Monthly Archives: June 2014

Putting Your Best Face Forward

Spring 2014

Having applied for numerous caretaker and couple’s jobs over the last few years, we have improved and fine-tuned the information packet we send out about ourselves to the point we now get interviews on a regular basis. In fact, this spring, we made the final cut on 3-4 positions and the only reason we did not take one was because the hiring party wanted us there yesterday. We just needed more time to get our home ready to sell or rent.

If you follow job sites like Workingcouples.com and Caretaker.org seeking a couple’s position, you know the offerings are all different and request different information. To simplify the application process for us, we created a nicely done, 3-page, “introductory” document on ourselves. It includes some embedded photos, a brief intro on us, highlights of our careers as it relates to this lifestyle, and a list of core values and core competences. All done in an easy-to-email PDF format. This document seems to open more doors for us compared to when we did not have it.

When we apply for a position (most are done via email), we include this PDF, as well as our standard work history résumés, and a very targeted email opening letter addressing specific items in the job posting and how we believe we are the right couple for the position. It is all very professional and we proof it several times before sending as we don’t want any spelling or grammar errors.

We’re marketing people from way back so we look at the application process as just another marketing project trying to sell a product – US. It seems to work. Maybe it can for you, too.

Like we were always taught since childhood … if you are going to do something, do it right the first time. You only get one chance to make a good, strong, first impression. If you really want to find the right couple’s position, do your homework and research and put your best face forward.

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Too Big, Too Cold

The winter of 2013-14 was very cold in Blue Ridge, GA as it was around much of the U.S. It was too cold for my liking. We had 4-5 good snowfalls and a couple that kept us in the cabin for a few days as our road in is fairly steep so we planned ahead for food and such so as not to have to get out among the crazies. Just don’t need the hassles.  But I must say … the snowfalls up here are beautiful. Especially with our view out across the adjoining mountains.

It was this winter that Sharon and I came to theSnowfall in Blue Ridge GA 2014 unanimous decision that this cabin lodge home was just WAY too big for the two of us. So no matter whether we get a caretaker couple’s position soon or months or years from now, we are going to get it ready to go on the market to sell. Time to downsize (again) and stay downsized. Promise: Never again will we own more than we need in housing/home.

New Motto: OWN LESS! The more you own, the more YOU are owned.  

Ergo, we pulled out our project list, reviewed, and added items and got busy getting it “Show Ready” to sell. You know the drill … painting, fixing items that had been put off, fine-tuning and tweaking everything so you make the best first impression possible. Good for us, we had been doing fix-er-upper projects since we moved in September 2012. So at this time, our list was not overwhelming and could be accomplished in a few months of dedicated weekend hours.

For most of spring 2014, we were the handy-man and-woman couple. We’ve been there, done that many times in the past. And we’re good at it. Slowly, but surely, we got it done. She’s ready for “Prime Time.”

Property Caretaker Training

The real estate agent that helped us find our home in Blue Ridge is a friend I’ve know since high school, Sandy Wilbanks (if you’re thinking of moving to Blue Ridge, contact her – she’s awesome!).  At the time we started looking for a home, Sandy had been living in BR for about 8 years and knew the area very well. I mentioned to her that my marketing business had slowed down a bit. She suggested a great idea – a property care, home/cabin watch, and concierge service business for absentee owners of mountain vacation cabins. Her suggestion got my attention.

As she explained more, I learned that a large majority of these absentee owners were in need of a trustworthy, honest, professional to handle various projects and needs for them. Example:

A new owner lives in Tampa, FL. They buy a new construction cabin and are about to furnish it. They need someone to open the cabin and accept deliveries. They need someone there to let the propane gas guy in. They need landscaping. They need housekeeping services, And the list just goes on and on. And based on what Sandy was telling us, there just weren’t many service professionals in BR filling the need. After some research and developing aGV_Logo_red-black_RGB marketing plan, we decided to start a company to fill this void and we named it Getaway Valet.

I joined the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce with Getaway Valet and also signed up for the Leadership Fannin training course in early 2013 as a way to meet local leaders and build a network. And it worked. Between referrals through the Chamber and referrals through real estate agents, Getaway Valet was gaining about 1 customer per month. And it could have done much better if I had put 100% of my time into it. But as fate would have it, when 2013 rolled around, my established marketing business (Key Concept Services, Inc.) started getting busy again and I spent most of my time on it and my long-time, established customers. Getaway Valet became the fill-in business but I knew it had great potential.

By opening Getaway Valet, I learned a lot about what people want as it relates to service and it just confirmed what I already believed … people desire and expect 100% customer service – especially people with extra money to afford a vacation cabin. But as we all know, 100% customer service is vanishing from most service-oriented businesses.  I can’t tell you how many times people smiled and thanked me just for showing up on time. I heard so many stories of how some of the local service providers never showed up, never returned phone calls, and on and on the complaints went. I found out quickly that my professional training, management training, and just a basic good upbringing from good parents made a big difference in me as an adult.

Operating Getaway Valet for the past years also confirmed my belief that Sharon and I were ready to enter the professional property caretaker business and lifestyle. We know how to do it. We know how to WOW customers with extraordinary services. We know what we like in excellent customer service and would provide nothing short of our standards for anyone who might hire us. Our confidence is high and when the right position comes along, we will be ready.