How to Create a Foolproof Turnover Process (with Free Guide!)

In the business of vacation rentals, nothing guarantees a great guest experience like a perfect turnover.

Your turnover process is also your best friend in preventing negative reviews.

In our business, we’ve collected data on hundreds of thousands of turnovers. As we’ve started to offer services like Remote Inspection, where our team double-checks the turnover tasks in real time, we learned even more about where turnovers go wrong.

What we found was that vast majority of guest complaints can be avoided with an improved turnover process.

A comprehensive turnover process can save you thousands every year in refunded cleaning fees, hourly rates, and lost bookings

Convinced that turnover processes are important? Let’s dive into how to make one of your own.

What Do We Mean by a Comprehensive Process?

If you’re a professional vacation rental manager, you probably have lots of processes in place already. You have a process for assigning turnovers to your cleaners and a process for how you’d like the property prepared.

What you may not have done is map the entire process from start to finish.

Which means there may well be gaps in your process that can cause real problems.

You might even be missing a process for some steps altogether! Which means that when a problem comes up, you have to improvise. That’s not a recipe for a stress-free business.

  • Do you have all the steps mapped out for when your team, your turnover specialist, and the guest need to be involved?
  • Do you know how your turnover specialist is going to move from one step to the next in the turnover?
  • Do you have a plan for any variations in this system, such as when your damage check reveals that the guest damaged part of the property and you need to hold on to their deposit?

If not, read on. Let’s get you a better system.

The First Layer: Your Ideal Process

You’re going to map out your turnover process in a timeline, from start to finish. We like using a long blank stretch of wall and post-its, but you can use whatever method you like.

Along the top, you’re going to map out your turnover process in its ideal state. If absolutely nothing unexpected happened, you turnover would still include these steps.

You might start out with something like this:

This is a pretty good turnover process.

  1. Scheduling the turn
  2. Checking the property for damage before the clean begins
  3. Cleaning the property
  4. Staging the property
  5. A post-turnover inspection
  6. Checking the entry method for the incoming guest

It’s good start, but we can improve it dramatically by mapping out what happens between these steps. To find out if it needs to be added to our process, let’s ask ourselves two questions:

  • Does anyone need to take an additional action before the next step can occur?
  • Does this step need to happen for every turnover, or just for some turnovers?

Let’s try it on our process above.

Does anyone need to take an action before Step 2 can happen? 

Well, scheduling the turn is important, but it only includes confirming the person performing your turnover is available and agrees to the job.

In order to actually start the turn, that person is going to need instructions on how to get to the property, access the property, and perform all the tasks necessary for this turnover.

Let’s add that step to our process.

Are there any other actions that must be taken before Step 2 can occur?

Doesn’t look like it. Let’s move on to Step 3.

Does anyone need to take an action before Step 3 can happen?

Maybe. If the turnover specialist discovered damage before the clean, they might need to report it to the property manager.

But that step doesn’t have to happen every time. That’s only going to be necessary for some turnovers. So for the moment, we don’t need to add anything to our process.

Does anyone need to take an action before Step 4 can happen? Nope, pretty easy to stage the property after cleaning.

Does anyone need to take an action before Step 5 can happen? Here it gets interesting. This depends on whether a post-turnover inspection is part of your process, and on whether a different person performs your inspection or not.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say this manager prefers to have the turnover specialist perform their own post-turn inspection, but here are a few steps you might add if your inspection includes someone else.

  • Send instructions to your inspector: directions, entry method, and checklist
  • Notify the inspector that the property is ready for inspection
  • Send verification photos to the person performing your inspection remotely

Does anyone need to take an action before Step 6 can happen? Not as it is now. The turnover specialist can perform the entry method check as they leave the property.

So we’re done, right?

Not so fast …

Don’t Forget Your Post-Turnover Steps

Your turnover isn’t done just because the turn is completed. You still need to close the loop with your service provider – they need to be paid!

You might also want to check in with your guest to be sure the turnover was completed to your – and their – satisfaction.

You may find the job was done very poorly, and need to discuss with your service provider before paying them out. Or you may find they did a great job, and want to offer them a little tip for exceptional service.

So let’s add “Check Guest Satisfaction” to our turnover list.

Finally, Add Any “Peace of Mind” Steps

If you’re using Properly, you’ll already know that your service provider has arrived at the property on time through our geolocation service.

If you’re not, you’ll want to set up a step to check that they’ve arrived – just so you don’t have to worry about it.

You don’t want to find out at 2 pm that your service provider didn’t show up for the turn at 10 am because they wrote the wrong date down on their calendar.

If there’s any additional check or process that would add to your peace of mind, we suggest including it as a step in your non-negotiable process.

The Second Layer: Your Contingency Plans 

Now you’ve got a comprehensive plan for what you should do to ensure a great turnover – assuming everything goes to plan.

What happens if the plan goes awry?

That’s where the second layer of your turnover process comes in: what to do when the unexpected happens.

As we all know, vacation rental is an unpredictable industry. Having a plan will make you feel prepared for anything that happens. It may not be ideal, but if you know what to do next, you’ll still feel like you’ve got it under control.

Let’s map out a contingency plan so you can see how it works.

What happens if your damage check reveals some damage to the property?

You should follow the same two questions above to determine if you need to add steps to this process, but here’s how we mapped it out:

The new steps include:

  1. Report damage to the property manager with photos
  2. Notify guest that they caused damage and their deposit will be withheld
  3. Repair damage/Send help
  4. Send receipt for damage repair
  5. Withhold deposit from guest
  6. Report damage to owner

You notice that at one point, we put two steps side-by-side. That’s because there might be two ways to solve this problem. If the turnover specialist can fix the damage themselves, they should do so. If the damage needs a repair person, you’ll need to send help.

In either case, however, you’ll want to get a receipt for any cost to repair (including the cost of the service provider’s extra time on the job), and hang on to it as proof.

You might have other steps if you have insurance at your properties, like “Submit Claim.” Map out all the possibilities.

Create a Permanent Plan

Once you have a complete plan in Post-It form, you can turn it into a flowchart for your business. The virtue of Post-Its is that it’s easy to move them around, change the arrangement, and create new ones – but once you’re confident you like your system, make a more permanent copy.

Here are a few ways to create a more permanent system:

  • Create a repeatable in-house checklist that you print out every time
  • Use a flowchart software like Lucidchart
  • Use a workflow software like Process St
  • Use the Properly app to create repeatable processes and monitor your turnover

Whatever system you use, make sure it’s accessible to all your employees and clearly communicated to your service providers.

Take time to specify who performs each task in the process. This will be essential to making sure there’s no confusion. For example, when you check on your turnover specialist’s arrival – do you perform that check yourself? Does someone on your team? Do you expect the turnover specialist to send you a text? Make sure to be as clear as possible.

You’ve got a process! Now all you need to do is follow it to ensure a consistent turnover – and happy guests – for every one of your bookings.

What Should Go Into Your Turnover Itself?

Okay, so this is the entire process of creating a turnover, but how about what should happen while the turnover specialist is at the property?

We’ve got you covered.

Below, you can download our FREE Ultimate Guide to Short-Term Rental Turnovers. It’s 30 pages of useful information on how you can ensure your turnovers go smoothly. Let us know what you think!