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Considerations before you leave on holiday

Below is a guide of things to consider and organise before you go away on holiday. This will assist your relief manager to run your business as smoothly as possible in your absence, which means less worry for you.

Appointing a relief manager
While there are many resources to find a suitable relief manager, a referral is probably the best way. It is important that you have a firm written agreement about duties, out-of-office hours and remuneration.

From my experience, one person can easily manage a business normally managed by two, perhaps apart from high season periods. This is due to the fact that a relief manager is only concerned with the day-to-day running of the business and usually does not attend to marketing, repairs, some accounting, dealings with Body Corporate, etc.

Inform your relief manager about the location of spare jugs, toasters etc. Also, advise whether TVs and DVDs are on hire or owned by the unit owner.

Provide details about how often you require monies received to be deposited, as well as the location of deposit books or night safe forms. Also, be sure to inform whether you reconcile your reservation system every day and if you regularly reconcile against the trust account. If you prefer not to provide your relief manager with access to your trust account then it is advisable to set up a system so you can remotely log in and print receipts for guests who pay directly into the trust account.

Body Corporate
Provide contact details for the chairperson and BC managers. They should be advised that you will be away and the name and contact details of your relief manager. I also suggest the relief manager be given a letter of authorisation from you. A relief manager may work for up to a month without reference to Fair Trading. Provide a copy of the Body Corporate By-Laws for the relief manager’s reference.

Provide details about whether they need to be contacted to work, or if they are contracted to work daily. Provide information on who is responsible for linen orders, whether cleaners service the common areas, whether they sign off daily on what has been completed and if the relief manager should check the rooms after the cleaners have finished. Also, the location of your cleaning maintenance log for regular cleaning items. As well as location of maintenance and guest comment reports.

Cash sales
Provide list of charges as applicable for equipment hire for items such as videos, use of barbecue, etc. Also, receipt arrangement for these funds.

Provide the phone number for your electrician. Also, provide details about the location of the main switchboard and circuit breakers for each unit. As well as the location of spare globes and batteries. Also other details such as whether there is there an independent power supply for the building and/ or for the office.

Explain cleaning and servicing procedures.

Provide information about the location of the assembly point and of fire hoses and extinguishers. Also, leave details if you have a special emergency number and the phone number for a direct call to the fire service. Other important information to consider includes whether sensors are hard-wired to automatically call the fire service or if they are battery-operated, and also who services the equipment.

Arrange who supplies the float and the amount required.

Provide detailed checking in procedure and which associated forms are required to be completed. Also details of the amount for deposits, bonds etc. Explain the filing system for receipts, deposits and guests’ information.

Hydraulics and plumbing
Provide location information for shut-off valves for the complex and for each unit, underground car park pumps location and manual override switch. Explain the operation of the garden sprinkler system and the location of the main control box. Also the phone number of your plumber.

Internet access
Provide details whether it is wireless or cable. As well as supplier details and the cost of providing access.

Explain how many should be issued to guests, if there is a master, if there are fees for unlocking after hours and for lost keys, and the system for programming key cards.

Provide information about how to access to the motor room and the name of your service agent. As well as who the emergency phone in the lift calls.

Do you want your mail opened?

Manager’s Agreement
Provide the section of the manager’s contract where it sets out his/her responsibilities for your relief manager’s reference.

Don’t forget to provide passwords for everything! Including EFTPOS machine, websites, ticket mates, trust account, computer, and after-hours safe code.

Provide parking rules and parking locations and any special rules for visitors.

Relief manager’s accommodation
Most relief managers tend to stay in the managers’ apartment, but depending upon individual preferences, can stay in another unit within the complex or nearby.

Swimming pool pump room
Provide information regarding the configuration and explanation of all valves and settings. Also, the location of the pool logbook for recording water balance.

Residents and units
Provide a list of owners and permanent residents.

Rate sheet
Indicate whether rates are negotiable and if so, by what percentage.

Relief manager duties
Provide a detailed list of all duties, including office and outside, for which the relief manager is responsible. These include pools, gardening, bins, repairs, cleaning common areas, etc.

Rubbish bins
Provide a schedule of what days the bins are emptied and also if there is a bin cleaning schedule

Provide a list of your preferred suppliers and their contact details.

Provide details on morning arrivals and locking up procedures, including the location of switches. Also, the procedure to review security camera recordings, to issue new or replacement swipe fobs and the name of security service and their responsibilities.

Provide a list of numbers for your phones and instructions for diverting, receiving messages remotely and for transferring calls. Also the location of the main switchboard.

Tour bookings
Explain whether book vouchers are issued or if you use Ticket Mates. If Ticket Mates, advise whether it is connected through your reservation system.

TV subscription services (e.g. Austar / Foxtel)
Provide your account number and contact details in case of service problems.

Provide information on whether availability on websites such as Site Minder is updated daily as well as other website management details. Remember to provide passwords and usernames.

Wake up calls
Explain the procedure and whether the relief manager can program the computer to automatically make wake-up calls.