Ralph and Stephanie Rangel lived their lives in Sacramento California. Stephanie worked in several industries (restaurant management, property management, legal assistant) prior to moving to WA in 2006 when Ralph retired. They started planning their retirement in 2005, knowing they wanted to live on the coast. Thanks to the internet they discovered Pacific Beach a wonderful, kind of funky sleepy beach town. They quickly discovered they weren’t ready to be ‘retired’. Ralph joined the volunteer fire dept. and Stephanie took on a part time job. As they met their neighbors, they slowly started assisting them with their vacation rentals. In 2008 they took on the actual management of a couple of cottages, then a house, and the next thing they knew they had an office on Main Street and business was booming as Pacific Beach & Beyond! They moved into an office in Feb 2009. They now manage 18 homes, and expect to add more as summer draws near.
As Stephanie has tripled her business in the last year I wanted to ask her a few questions on how they’ve become so successful.
AC: What made you decide to get started in the vacation rental business?
PB&B: When we moved to Pac Beach we instantly saw a need for this type of service. The nearest vacation rental management company was in Ocean Shores 18 miles away. In talking to home owners, we found that what they really wanted was someone who could be more hands on, and show a presence. We have chosen to limit our territory, allowing us to be readily available if any issues arise. Our presence also eliminates a lot of problems. I believe since we do have that ‘face to face’ with the guest, they feel more accountable. Because of this, we have found we don’t have the issues that many home owners have had when they attempt to ‘self-manage’ from afar. The horror stories I have heard!
AC: How has the current economy affected your business?
PB&B: Our rates are competitive, and our service is personalized. We take pleasure in establishing a relationship with both the owner and the guest, to better serve both sides.
The economy has affected our business, like every other business. The hospitality trade in general is down about 30% from when the economy was booming. We have to be creative in our marketing, and be willing to offer discounts when before we may not have had to. Thankfully most of our home owners understand this, and have a ‘do what you have to do’ philosophy. I typically send out a blast e-mail on Thursdays to our guest list, offering last minute discounts for that weekend. These weekly e-mails keep Pacific Beach & Beyond in the forefront of their minds when they decide to plan their next vacation.
AC: What advice would you give someone wanting to go into this type of business?
PB&B: Advice? If you are looking for a 40 hour week, this is not the business for you! Our days start early and end late (and that is in the off-season). As soon as you are able, find someone to assist you so you can get an afternoon off occasionally. You need the break! For me, even a trip to Olympia to buy supplies is like a mini vacation. Truly!
Keep in mind, when your homes are occupied (even just 1) someone needs to be available 24 hours a day, in the event an issue arises, or someone gets locked out, etc.
This is an ideal job for someone who enjoys working with people (I truly enjoy helping people plan their beach get-away)
At minimum you need a skilled office person, a skilled handyman, and detail oriented house cleaners. I have learned that good cleaners are hard to find! Our guests are entitled to an immaculate home when they check in, and many cleaners don’t understand what that means. I have very tough standards of ‘clean’…and not all cleaners can meet that standard.
Be ready for the unexpected. Water heaters and ranges quit at the most inopportune times, and need to be repaired or replaced immediately. Living 30 miles from the nearest appliance store has it’s challenges during high season. It is hard work, long hours, and very gratifying.
AC: What made you decide to expand your business into the retail pet market?
PB&B: Retail was a simple case of seeing a need. Probably 95% of our guests bring their pets. In the state of Washington there are more dogs than children. Pet owners spend a lot of money on their pets, so it was the perfect opportunity to tap into that market. What started out as a pet boutique is quickly becoming a quality gift store as well, with a great selection of toys & accessories for dogs and cats, but also items for our human friends as well. Stop in and see us some time! Mimi’s Boutique is constantly evolving!
AC: What is the best part about your business?
PB&B: The best part about our business is definitely the people. I love, love, love the people. What fun to work with people who are on vacation, and are just out to have a good time! Ralph and I are truly blessed to live at the beach and to be doing something we love.