Running the Bases with Small Businesses

VHC - Vacation Homes Collection

April 18, 2022 Randy Rohde & Laura Hancock Season 2 Episode 16
Running the Bases with Small Businesses
VHC - Vacation Homes Collection
Show Notes Transcript

Running the Bases today with Laura Hancock, Sales Manager at Vacation Homes Collection. VHC- a global full-service, tech-enabled, short-term rental management company (STR) focused on driving revenue for homeowners and providing unforgettable travel experiences. 

Originally from  Mobile Alabama, Laura is a true competitor.  A High School state Champion with 13 state swimming titles and 2 titles in Track and Field.  

She attended the University of Tennessee - and was a 4-year letterman swimmer for the Lady Volunteers.  

After graduating with her Bachelor's degree - she headed to Law School - where she clerked for the Alabama Supreme Court amongst other accomplishments, But her entrepreneurial spirit quickly had her down a different path.  

Just a few years out from Law School - she founded her company - Laura's Vacation Rentals - a full-service vacation rental company.  She owned and managed a portfolio of beautiful vacation homes on the shores of the Alabama and Florida panhandle -  with 12 successful years of running her small business.

Currently, Laura is leading an expanding team at VHC - The Fifth Largest Tourism Group in the world.

To learn more about Vacation Home Collection (VHC) visit: www.vhstay.com

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Randy:

I'm Randy Rohde and I'm fascinated with entrepreneurs and small business owners. Plus I love baseball. Every show I sit down with a small business owner and we discussed their running the basis of entrepreneurship. We throw the ball around on strategy management, execution and innovation. A little fun baseball tart. Hey, thanks for joining us today. Settle in, grab your cracker jacks and you know what they say? All right. It's a great day for a ball game. This is Randy Rohde , and you've got running the bases with small businesses and today's guest has a job where the office cooler talk is about vacationing 365 days a year. Really sanded between the toes, all the fun stuff. Uh, she's originally from mobile, Alabama. Our guest is a true competitor. She is a high school state champion with 13 state swimming titles. And. Titles in track and field, she must be fast. , she attended the university of Tennessee and was a four year Letterman swimmer for the lady volunteers. And then after graduating with her bachelor's degree, she headed off to law school. Of course that's where all good swimmers go. And she clerked for the Alabama Supreme court amongst other accomplishments. But her entrepreneurial spirit quickly had her going down a different path in just a few years out of law school, she founded her company, Laura vacation rentals, a full service vacation rental company. She owned and managed a portfolio of beautiful vacation homes on the shores of the Alabama and Florida panhandle. And then after 12 years of running her business, she sold her company to a west coast venture looking to move into the market. And she stayed there for a couple of years or so working for that venture before departing to her current adventure, please welcome Laura Hancock sales manager for vacation homes, collection, a part of the fifth largest tourism group in the world. Laura, welcome to the.

Laura:

Thank you for having

Randy:

me. swimmer, this is incredible. I've got to go back and touch on this thing because I don't, I'm not sure that we've had somebody as highly decorated as you as an athlete, 13 state high school champion, uh, or, uh, high school titles. That is incredible. So did you have a favorite event that you, uh, Constantly pounded. And,

Laura:

um, my best of them was probably 102 hundred freestyle. I was a sprint freestyler, but your favorite memories of course are the one where our whole team won state.

Randy:

Good for you still.

Laura:

I would like to think so, but I don't swim anymore. My ego would think so, but I don't know, not comparatively to what's going on now in the times that they're doing. Yeah,

Randy:

that is incredible. So growing up where you will always compare.

Laura:

Yes. Um, my mom put me in country clubs, swimming probably at the age of four. Um, my dad was a golfer at the university of Alabama and my uncle was a golfer at the university of Florida and played on the tour. I had uncles that played football at various places. Um, so sports was kind of in our family and I think it was the way to keep. Little girl, out of trouble difference.

Randy:

So you headed off to a university of Tennessee. I love that place. Uh, you weren't there when Peyton was there where you,

Laura:

I was a year after. So T Martin is actually from my hometown and my. And my freshman year is the year we won the national title. So it was a good four years at Rocky dog.

Randy:

Oh. Um, and no kidding. Wow. How exciting. Yeah, no kidding. Well, Hey, uh, so what a great college experience. So you swam at college as well. Yes, four years travel across the country doing that. I don't know. What, what do you do

Laura:

when you're at? Yeah. So in high school, the way it works is once you get to the national level, you have a national meet twice a year. There's one in the spring and one in the summer. And it's various points around the country. Uh, just depending on obviously where there's a pool and. Then once you're in college, you mostly swim your conference. Obviously I was in the sec. So most of our dual meets are in the conference. You have usually an invitational in December. You go on a training trip. Um, the conference only allows you once every four years to go out of the country. So three years, the train trips in south Florida, and one year it's out of the country. It sounds amazing. It's beautiful. And it's amazing, but that's the hardest week of training your whole season. It's like, we're going to drop you in this gorgeous place and then kill you.

Randy:

Well, good for you. So how fun. , all right, so now let's flash forward to today. So you are with, uh, vacation homes collection, and I mentioned it is part of. The fifth largest tourism group. And it's part of the, uh, CVC group, which is this very large consortium, , Latin America company. , and is the fifth largest tourism group in the world. Huge. Right. , so tell us about, VHC. What is it that you guys do? And, uh, I don't know. Well, we'll hit a few questions on that and then, uh, Hit a few other things, I guess.

Laura:

Well, the AC is a subsidiary of the CBC corporation. And as you mentioned, CVC corporation has been around since 1972. It's the fifth largest in the world and the largest in Latin America, they know what they're doing and they've done it well for a long time. Um, vacation homes collection is. Then a couple other countries, Brazil, Dominican Republic. We have some properties there, but in the U S it's been in Orlando, mainly in a few places in Miami for the last five years, the CDC saw that how well the vacation rental company and the vacation rental business is growing throughout the states and in Europe and decided to take some of its own money, set it aside to expand throughout. I saw this opportunity come about. And I reached out, I worked with Stephan, uh, at my previous employer and I reached out to him and said, Hey, I'd like to come with and open up this area, give me a shot. I know what I'm doing. And he. I was like, well, I don't really know Alabama, but I know you do. And so we talked and, um, had a very candid conversation and I liked the business model and felt it was going to be the best for our homeowners and our guests. And we had a chance to do something really great here. And so far it's starting to come into fruition. Um, I started with them. Beginning of December. We got systems in place. And by the end of December, I was signing contracts with properties going live in January. And here we are three months later, we're going to have close to 40 properties by the end of the month, live in our area and we're continuing to grow and we have plenty of really great our team here is amazing. Couldn't do without them and we have more than we need. So we're in a position of strength as we grow. Yeah.

Randy:

It's an interesting business model because what VHC does exactly is that you, you, you have kind of two sides of this coin, you, , manage investment properties or vacation properties that, you know, if I had one, which I wish I did, but I don't, , for the homeowners, , you have this. , I will say concierge, uh, level of services then that you provide to then people like I might do this come and say, I would love to rent a four a week. One of these beautiful luxury vacation homes and, uh, on the Gulf shores or wherever. And so then VHC essentially manages. That whole process managing the relationship with the homeowner and then as well with the guests.

Laura:

That's correct. It's really two sides of the coin. And we've tried to put systems in place to make sure that the homeowner is well taken care of that their investment property is given the attention to detail it needs and that to count. And on top of it, we've got people that are really taking care of, make sure the guests are done. And those two entities constantly communicating to make sure that the owner's property stays up and there's no issues there so that the guests can continue to have a good

Randy:

stay. What a great idea. , and when I said about the concierge services, so in, in my notes, I say, so, you know, if I was staying at some great properties somewhere, you guys might take care of restaurant reservations or car rentals, or any kinds of transfers or anything like that. , constant communication just really taken care of. It sounds like that's an, that sounds like a great vacation. It

Laura:

is, it is if people ask, we will come for them or we'll send them a link to local places here for things they can do, whether it's fishing or winning or wave runner or running a pontoon boat or go, and just, you know, host of activities and picnic on the beach, whatever they're after or wanting to do. We can put them in touch with the right people. We also have a tablet in their unit, which gives them ways to book online there. And we send them links ahead of time. Cause sometimes they want to research it themselves. Right.

, Randy:

how has coming through the pandemic? , Impacted this particular industry. So you've been in the industry for many years, so you've seen probably all different types of, you know, good and bad, uh, economic climates. , but specifically the last couple of years with the pandemic, has that been part of the, I guess the ups uptick and why CVC decided to like, wow, VHC is doing great. , I don't know, is that, am I hitting Canada?

Laura:

You kind of are, um, Orlando probably was hit a little harder cause people go there for Disney world and that's just recently kind of opened up full circle, whereas maybe some of our areas. Wasn't down as long. Um, I was with my previous employer and that time, and was very fortunate to be considered essential. So I got to see it from all different angles and it was a scary time of the vacation rental industry. Nobody, everybody was pioneering and trying to figure out what to do. Um, canceling people. If they booked straight through the company, it was easier to cancel. If they booked through say a chain channel, you know, VRVO Airbnb HomeAway. One of those, those channels charge a fee and it was hard to get, you know, work, everybody getting them back and getting it back in a timely manner. You can't process that many. Cancellations all at once. So it was definitely a trying time. I have been around, I've seen it when I started the company with one property in oh seven and it grew through eight and nine. That was the economic downturn here, but people still feel entitled to a vacation. So, and that's what I think investors have learned. Uh, we all have that mentality that no matter what we are all entitled to a vacation and it may not be a week, it may only be three or four days is all you can get away, but you just need that mental break and what's better than white sand and some waves crashing along the shore. And we're very fortunate to live in paradise. But we think it comes a lot of tourism and I just see it, it took off when they, they closed the beaches sometime. And I think it was March or early April of 2020 when they opened

them back up April 30th at 5:

00 PM. Everything flooded from May 1st, all the way to when we had a hurricane in September of 2020. I mean, you couldn't keep people out. And 2021 with 2019 was a record year in 2021, surpassed it. So we're all on our seats looking at. So after something like that, CBC saw the numbers and their board was like less dark capitalizing on this. Uh, there's no point we have the cash flow to make. You know, viable and get put people in the correct positions. So a lot of people ask me, why didn't you start your own company again? Well, when you start your own company, you work at a position of weakness. You don't have the funds, or you don't want to come out with the funds out of your pocket to go hire all the essential people. So you're kind of over killing yourself and on top of it always working a person or two behind of what you need. I was given the, basically the deal. You can open your own company with our money within our parameters. And you know, I've got. We've got a great team. They're paying, you know, I've got the backing of them and we're proving ourselves. I mean, that comes on the other side of it. You've got to prove your checks are caching.

Randy:

Uh, that's really as exciting. So I'm curious because your business really starts with. Having the home, right. The inventory. So because you can't, you know, strike that relationship with the homeowner, the investor of the property, , until they you're in a connection with them and you can't rent that until, so it all really starts with the, the home itself, how. How does that happen? Where do you do scout these properties out to cold call folks? I mean, how do these properties, I guess, kinda come across your doorstep.

Laura:

Um, well, I've been in the business a while and I would hope that I have a decent enough reputation that some of them will, you know, didn't luckily follow me, but normally it's just, you reach out to them. I have some working relationships with realtors in town and with, I've tried to become somewhat of an expert in the investment property arena. So they will loop me in with. Reaching out with working with investors to talk to them from a vacation rental standpoint. And I try to provide as much knowledge about the condo, the complex, the area, so they can make an informed decision on what they're purchasing and then tell them the benefits of what we have to offer. Not everybody is a perfect fit, but. That's okay. But for the people that are wanting the investments, we can work with them to meet their needs and wants and make sure that they are taken care of whether they're buying a $2 million house, you know, directly on the beach or whether they're buying a $200,000 condo. It's still an investment they may or may not live anywhere close by. And we are their eyes and ears to take care of that and make sure it's viable. Business venture for them.

Randy:

So you can mention like a big, uh, span, uh, home value, right? 200,000 to 2 million. I'm sure you probably see it all kinds of different properties. , and I would imagine you're probably in SIM really fabulous homes, , as well, uh, mean what a great job, I mean, are you are most of your properties on the beach?

Laura:

There's a lot on the beach. There's some right across I'm within walking distance, we call those like tier two tier three. That just means how many houses they are from the beach.

Randy:

That sounds incredible. Laura, where can our listeners find you folks online?

Laura:

Vacationhomescollection.com is our website. And then at the top, it'll say homes, and you just scroll down to see whichever area you were looking to go vacation. Ours is broken down into Fort Morgan, Gulf shores, orange beach, and Perdido key

Randy:

Florida. So now I'm going to step back. In time again, , and talk to you about law school. So you went to law school, um, and. Instead of, and maybe you did. I think actually my notes I do. So you practice law, you worked for a firm for a couple of years. Yeah.

Laura:

I've practiced for three years. Um, in civil defense litigation, insurance defense, mostly med med, mal. Worker's comp and, um, construction product liability that basically insurance

Randy:

defense. And then at some point though, you get this entrepreneurial itch and decided to strike out on your own. , I guess, tell us, tell us about that. About how did that come from?

Laura:

I guess, young and cocky, I had a boyfriend that I was dating that had a condo that was quite frankly nicer than my house. He had it with one of the local companies here. They weren't giving it the time and attention to detail that it should have. Had, uh, so I called the other big company here, which is now no longer in existence, but the lady spoke to me like I was a dog and I just got mad. And so I told him I was going to do it myself. And he just kind of looked at me and said, do whatever you want. And so I did, and it rented very well through the summer that two other people in the complex asked, and then I had some. Mentioned in passing to some people. I never tried to make it grow. I thought it was just going to be a side business, but it grew, and I had to at some point make a decision. So I remember going to my parents and saying, I know you paid for this expensive education. Would you be okay if I gave this a shot? And they, um, said always keep it active. And cause you never know if you need it or want it. And I wasn't ever going to take the bar again. I went to take it and I said, if I don't pass this and they, um, so I've kept my license active. And every once in a while I'll do something for somebody, but they, um, they gave me their blessing, which was probably the last little piece of the puzzle I needed to kind of push me over the edge. And I could tell you funny stories about getting started, you know, Meet bootlegging wifi out of the church parking lot. Cause I didn't have wifi at my house yet. Um, I'm getting checks because I didn't even have credit cards yet in like having to rush during home at lunch to go cash checks to like make sure they got in the trust account and you know, obviously. I figured things out pretty quickly, mayor.

Randy:

Oh, the fun days of, uh, business startups. Right. , how long did it take long for it to get successful? So you kinda mentioned it went through the summer and with the one property and, uh, it booked really quite well. Uh, how long was it from that first property that you manage to the point where you said I'm gonna take this? Uh full-time and run.

Laura:

So, um, a year later I've decided to, , I've I felt like I was, I was on the partnership track and I needed to make a decision if I was going to grow this company or keep pricing law. So I didn't feel comfortable, completely not having a job. So I went, I thought I'd go into medical sales and I. And I did that on a side for a while, went into surgical cells and then it did soft, good for awhile to have backup, but my company took off in 2010. We had the BP oil spill. I'm sure you've heard of it. And honestly, I'm fair enough. A lot that really happened here. Yes. You had some troubles, you know, wash up or whatever. And it was a little bit like 20, 20, but not as bad people got freaked out, canceled their reservations and booked at a lower rate, all that kind of stuff. But as part of the settlement with BP, the Gulf shores, orange beach tourism got millions of dollars of advertising and it really expanded our radius and put us on the map. I mean, we were at one time square, we were in the sec, uh, you know, you'd be at a football game. You need to hear about us. So our driving radius has always been high because we're the first white Sandy beaches you reach before you get to Florida. But, uh, a lot of people had just not heard of us. And with that boost of advertising income and how pretty our area is, it really started taking off. And we had, I really saw a drastic increase come 2011. And then of course, slowly, the economy started booming too. And I would say we culminated in 19 then had the weird 2020. And then 2021 was a record banning banner year. So I would say probably full-time to answer your question completely. Um, I'd probably quit, completely doing the medical sales. I don't know. I'd have to look at my taxes. Um, it was probably like four to five years before I sold and I didn't have my company listed for sale. Um, they reached out to me. I've had two people reach out the year before that kind of put the bug in my ear. Uh, they reached out to me and we negotiated for six months and it just seemed like the right fit to kind of get on board. Um, so I've kinda gotten the benefit of seeing a lot of different views of the, uh,

Randy:

yeah. Yeah. , I'm curious because, you know, as a, as a high school and college athlete, you obviously you're a competitor. And being an entrepreneur is a competition as well. I'm curious when you were growing up and kind of going through high school years, college years, did you, was that in the back of your mind ever, like, Hey, you know, I like to run my own business at some point, you know, that does that spirit kind of, what was it there?

Laura:

Um, I always wanted to get to law school, so it wasn't, um, that was the goal. But I come from a family of entrepreneurs, my dad, my uncles, my grandfather, you know, so it's not uncommon. They have an ironically, they have a lot of long-term rentals. So it's not that I didn't, it's a very different mindset than the short-term rentals, but I grew up knowing that entrepreneurial background and the benefits. The either side of that equation or that story.

Randy:

Oh, good for you. All right. okay. Laura, it's that time of the time of the show right now, Laura G like baseball. I do you do. There is no baseball in Alabama though. At least to MLB, I'll say. That's

Laura:

correct. We've had the baby bears, which was a filter into the MLB and then Pensacola has as well, but not, I mean, everybody hears a Braves fan.

Randy:

There you go. All right, well, so this is what we call the seventh inning stretch. I get to ask you some fun. Baseball kind of questions here. And so the team has pulled together a nice question right in your niche. And we're going to talk about luxury suite rentals at MLB stadiums, you know, anything.

Laura:

Um, a little bit, yes. Oh, luxury. I'm getting to stay in a luxury suite during a game. Um, you know, I'm sitting in the stands with the rest of my,

Randy:

yeah. All right. Well, the luxury suits are obviously pretty incredible. I've had. The benefit of a couple of instances of, uh, enjoying, , a corporate luxury suite box, which is really pretty impressive. But you know, they, years ago, like 20, 30 years ago, As MLB Stu uh, stadiums were being built. That's how they, they financed and, , accumulated cash, , or in those early days by doing long-term leases on these luxury suite boxes. And then as those things began to expire over time and then financial challenges of the two thousands. Now, what you see today is about half of those suites are. Um, for most or some anyway, of MLB teams, especially on low attendance nights. And it began to spawn really a whole new industry, which, , essentially now these teams are using, ticket brokers to help them manage and sell those suite inventories. And, um, so I thought that was very interesting. We come to a question here for you, how much does a luxury suite rental at an MLB game costs? Now this is just an average. All right. And so think

Laura:

about this, like about 4,000, but it depends on the market. New York would be more like 13 or something. Wow.

Randy:

Look at you. Yeah. So one of these. Suites, you're going to seed about 16 people or so you can get more seats and some, in some places as an option, it comes with some VIP parking passes as well. But you just about nailed it though. Yeah. They average sweet rental is about 3,500 per game. , and you, and some, depending upon you can get it as low as 2000, but as you mentioned yes. So you can get. On the high end and some of those markets like Boston, New York, Chicago, up in that 13 to 15,000 range for one game. And you've really got to be a fan and really, uh, uh, pushing, uh, doing some business, I think in one of those suites. But yeah, th they are fun. They are beautiful. I had a chance to be in one at Rick Lee, uh, years ago. That was terrific.

Laura:

There I've only been to the minor league ones. I haven't been to the major league games at the major leagues, but I haven't, I haven't had the suite yet. I'm only here this week. The minors. Yeah. Well,

Randy:

something, hopefully we can all jump back into at some point. That would be great.

Laura:

Yes.

Randy:

Yes. Uh, all right, well, let's get back into it. So, , you talked about selling your company. Um, what was that experience like for you?

Laura:

Well in law school, they say don't represent yourself or you'll have a fool for a client. So I did, um, get one of my friends that was an attorney and had him represent me. But I'm pretty sure they would tell you if you asked them, it was probably the hardest negotiation because you had their attorneys and then you had two other attorneys and attorney looking over it, an attorney that's the client. So, um, But it was, it was a great experience, uh, kind of brought the legal background in as well. And, you know, six months of negotiations, probably was, they probably had some choice words for me at some point. And then, uh, but then we all finalized it and at the end, the girl was like, I think he'd be really good at an asset. We should keep you. Um, they gave me a three-month trial, probably due to my negotiation skills. They're like, you're probably different when you're not negotiating this out. And, um, I kind of found my niche.

Randy:

That is, I would think maybe a rarity. I don't, I'm not sure actually, but. You know what I stay onto the company that ended up buying you. , and clearly they must have loved you and what you were doing and clearly loved the business you're around.

Laura:

It was a, it was a really a great fit. It really was the best at the time for my homeowners. And, um, and for me, it turned out to be really a blessing in disguise. You never know when you make the choices, if you're making, because you're not making it just for yourself, you're making it for at the time I had 76 owners and. You're making it for them too. And you can't ask them. So like, it's kind of forced upon them and you're hoping and praying you make the right decision. And then there's other people that are relying upon you to that. I mean cleaning, maintenance, that kind of stuff, to make sure that they still had a job, but it did work out. They originally, I was going to sell it and walk away. They asked me, um, ironically for, because of the park, we have parking passes here and they were having a hard time figuring out how to do. Coordinate that. And so they're like, will you stay and help us coordinate that? And they gave me some incentives to do what my job eventually became. And I said, I can't really talk about the cell. And I said, sure, I'll be happy to it. What else am I going to do? I don't know. I hadn't really thought about that. I say I did it for three months. I liked them. They liked me and, or they tolerated me whatever. And we went on to, um, it was really, really good. Um, I would say there was just some changes in 2020, um, and it just kept changing and it was just time for me to, I, my non-compete was over and it was just kind of time for me to make a move. I waited another year and just kind of said it was time to part, but I have some wonderful friends there still talk to them. Um, and throughout the industry and we all still collaborate

Randy:

at the time. Now you mentioned that they approached you. At the time when that occurred. , I don't know if you were thinking about selling or thinking about an exit at that point or not, but ultimately you came to a decision. How did you know it was the right time?

Laura:

Funny story. I actually was on a trip because it's hard when you are in the company in the vacation, remember to go anywhere in the summer, our downtimes, the winter. So I went to Costa Rica on a trip to like Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It was some tour that I transferred over. And so I got back and you know, you'd get back and you'd have your mail and you have. I know what this is. I don't know what this is. And this is trash. The nail from this company was put in. I don't know what this is, so I didn't get away around to it right away. And who knows what time it came while I was on my 10 day trip or whatever. And I opened it and I read it. And for some reason it caught my eye. I sent the, sent the medicine Elliot email and said, Is this real, I, you know, I looked at the company and everything. I didn't know, they were mostly west coast at the time and they had some stuff in Florida. And I mean, now it's the largest in the U S and I said, is this real? Is this, um, are you still interested? And she said, yes. And so I signed a nondisclosure and we talked candidly, and I knew, I knew how to negotiate and what it was worth and what. Went back and forth. And at some point I felt like at the time, the technology they had at the time and the resources they had at the time, I couldn't offer to my homeowners and was not going to be in the position to get it as quickly. So I felt like if I didn't get on board with. My company and my owners would have been left behind at some point they would have still been viable for awhile, but I felt like in a year, year and a half or whatever, which has proven to be true that, um, it was not going to, I was going to have to do exactly what they had and I didn't have the resources for it. So at some point it kind of clicked that I was, of course I didn't tell them this. I know held out. And ultimately I worked out, I think to everybody's favor.

Randy:

It's an interesting process. I think. So, uh, I'm curious on, on this particular thing, so when you think back to that transaction, to that process negotiation and all of that, about selling your business, is there any kind of key learnings or insights that you could share? You know, kind of now looking back.

Laura:

Yes. Uh, you need to come up with what's fair and you need to not be greedy. Um, I had a number in mind. They had a number of mine. We met in the middle and, uh, there was, luckily I had some, because of that three months I put some extra stuff in there. So I ended up getting close to what I wanted, which was very bare, very fortunate. It definitely changed my life. I was. Definitely say don't get greedy is number one. Cause I've seen other companies in they'd brought me into negotiations and when they were buying other companies and sometimes the owners get a little greedy or, or get too emotional or they have to look at it as a strictly a business perspective. Not that this is their baby, that they're selling, then the, you have to be realistic with that. What's fair. What's not fair. It is very stressful. The second biggest point I would tell people is keep your mouth shut. The only people that knew, whereas my father, my account. And I, like I mentioned, hire an attorney. That was it. I didn't tell anybody else. And it wasn't going to get out to minors. It was me until I, you know, I was ready to make the announcement. Um, you know, they say loose lips, sink ships. Um, it was very true. It was very stressful because you want to be able to converse with friends or tell somebody. Um, but I just felt like it was not in the best interest in case I decided I didn't want to go through it. Through with it. You don't want to be tainted in the industry of someone that's trying to look to sell. And then on the flip side, you need to make what's best decision. And then it's almost like a mic drop once you tell everybody, but that's the fairest way. Um,

Randy:

Yeah, I bet that was a shock. , probably Ned sounds. I bet it really was probably a shock. Um, because the way that it sounds that I hear, as you talk about, , your home owners, um, your investors, , in that company, you have a real. Compassion and a real commitment to them and the experience that you can provide and taking care of them. , and so I bet you probably had

Laura:

a real, I was 27 years old. Who's going to, I'm surprised still to this day that you were going to entrust me with their half a million million dollar condo or something to this little girl, but it was, um, very, you know, so you, you felt an obligation to them and you care. I mean, they become your friends. You know, I joke now I can call them and I'm in a position to call them and tell them good news and bad news. Whereas when you're running your company, you're, you're so busy because you only call them, Hey, your fridges out. What can we do? Let's get this taken care of, you know? So, um, it's nice to be in a position now where you can be more friends and. Hey look, here's your pretty picture of your condo or your house. And it's a beautiful day here at the golf instead of always only calling when there's an

Randy:

issue. Nice. So now, today you are, uh, working and leading the effort with a competitor of the company that ended ultimately ended up buying your company. So, you know, transitioned, always happening. W what do you see, I guess, around the corner for the vacation rental industry, is it all blue sky? What does.

Laura:

I think it does. I'm going to continue to take off people. As I mentioned earlier, feel entitled to a vacation, so they will be going on vacation. We are a very open market. The reason ours really excelled last year is, I mean, you don't have to wear the mask. You can have some semblance of normalcy. I mean, we have certain regulations. We have. You know, provide within the CDC guidelines, you know, all that stuff, but it's very, um, it's going to continue to take off, even if let's say the SA you know, the real estate sales economy goes down. At some point, people are still going to vacation. I think where we stand in a position of strength is we have a really good team and third-party teams that we. Project out to that. We really monitor the rates and performance of that. That's one of the strengths of having the CVC. We have people that are constantly looking at the rights and constantly making sure we're within the market demands and we're excelling within our market. And they do data analysis throughout the whole area in having that extra benefit is what kind of sets us apart as being I E local mom and pop and just kind of. Looking at what you have. They have just the resources to have that extra data. I get weekly reports on how we're performing, how each individual property is performing. I mean, when I say we care where we go, the next step and caring about it.

Randy:

it makes me think w w I actually just came back from vacation and I'm like, my mind is just so yes, the white beaches was fabulous. , all right. So now here we are, Laura, we're kind of down to the bottom of the ninth. , this is where we ask all of our guests, actually this exact question at the bottom of the night, which means. Coming down to the end of the show, as you can imagine. what advice do you have for the rookies in the game? , those starting out in the business or who already have their own business and are looking maybe for some guidance. I mean, you've been, you've been a business owner, you're an attorney, a business owner you've sold your business. Now you're working for one of the largest tourism group companies in the worlds. What kind of great advice do you have for folks?

Laura:

I would say the biggest thing is finding your niche. Find what you're good at and then find a good team of people you can rely on. And that's their niche do not micromanage them. You don't hire people to help you and then stick your thumb on them. You hire them and put them in positions where they can Excel and people will Excel. If you give them the confidence and the ability and put them in the right spot. Not everybody can do everything, but if you find what they're good at and. Give them some autonomy, they will, they will surprise you. Um, also the second biggest thing is. Honesty do what you say you're going to do is okay. To not know, that's at least an answer, but always respond and always do what you're say. You're going to do your word is everything in business. And thirdly, if, if you do go to sell, go back to my previous two points. Definitely keep it quiet and. You know, don't get your emotions involved and that's always with business. Don't make an emotional decision. Get, make it from a level headed business standpoint, separate it. If there's something you need to send scathing, I use a rule of thumb, give it, write that email and then wait back up in the morning and reread it and see if you can take the emotion out. Oh,

Randy:

that's great advice. Yeah. I just let it, uh, let it percolate for before you, uh, you send something

Laura:

well, being a lawyer, I'm pretty good with words. So make sure it's not to me.

Randy:

Uh, very good Laurie, anything that we didn't touch on that you wanted to get across? Maybe.

Laura:

Um, I think we've touched on most everything. I like to reiterate that we have obviously an amazing team here in Alabama and the panhandle of Florida. And we have the benefits of two sides. We have a large, one of the largest companies in the world, the largest in the travel and leisure industry, backing us with all their advanced technology knowledge and. Obviously they're, most of them are way smarter than us because they speak two languages where it has, but we also have the local mom and pop feel of the team here taking care of your properties and having the extra support money. So we have extra people. So we put a team in place. I have seven people here and. Obviously we've put ourselves in position where we can grow and we can grow fast and we can grow and take care of everything. And that's the biggest point or just a real position of strength that we wouldn't have normally had if I'd done it a different

Randy:

route. Nice, nice. W and what was the website that domain again, the URL.

Laura:

It is vacation homes collection, and they can also find us on Facebook and Instagram at VHC Stay. And. I think we're also on Twitter, LinkedIn, and

Randy:

all that, Paul, all of those funds. And we'll have all of those links down in the show notes. So people can go click and explore and see all the beautiful homes and properties that you have available. So a very fun, I think I'll, I'll get busy and start planning. My next vacation sounds fun to me. Well, listen, Laura, thanks so much for being on the show. We've really enjoyed, uh, How about you, your background and what you're doing today. That sounds so, so fascinating. And, uh, uh, we'll look to, uh, to catch up on a beach somewhere.

Laura:

Uh, definitely let's make it happen.

Randy:

All right, folks, that's the ballgame. Thanks for joining us today. And if you'd like to show, please tell your friends, subscribe and review, and we'll see around the ballpark. Running the basis with small businesses is brought to you by 38 digital market, a digital marketing agency, committed to client. With lead generation higher conversions and increased sales connect with us today at 38digitalmarket.com