Being prepared: Louise’s top tips

Forever Cornwall’s new Property Supervisor, Louise Nield, talks through how we can be prepared for when we can let again. Louise has years of housekeeping experience and has managed two of Forever Cornwall’s Newquay properties, so has lots to share.

During this extended period of lockdown it’s really important we are prepared for whatever the future holds and ensure we’re ready for our guests’ return as soon as it happens.

In particular, I’d like to really encourage all our Owners & trusted Housekeepers to develop and cement their relationships with each other. Based on my own experience it’s one of the best pieces of advice I can offer. Have a chat and informally and honestly discuss every aspect of your joint partnerships. Try to think of every possible scenario that arises during a guest stay and changeover, and define whose role and responsibility it is.

For example, there may be a gardener that cuts the grass, but who pulls the weeds from the entrance pathway or deadheads a flower pot at the door? Who takes ownership of oiling the key box when it’s stiff? Who is looking out for and reporting maintenance issues? etc etc…

Top tips or perfect preparation:

  1. Safety. Check fire and CO2 alarms, and ensure any gas appliances have been serviced. Check dates on fire extinguishers, and that fire blankets are in good condition. Make sure Fire Risk Assessment is up to date (see full information about Fire Risk Assessment here). Check over electrical appliances especially plugs and cables — you don’t have to get a PAT test every year but once every 2-3 years is good practice.
  2. Cleanliness. All properties will need a deep clean. Pull out larger furniture items where possible and clean under/behind them. Extra time spent in the winter will really help you to keep on top of standards all year — particularly as it’s likely to be a busy year with few gaps between bookings!
  3. Paintwork. Check what needs a touch up or redecoration. Tradespeople in Cornwall are all busy so allow plenty of time if any work needs to be done. Ask Forever Cornwall if you need help — we can’t promise but we’ll always try.
  4. Kitchen. Clean insides of kitchen cupboards and on-top of the units. Clean and assess the contents, replacing any chipped/substandard crockery and kitchenware. Make sure you have replacement supplies to last the season. Defrost and clean out the freezer. Also have the oven professionally cleaned — it will look like new, and shouldn’t break the bank.
  5. Rugs. Shampoo the carpets and rugs. Check soft furnishings for wear and tear.
  6. Bathroom. Bleach the grouting in showers and bathroom/tiled areas where appropriate. Replace items that may have become grubby eg; rubber bath mats and toothbrush holders. Check underneath cisterns where condensation causes grime to build up.
  7. Beds. Have the duvets laundered and assess wear and tear on items like pillows. Are they still plump and inviting?! Ensure there is an adequate supply of spare mattress & pillow protectors for a weekly washing cycle.
  8. Recreational items. Have a good sort out of books and magazines, DVDS, games and toys. Get up-to-date tourist leaflets as soon as they are available, and throw out any that are very out of date. It’s the little things that can let down a good first impression.
  9. Heating. Check heating in good time in case of any issues, and run heating for a few days in advance of your first guests to get rid of damp, which will build up even in newer buildings, when left unoccupied.
  10. Legionnaires disease. As the hot water system has been idle simply: i) run all taps for two minutes to refresh water tanks, and ii) put hot water on boost while you are preparing for guests (over 60°C kills any potential bacteria).
  11. Service decking. We know lots of you have wooden decking, and it can get lethally slippery. A good routine is to clean with decking cleaner (eg Ronseal do a good one containing fungicide) then when dry treat with decking stain or oil, finishing with a non-slip coat. Wooden decking should only be pressure washed as a last resort because it damages wood and forces water and fungus spoors deep into the timber, potentially making matters worse. Pressure washing is great if you have man-made.
  12. Checking pipes. Pipes may have frozen over winter and been damaged.
  13. Don’t forget outdoors. It’s winter now, but soon outdoors is where your guests will love to be, so clean garden furniture, replace or repair if necessary, check BBQs, washing lines, and any areas that guests can access like storage spaces/sheds etc.
  14. Septic tanks. If you have one make sure it’s had its annual pump and is not going to surprise your guests halfway through the season, as happens to someone every year!

As this year develops I aim to support both owner and housekeeper with all property management, but in the meantime please pick up the phone (07525 375012) to me if you’d like to chat about it!