How to avoid the top 10 mistakes STR operators make

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In this podcast, Liam introduces a special guest, Brooke Pfautz, the MD and founder of Vintory, who has grown from zero to over 500 properties in a short time and is now sharing his experiences in his new book, “Vacation Rental Secrets.”

 The book originated from a series of LinkedIn posts where top leaders in the short-term rental industry shared their top 10 mistakes. The book features 52 contributors with raw feedback, presenting 520 mistakes in the first half. The second half organizes these into 10 chapters, covering themes such as strategy, team, systems, finance, cleaning, communication, inventory acquisition, owner partnerships, technology, and networking. 

Brooke's favorite chapter revolves around inventory acquisition, emphasizing the importance of a proactive strategy and proper investment in growing inventory. The book is available on Amazon,

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Hi everybody. Welcome back to the Boostly podcast. This is a podcast that gives you the listener, the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence so you can go out there and get more direct bookings. Today we are going behind the host slash the spotlight series. It's a little bit of both because we've got a very special guest where he's not only grown from zero to over 500 properties in a very short space of time, but he's also now sharing he's, an author.

[00:00:26] He's sharing all of the experience and that information with you as our listener. And I'm excited, to dive into that. So our special guest today is Brooke Pfautz. Is that correct? Did I pronounce that

[00:00:39] Correct? Was that Pfautz? Yeah, but close enough. Pfautz. Uh, he's the MD and founder, uh, CEO of, uh, Victory.

[00:00:47] So think infantry entry, and we're going to be diving into the new book today, which is Vacation Rental Secrets. And this is all about how you as a host can avoid the top 10 mistakes that we see all the time in the short-term rental world. So welcome along, Brooke. Thank you for joining me today.

[00:01:06] I'm excited to get into this.

[00:01:07] Brooke: Absolutely, Liam. Big fan. Glad to be here. Uh, so yeah, really, really excited.

A bit about Brooke

[00:01:12] Liam: Thanks for having me. Whereabouts are you in the world? And just give us a bit of a background to your history.

[00:01:18] Brooke: Yeah, so, um, I'm located in Baltimore, right outside of Baltimore, Maryland, which is about an hour outside of Washington, D.C.

[00:01:24] C. Uh, I, like many other people, you know, stumbled into the short-term, uh, vacation rental industry. I was actually in mortgage banking. That was, uh, I was a corporate finance major in college. Got into mortgage banking, thought that was going to be my career, and then, uh, 2007, 2008. Uh, kind of financial crisis, uh, put a kibosh on that.

[00:01:42] So ended up stumbling into short-term rentals, uh, started a company, uh, in Ocean City, Maryland, uh, that I founded, uh, did have a, a silent business partner in that business, but ended up, um, yeah, growing that company pretty fast through that company, uh, from zero to 500 properties in five years. I exited that business in 2013.

[00:02:02] Then I had various other leadership roles within the short-term rental space, but almost all of it was based on inventory acquisition, all around growing inventory. Um, I wasn't doing much on, you know, kind of the guest marketing. I wasn't doing anything operations. I was focused exclusively on the supply side of things and growing inventory.

[00:02:21] Uh, and then I found about four and a half years ago, I founded a Ventory and The really the reason Liam, I decided to start that was I go around to these conferences. I talked to people and the biggest struggle that I found that everybody had was growing their inventory. And, um, there were no companies out there that were solving that pain point.

[00:02:39] Uh, it was the biggest pain point that they all had. It was something that I loved. It was something I was super passionate about and something that was blessed to be pretty good at. So I said, you know what, uh, let's, let's start a company, uh, that helps professional short-term vacation rental managers add more properties.

[00:02:55] And that was kind of the catalyst of inventory four and a half years ago. And, uh, fast forward today, we've, we've helped over 650 companies with their inventory growth efforts. We've got over 50 people, 50, we call them growth experts on our team that do one thing and one thing only. And that's. Help you grow your inventory.

[00:03:13] So that's how I got to where I am today.

Idea for the Book

[00:03:14] Liam: How did the idea for this book come along? Where did the idea of Vacation Rental Secrets come from?

[00:03:20] Brooke: Yeah. So I had no intent. So I am writing a book. I wrote an earlier book called From Zero to 500 Properties in Five Years. Published that. Became a bestseller in three categories on Amazon.

[00:03:29] Uh, and just loved sharing all the information I have, but I had no intentions of writing another book. Uh, but it was, it was Easter Sunday this past year, and I, you know, the extended family had all left. I poured myself a big glass of wine. I sat down on the couch and just started flipping through my LinkedIn feed.

[00:03:48] And one of the first, uh, things I saw was a post from somebody in a completely different industry, uh, actually in more of the software space, technology space, and he asked some other people, uh, you know, within that space to share their top 10 mistakes. And I thought that was such a brilliant idea. Um, because of a couple of things, you know, first it was.

[00:04:07] You know, you learn from your mistakes. That's where you truly find your learnings and you, expand and grow. And secondly, there was something about these top leaders, these like people that I idolized that were being vulnerable and sharing how, you know, they made these mistakes. And I just thought it was a fantastic idea.

[00:04:24] So I quickly picked up my phone. I emailed it to four of my friends who own vacation rental management firms, and very quickly, I got a response. I got a response from a gentleman named Ryan Dame was the first one. I remember today was the 1026 that night, and I posted it on LinkedIn the next morning, his top 10 mistakes.

[00:04:44] And Liam, it's like it went viral. I mean, the engagement on that post was probably one of my top posts ever. I mean, the comments and the feedback and, you know, everything else. And for the next, you know, that I posted the next three and for the next 52 days straight, I continued to post a top 10 mistake from a leader within the space.

[00:05:04] But what is funny? People started coming to me out of the woodwork, people that I never even met before and just sharing, you know, their mistakes with me and I kept on posting them and it just got to the point. I mean, I could have gone on literally for, for, for years on this, but at a certain point I had to, uh, I had to stop it.

[00:05:21] And, uh, what, what became the catalyst of turning into a book was I went to a conference. I went to the Northwest VRP conference in Reno, Nevada, and, uh, it was about halfway through my post. And a gentleman came up to me that I'd never met before and he introduced himself. He said, Brooke, I just want to introduce myself.

[00:05:39] I want to thank you for this series you're doing on LinkedIn. It is by far the most, uh, informational and valuable ad post I've ever read in my entire life. Uh, and I, I want you to know that I. Print out every one of these posts and I have a little three-hole punch and I put it into a binder and I'm turning it into his little light.

[00:05:57] He turned it into his little book. And from that point on, I was like, you know what, this information is just too valuable not to share. So that was when I kind of made the decision when I got home, I was going to kind of take all this information and turn it into a book. So yeah.

Where can people find the book?

[00:06:10] Liam: Where can people find this book for the ones who are excited?

[00:06:13] Brooke: Yeah, so it's, it's widely distributed obviously on Amazon. Uh, you can get it right there. You can get it on Kindle immediately. Um, and it's, uh, if you want just a quick link, if you go to victory. com slash book, it goes directly to the, uh, Amazon page, if that helps a little bit.

[00:06:28] Liam: Can you share what are the sort of themes within it?

[00:06:31] Brooke: Yeah, well, first off, just the format of the book, just so everybody knows. So, again, 52 contributors, 52 co-authors. The first half of the book is everybody's, you know, raw feedback. I mean, even with misspellings and everything in it, I didn't change anything. I put it exactly the way it was. It's their top 10 mistakes.

[00:06:49] So, that's the first half of the book. So, if you think about it, 52 contributors, 10 mistakes each. We have 520. raw mistakes of the top leaders within our industry. And then what happened, Liam, in the second, what I did was I realized very quickly that out of these 520 mistakes They all bucketed pretty nicely and pretty neatly into about 10 chapters.

[00:07:12] And, uh, so the second half of the book is, you know, one through 10, it's the 10 kinds of, uh, chapters, the 10 major mistakes that all these top leaders made. So I'll just give you kind of a, I'll just throw out a little tease and we obviously will maybe jump into a couple of these, but like mistake, number one is based around strategy.

[00:07:30] Number two was all around your team. Number three was about systems and processes. Four were finance and accounting. Five was kind of more based around like kind of cleaning, inspections, laundry, and safety. Six were communication, feedback, and guest marketing. Uh, mistake number seven was based all around inventory acquisition.

[00:07:51] The one I'm pretty passionate about. Number eight was taking on the wrong owners and the wrong inventory. Number nine was based on technology. Number 10 was about networking conferences, community and local competition. We even had a little bonus chapter, which says to take care of yourself, don't take it personally and don't forget to celebrate the win.

[00:08:10] So, that's kind of the format of the book, but I had some favourites in there, you know, but I'm happy to dive into whichever ones you want to go into.

Favourite chapter?

[00:08:19] Liam: Take away, which one was your favourite and why? Well,

[00:08:22] Brooke: I, it's probably too obvious, uh, but inventory acquisition, because that's what we do here at Vintori.

[00:08:27] It's all that inventory acquisition. Um, and I would say there are probably about four or five sub-bullets within that, but a lot of it came down to what I realized was most people don't have a strategic plan to grow their inventory. Very often they have a very strategic plan to grow their guests. They have very like a, they've this marketing calendar build out a year in advance.

[00:08:48] But very, very few companies, uh, you know, they, or they, the mistake they made was not having a proactive strategy and not setting aside a certain budget to grow your inventory because Liam, honestly, the, the, the lever that has the greatest impact to your. Top-line revenues, your bottom-line profits, and even your building net worth are growing your inventory.

[00:09:09] It's like a four to a six-time impact of any other lever that you can pull. So what people realized was, uh, that the mistake that they made was they just weren't having that proactive plan to go out there and do it. They weren't investing properly. They didn't have the right team around it. And a lot of them, uh, shameless plug for Venturi.

[00:09:27] They didn't have the right software to power that back end. Like we do here at Venturi.

[00:09:30] Liam: Having a blast gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast Bruce Lee like Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard and the tea is loose leaf Making up those rhymes. Don't write it. Just do it loosely