Case Studies

How this property manager leveraged dynamic pricing for his 15+ properties to boost revenues during COVID.

By October 16, 2020 October 28th, 2020 No Comments
Company

North Conway property management offers a full service vacation rental property management solution. Run by Peter and Julia – Super hosts with Airbnb, and Keller Williams Realtors – they have 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Keep reading to know more about how PriceLabs assisted in boosting their revenue output during COVID.

In this insightful call with Peter Plourde – owner of North Conway property management, we learn how he grew from just two to fifteen properties while amplifying his revenues in these pandemic times by using PriceLabs’ Dynamic Pricing. Read on to know all about his story.

Richie Khandelwal: Peter, welcome to this session of customer stories. Firstly, to kick this off, can you give us a sense of how long has North Conway property management been in business and what’s your backstory? How did you get into this?

Peter Plourde: So we started probably like a lot of people – we bought one investment property. It wasn’t a home. It needed some aesthetic touches. And we just kind of started doing it on our own. I’d manage the business while my wife helped clean. We were livng two hours away from the property and this was just a side business (you can even call it a hobby), and then it did so well that we bought another house – in a different town about 20 minutes away. We managed both of these homes, and it was going well.

My background is in hospitality business (restaurants). So I have had a 30-year career in the restaurant business, different capacities from a single unit operated to running over a hundred restaurants.

Recently we decided to run our Airbnb’s more like a business. So I devoted myself to learning everything on Airbnb and vacation rentals. Then we decided we want to live where our properties are, and we decided we want to launch our own company. So it started very recently! In 2020!

North Conway property management logo

We started like a lot of people – we bought one investment property. It wasn’t a home. It needed some aesthetic touches. And we just kind of started doing it on our own.

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: How long ago was this?

Peter Plourde: We’ve had our properties for a couple of years. We launched our website on June 7th, my goal was to grow to six Airbnb listings by the end of the year, and we’re currently sitting at 15 Airbnb listings!

We launched our website in June, and from June 7th, my goal was to grow to six properties by the end of the year, and we’re currently sitting at 15 properties.

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: What made you jump headfirst into something like this that too during COVID?

Peter Plourde: Yeah. That’s a great question. So we just threw the website out there, and we didn’t know what was going to happen. So I set some modest goals, and soon we got our first phone call! Then suddenly, the flood gates opened up. I was getting around two to three calls a week because cleaners were quitting. So these property owners who were managing it all by themselves from a distance, suddenly needed a cleaner in 72 hours, and I answered the phone. I called them back. I told them what we did. And I said, you know, we’ll pick up your cleanings, but long term, that’s not who we are. Once they heard our story of who we were and what we were wanted to do, they signed up!

Richie Khandelwal: I am intrigued!

Peter Plourde: So, you already know we’re hospitality based. We’ve had nothing less than a five-star review on either one of our homes and a hundred percent response rate. At the time of launch (June 2020), we collaborated with you guys at PriceLabs. And I don’t have precise numbers, but we made more money in the last two months just on my two listings than ever before. I would say it’s close to a 70% increase in revenue.

At the time of launch (June 2020), we collaborated with you guys at PriceLabs. And I don’t have precise numbers, but we made more money in the last two months just on my two listings than ever before. I would say it’s close to a 70% increase in revenue.

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: Oh, wow. Well, how long have you been running these two listings, and what kind of listings are these?

Peter Plourde: So the two properties that we own are both homes. One property sleeps ten, and it’s in a typical residential neighborhood. And then our other property is like a chalet on the side of a mountain and sleeps six.

Richie Khandelwal: So, both of these properties are in high demand right now because everyone wants to get away from Boston and New York and the sorts? 

Peter Plourde: Yeah. And you know, those two properties netted about $20K just in August!

Richie Khandelwal: Wow.

Peter Plourde: I’ll be honest, Our average nightly number is way higher than I would have ever put it on myself and it is a hundred percent because of PriceLabs. I genuinely feel that way. I was not capturing orphan days. Without Pricelabs’ assistance, it was hard.

Peter Plourde Pic

I’ll be honest, Our average nightly number is way higher than I would have ever put it on myself and it is a hundred percent because of PriceLabs. I genuinely feel that way. I was not capturing orphan days. Without Pricelabs’ assistance, it was hard. 

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: Yeah, orphan days are a big one. Because otherwise, you have to go into your system and adjust every day!

Peter Plourde: Yeah. I was doing that, but what was hard was looking in advance and saying, okay, that’s a holiday weekend – I need to jump the price up, and I wouldn’t even come close to what my PriceLabs settings suggested on there, which is incredible!

What was hard was looking in advance and saying, okay, that’s a holiday weekend – I need to jump the price up, and I wouldn’t even come close to what my PriceLabs settings suggested on there, which is incredible!

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: Talk to me about how you were doing this pre-PriceLabs?

Peter Plourde: I was looking at my prices and tweaking them every single day manually.

Richie Khandelwal: So this was when you were also juggling with your hospitality commitments.

Peter Plourde: Oh yeah. I was still in the restaurant business.

Richie Khandelwal: So what drove you to look at PriceLabs?

Peter Plourde: I initially tried a different product, which had different pricing. Everyone would know who they are. I’m not going to say their name, and I’m not saying they’re unsatisfactory. I just got the feeling that they weren’t putting prices where I thought they should be, and so I just did the trial period with them, and then I ended up dropping them. I then listened to a lot of podcasts. The speaker was using a combination of software and PriceLabs just kept coming up on multiple podcasts. And I said to myself – you know what, I’m going to try it. I’m going to see if it works for me. I tried it solely on my two homes and was instantly blown away with the results. That’s when I knew I needed it because you couldn’t do what I was doing when you got to 15 properties.

I initially tried a different product, which had different pricing. They are popular. I just got the feeling that they weren’t putting prices where I thought they should be, and so I just did the trial period with them, and then I ended up propping them and going back. I tried PriceLabs solely on my two homes and was instantly blown away with the results. That’s when I knew I needed it because you couldn’t do what I was doing when you got to 15 properties.

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: Absolutely. Many people who are running a few properties aren’t doing this full time. It is more of a part-time endeavor. So you tend to miss out on small things which automation can take care of for you.

Peter Plourde: Exactly. Oh, and it’s paid for, in my opinion, to the accord of a hundred times over already!

Richie Khandelwal: So you’re suggesting we should increase our prices? (Just kidding). Many small-time users will see and read this. Can you talk to me about what features you like in PriceLabs?

Peter Plourde: I love the fact that you can just change your base price and system does the rest. Every house has a base price, and some have a minimum based on the owner’s needs. I think that’s great because the owner and I are on the same page. Everything you’re able to fill out in the edit section is entirely dependent on you. I don’t know if you could put a value but there are several features for a small operator. a) The fact that you can manage orphan days. b) The fact that you can put a three-day minimum on the weekend. c) The fact that you can be aggressive in your pricing, you can customize your setting to default, or you can set your pricing less aggressively based on how you’re feeling about your market.

I love the fact that you can edit your base price. I don’t usually fill out a high, but every house has a base price, and some have a minimum based on the owner’s needs. I think that’s great because me and the owner must be on the same page. Everything you’re able to fill out in the edit section is entirely dependent on you. I don’t know if you could put a value but there are several features for a small operator.

My favorite features would be:

a) The fact that you can manage orphan days.

b) The fact that you can put a three-day minimum on the weekend.

c) The fact that you can be aggressive in your pricing, you can customize your setting to default, or you can set your pricing less aggressively based on how you’re feeling about your market.

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Peter Plourde: I price most of our properties aggressively because when we went live, our governor opened the state for tourism, I instantly knew that we would be busy. That’s what made me set us up for aggressive pricing. The flexibility one gets inside PriceLabs, wherein you can manipulate and create your personalized picture of what you want your prices to be, gives you that edge. I look at prices every day, I pull up PriceLabs, and I’ll review rates! What I must mention is the ability to obtain a consolidated view of all your properties and gauge their health with ease, in my opinion, that is valuable because it shows the health of your business short, medium, and long term.

Richie Khandelwal: It’s only been a few months, but how has your experience been with our support team or anyone you’ve spoken to or interacted with at our end?

Peter Plourde: What is impressive is that I think I’ve only raised maybe two support tickets the whole time. And I don’t even think those tickets were related to your software. For instance, one of the properties wasn’t updating, and the issue didn’t lie at the PriceLabs end. With that said, all my tickets have been resolved with a quick response. I feel like we’ve had excellent customer service, which is super important because if you’re managing someone else’s properties, they want to know why it’s priced at a certain amount.

What is impressive is that I think I’ve only raised maybe two support tickets the whole time. And I don’t even think those tickets were related to your software.

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: Absolutely.

Peter Plourde: It instills confidence among the property owners that the pricing software is doing what it’s supposed to.

Richie Khandelwal: Agreed! While we talked a little bit about PriceLabs’ impact, can you speak to me about how you tell your property managers about this pricing software you’re using?

Peter Plourde: Yeah, I tell them on a high level, what it does. The fact that we’ll set a base price, and that we can set a minimum if needed. What it does for event day pricing, based on market trends (I don’t even know how you guys do it honestly). It understands – October 9th, 10th is a holiday weekend, and prices it accordingly. It is always running in the background, and it does the job that we need it to do without having to worry about it.

What it does for event day pricing, based on market trends (I don’t even know how you guys do it honestly). It understands – October 9th, 10th is a holiday weekend, and prices it accordingly. It is always running in the background, and it does the job that we need it to do without having to worry about it.

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: Amazing! So COVID hasn’t negatively impacted North Conway property management. You were looking to scale to six properties. You’re now at 15! 

You’re setting achievable goals, which is terrific! Are you going out of North Conway exploring opportunities in other areas or sticking with North Conway?

Peter Plourde: For now, we’re just sticking with where we are. If we were to venture outside of our geography – even a couple of hours, we would probably have to change our model. I would probably offer all the soft services, but I wouldn’t manage cleaning or maintenance or activities.

Richie Khandelwal: Peter, you were able to ride this COVID wave profitably. You set an aggressive strategy that worked in your favor. What else did you do? What other advice would you give to other property managers regarding handling or dealing with COVID’s impact on the market?

Peter Plourde: I think the key is to make sure your guests feel safe. So for us, it’s about being proactive with telling them that we follow a 54 point cleaning process! We get a lot of early check-in requests wherein we tell them, “we will do our best to let you check in early, but our main goal is your safety.” I felt the pinch of COVID because we shut down for a couple of months. But I would say – hang in there. For the most part, we will pull through this, and people will want to stay in a home instead of a hotel. 

Richie Khandelwal: Amen! We didn’t talk about channels, namely – Airbnb, VRBO, etc. Where are you getting your bookings from, and what strategies do you have there to get these bookings?

Peter Plourde: All of the above – we are on Airbnb, you know, not all of our properties go to VRBO right away as I believe in dominating the Airbnb space. First, focus on establishing a property with enough reviews to stay relevant on their search, then weave in VRBO. When we list a property, we also create their website. Also, we’re using stayfi for a month now and testing it out.

Richie Khandelwal: I’m not aware of them. So who are they and what do they do?

Peter Plourde: Stayfi taps into your router with a device that turns your internet into like hotel-style internet. So if I’m a guest in the property – let’s say you have two families to a house – for them to use our internet, they have to drop their name and email address. We later tie these details to MailChimp, a renowned email service provider where we keep in touch with the customers.

Richie Khandelwal: Such a neat process. Where and how did you come across Stayfi?

Peter Plourde: We listen to many podcasts, and Stayfi often kept coming up, and I said to myself – you know what, I’m going to check it out and play around with it. I downloaded their mobile and desktop application and just explored what they did. I tried it at my two houses first and was pleased to find that it worked just as advertised.

Richie Khandelwal: You’re using MailChimp for your email marketing. Is that something you were already familiar with from your restaurant background or just something you just figured recently?

Peter Plourde: I’ve only recently figured it out. I use a combination of five tools that assist in running my business. 

Richie Khandelwal: What are you using?

Peter Plourde: We use Your Porter App . I was using their communication tool when I just had my own two properties, but then I added smartbnb for the communication aspect because I needed an owner’s portal.

I also use Turnoverbnb to manage my cleaners!

Richie Khandelwal: Got it. And then you use Mailchimp?

Peter Plourde: That is correct, along with Stayfi

Richie Khandelwal: I must admit Peter, you are one man, and many talents. So Peter, one more question: There are property managers on the fence about using a pricing solution because their owners are on the fence about utilizing a pricing solution. What if they came to you for advice? What would you say?

Peter Plourde: I think it’s the property managers’ responsibility to use this on behalf of the owners. Because if you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table, and that’s just the truth. Not only for the owner, but yourself, as most property managers are our percentage-based. So, if you want to maximize revenue per night, you can’t do it without it.

I think it’s the property managers’ responsibility to use this on behalf of the owners. Because if you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table, and that’s just the truth. Not only for the owner, but yourself, as most property managers are our percentage-based. So, if you want to maximize revenue per night, you can’t do it without it.

Peter Plourde, Owner North Conway property management

Richie Khandelwal: You’ve used this term money on the table so many times, and last night, our team (I say last night because I’m in India, but daytime for the rest of the team in Chicago), we were brainstorming over a tagline. Here’s what we came up with: “Give your pricing wizards a wand” – I’m not sure if that’s the best one. 

Lastly, this is more for us, Peter, what can we do better? How can we serve you better?

Peter Plourde: I don’t know if I have an answer for that. I’m just blown away by you guys. I was probably the perfect kind of person to speak to about it. Now maybe if I run into glitches down the road, I’ll give you guys feedback for sure.

Richie Khandelwal: Fantastic! I want to thank you so much for taking the time to do this, Peter! I know it’s a busy time. I wish you all the best for the rest of the season. Please take care and stay safe.

Peter Plourde: I appreciate it. I appreciate the opportunity, and I think you guys deserve it.

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