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The undecided ? Picky cottage renters and what to do ?

I must have spent an hour on long distance with this one engaged couple who was getting married that summer they were searching for a cottage rental.  It was amazing how many unbelievable questions they had.  The list was very, very long.  They were new to cottage renting and were approaching very much in the same way they would if they were buying a home or residence in the city.  Then the emails started there-after, one after the other.  It was taking up a lot of my time.  Then, the request comes to view the property before making a decision, and yes we are talking about ONE WEEK here, not the summer season, and not an entire month: one week.  Truth be told, my cottage is not located within a short drive.  To arrange a tour in advance is a bit of a hassle, and adds a lot more cost.  I made the mistake of relenting and built in some “to do’s” of my own that would justify the expense of the 4 hour round trip to my cottage rental property.  The experience left a sour taste in my mouth.

Though the rental was very well photographed on my site, the capacity was clearly stipulated and occupancy limits in addition to this were clearly defined, I knew I was up a creek with no paddle when the question came, “what are the MOST people you’ve been able to sleep and accommodate in one week?  We really aren’t sure if this cottage is big enough…”   I’ve probably already spent over $100.00 in gas and long distance, and more than a few hours of my time dealing with ridiculous questions, now we are into repeat queries?  My site, my info sheet, my quote process could not have been more clear on capacity, occupancy, heck even square footage and the fact that we have ONE bathroom only.  Now what? How do you handle the picky and the undecided?  How you do you deal with people who are looking for perfection?

For starters, limit the time you spend with people over the phone, and in person.  If someone gets the impression they can abuse your time, they will.  Minimise yourself to that ignorance.  Not everyone is in the habit of setting up a 1-800 service for a single dwelling they are trying to make a few bucks on, and they are going to be some people who approach everything with a perfectionist attitude.

Email works great.  Use it.  Ask them to consolidate all their questions so you can also limit your exposure to their picky nature.  Keep the notes brief and the lists clear.

Be direct about your own expectations where your time is concerned.  Tell them in your correspondence that if they are not prepared to make a decision within X time you will revert to the next family or couple of interest.  Obviously, renting a cottage owned by a single owner or couple may not be right for the undecided.  Maybe they should go to a resort or a hotel where a lot of the tiny and plentiful details can be accommodated.  The price will obviously be indicative of those kinds of details.

Tours add cost, so be selective.  If you ask for gas up front to cover your minimal costs, then it is your time you are wasting.  If they know they will have to pay for your gas as well as there’s it may make them think twice of spending the 4 hours in gas to drive to the location for a personal tour.

Take a million photos, inside and out.  Even though it is no guarantee, at least it will be more information for them to gauge the size of the dwelling and what to expect.

Be honest.  If you really think that it’s not going to work out for them and they will not be happy, back off and let them go somewhere else.  It’s probably not worth the trouble.  I had one couple that felt they paid too much and decided to empty the cottage of everything from light bulbs, to toilet paper, to garbage bags, sugar, tea, heck even the salt and pepper shakers were emptied.  That was an interesting experience into passive aggressive behaviour syndrome.

Don’t be afraid to say “NO”.  It’s okay to turn a rental away.  I had one guy that insisted from the very beginning that he was on a fixed budget and could not afford more than X.  So we negotiated a lower rate for him, he got an extra day, AND rushed me out before I could do a proper inspection on the previous renters, basically got rid of me.  He complained the whole time.  Everyday had a new problem.  I ended up buying a new barbeque, a new stove, and with his discount I actually lost money in that deal.  Not worth the hassle or expense.

The undecided can go elsewhere…how to deal with picky people…

In the end YOU are the master of your domain; the proprietor has the right to set his own price of goods and services in a free economy and establish his/her own level of services within that sale.  Be smart, fair and professional, but above all, don’t be used simply because you are a private cottage owner.