quickly as we, as we can. Um, but it ended up working out in [00:31:00] that Greg, our, our handyman, like I said, on Labor Day, um, in between all of his other projects, you know, buzzed over to our house and got it fixed before people checked.

[00:31:09] Katie: Yeah. And I think the other thing too with the team that we, we've had is, is obviously when, when you buy a rental property, you're like, oh yeah. Like, I think I know what to expect. And they've been a really great sounding board for us when it comes to how many sets of sheets you, you should have per bed, and how many towels per person.

[00:31:29] And you know, Greg, you know, living, growing up up there and he is like, It's really hard water. Like I would recommend putting in this $300 filtration system because anyways, you're gonna be buying an appliance every six months. And literally it, our coffee pot went after six months. Mm-hmm. And because we didn't have that water softener in, so they've, they've been awesome too, when it's kind of helped us, I wanna say set realistic expectations, but also have us plan, um, for that busy season because they're able to [00:32:00] also be like, you know, , you think when you come into it that this is a good idea and you're gonna have enough.

[00:32:05] And then it's like, just kidding. Cuz you know, two, three months later it's like you're running out of paper towel, you're running out of toilet paper. I mean, so they've also just been really great, um, for us to kind of help us set expectations, but also make sure like we're prepared to be able to give, um, our guests the experience that we want them to have.

[00:32:26] Um, so that they've, they've really been lifesavers, um, for us in more ways than. ,

[00:32:32] Liam: it's something that we, uh, consistently see across the host that we interview, uh, on, on behind the host, is that having a great team, having people locally on the ground with that local knowledge is, is just so important. So sounds like you've got a great team there.

[00:32:44] So we've talked about your, your business. We've talked about, you know, sort of how you got set up, uh, what's gone well, what has been the biggest challenge that you've faced since launching your short-term rental and, and how have you over.

[00:32:57] Mitch: Yeah, so I think, I think the biggest challenge for [00:33:00] us thus far, um, has been getting prepared for the things that will go wrong.

[00:33:07] Um, you know, because we, we own our, you know, our primary residence that we live in. Um, but it's just so different when stuff happens in a house that, like, the reality is we've never lived in the house. You know, we've, we've been there many, many, many times and we love going there. Um, but we haven't lived for a period of, you know, a month, six months, a year in a house to see how everything reacts and how, you know, how.

[00:33:33] The, how the house responds to people being in it basically. Um, so a lot of the issues that, that we've run into have just been around like us being new to this house. Um, like, uh, for example, this is, uh, one of the first issues we ran into was, um, the, the house is on a holding tank. Um, and so that holding tank needs to be pumped regularly.

[00:33:55] Um, and uh, it took us a while to figure out what that [00:34:00] schedule was gonna be. Um, and we had, uh, we had, uh, two situations, um, I think that popped up where, um, the alarm, um, for the holding tank is downstairs behind a locked door. Um, and uh, when that alarm would go off, of course it would go off at two in the morning.

[00:34:19] Oh, nice. Um, and so, you know, it would go off and wake up our guests or our guests would still be up or whatever, and, you know, they, they don't know what the alarm is mm-hmm. , you know, so, um, obviously it can kind of be a, a frantic thing for them. So, yeah. So it took us a little bit to kind of figure things like that out where it was, okay, this is, this is why this is happen.

[00:34:37] how do we fix that going forward so that it doesn't affect any other guests? Um, and it's, so I think for, for us, it's been things like that where it's just like learning the intricacies of the house and learning how to, you know, wrap your procedures around, making sure that, um, guests have a positive experience, um, no matter what.

[00:34:57] So I think that's, that's probably been the biggest challenge for. [00:35:00] That's

[00:35:01] Liam: cool. That's cool. And I mean, there's so much more that I want us to dive in, uh, to today, but I know we are getting short on time, so what I'd like to do is just ask some short fire, some quick fire questions basically as we draw these to an end.

[00:35:15] Uh, I really feel that it's come through today how, you know, sort of being brave, uh, doing the right research, having the right tech in place, and. Considering that guest experience has all come through, and it definitely shows in, in your property with the branding, you know, the amazing outside spaces and just the consistency throughout.

[00:35:35] So, um, let's ask you some quick fire questions. So these are just for fun. What I'll do is there's, there's two of you, Mitch and Katie. What I'll do is I'll pose one question, uh, a couple of questions each to both of you. So, um, Katie, what's your favorite animal?

[00:35:49] Katie: Dog? Black loud. We have, we have two. We have two of 'em.

[00:35:53] So that was an easy, easy win. .

[00:35:55] Liam: Awesome. Awesome. Uh, Mitch, what are you most excited about currently? [00:36:00]

[00:36:01] Mitch: Um, I'm excited about trying to grow this business, um, honestly, um, I mean, it's something that we, we talk about, just about every day. Um, so, uh, we, we love our property now and, you know, we have, uh, we have a great time, uh, managing it.

[00:36:15] Um, but we're definitely interested in, in trying to grow this. That's cool.

[00:36:19] Liam: That's cool. And, uh, we'll stick with Mitch for this question. What's your your favorite or top recommended book or podcast for people listening?

[00:36:27] Mitch: Um, I would say my favorite is, uh, a book called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willin and Lath Babin.

[00:36:33] Brilliant book.

[00:36:33] Liam: Brilliant. Yes. It's amazing. Uh, that was Extreme Ownership. Uh, who was the author? I,

[00:36:38] Mitch: I can never remember. Who is it? Um, it's Jocko Willink and, uh, LA Ba.

[00:36:43] Liam: Amazing. Amazing. And Katie, finally, uh, what's, what's the best advice you've ever been given or something that you'd like to share with, with the listening?

[00:36:50] Listen. Oh,

[00:36:52] Katie: that's, that's a two. Ah, I have two of 'em. So, um, I think the biggest thing when it comes to art business is progress over [00:37:00] perfection. Mm-hmm. . Um, I am a very much type A person, so I wanna get it right from the start. And this has been a humbling experience for my type A personality of you just gotta make some progress and you'll get to perfection.

[00:37:13] And, um, I credit Mitch a lot for keeping me sane in the moments where I was not . Um, so shout out to him for that. My other big personal mantra is you grow through what you go through. Um, I know it kind of sounds like a mouthful, but for, for me, you know, everything that you go through is a learning experience and, and you grow from it as an individual.

[00:37:35] And so, like this property, like many other things that I've faced in life, you know, . I think having that mindset of you're gonna grow from it even though in the moment you might be, you know, battered and not be able to stand up or think you can on your own. Um, just, you gotta take everything as, as perspective and a learning experience cuz you're gonna get better because

[00:37:54] Liam: of it.

[00:37:55] I love that. And what a fantastic way to, to draw things to a close. So thank [00:38:00] you Mitch. Thank you Katie for, for coming on today for, for people listening. How can they get in touch with you and, and what's the best way to, to check out your, your property?

[00:38:08] Mitch: Yeah, for sure. So, um, our website is just, uh,

[00:38:14] Um, so you can check us out there. Um, there's a lot of info just, you know, whether it's about our property or just do county as a whole. Um, a lot of information there. Um, and then our Instagram is probably, uh, the next best place to, to follow us. That's Katie's doings. Um, but that's, uh, farmstead.

[00:38:34] Awesome. Awesome.

[00:38:35] Liam: Thank you very much. Uh, to the two of you, I think, uh, there'll be people out there who have been inspired by your journey, and that's exactly what it is, isn't it? It's a journey of, uh, of learning, of, um, experiencing what hosting is. And, uh, I'm excited to see what you both do in the future.

[00:38:49] So any last moment, uh, comments before we end?

[00:38:53] Mitch: Uh, I think the, the only thing that I had in my notes, , um, that uh, I would, I would really, uh, [00:39:00] like to impress on, on other new hosts is just embrace technology. It's gonna make your life so much easier. It's gonna make you more money, all of it. Um, so just embrace technology and thank you for having

[00:39:11] Katie: us and thanking.

[00:39:12] We're interesting. So, , ,

[00:39:14] Liam: I love

[00:39:15] hearing stories. We can learn something from everyone and I've certainly learned, uh, things today. So thank you very much. And, uh, yeah. Bye for.

[00:39:22] Mitch: Alrighty. Thank you. Thanks. Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast, Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard on the tee is loose leaf making up those rhymes.

[00:39:32] Don't write it, just do it loosely.

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