· Why did you start the business?
In 2016 I was working in the Real Estate Industry in Cairns in Sales. I was also self-managing a number of investment properties that I owned in Cairns that were rented to long term residents. The income on these properties were only 'just' covering the mortgages and there had been no capital gain in over 5 years... it was really not worthwhile... until I changed my focus and listed one of my one bedroom units on Airbnb - www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/12044724 My income went from $240 per week to $600 per week!! Finally I had found a way of making immediate positive cashflow from my investments and it dawned on me that other investors in Cairns must be surely facing a similar dilemma. I discovered a niche market that catered to homeowners going on extended holidays, investors that lacked the time, know-how or that perhaps did not even live in the Cairns region and could not look after the logistics of hosting a property on Airbnb.
· What is the business vision/purpose?
To offer an alternative option to property investors and home owners, enabling them to earn positive cashflow whilst having their home cared for, cleaned and maintained.
· What is the business about? What are the business goals?
Host My Home is a property management company for homes listed on Airbnb. We appraise properties for their suitability to list on Airbnb, create a listing including arranging the professional photography and floorplans, handle all guest enquiries, meet and greet guests, clean and launder the linen, ensure maintenance issues are addressed and generally care for the property as if it were our own. We take care of everything!
Our business goals are constantly changing with the rapid growth of the company. We have designed the business structure so that it can work in any Australian town and one day would like to see it operating Australia wide.
· What problems are you solving?
For Property Owners - we have now solved the logistical issue of the day to day operation and running of their Airbnb property.
For Property Investors - we have now solved the issue of offering an alternative option for investment properties that provides Positive Cashflow! We are even acting as a Buyers Agent to purchase more properties for Investors who are wanting a Positively Geared investment.
For the Cairns Economy - we are providing jobs! In the past 6 months we have employed 5 permanent employees and numerous casuals.
For Me - I have created a Business that I am passionate about and allows me freedom to create a lifestyle that most can only dream about.
· What need/s are you meeting?
There is a huge need for home owners that wanted to list their home on Airbnb but lacked the knowledge, time or ability to do so themselves.
· What do you trade?
1. Accommodation options. We provide a service to home owners to list their property on Airbnb.
2. We also provide a service to prepare properties for listing and this might include furnishing a home, decorating, shopping for essentials or even connecting internet services.
3. We offer a Consultation Service to help others establish their own Airbnb listing and to train them in the management of the system. This is an option we have seen taken up by on-site managers and Hotel Managers who have decided ‘if you çant beat them join them’ attitude in relation to Airbnb affecting their business.
4. As a Registered Real Estate Agent we can also act as a Buyers Agent to purchase properties for Investors. We can also Sell or Long Term Lease properties for clients too.
· How do you trade?
Really well I think....
Ok, seriously we have our own Property Management software, but we piggy back the Airbnb system who do a lot of the hard work for us... they collect the money up front from guests, so we have no payment problems... ever! We trade as a Registered Real Estate Agency (with a twist) and hold money in a Trust Account, adhere to the Office Of Fair Trading Real Estate laws and are regularly audited.
· Where and how are products sourced?
This is the beauty of this business - we provide the service, the property owners provide their wonderful homes and we combine it all to make for a great business.
· How do you market and advertise your business?
The first thing I made sure of was that I had the best web site created that I could afford at the time. I knew how important the 'perception' of your First Impression is on the public and how your credibility is at stake when a client is researching you. Once the website was created I need to create 'buzz' about the company and found my way onto the back cover of a leading business magazine in Cairns. For three months I ran full page advertising combined with a full page article about Airbnb - this gave me huge credibility in the marketplace and also created a very professional image. My logo was instantly recognisable (another tactic to create 'buzz') and fun! Social Media then also played a huge part in my initial launch of the business.
· How do you measure success?
My bank balance would be the obvious answer....but honestly I value the freedom that I now have. I love that I can set my own hours, I can surround myself with like minded employees, I can laugh all day and if I ever feel stressed I can just shut off or escape to Bali (which I do on a regular basis) because although my business is still fairly new I have a team that can function without me.
What can you share about profit margins?
It is all in the setting up of the business....to make sure that the profit margins are going to exist even when you have emergencies or have a down turn in business. The beauty of my business is that I have not taken out any loans to start it and that I have a structure that means that I have money upfront and do not have to worry about chasing the dollars.
· How has their business grown & changed since it started?
Host My Home started in about October 2016, I quit my full time job in December 2016 and now only just over a year later later we have a staff of 12 people, a professional office space and a huge property portfolio. Originally we were taking every property we could get our hands on, but recently we have cleaned out the troublesome properties or the ones that were not really earning great returns. We also originally thought we could do sales, long term rentals and act as buyers agents.... basically try and accommodate all areas of real estate... but now we are concentrating on the area we are passionate about and the area where we specialise in - Airbnb property management.
· How have you maintained your business over time?
We are still so young that we have not need too much maintenance....
· What challenges have you encountered?
We found that we had to essentially run a Real Estate Agency 'with a twist' to offer our clients the best service. We tried to find a way that we could avoid using Trust Accounts and the property management software that other agents use, but in the end it was the best way and most professional option.
· What successes have you had?
The best successes are some of our property owners successes.... one couple decided to go travelling in Africa for six months and handed their suburban home over to us. It was not near any tourist attractions, lacked the modern appliances and decorations. Typically if they could rent it out long term they would have had to remove their personal items and may have achieved $400 per week fully furnished. Through Airbnb we have been able to make this couple on average $700 per week (after our management fees have been deducted). The best feeling is to email this couple to tell them to 'keep travelling' as we have bookings for their home.
· What hopes do you have for your business future?
I would like to see the continued growth of the business not only in Cairns, but Australia wide. Once we streamline the processes in Cairns there is no reason we cannot replicate this anywhere possibly through a Franchise system or through expanding our current business model.
· What are your views on small businesses and Australia’s economy today?
I feel like small businesses need to adapt to the new 'sharing economy' and embrace the new niches that are out there such as Airbnb or Uber. I look to places such as the USA and see they have so many advancements (with similar businesses to mine for example) and think we could learn a lot from them.
· What are the pros and cons of starting a small/local business?
Pros - Freedom, turning dreams into reality and providing employment for others.
Cons - It is scary! It is 24/7 and there is a huge responsibility on your shoulders..... but it is so worth it!!