OK, so your Cape Cod property probably doesn’t actually have any broken windows per se. But what about that outdoor shower door that doesn’t latch right any more?
Or that toilet in the half bath where you have to hold down the flush handle or the bowl won’t empty completely?
Broken Windows, Broken Business is a business book by Michael Levine which has direct application to your summer vacation rentals business. And you are running a business, you know, complete with customers and competition.
The Broken Windows approach is borrowed from a proven principle in criminology. During his time as mayor of New York City, Rudolph Juliani had his police department crack down on minor crimes that had been largely ignored for years. Graffiti was cleaned up and perpetrators arrested. So were turnstile jumpers in the subways. Juliani’s “zero tolerance” campaign even extended to jaywalkers and motorists who clogged traffic by “blocking the box” at busy city intersections.
In the years that followed, the number of murders, assaults, robberies and other violent crimes went down dramatically. Just a lucky coincidence? Don’t think so.
Mayor Juliani fixed the little things, and as he had figured, the big things followed suit.
In his book, author Levine maintains the same exact principle applies to business.
“…the message being sent out by a broken window – the perception it invites – is that the owner of this (property) doesn’t care if this window is broken. . . Do as you will, because nobody cares.”
Every time one of your rental guests struggles with that back burner on the range that doesn’t heat properly, your property’s perception takes a hit. Every time your guest has to put down what she is carrying out to the porch, because it takes two hands to operate that balky slider screen, an impression of owner neglect is reinforced.
“If the owner doesn’t care, why should I?” is the natural response. Not only can that sort of perception cost you one or more returning guests, it gives all your guests license to be a little less careful about the way they treat your property.
This spring, as you open up your Cape property and prepare for the rental season, take note of all your “broken windows.” Most of them won’t take much time or money to repair or replace, whether you do it yourself or hire a handyman. And keeping up with the little things could make a big difference in your summer rentals business.