July 24, 2023

Beyond the Hotel: Freestand Home Solutions Creates a Home Away from Home Experience

Freestand Home Solutions shines as a beacon of excellence in the world of corporate housing, where comfort, convenience, and a sense of home are highly valued. Under the leadership of childhood friends turned business partners, CEO Bob Wilson and President Brandon Harris, this innovative company has successfully carved a niche in the market by transforming their properties into warm, inviting residences that cater to the particular needs of traveling professionals. Freestand Home Solutions, with a portfolio of 46 single-family homes, goes above and beyond the traditional rental experience, providing a wide range of amenities and entertainment options that create an unparalleled sense of comfort. They leave no stone unturned in their quest to redefine corporate mid-term rentals, from arcade game consoles to basement entertainment spaces.

Bob and Brandon understand that traveling professionals don't want to live in a hotel, so they make every effort to turn their houses into homes. By striving for perfection in terms of comfortability, aesthetics, styling, and amenities, they create warm, inviting residences that their tenants absolutely love.

Entertainment options and amenities are critical in distinguishing Freestand Home Solutions from its competitors. These aspects are critical in their property selection process. They prioritize finding houses with enough entertaining space before purchasing or partnering with a new property. This includes features such as a basement, a second den, or an extra bedroom that allow for the installation of various recreational activities such as a pool table, air hockey table, basketball game, or upright arcade-style video game.

By emphasizing these entertainment options, Freestand Home Solutions hopes to provide their tenants with a one-of-a-kind and enjoyable experience. They recognize that offering a diverse range of recreational activities can improve the overall quality of their guests' stay. This strategy is especially appealing to families or business travelers who need long-term accommodations. Brandon tells the story of a corporate traveler who spent an entire year away from his family while staying in a hotel. This individual expressed his dissatisfaction with the hotel experience and informed his employer that for future stays, he would only consider a family-friendly home.

This tenant's children found great entertainment value in the arcade game console provided while staying at a Freestand Home Solutions property. With access to 2000 games, the console became an excellent source of entertainment for children. This anecdote demonstrates how the company's attention to detail and emphasis on providing entertainment options meet the needs of families and individuals seeking a more personalized and enjoyable living experience.

Shifting to Mid-Term Rentals

Brandon and Bob faced a significant challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic when their original strategy of focusing on short-term rentals became less viable. The pandemic's uncertainty and restrictions caused a drop in travel and a drop in demand for short-term rentals. As a result, they were forced to shift their emphasis to mid-term rentals.

Brandon and Bob reaped several unexpected benefits from their strategy shift. One notable advantage was their ability to consistently grow their business. Thanks to the higher rent and longer stays of their corporate clients, they achieved more predictable and stable occupancy rates, laying the groundwork for steady growth. Mid-term rentals, as opposed to short-term rentals, provided a more consistent source of income and greater confidence in the long-term viability of their business.

Additionally, the transition to mid-term rentals enabled Brandon and Bob to budget more effectively. By securing longer-term contracts, they had greater visibility into their rental income and expenses. This allowed for better financial planning, as they could allocate resources and investments with a clearer understanding of their cash flow. The ability to budget more accurately contributed to their overall financial stability and allowed them to make strategic decisions for business growth.

Another advantage of mid-term rentals is increased occupancy rate stability. Shorter rental periods result in higher turnover rates, resulting in more frequent vacancies and the need for ongoing marketing and tenant turnover processes. Brandon and Bob, on the other hand, experienced lower turnover rates by focusing on mid-term rentals. Longer stay durations provided more stable and consistent occupancy, reducing the time and effort required to find new tenants and ensuring a higher level of occupancy throughout the year.

Additionally, the neighbors of their properties appreciated the shift towards mid-term rentals. With less frequent turnover, the community experienced a more stable and familiar neighborhood environment. The lower turnover improved social cohesion and not only benefited the neighbors but also contributed to a positive living experience for their tenants.

The Power of Networking

In the realm of 30-plus-day stays in the rental industry, the power of networking cannot be underestimated. Establishing a diverse range of lead generation sources is crucial for sustained growth and success. Relying solely on a single source for leads can restrict opportunities and hinder expansion potential. Recognizing this, Bob and Brandon understood the importance of diversifying their lead generation strategies early on.

When they had only a few properties at first, Bob and Brandon had the luxury of being able to easily manage the flow of leads. The figurative "spigot" of leads could be turned on and off as needed. However, keeping a steady flow of leads became crucial as their portfolio grew to almost 50 properties. Implementing lead source diversification was therefore necessary.

Bob and Brandon made sure there was a steady flow of potential customers for their extended stay rentals by diversifying their lead generation sources. They could access different markets, reach a wider audience, and lower the risk involved with relying on a single source by using multiple channels. They were given a more steady and long-lasting flow of leads thanks to this strategy, which supported their continued growth and improved their chances of success.

Expanding their lead sources involved various networking efforts. They actively sought partnerships with corporate clients, local businesses, and other rental property owners in the area. Building relationships with relocation agencies, travel agents, and online platforms catering to extended stays also became an integral part of their networking strategy. By connecting with these diverse entities, Bob and Brandon were able to tap into their existing networks and leverage their established customer bases. This not only brought in leads but also increased their brand visibility and credibility within the industry.

Suggestions for Networking Success

  • Become a member of trade organizations and go to relevant events: Join neighborhood real estate associations, property management organizations, or rental market networking events. This gives you the chance to network with experts in the field, such as relocation consultants, corporate housing providers, or HR specialists, who may have clients or workers who need medium-term rentals.
  • Build relationships with local businesses, such as relocation agencies, travel agencies, or consulting firms, and collaborate with them. Offer to provide medium-term housing solutions for their clients or employees. To encourage them to refer tenants to your rental properties, form mutually beneficial partnerships or referral programs.
  • Connect with corporate contacts: contact the human resources departments of local corporations, particularly those with a large number of traveling professionals or temporary employees. Offer your services as a preferred accommodation provider, emphasizing the advantages of medium-term rentals for the comfort and productivity of their employees. Attend corporate events or trade shows to make contact with decision-makers.
  • Form alliances with other property owners: Work with other property owners who provide various types of accommodations, such as short-term rentals or vacation rentals. You can broaden your reach and attract more leads by referring potential tenants to each other based on their specific needs and length of stay.
  • Implement a referral program in which existing tenants or business partners are rewarded for referring new tenants to your mid-term rentals. This can include rent discounts, gift cards, or other enticements to actively promote your properties within their networks.

The Importance of Your People

As Bob and Brandon's business evolved, so did their team's training and expertise. They, like any growing business, encountered valuable learning opportunities along the way. One such incident occurred when a member of their cleaning staff failed to inspect the pipes in one of their properties. Unfortunately, this oversight resulted in the pipes bursting during Chicago's harsh winter, causing significant damage and complications.

The incident served as a wake-up call for Bob and Brandon, emphasizing the importance of improving their turnover and cleaning procedures. They realized that maintaining the quality and integrity of their properties required meticulous attention to detail and thoroughness. They adopted the mindset of treating each property as if a beloved member of their own family was about to move in.

Bob and Brandon implemented stricter protocols and training for their team to prevent similar mishaps and ensure a high standard of care. They placed a greater emphasis on thorough inspections, particularly during critical seasons such as winter, when pipes are more vulnerable to damage. They created detailed checklists and guidelines to ensure that no aspect of property upkeep was overlooked.

Processes

Bob and Brandon decided to create their own company app after recognizing the need for increased efficiency and streamlining their operations. Previously, their employees had used seven different apps, resulting in fragmented processes and potential inefficiencies. However, they anticipated significant time and cost savings with the introduction of a single custom app that could handle all of their needs while ensuring that every property remained in pristine condition.

Their custom app was designed to revolutionize the way their staff worked by consolidating multiple functions into a single central platform. The team could save time and energy by eliminating the need to switch between apps. The app would provide a seamless and integrated experience, allowing employees to manage tasks efficiently, track progress, and communicate with ease. This simplified approach would result in increased productivity, which would translate into cost savings for the company.

Furthermore, the development of their own app had the potential to improve both the staff's and the management team's work-life balance. Juggling tasks and responsibilities across multiple apps frequently results in behind-the-scenes chaos and stress. However, a catch-all app that simplified and streamlined operations would make the workload more manageable. The app would serve as a central hub for employees and management to collaborate and access critical information, reducing stress and promoting a healthier work environment.

Efficient Use of Time

As Bob and Brandon point out, it is critical to consider time efficiency when establishing a property. While some people prefer to do everything themselves, tasks such as furniture assembly and TV mounting can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Hiring professionals or delegating these tasks frees up property owners' time to focus on more important and productive tasks. They can save valuable time and energy by outsourcing these mundane tasks, avoiding the opportunity cost of not allocating their efforts to more critical aspects of property management. Delegating such tasks to skilled individuals also reduces the risk of errors and complications while promoting a healthier work-life balance.

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Author : FF Team