The 5-Star Co-Host and Hassle Free RE

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In this podcast, Dave Menapace, a successful short-term rental co-host from the USA, shares his journey. Initially drawn to real estate for personal vacations and profit, Dave used the “BRRRR” strategy to own multiple properties. 

He distinguishes between beach markets with fewer variables and year-round markets with higher revenue and complexities. Transitioning to co-hosting, Dave highlights the challenges of managing property owners compared to guests. He emphasizes aligning co-hosting with personal values for a fulfilling work-life balance. 

Dave's journey has brought him more time with family and a predictable income, reshaping his entrepreneurial path.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the training, but most importantly, the confidence that you can go out there and get some direct bookings. So today we are going behind the host with another successful short-term rental host in the industry.

[00:00:15] Uh, we've got somebody from the USA today who is a podcast host. They're a short-term rental operator. Um, they educate people in this space and also they're the best-selling author inhospitable hosts too. So we're going to be diving into all of that stuff so you can pick up some knowledge and some ideas on what they're doing on their business that you can implement into your business.

[00:00:38] So, um, yeah, let's get into it then. So, um, welcome along Dave Menapace and his company is called The Five Star. The co-host and his podcast are the hassle-free RE. So you can go and check that out, but let's, uh, let's say hello. Welcome along, Dave.

[00:00:54] Dave: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's, uh, usually I'm, I'm on your side of the microphone.

[00:00:59] So it's kind of fun to hop on here and share my story with everyone.

A bit about Dave

[00:01:03] Liam: This is cool. We're turning, turning the tables on the, uh, on the host today. So, um, we always get started by, uh, yourself. If you can introduce what your business is, where it is and, um, anything you'd like to share.

[00:01:17] Dave: Absolutely. Yeah. So, uh, the business we have is called the five-star co-host.

[00:01:22] We're a professional short-term rental management company. Um, and if you'd like, I can kind of jump into how that all got started.

[00:01:31] Liam: Yeah, yeah. So, um, we'd love to know sort of how many units you co-host and, um, uh, how, how it all came around, how you, the hospitality bug got you.

[00:01:40] Dave: Yeah. Um, So to answer that, I'll go back to 2019, uh, in spring of 2019, uh, and just so everyone knows we live in a small town in central Massachusetts, um, and the closest vacation area is Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

[00:01:59] Uh, so we started our journey in 2019 and it was just to give ourselves a free vacation. Buy a house near the beach. Enjoy it. Get to use it a little bit and make some money. Right. So on the side, that is how we started in this industry. We then. Just hung out in that one house, like just that one house, I guess it was kind of a big accomplishment in our early thirties, but we got that home.

[00:02:24] We got to use it a lot. Uh, we rented it out a lot and we got pretty good at operating, but it was a little bit before we bought our next house. So from there, I had the itch to try my hand at doing the birth strategy. So for anyone that doesn't know that that's my rehab, rent, refinance, and repeat.

[00:02:45] That doesn't work so well in Massachusetts when you only have a hundred thousand dollars. So, oh, my wife's one rule is that I couldn't use our savings. So that, that money, that a hundred thousand dollars was really in grown equity in our house in Cape Cod. So we ended up doing six burrs down in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

[00:03:04] How we chose that market is a story for another day, but everyone was the nicest in that market. And I was able to. Build the teams to conduct this strategy.

Switching from summer beach to all year round

[00:03:14] Liam: You mentioned that you've gone from having a summer beach market to being an all-year-round market. My two questions for that would be, what did you find were a major difference and the realizations when you, when you switched from, you know, just the summer market and why would you recommend that?

[00:03:33] Dave: Yeah, well, then, and this is going to be me putting my investor hat on for a moment. What I've learned is that. The beach markets are usually a lot easier because there's a way fewer variables, at least in New England. Um, your gross income won't be quite as high, but your list of expenses that follows that top revenue number is a lot lower.

[00:04:01] Lot less variables. You're just operating for six to eight months tops and closing it down in the middle of the winter. Um, so even though your top line isn't as high, there are sometimes opportunities to still have really good margins, just how it's, it's about how much you keep, right? Um, Up in Maine, it's a year-round market.

[00:04:25] So that gross revenue is a lot higher, but you have a lot more variables. So some months I might spend 1, 500 on ploughing. Right. And in the summer I'm on a well, I might not have enough water to fill up the hot tub, and you have to deal with that. Right. Um, So that that's sort of like the lay of the land.

[00:04:45] What we do is we just pick out areas that we want to vacation. And where do we want to vacation? Where do we want to spend time? And that's going to be where we buy the home and then make sure we can offset the expenses and make some money doing it. The biggest things, right? Just like anything is making sure you have a call list, making sure just whatever market you're in, making sure that you have.

[00:05:09] Kind of a go-to for something, and then a backup. It's going to save you a lot of headaches down the road. And I learned that when I was doing the birth strategy in, Tennessee because I couldn't go there to fix problems. I had to rely, on my network.

Challenges and differences of co-hosting

[00:05:22] Liam: The other thing you mentioned is you went from doing the, the, the birth strategy to, uh, you know, owning these two properties, and then you go into the co-host model.

[00:05:32] So. What did you find were the challenges and the differences when you start doing the co-hosting compared to owning Yuan's Direct and why should people consider that as a potential business model?

[00:05:46] Dave: I love this question. , when I started co-hosting, I kind of thought, all right, big deal. I got to learn the house intimately.

[00:05:57] And other than that, I'm managing guests. Guests are the easiest part of co-hosting. Owners are the hardest part of co-hosting. You work hard to get a deal, meaning a home that you're going to co-host, right? And different things happen when you're kind of negotiating with an owner.

[00:06:19] You have your rate, it's To some extent, negotiable or as negotiable as you want it to be. And then you have your terms for supporting that rate, whatever they are. And especially like, I love helping people get into the co-hosting space and that can be its full podcast on how to do that. But when you're getting into it, what I didn't realize is that.

[00:06:42] I didn't do well-giving concessions on both terms and rates for my services. It just left me unhappy and burned out. And so what ended up happening to be honest with you is we had to go a different direction. We had to part ways with several of our initial co-host clients. Because we were just unhappy.

[00:07:05] And at some point you realize no amount of money is worth it to be unhappy or, to feel that sort of emotional pain. And we almost shut it down at one point. It was not that long ago that we are so unhappy. We almost said, what's, what's the point of it? Luckily, we got ourselves into a mastermind and learned how to rebuild the company and it's a lot more successful now, but what I would urge people to do.

[00:07:28] Is to think about your, your way in, in co-hosting now for us, and this goes to your, your second question there, we want to build up a more consistent and reliable income stream. And we figured we would do that through co-hosting because as a realtor. I'm only getting paid with each transaction.

[00:07:51] And part of the reason too, is that we've decided to go this route rather than long-term rental property manager, or even buying property, man. Um, I'm sorry, buying long-term rentals anymore is. I will say that the vacation industry for me has always just been a lot of fun. I find people are just cooler like cooler stuff happens when you're on vacation than when you're living your day-to-day.

[00:08:13] So whether it's people getting engaged at our house or getting a professional photographer to, you know, there for family photos or just being there every week, the same week, every summer or winter, it's neat. It's neat. And it's really fun when guests reach out and thank you for just providing your home to them.

[00:08:30] So that's kind of like what keeps us in this space and being able to make money off of it is fantastic. It is. It's amazing.

How having short-term rentals change life

[00:08:39] Liam: How is having the short-term rentals changed life in general? So what did life look like when you had the W2 job and compared to now, how is, how has things changed?

[00:08:49] Dave: Ooh, it goes in waves.

[00:08:51] I will say that because I've had a bit of a journey here where. I thought I was happy in my w two, but secretly I was just working 24 hours a day, not only on the w two but on real estate, right? A lot happens when you are six houses in a year, there's a lot of pain involved in that. And, um, I just wasn't around for anything like sure.

[00:09:15] I was physically at the house, but I wasn't emotionally or mentally there for my kids or my wife. And, that took a lot of hard reflection. It, it, and truly did. And then I'll tell you what, so I, you know, we did some planning, we did some financial planning. I walked away from that industry, but it wasn't just like, all of a sudden my life was amazing.

[00:09:39] It wasn't what ended up happening, is I learned I was really bad at managing myself. I was good at managing other people and teams. I was really bad at managing myself. So what I'd do is I'd go out and I'd just have coffee with people or lunch with people or dinner with people. And I'd talk about real estate all day and I'd come home and say, I did real estate.

[00:09:59] And now tonight I'm going to work on the things that I had to have gotten done today. And I was in this cycle of now, now I'm making almost no money and I'm working 10 times more. And that sort of feeds into the co-hosting. Uh, a business where it is a lot more stable, a lot more predictable.

[00:10:17] And you can, if you're good at managing your time, you can find a lot of success. So I'll be honest with you is only recently, maybe within the last month or so that I had to reevaluate how I was spending my time, but now. I'm here to bring my kids to gym class. I'm there to cook dinner. I'm there at, I'm, I'm, I'm like physically and mentally there too, right?

[00:10:42] Kim and I can have wine at night and we can enjoy talking about our business and what we want to implement the next week. Like direct booking, by the way, and we can get into that later, but that is, that has been fun to do.

[00:10:53] Liam: Having a blast, gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee like Bruce Lee cause it's so hard and the tea is loose leaf.

[00:11:00] Making up those rhymes, don't write it, just do it loosely.