March 8, 2023

Human Capital is the Most Important Capital, with Steve Trover, CEO of Better Talent

In today’s episode, Alex and Annie sit down with Steve Trover, the Founder, and CEO of Better Talent. Knowing a person makes connecting their talents with the right jobs easier. Interestingly, Steve is also the one who brought together Annie and her current role today at Homes & Villas by Marriott International. 

Steve talks about the people stack and how optimizing human capital has a profound effect because it is most companies' single biggest cost. He shares how a company's integrator works with its visionary to execute the vision, as well as the difficulty in hiring for this role. 

Find out more about the best practices for acquiring your human capital, from full-time employees to consultants to virtual assistants, in this episode of Alex & Annie: The Real Women of Vacation Rentals.


Steve: Optimize the people stack because it is the biggest cost

"The people stack though, really lends itself and speaks to the fact that most companies today, if they're running optimally, don't just have full-time employees with big salaries. They might have full-time, part-time, independent contractors, consultants, global talent, you know, virtual assistance, that type of thing." 

"And what we do with our clients is really look at their overall cost structure, which by the way, if you look at a VRMs P&L, I've looked at hundreds, if not a thousand of them, the number one cost by far on every P&L of every VRM I've ever looked at is people."

Steve: Integrators work with the team to execute the vision

"If they don't have somebody to execute that vision or a group of individuals that again, are rowing in the right direction, that vision is not going to happen. And you know, I ran a really great company, I believe for a lot of years. I waited way too long to get my integrator. And so the integrator in EOS speak is really the person that takes that vision, works with the individuals on the team, the different departmental leads the leadership team to execute on the vision."


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[00:00:00] Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of vacation rentals. With more than 35 years combined industry experience, Alex Hener and Annie Holcomb have teamed up to connect the dots between inspiration and opportunity. Seeking to find the one's story, idea, strategy, or decision that led to their guest's big aha moment.

[00:00:22] Join them as they highlight the real stories behind the people and. That have built vacation rentals into the $100 billion industry it is today. And now it's time to get real and have some fun with your hosts, Alex and Annie. We'll start the show in just a minute, but first a word from our premier brand sponsor, Casa and Co-sponsors Guest Ranger and good neighbor Tech CASA's founder Steve Schwab has been quoted as saying you can only be a local in one place.

[00:00:54] The simple yet profound statement is the basis of Casa Ghost's franchise model, which allows locally owned vacation rental management companies the ability to compete at a national. By leveraging the system's software, and support the buying power of a much larger organization. As a CASA Co franchisee, you have the freedom to run your business with the support of a community of like-minded professionals while leveraging the economies of scale and buying power to increase profitability and reduce operating costs.

[00:01:21] Guest Ranger is the premier guest screening and chargeback protection solution. Leveraging ai, their tool effectively detects fraudulent activity, fake IDs, and underage guests, while also performing comprehensive dynamic background checks with guest ranger. Businesses can rest assured that their customers are safe and secure.

[00:01:40] Good neighbor tech allows you to manage your properties remotely and intelligently, protecting your owners and your guests. Their smart wifi locks allow you to provide temporary access to home and garage from anywhere, and keep track of when guests and service providers are in the property. Good Neighbor Tech provides the ability for you to collect email addresses from all guests staying in a property, not just the one who booked the reservation.

[00:02:02] Every guest who connects to the internet will see your branded welcome page and be prompted to provide their email address in order to connect to the wifi. Visit casa guest and good neighbor for more information. Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of Vacation Rentals.

[00:02:20] I'm. And I'm Annie and we are joined today for the second time now with Steve Trover, who is the c e o and founder of Better Talent. Steve, welcome to the show. Thank you so much. Excited to be here. Great. We're so glad to have you. Yeah, we're so glad to have you. I actually was looking to try and start the, um, interview off with a really good dad joke, but I just couldn't find one that I feel like you didn't know.

[00:02:43] So I'll work on that for the next time we.

[00:02:51] So Steve, before we get started, I think everybody that you know is active within our industry and go, that goes to conferences, certainly knows who you are, but we've got a wide range of listeners. Can you give a little bit of background on, on who you are and what better talent does? Absolutely. Um, so I have been in the vacation rental industry since 1997.

[00:03:09] Uh, started a company here in the Orlando area where I'm based now, um, and grew that to about 400 properties under management over a 20 year period. So, sl, uh, slowly but surely, And, um, had a real estate company, a property management company. We had an interior design company called Beyond Furnishings. Uh, ultimately had a development company called Purpose-Built.

[00:03:31] And so we would design, spec, and build, uh, vacation homes that we would furnish, we would then sell and then manage. Um, and did that again over a 20 year period. Went into four different markets, uh, three more outside of Orlando. One in Captiva Island, Florida, about three hours southwest of Orlando. Uh, in San Diego, we bought a company, uh, there in the, uh, LA Jolla area, and then Sun Valley, Idaho kind of did a, a startup there as well.

[00:03:58] And so, um, enjoyed that for a lot, a lot, a lot of years. Um, I am the, uh, past vice president and president of B rma, so spent a lot of years on industry boards and then also developed a, a proprietary platform with a developer out of Idaho. Uh, to run the day-to-day business. Um, that was a p m S platform, really one of the first, if not the first SaaS platforms that had a booking engine, uh, going back 20 plus years ago that ultimately became Live Res, which obviously private equity owns today with Inhabit.

[00:04:27] Um, uh, so been super involved in all aspects of, of the business. Sold my group of companies about six and a half years ago now. Got into consulting, the first thing I got asked to do was, uh, hire. And so I saw that as a need in the industry, was kind of doing it with a traditional recruiting model and realized that wasn't gonna work in our industry, um, uh, recruiters tend to charge 20, 30% of the salary and it just didn't make sense.

[00:04:52] And I never really liked paying that when I used them in, in my companies. And so we launched better talent three years ago, um, with a different type of mindset. To help companies identify, hire, and retain the best possible employees. And so, and we do everything from a c e O to a housekeeper maintenance.

[00:05:11] Um, and so that's better talent today. And about a year ago, there was about four of us on the team. There's now 15. So we're growing pretty quick and we've got close to 200 companies that we do business with today. So that's, that's. Well, I can say, I can say from experience, um, better talent is like literally the best group of people to work with.

[00:05:32] I found myself in a situation, we were just starting this recently, just I found myself in a situation where I was looking for a job and didn't think I was going to be looking for a job and kind of connected with you and your team and Stephanie. And, um, I think that one of the things I really liked about the way you guys handle things is you really get to know the person before you.

[00:05:49] Scope out what jobs would be. And the job that I have now with Marriott Home and Villas you brought, you guys brought to me and were like, you really should do this. And I remember thinking, no, no, this is not for me at all. And you were like, really? Just look at it. I really think this is good fit. And I think that you kind of assess.

[00:06:05] That role and knowing me both personally, professionally, and, and knowing me, you really found like the spot for me to land. And, and I, I can't thank you enough for like what your team did, but I think it just speaks to how you guys approach staffing that is that no one else is really doing. Yeah, we, we really feel like, um, we have in, in essence kind of like a V R M has two customers.

[00:06:28] So do we, so VRMs have the owner and the guests? Well, we have the talent and, and our client and mm-hmm. , if we pay Play Matchmaker, well the net result helps both the client and the talent. And that's what we want to do. And, and that takes, you know, more than just going, oh, here's a bunch of people, you know, pick one.

[00:06:47] It's really looking at that person and with you in that situation, we knew that you were tailor. Of this role and excited about it. And, you know, it, it, it sometimes is hard because sometimes people that are going through a transition or changing a job, they're, they're not necessarily in the most confident place that they can be in, right?

[00:07:04] Because they, right. Something happened, maybe they got laid off, maybe they're just not happy in the current scenario. And so, um, one of our core values at Better Talent is, And, uh, Stephanie, who you mentioned is one of, one of the most empathetic people you'll ever absolutely in your life. She's amazing and the reason why she's in that role is because of that.

[00:07:22] And so she does a really good job meeting with the talent and, and then looking at that and then looking at, you know, your behavioral construct. You know, we do behavioral profiling and personality testing, and so you just were. Taylor made for the role. And so, um, as an example. And that's, and that's a big win for us.

[00:07:38] So thank you, uh, for, for being that. So, you know, you want to thank me, but, um, , it's kinda funny cause people will come up to me at, at conferences and be like, oh, thank you. You got me my job. I'm like, I need to get you your job. You got your job right? You did. Yeah. Yeah. You're, you're the matchmaker in between.

[00:07:52] But it's so funny too, cause I, I remember when I, I don't know, Posted it, maybe it, maybe it was better talent when you posted the job for Marriott. And I immediately, I saw it and I'm like, I immediately texted Annie. I'm like, this is perfect for you . And like, especially knowing that you already had a great relationship with that company.

[00:08:09] And I remember you saying, yeah, I mean Steve and better talent keep telling me like, this is great for me. And like you, you at first didn't think that it was no, Steve, to your point, like, you know, and you weren't. I don't think that you necessarily had to find a job at that point, but I don't know that you were also a hundred percent confident, right, in your abilities that that was the right job for you.

[00:08:28] But it was 100% the right job. I mean, it's, it's hard sometimes to see in the moment like what's right in front of you, but. That everybody else can see . Yeah. No, and I think that was what was great again, because Steve and Stephanie both like took the time to talk about like, you know, like just really, really look at it, like, just don't just look at like the role, like the bullet points of the role.

[00:08:48] Like really read it through and understand and then have a conversation about it. And so it, it was one of those things where it's like I, again, I think you get job opportunities that come across your desk and sometimes if you don't. Like, I definitely have a new appreciation for really reading something and kind of questioning and, and maybe doing a little more research about something.

[00:09:06] But it was just, it, it kept coming to me from so many different directions. But you and Stephanie were both like, you re this is this, we know this is the right role for you. And I think you gave me that confidence to say like, okay. All of the things that I've been doing that maybe I felt were not the right package of experience.

[00:09:23] Mm-hmm. , they became the right package of experience for this role. And you guys knew it instinctively just from talking to, you know, the, the people at Marriott that you were working with and then reading it through. And again, un knowing me and understanding me and taking the time, like Stephanie took the time to get to know me.

[00:09:37] I already knew you, but she took the time to like really know what drives me and what my passions were and the things that make me tick every day. And I think that that's really something that a lot of hiring, um, and staffing agencies, they just don't take the time to do because it's just, it's, it's, it's a transactional relationship and not, like you said, the empathy has to be there to make, to understand the fit.

[00:09:56] Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And, and, and to be clear, you know, it's not always, we're not. Capable of doing that at, at scale and Sure. And sometimes we, you know, we, we try to meet with everybody we possibly can. Um, but no matter how we do this, um, we do it with empathy. It's just integrated into the, the process. And, you know, we, we want to treat the talent, the talent side.

[00:10:20] Um, unlike a lot of recruiters, I gotta say this, and there's some great recruiters out there I know, but. . Um, but so many of them, it's a numbers game. Yeah. And we never want to be like that. If we ever feel like this, that to somebody, give me a call. Um, cuz we just, we don't want that, that to be the case. We really do care about that side of it and um, we know that without the town side we won't have any clients.

[00:10:42] Right. So. Right. We'll be back in just a minute afterward from our premier brand sponsor, Casa. I've done every position in this company. I'm gonna start it from a ground up. I was done right. I, I just did everything. So I've done it all. Not to say that I don't still enjoy vacuuming. I love that , you get burned out a little bit and you lose your, you know what I mean?

[00:11:03] Like, I dunno if I can do this anymore. That's Kelly Hill CASA's franchisee from McCall, Idaho. Her company, dun Wright Management had been a leader in the market for many years, but as larger national companies started to gain ground, Kelly felt like she was losing control of the business. That was my way out the door before Casa came.

[00:11:22] I really was, I think I was considering selling the company because I was, I was at that point where I was getting like, you know, maybe this isn't for me. Ryan had approached Ryan and Steve approached me and. It was like they sang a song to me because I was like, this is what I need. I need direction. I'm looking at the bigger companies and I'll say, you know, VA Casas out there and, and I admire them for a lot that they do.

[00:11:48] They have, but they have a lot of bandwidth here. They have, you know, bulk and so they can get, do things a lot cheaper and their systems are great and. I looked at Costco as, as the opportunity that we needed to, um, to get there, to have some of those advantages. We asked Kelly about the transition to becoming part of Casa and her thoughts on the benefits of becoming part of their franchise model.

[00:12:15] We had just switched to a different, um, uh, p m s system that same year. So it was a real challenging year, but it was so worth it because streamline is just, I mean, it's, it's the best of breed and I love touting that. When I meet with owners, I'm like, yeah, oh, we use streamline software. It's the best in the, interesting.

[00:12:33] That's one main thing is that the training and the support that they've given us, I mean, they are just there. I mean, anything we need, anything we. Kelly's story is one that resonates with many of our franchisees. Switching software is a big decision. CASA's full-time support staff are here to help make this process significantly easier and more efficient than a regular software switch.

[00:12:55] Ryan and Steve, they just really said, you can, you can still do this. We're here for you. And if we have all these things in place, your company can run smoothly. And it does. And I think that, um, I mean, I, I can. I can take off for a week and I know I'm gonna come back and everything is running as good, if not better than when I was here.

[00:13:13] So it's. Visit Casa to hear more stories from franchisees like Kelly and inquire about territory opportunities and available markets. Well, I mean, you're, you're dealing with people's lives in their futures. It's Exactly, it's pretty big responsibility. Right. And I've got, um, Awesome.

[00:13:32] Better talent and mug in my hand right now for anybody who's watching YouTube. But the, uh, , they're great. The, the other side of it says a quote, which I, I love this quote. Yeah. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. Don't settle. And that's so true. And, you know, having just also gone through a major life change and trans transition, leaving my job of 13 years and moving to Costco, actually Annie and I started.

[00:13:56] Both of our new jobs on the exact same day. . Yeah. Uh, it's, it's a, it's a lot to, I mean, it's, there's a lot of stress that goes along with making that decision to take a new job or leave a job and you don't wanna have to be doing this multiple times. , I mean, this is definitly something you, you, uh, ideally want to do only a few times in your lifetime, but, um, you guys definitely mitigate the, the uncertainty of it quite well.

[00:14:19] But what, what are you, what are you seeing? Out in just the, the industry right now. I mean, obviously workforce has been an issue for all industries really in the last couple years, but what, what are the biggest trends that you're seeing and challenges, uh, within our industry that still exist? Yeah, sure.

[00:14:37] You know what's interesting is in, in talking to people in especially the last couple weeks here, but over the past couple of months with shifted is, is people because of the big layoffs, baby Casa and some of the others in the industry, um, that are of scale. , um, there's this feeling like, oh, all of a sudden there's this talent flood.

[00:14:54] Um, and you hear these big splash sheet news stories about tech companies laying off a bunch of people. The reality is, uh, we are at record low unemployment. The numbers just came out for January. They're as strong as they've ever been, way above what they've projected them to be and the only sector of all sectors.

[00:15:14] Um, that. Uh, backwards was tech, and then it was just a little bit, every other sector of employment is up. Guess what the number one is? Hospitality. Right. And so, oh wow. The, the, the employment side of this is as acute as ever. The, the challenge of getting great talent is harder than ever. Um, and so that's what's happening in our industry.

[00:15:37] And then you have the explosion. Within our industry of growth and all of these new startup companies and you know, the kind of the Airbnb crowd that start with a few and all of a sudden they're a management company. Yeah. Um, the origin stories have shifted a little bit, but there's more people coming into the space as operators than there ever has been.

[00:15:54] And so there is an acute. Uh, a shortage of, of talent, and especially those people that understand this industry and understand what they're doing. Mm-hmm. . So, my message to our industry, especially if you've been in it for a few years or a long time, uh, you're very valuable. Um, so if you think you, you know, you get laid off or you're, you know, not happy in a, a current situation.

[00:16:16] Please know that you have a lot of opportunity in this industry. If you understand it, know it, and can speak the language. There are a lot of people that wanna work with you, and so be confident that, that you have that. And you know, nobody gets a degree in vacation rental management. Nobody, right? all kind of tripped into this thing, right?

[00:16:35] Yeah. Uh, me, you know, 26 years ago, I fell into it. Right. Um, that said, it is a, it's become, uh, especially over the last few years, something of significant value to have experience in this space. So please know that if you're, if you're out there and you're looking and, and give us a call. So, yeah. And I think Sue, just, just watching your posts over the last couple years that we've known you and seeing the jobs that, um, that you're posting and the salaries that companies are paying.

[00:17:01] I mean, this is, you know, we're, we're really becoming. One heck of an industry. There are some really good jobs that are out there, you know? Yeah. Well under the six figures. And that also did not used to be the case. I mean, that No. You know, that's, that's definitely something that's risen. But of course, you know, there's a lot more revenue coming into the businesses now and, and, um, you know, the more forward thinking people are understanding that you've gotta, you, you get what you pay for.

[00:17:24] And if you wanna retain the best talent, you also have to have, you know, something that's gonna match. Compensation wise, one of my, uh, favorite old kinda quotes is, if you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys. Um, and yeah, yeah, . Historically our industry got monkeys, so, um, yeah. Yeah. You know, uh, and that's not the case anymore.

[00:17:43] And you know, Uh, we still have obviously frontline positions and, and different things like that where there's hourly positions, but to your point, there's a lot of roles now that pay really strong. Uh, and you have to be able to do that if you want the right talent. Um, there's a balance there and you've gotta obviously look at the budget and you gotta do it within that, and you gotta be very cognizant and careful.

[00:18:07] And one of the things that we're really focusing on now, um, we call the people stack. And if you Oh, love that. If you think about, if you think about what a shift that's happened in the last several years in our industry, you started hearing the term tech stack and yeah, remember I love the people stack my technology background.

[00:18:24] I remember devs used this. Called, called the tech stack. I'm like, what's a tech stack? Right. Started to understand that and then it started to become more pervasive just and everybody talking about it, and they're looking at all the different technologies that they leverage to optimize the business.

[00:18:39] Right. Which is great. I'm a technologist. Um, we, our tech stack is massive at better talent. Um, the people stack though, really lends itself and, and speaks to the fact that, um, most companies today, if they're running optimally, don't just have full-time employees with big salaries. They might have full-time, part-time, independent contractors, consultants, global talent, you know, virtual assistance, that type of thing.

[00:19:03] Um, and what we do with our clients is really look at their overall cost structure, which by the way, if you look at a VRMs p and. I've looked at hundreds, if not a thousand of them. Um, the number one cost by far on every p and l of every VM I've ever looked at is people. Yeah, it's a salary. It's, and then if you add to that, anything you use from a consulting perspective or independent contractors, that's your biggest cost structure.

[00:19:29] So, oh, yeah. You know, as much as we all like to look at the tech stack and optimize that, I think that's a good practice. I'm not downplaying it, but we ought to be looking at the most expensive part of our business and optimizing that. And so that's a big part of what we help clients do today is look at that.

[00:19:44] And so sometimes a company with 62 properties will say, Steve, I really need, uh, a full-time revenue manager. And I might say, well, maybe you do cuz your 62 properties or, you know, massive properties and create a bunch of revenue. But in most cases, at that scale, they're not ready for a full-time revenue.

[00:20:01] Right. And so that's where we look work with, uh, consultant or one of the third party companies that do that on an outsource basis so that they can do it more efficiently and do it very effectively as opposed to having that full-time person. So that's an example of, of the types of things that we do to optimize.

[00:20:18] And so I see that as a big trend. Um, I mean, we've all had seasonal employees and independent contractors since the beginning of time, but I think you're seeing more of an evolution there to really optimize that. So we're really pushing that people stack concept today, today. I just to says what their tech stack is.

[00:20:36] I'm gonna ask them, what's your people stack? . , we were just talking to um, Matt t from Cozy Vacations and he was talking about the importance of that culture and building the culture and, and again, the people stack, um, aspect of it. And I think that, um, we talked about the importance of um, having buy-in and, um, from all of your team members and having them all understand the mission.

[00:20:59] Um, so I'd love to hear like your take cuz I think that you and Brooke. Two people that kind of brought this sort of notion of, you know, having people that have specific disciplines to get the team aligned and on message and on point. But again, having buy-in from everybody and creating a culture of not, it's not so much inclusiveness, but just that everybody is a integral part of.

[00:21:23] How the machine runs. And I think it goes back to the way you guys are staffing and putting people right, personalities in the right places. And I kind of would love to learn a little bit more about how you help Par, um, you know, help managers assess the talent and, and really put together the right team and optimize.

[00:21:41] Absolutely. Um, one of my favorite quotes is from Patrick Ion. He's written a hundred different books, but it, it's, uh, if you could get everybody on the team rowing in the same direction, you can dominate any industry at any time. And so, mm-hmm. , um, You know what, what you're talking about, uh, is, um, e o s, which is entrepreneurial operating system.

[00:22:02] It comes out of a book called Traction. I absolutely recommend everyone read one or two books, traction, and it's a sister book called Rocket Fuel. And Rocket Fuel uh, speaks to the relationship between the visionary and this industry. Full of really great visionaries, people that came in with the vision and all the different ways that we do this thing, and it's part of why this has attracted me and kept me in this industry is the uniqueness of the different business models.

[00:22:28] I'm hyper excited to meet a new company and learn, you know, about their vision. But what I will tell you is most of the time, if they don't have somebody to execute on that vision or a group of individuals that again, are rowing in the right direction, that vision is not gonna happen. Yeah. And you know, I, I ran a, a, a really great company, I believe for a lot of years.

[00:22:50] I waited way too long to get my integrator. And so the integrator in EEO S speak is really the person that takes that vision, works with the individuals on the team, the different departmental leads the leadership team to execute on the vision. They hold that person accountable or these individuals, but they also coach them in a way that helps them, gives them the tools to do this really well, and they align the.

[00:23:15] And at better talent. For example, Adam Toley is our c o o. He's our integrator. He runs this business. I may be the visionary, but if I didn't have him, we wouldn't execute at the level that we do. And so we really encourage every client, um, to make sure that they have that structure, um, have that integrator.

[00:23:33] And then ha and start to build the leadership team and then get the right people in each one of those roles. From a personality perspective, from a cognitive ability perspective, maybe a background and experience perspective, so that not only are they capable of the job, they're, they're gonna love that job because they're designed for it in the right spot.

[00:23:50] Yeah, they're designed for it. Like Annie is, and you are in the, in the roles that you are, you're gonna love your job, you're gonna stick around and you're gonna execute. Yeah. And so, but it takes that kinda visionary integrator one two punch to really do that well within organizations. Mm-hmm. . And so I had to recommend both those books.

[00:24:07] Yeah. After the integrator, what would you say is the next most important role to have? Or personality? You know, um, I, I would say in, in the v r m, um, you know, a director of operations, um, cause if you think about this industry, a lot of us, myself included, um, we love the tech stack. We love to talk about. Um, everything from a marketing perspective.

[00:24:30] Um, I always say I, I recruited the best business development person ever cuz Brooke was my business development guy. . Mm-hmm. . Look at what he's doing now. Um, so that was fun for me and very important. Um, but when you think about it, if you don't clean. These properties. Well, and you don't maintain them well, nothing else matters.

[00:24:47] Right. And so really that operational person that's leading those, the charge on those components, guest services, probably being in, in, in amongst that guest experience. Um, if we don't have somebody really leading that charge, we don't have the foundation. If we don't have the foundation, I don't care how good of a marketer you are, I don't care if you use inventory and blow it up with the number of properties.

[00:25:07] Yeah. Right. Your company's gonna blow up because you. That's so true. We've, we've, we've had that conversation with several people. It's like, it really, it doesn't matter. You can have the best marketing in the world, but if you can't keep your condos clean , then you're not gonna have any, you can get people there, but they'll never come back and they'll share that they had a terrible experience.

[00:25:24] So, yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. I used to say, you know, we were really great at marketing and we got all these things and we drive. Yeah. Got the best ADR and then the guest shows up and we didn't inspect it. Well, it's a massive Yeah. . It ruined all now. Right. I'll be able to deliver on the promise.

[00:25:39] Yeah. Yeah. I have a question going back to the integrator, cuz I would imagine that there's likely some tough conversations that have to happen. I mean, I think that people, yeah. Visionaries tend to. Um, they get to a certain level and their ego like, kind of leads them to make decisions and, and you probably have to like, help them separate the vision and their ego and, and acknowledge that they are not the right person.

[00:26:04] So how, how do you have that conversation with somebody to say like, you're really, really great and what you wanna do is amazing, but you just, you're not the person to carry this forward. To know me after, um, 26 year years in, in this industry is to know that I am a very direct individual, especially with That's true.

[00:26:22] Very friends. Yeah. And when it comes to visionaries, they're exactly like that. And they're, there's, they're not all egotistical. They're not bad people. There's nothing wrong. No, no, no. And I love talking. They're my people. Okay. Right. Cause they're my people. I also will. Look, this is what you really, really need.

[00:26:38] You've waited too long like I did, so it's easy for me to say, cuz I did it too, right? Yeah. And I sat myself in that kind of general manager or COO role way longer than I should have as A V R M. And so I encourage 'em to say, look. You're, you're not the person to do these things. And when I dig in and I start asking 'em what they like to do and what they don't like to do, they almost always tell me verbatim all of the things that really are what a visionary does.

[00:27:04] Right. And when they split, they don't like to do, it's what the integrator does. And so it's kind of an epiphany that happens through that process and then they realize, no, I really need somebody to run the day-to-day. Yeah. And um, and, and when they do, it lets them do more of the things that they love. In my case, as a v rm, I love doing BizDev.

[00:27:20] I loved, uh, marketing. I loved doing product development with purpose-built. I did not love, and I was not good at the repetitive nature of making sure housekeeping was done well or maintenance or guest services. Did we track it and look at it? Yeah, but I needed somebody running that part of the business and doing it really well.

[00:27:38] And so that's what I encourage and we have tough conversations. Another thing that visionaries tend to do, and again, this is another thing I'm guilty of, is we like ourselves a. And we end up hiring ourselves. And what I mean by that is when you get into an interview and you don't understand kind of somebody's behavioral mark makeup, you tend to hire people that are like you, right?

[00:27:57] Mm-hmm. . Um, I'm actually gonna do a graphic where I have somebody sitting across from the interviewee and there's a mirror. And they're just looking into the mirror because you tend to do that, right? And Oh, I really like that person. Well, really it's just cuz they, they had a very similar personality traits.

[00:28:11] Well the integrator in the visionary probably shouldn't have exactly the same Sure. Personality traits. And so finding that person that is the Y tier yang, um, is go, is what makes this thing work. And so that's what we try to work on with the visionaries today and, and finding that integrator. And by the way, it is, it is by far the hardest thing we do from a talent acquisition perspective.

[00:28:32] Because there aren't enough of them in this industry. Um, cause so it's hard. Visionaries waited too long to get one and so we just haven't pulled that in like the hotel industry has, right? There's about tens of thousands of hotel GMs. We don't have pretty many experienced GMs in this industry. Only the scaled companies and those with the vision early on that did that.

[00:28:52] And it's usually the owner of the company that's running the day to day. And generally it's. That's, that's interesting too. I remember we had, uh, talked to Amy High note about this probably a year ago, and she was talking about like a GM bootcamp or something along those lines. Yeah. And for that same reason that it's, that there just really is not that, um, higher level type of training for those individuals.

[00:29:14] And really they, they, a lot of them become GMs because like, We said earlier, they're doing a bunch of different things and they know kind of everything about the business, but they've never really had that actual training that you would receive on a hotel type of, um, accommodations business. But are, do you, do you think that there's opportunity for us to recruit more talent from the hotel side to come over?

[00:29:34] And if so, how do we do that? Yeah. And, and it's actually something that we do on a regular basis. In fact, interestingly, when I finally did get my integrator, um, as a V R M I, uh, I used to talk about this hotel gm. Cause I used to go to his hotel for meetings. It was across the street from our office and it was an older hotel, but it was a lot.

[00:29:54] It was 600 rooms. And every time I went there, it was probably like a $90. Place back then. Um, but everybody in the front desk, the, even the housekeepers when you're walking through the hallways, you felt like you were at the Ritz Carlton because they were really well trained, always said so well, and, and all that.

[00:30:10] And I used to say, when I finally hired a gm, I wanna hire one like John Brot, and that was his name. And I, I finally hired him and I hired him. Yeah, keep saying that. Why don't I just hire him? Let's do it. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Changed my life and I, I absolutely love my job then. Cause I got off the things off my plate and I was able to go and that's when I started doing purpose built.

[00:30:33] And he allowed me to do things visionary wise that I would never have been able to do if I didn't have him in that place. And now when he came on, and this is what I encourage people to do, what they do, hire somebody from the hotel industry is they sat John down and I said, John, you used to manage one.

[00:30:48] We have 346 of them. Yeah. And what I meant by that is every single house has an individual owner, which is different for them. That's a bi. That's probably the biggest differentiation. And each property in most cases, unless you have a condo product where they're similar, um, they're very unique. Right.

[00:31:04] Mm-hmm. . And so, and then they're geographically spread on a lot of cases, sometimes ridiculously so, uh, and so it creates challenges that they're not used to. They're also used to, when you're talking about housekeeping, they have a carton, an elevator. Okay. So yeah. and a bunch of boxes. The buys are right there.

[00:31:20] Yeah. Right. Yeah. And as, as challenging it as is for a GM to do that Well, with a hotel it's infinitely cha more challenging in the vacational industry. So it does require some untraining or retraining or help helping them to understand those nuances and those differences. That said, They are hospitality professionals.

[00:31:40] They have Right, right. They're, they have the gene. Yep. They've got the gene. They gravitated toward it. They have really great training and they can bring professionalism to your company that you never could have on your own. Um, one of the other challenges with them though, is they are used to having a playbook and rules structure.

[00:31:57] Right. If you work in a Marriott, I mean, everything's done in a certain way and there's SOPs or SOPs and in our. We don't have that so much so, right. That's so true. We're getting better. We're getting better. We're getting better. getting, yeah. Yeah. But, but as a general rule, you know, a lot of times you go in and it's like, well, how do you do that?

[00:32:15] Well, this is how we do it. Well, where's that written? It's not written. So it's not written. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so it, it, it does require them to understand that there's not an s o p and the good news is in, in John's case, um, he came in and he helped us develop a lot of those SOPs. Oh, good. Cause he. A knowledgeable 30 year veteran in the hospitality industry.

[00:32:33] So, so that's why I like bringing those people across. But it definitely takes some, you know, kind of retraining, if you will, and helping them to understand the nuances. Yeah, I think there's a lot of people in the industry just in, in my, in my experience, that, that just, they think they know how this side operates and they make a lot of assumptions.

[00:32:53] Again, I like the way you put that cuz I've always said, um, you know, you take a man, you manage a condominium and you have. 700 units in that building. There's 700 individually owned units. That's 700 general managers that you have to report to. They have a different marketing, they have a different marketing plan, they have a different budget, they have a different way they want their rooms.

[00:33:12] CL like everything about it is so different. And so I think when people come from the hotel side, to your point, there is sort of that re retraining that you, they have to be able to like move and think on the fly. Like there's just a lot of, a lot of nuances. But I also, um, know that had some of these existed.

[00:33:27] Years ago when my husband and I were partners and started a vacation rental company, it had, we had some of these tools out there for training and staffing and, and, and, and like the integrator, like our, our c e o at the time, really big vision, but ego was making decisions and ultimately the company failed because of some decisions.

[00:33:48] But it is like, I think we now have a really nice. Um, base of information and, and breadth of experience that you can bring in from all sides to really, really make the vacation rental industry something that people can look at and be really proud to be a part of. For one, we we're not hiding in the, you know, hiding in the shadows is this rogue industry that is causing problems in a, you know, in a market.

[00:34:09] Um, but one that is, can stand head-to-head against the big hotel, you know, side of the business. I mean mm-hmm. , we are. Part of hospitality. We are people that are driven and that at the core of it, that's, that's what we are. We just manage our hospitality a little different. We, we certainly do. There's no question about it.

[00:34:24] And, and yet if we can pull more of those people in that do have that in their dna, we're gonna be better off for it. Absolutely. Oh, you're absolutely right. We have a lot more structure than we had 5, 10, 15 years ago. Yeah. Yeah. Um, it, it's definitely evolving. I just, I was speaking with one of our, um, Casa franchisees this morning that as a longtime operator, that was actually our first one that came over, um, to our system.

[00:34:49] And they were saying how, you know, back five, six years ago, they started recognizing a need for having more SOPs, more things documented that their business was doing well. But they were starting to feel that that pull of like, there's things we could be losing if we're, if we don't start you. Getting things a little bit more aligned and tightened in, and that's, that's when they decided to come under the franchise.

[00:35:11] But since also being part of the franchise, they've also implemented e o s. So they went from having like no structure to now they've got a lot of different things there to, to pull and, and to work together. But, um, I think that's, that's kind of the beginning of our industry really recognizing that. And I know.

[00:35:27] In previous roles that I've been in, that was always kind of the challenge of like, you know, you know everything in your head of what you have done in, in, within the business and why you do certain things. But in order for the business to grow outside of the original leadership team, you have to be able to have something to stand on.

[00:35:44] And I think as we bring in more companies that start implementing e o s or doing franchise, they're starting to work with Marriotts and seeing these other ways of, of really. Professionalizing their businesses. I think that's where we'll start to bring more of a, a wider pool of talent over. So it's, uh, be, it's the beginning of the next revolution for vacation rentals.

[00:36:06] I guess you could say. These next 10 years are gonna be amazing and yeah, I mean it, you know, it's been a fun ride in the last 10, but I just, yeah. This industry is just blowing the lid off and so many great things and you know what you guys are doing at casa and, and, and the franchise model is clearly being accepted now.

[00:36:25] Mm-hmm. . And that gives that structure some of the structure Yeah. That we don't have. Yeah. Um, is everybody, you know, I talk to companies. Every single day. Um, by the way, I'm, I do all of the sales at better talent for one reason, and that is because we're building this company and growing it every day. And the best way to design something is to listen to the pain points.

[00:36:46] Mm-hmm. and I wanna mm-hmm. them at the very beginning. So, so I do it for that reason. And I get to talk to people and they, you know, they, they, I talked to a guy this morning, he started a company a couple years ago, and he, he comes from a sales background, so he was able to really grow it, but he, he didn't know, you know, what structure to put in place or, you know Yeah.

[00:37:04] Was kinda making it up on the fly. And so, um, having, you know, a franchise model, having all the education podcasts like yours, um, we have more data and information to help us do what we do than ever before, but it's still. It's the wild west relative to where it's going. So it's gonna be interesting. Um, I, I, I for one, actually hope it doesn't get too structured like the hotel industry, cuz I think that gets kind of boring at some point.

[00:37:29] yeah. Right? Yes. Still gotta kinda like, crazier of creativity. And I, I tend to think, I tend to think that it'll stay a little wild west just because that's the charm of vacation rentals. Like, let's face it. I mean, if you, you know, if you, if you. It's the same cookie cutter experience. You know, that's, that's okay.

[00:37:47] I mean, some people really like that structure, but I think that's the great thing about vacation rentals is just like the personnel. I mean, you look at Lauren at Antebellum's and like what they do. I mean like, you're gonna get a totally different experience there than you're gonna get, you know, with somebody in the North Carolina Mountains or someone at West Mountains.

[00:38:02] I mean, it's just. It's just the personalities behind these organizations that really gets an opportunity to shine that like a, a branded hotel doesn't because of the structure, which is fine, but again, if we get too structured, you would erase some of the personality that makes us what we are. And I, I, I think that's why, I mean the, the right understanding behind how we.

[00:38:20] Professionalize and we've had this conversation in the podcast. Yeah. So many times is super important and from a franchise perspective, at least as far as Casa goes, is concerned. That's a hundred percent how we, how we feel is that, I mean, every market, every company is going to operate differently. And this isn't like I, as I'm explaining it to people, it's not like Subway where you have to make the subs Exactly.

[00:38:41] Same. That's, that's not how vacation rentals are. So I mean, to, to try and say that you have to operate your business using just these tools and doing just these things, that's not the right way to look at it. I mean, and you as people like us that know the industry, you know, that that's, that's just the way the business works.

[00:38:59] And to your point, Annie, that is the charm that they are, are, you know, just unique entities in themselves and the markets to operate differently. One of the funniest things I get asked, and, and you guys probably get asked this a lot too, um, and I always kind of chuckle when, when it comes at me as they say, what's the industry best practice for that

[00:39:20] It depends. You ask. Best practice depends on the market. Yeah. Yeah. There's no def I mean, we're all writing the rules as we go. I mean, yeah. Well, I think again, the best practice is the best practice for that entity that resonates with the cu, you know, the customer that comes to them. So, yeah. And there's clearly things that we have learned along the way that are indeed, you know, it quote unquote best practice.

[00:39:42] But, um, this, you know, and, and, and again, you guys know I do, uh, behavioral profiling, personality testing. This industry attracts a certain type of personality. Um, in, in the construct that I use, it's called the Maverick. Um, a lot of the founders are Mavericks. Yeah. Oh yeah, yeah. Persuaders. But the Maverick profile is a very out of the box thinker.

[00:40:02] Don't, they don't like rules and structure tend to be very visionary. Right. And, um, so even if there is. Industry best practice, and somebody says, this is the best way to do this. This type of individual is gonna look at that and go, yeah, but I think about, I might tweak it this way. So I don't know when I give somebody a piece of advice that they're gonna take about 82% of it, but they're gonna put 18% on it.

[00:40:25] of their own. Yeah. And maybe tweak it. A lot of times they take something I, I will tell 'em and they'll do it better. And that's what the VP of this industry is. We're all kind of piling on top of each other. Different ideas and concepts to, uh, you know, as it evolves. And someday we may get there. I don't know if we ever will, to your point.

[00:40:41] Cause it is a very unique, it's not a cookie cutter product, right? There's, yeah, no, and I think that technology has a lot to do with that too. When you think about the struggles, um, that the hotel industry has had from. Property management systems and their booking engines and stuff, their, their technology is not nearly as collaborative or open as vacation rental tech has been.

[00:41:02] And I feel like we as an industry have kind of, we've sped up real quick. We were way behind the times technology wise, but then covid and that. Era hit and we really now are well ahead of a lot of the hotel tech that's out there. But yeah, really the hotels, it's like, you know, they really can't be all that creative when it comes to things.

[00:41:21] And they can't pile different systems on systems because they're, a lot of those are closed systems that they don't talk to anything else. So, yeah, I think really, you know, our, our creativity and collaboration has probably been built out of, um, just nec necessity and ability really on our side of the industry.

[00:41:38] Yeah. You're, you're not locked in by almost anything in this industry. Yeah. I kinda describe it from when an outsider, you know, somebody outside the industry says, tell me about the industry. I said, well, I think of it like a big whiteboard. And we, yeah, created it. And every day I think I, we've created all of it.

[00:41:56] And then the next day something new comes up, somebody wipes the clean. Yeah. Well, yeah, and it's just, it makes it fun and interesting and I, and I hope it's always like that. And I think to some degree it will be, um, yeah. Reason. I think the really great thing about our industry, we've talked to a lot of people about this, is that e even, even though we're competitors in various spaces, we all wanna help each other be better, and there's, there's a lot more camaraderie that I see in this side of hospitality than I saw in the hotel space.

[00:42:24] I feel like the hotel, again, there's so much structure that you, you know, you're either with a brand or you're an independent, but you're operating in a way that you wouldn't wanna share with your competitors because it's your secret sauce. And we don't, we are like sharing the recipe for that secret sauce.

[00:42:38] Cuz to your point, people are gonna tweak it and add the little spice that they need to add to make it their own. Mm-hmm. . So, uh, and you guys are, are very good friends with, uh, Amber Hurdle and, uh, I, I was just gonna ask, yeah. So I, I met Amber several years ago. We were at a a, a PI bootcamp and, and she wasn't in the vacation rental industry.

[00:42:59] Kind of knew a little bit about it and when I met her, I. Man, I, she's our people. We need her over here. She's our people. We need her in this industry. And she's like, yeah, they're, you know, you guys seem like a bunch of yahoos. I'm like, yeah, we are . We are. Yeah. And, and yet when she came in, it just, I mean, she has, uh, gotten really well known in the industry in a very short period of time.

[00:43:22] And it's because she's our people, right? And so, yeah. Yeah. Um, I. You know, I tirelessly look at people outside of the industry and when I find someone like that, I'm like, Hey, you gotta come check this thing out, isn't it? Yeah. And, and I mean, gosh, look how great she's fit in with everybody in our industry.

[00:43:37] Yeah. She really has. Yeah. And really kind of goes hand in hand with what. Better talent is doing. And, um, employer brand central, I mean, what she's, what she's building and what she's opening company's eyes to. Why that is so important to have a strong employer brand and how that not only creates loyalty within your existing team, but helps you recruit, you know, better talent as well.

[00:43:58] actual people. And that's why we partner with her is because that piece of it that she does so well helps us do our job well, quite frankly. Yeah. No, you're getting ready to do a road show with Amber, I believe, right? Yeah, we've got Amber, um, vent, Tori, uh, turnover, or actually turnover as of yesterday. , uh, turnover B and Airbnb rebranded yesterday.

[00:44:18] Um, and extend team, the, the, the group of companies. We're doing a roads show across Florida, so we're doing, uh, Sarasota, San Augustine and Fort Lauderdale, uh, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week. So if you're in even remotely close to those areas, we'd love to have you come out. Um, but yeah, no, we're excited about.

[00:44:36] That, um, roadshow and we plan to do this hopefully if it's successful in multiple places around the country and just go into the markets. But the focus is all on talent, right? It's all about the different components of talent. Um, extend team is another partner of ours. A lot of times you don't need a full-time employee, like I said before.

[00:44:53] And, and so using them for global talent is, is really key. Tarno helps optimize, uh, the, uh, housekeeping, uh, component of it, and that's really a big piece of the talent structure and then inventory. Um, they're really focusing on this roadshow, on their outsourced business development efforts, right? Mm-hmm.

[00:45:10] And so sometimes you need a full-time person. Sometimes you can outsource to somebody like Vent Tori. And so we're really excited about that premise and that concept of, of really focusing on, again, the most expensive part of what we do. Mm-hmm. , um, in the vacational space. So, Hopefully we'll have you back and talk about how that went and, and you'll be able to tell us that you're gonna be adding on more this, cuz I think that staffing, if, if, if it's not, you know, one of the most important, it's the, it's the single like biggest thing people struggle with regardless of where you're, where you're located and, and again, you know, Attracting the talent is one thing, but retaining and training and, and making them get that buy-in from 'em is, is a whole nother thing.

[00:45:48] And I think partnering with the organizations that you're partnering with to do this, they're all exactly the right people. And you know, to your point, I think when we met Amber, we knew Amber was like, she's, she was our people from the moment we met her. And she's stayed a very dear friend of ours. And, um, having her energy in our industry with her experience outside the industry, just in the things that she's done, is just such a tremendous asset for us.

[00:46:11] Yeah, absolutely. And I was in, made a big impact in such a short period of time. It's great. So yeah. Yeah. When, when I was in Miami last week, I was about to go on stage for the I M N panel and somebody came up to me and they said, where are your feathers? I said, feathers. They said, yeah, the last time you were on stage you had these huge feathers.

[00:46:29] Oh, they thought you was amber. I was like, what are you talking about? I don't remember this conference buddy. Yeah, it was funny. I was like, no, no, that's our good friend, Amber. There's, yeah, Annie and Amber and Alex. It gets kind of hard to distinguish sometimes all the aaas, but yeah, no, I'm, I'm excited to hear about how that goes too.

[00:46:48] I think it'll be super interesting. I, I do have another question, Steve. So as far as call centers, uh, solutions and reservationists are going, have you seen what have you, what have you seen? Just you. Across the country right now, are most companies, are they looking to change because they can't necessarily get the workforce anymore?

[00:47:07] Are they more looking at, um, o offshore teams and, and do you have any role in helping them find, uh, you know, extent team kind of people? Yeah, no. Um, I, I think there is a big shift, um, offshoring is, is a thing, and I think it has its place. Um, x extend team, again, is a partner of ours. So when we have a client that has that need, we definitely will work with them on that.

[00:47:30] Um, we've done some hiring offshore as well. Um, there's also the fact that historically in our industry, most of the companies didn't want to use remote employees, right? So yeah, pre Covid especially, um, after Covid, what happened during Covid is everybody had to work from home and all of a sudden, Companies went, this isn't so bad.

[00:47:49] Not so bad. Right. , yeah. Might actually be better in many respects. And so, um, whether we do it offshore or we do it, you know, in the United States, but we do it remotely, what that does is it greatly opens up your field of talent, right? Yeah. And so you do a, a job at, uh, for ad for, uh, a remote ra uh, vacation planner, reservations agent.

[00:48:11] We get a lot of applications and really good people, but they're all over the country. And so I think that changed to the mi of the mindset of where it has to be. Somebody in my office, full-time employee. Yeah. Um, now it can be an outsourced company. There's a lot of companies that do that role, voice, et cetera.

[00:48:28] Um, and then there's companies like extend team that do it, uh, uh, offshore. I think all of it is, is good for our industry and for the cost structure. We look. Each company on a case by case. We look at the culture of the company, the team, um, what they're trying to accomplish, what the budget looks like, and, and then we make, um, recommendations based on all of those things.

[00:48:50] So it's not just like everything with this industry, I don't think there's a cut and dry. This is the best way you should do that. It really comes down to that individual's company's needs, what they want to do, and how important the localized culture is to them. Um, some companies are re refuse to do offshoring or even, uh, remote.

[00:49:07] Because they wanna support their local community. And I get that. Yeah. But it does create a challenge a lot of times in some of these markets. And we work with clients that have, um, you know, big Sky Montana has 2000 people in it. Hatter selling. Yeah. North Carolina 4,000, so Right. Total humans I'm talking about, right?

[00:49:25] Yeah. Yeah. We really want the world's best digital marketer. Um, and they gotta be in our office. And so, yes. Yeah, exactly. , you know, if you want the best, you gotta go remote. Sometimes that's offshore, sometimes nearshore, sometimes, yeah. Uh, here. But, uh, but I, I love, in fact, I think one of the best things that came out of Covid other than our industry just exploding, um, was certainly that, that people were more open to remote, whether that's offshore or not.

[00:49:51] Um, I, I, I love that that change has happened cuz it. Helped us attract a lot more talent to the space, so Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And run more profitable businesses too. I mean, I've heard of some companies that when they've moved to, um, call centers in Jamaica, I mean, they've sold, they've saved, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

[00:50:09] Yeah. Um, and increased conversion, because a lot of times the, the teams that you're able to get in the offshore organizations, I mean, they're, they are really dialed into being. Representatives. I mean, like, they're, they're there to make sales. That's how they make, make their living. So it's, um, a lot of us, a lot of businesses, they're reservationists is also doing many things.

[00:50:28] I mean, they can be doing property management, talking to homeowners, taking reservations, doing marketing. So when you've streamlined somebody's tasks, they're only gonna be more successful. Yeah. Sometimes when I go into a company and they start telling me all the things that different people do, I go, do you guys have a hat rack in your office?

[00:50:43] They're like, wow, guess guys all wear so many different hats, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Depending on the hour of the day. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Well, Steve, we'd love. To have you back again this year. I think just keeping an eye on the pulse of what is going on in workforce is a super interesting topic to us and a lot of our listeners.

[00:51:01] So we will be having you back and hopefully we'll see you at the northwest uh, V R P event where we're gonna be set up there with the podcast and love to have you come over you. You sat with us at the Executive Summit last year and chatted with us at one of our first live interviews, so . I would love to, I look forward to seeing you guys there.

[00:51:21] It's gonna be a, a long but fun year, I can tell with all the different shows. So yeah, it's exciting. Absolutely. I, if anybody wants to get in touch, Steve, what? I know your URL is better I remember last time you were on the podcast, I told you that was, that's amazing that you guys got that u url, but Yeah, no, great url.

[00:51:37] Love that. Um, so better Um, my email address is and you can also find me on LinkedIn. If we're not connected on LinkedIn, please track me down. Um, there. But certainly reach out and we'd love to talk to you. I do wanna say, most people say, oh yeah, that's that recruiting company.

[00:51:54] We're not a traditional, we don't charge as such. We're a subscription based company and we really are very, very, I hope you can tell, passionate about this industry. And so, yeah, I'd love to talk to anybody that's, that needs help of any type as it pertains to talent. So, well, I would never use anybody a, but you ever again,

[00:52:11] So I'll just say that. Yeah. Annie. Perfect walking testimonial. I, I, I may get a better talent tattoo. , temporary, of course. temporary stick ons. Yeah, that's right. Awesome. Well, if anybody wants to get in touch with Annie and I, you can go to Alex and annie and thank you for listening, and until next time.

[00:52:34] Bye everybody. All righty, take care.