A question we regularly get from potential clients – people who own a second home – is something along the lines of “But why would I pay you and a manager, if I can just do that work myself and make more money?”
It’s a fair question. And, especially for people like me whose desire to learn new things is limitless, it’s a question that becomes more and more important to have a streamlined answer to. The more skills I pick up, and the better I get at some of these skills, the more I (and people in similar situations) might be tempted to ask the question: “Why not do it myself?”
Admittedly, the use of the word “streamlined” in the above paragraph might not be the ideal choice: The questions and the acquired skill sets can change all the time. So, there is no one-size-fits-all answer; or at least I haven’t found one. (If you have, please do share it in the comments below!). There are, however, five questions I run through that help me decide whenever this issue pops up.
1. Is it worth my time?
Time is getting more and more valuable – at least for me. Assuming every hour of your life has a monetary value, try to put this amount next to what you could save by outsourcing the task. It should be easy to calculate, in most cases. According to my theory of the value of time, the number of things that are worth my time diminish as the hourly price goes up and up. Usually, this question alone eliminates many potential DIY activities right off the bat.
2. Is it efficient?
Closely connected to the first question, and especially important for me personally: Ask yourself if doing any specific task yourself is an efficient use of your time. Even if the above math works out, I would not want to do things that are simply inefficient. One example in our business that addresses this topic is the use of automatic scheduled messages for guest inquiries: It’s simply not efficient to manually send a message that never changes. Is it a lot of work? Not really. But it’s not wisely invested time, because our system can automate that and eliminate that task altogether.
3. Will it add or remove stress?
Say you find a task that’s worth your time and doing yourself is actually efficient. Great! But what will it do to your stress level? What’s going to happen if you fail to perform the task within a certain amount of time? What are the consequences if you fail to deliver completely (assuming you can’t guarantee 100% success every time)?
Again, using this in a business setting, this question was one of the major drivers that led us to develop the solution GoNitely provides. Take guest relations, again: For the longest time, I personally communicated with guests using our own vacation home. Directly. There were dozens of instances where a delayed answer on my end would have significantly impacted the quality of their stay. Your guests can’t get the door lock to work? Better answer quickly and come up with a solution – especially if they’re waiting outside your door in a typical Swiss winter. Every minute of delay in this scenario makes for an unhappy guest. Failure to solve that issue (remotely) could lead to your guests having to find a hotel to check in to late at night, destroying their hopes for a relaxed vacation and, most likely, your host rating.
I live far away from my vacation home, and I highly value my no-phone time after 10 p.m. Both factors mean that being the point of contact for my guests would add significant stress to my everyday life – which, for me, is not a price worth paying.
4. Does it scale?
Ah – the typical Silicon Valley question. But an important one to ask in this context: Will what you plan to do yourself scale? Meaning, can you do it for more than one instance at the same time, without adding significant resources to it?
The answer in most cases is no, since your own manual labor does not scale by definition (you can’t multiply yourself). But if you slightly rephrase the question – What if this was scalable? – it becomes more interesting.
Again, using the above example, it’s clear that I could only really manage my own vacation home, even if all the above questions checked out. But what if I want to have more than one vacation rental? Is there was a way to take that work and have someone else do it at a cost acceptable to me?
To make this scenario a bit less abstract, let’s ask this question: Would I rather own one vacation home, making $2,000/month doing all the work myself, or would I want to own three vacation homes, making $1,500 off each one?
5. Would anyone benefit from doing that?
Even though true altruism might not really exist, this is still a question worth asking. Not only because I generally think it pays to ask who could benefit from doing any given task in life, but also because our system is built specifically with that question in mind.
Our managers are typically stay-at-home parents or early retirees living near the property they manage. Being a GoNitely manager not only gives them a purpose and access to interesting people from many places, it also provides a valuable, and many times necessary, part-time income.
Unless you really, really want to do the task yourself and would derive significant joy from it – wouldn’t you rather let someone do it who could benefit more from it than you can?
If you can honestly answer all these questions in a way that suggests that doing the task yourself is the optimal solution, then please, by all means do it. I find that I usually hit a speed bump on at least one of these questions, which then leads to me outsourcing the task if possible.
Or I hit speed bumps at all of them – as is the case with my vacation home: My (self-imposed) hourly rate is too high for me to communicate with guests myself. And even though I’m a fast typist, it would not be as efficient as using automatic scheduled messages. I catch myself turning off my phone earlier and earlier at night, which would leave me constantly worried that a guest could not reach me. I only own one vacation home right now, and I share it with my brother. But someday I might be in a financial position where I can afford another one – and there is no shortage of amazing places where I’d love to have a house. If I have a personal manager, I can have as many as I can afford – working completely autonomously. And lastly, I know that our manager loves what she does, and she can use the extra income. Which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
That’s a flat out 5:0. That’s why we’ve built GoNitely.