Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Jonathan Maher Director of Franchise Development at Grand Welcome

December 20, 2023 00:23:31
Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Jonathan Maher Director of Franchise Development at Grand Welcome
All Things Considered Franchising Podcast
Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Jonathan Maher Director of Franchise Development at Grand Welcome

Dec 20 2023 | 00:23:31


Show Notes

All Things Considered Franchising Podcast

On today’s episode, Scotty Milas is joined by Jonathan Maher. Jonathan is the Director of
Franchise Development for Grand Welcome, a unique brand in the short-term vacation rental
management industry. With a background in vacation rental management, Jonathan stumbled
into franchising and has been with Grand Welcome for over two years.

With a low barrier to entry and a focus on scalability, Grand Welcome provides
franchisees with the technology and support needed to succeed in the booming vacation rental
market. Jonathan explains the importance of technology in managing multiple property listings
across various platforms and highlights the characteristics of successful franchisees, including
sales aptitude, attention to detail, and a solid work ethic. Jonathan tells Scotty, “Attention to
detail is huge. All the little things. There's no rocket science involved in this business, but there
are a lot of moving parts and variables."

Scotty asks Jonathan about why someone should consider semi-absentee ownership. Jonathan
answers, "Two to three years out, you're ideally three to four employees, delegating 90% of the tasks. You're on that beach kind of mindset and can take that step back."

He also addresses the regulations surrounding the industry and how Grand Welcome helps
franchisees navigate them. As Jonathan explains, “Regulations are coming into play. The more
popular vacation rentals are, the more popular regulations are becoming."

Overall, Grand Welcome offers a unique and profitable business model for those interested in the short-term
vacation rental market.

Key Takeaways:

Scotty Milas can be reached at [email protected] and (860)751-9126.
Jonathan Maher can be reached at [email protected] and (323)657-

#allthingsconsidered #scottmilas #businessownership #franchiseopportunities #jonathanmaher
#grandwelcome #vacationrentalmanagement #semiabsentee #turnkeyservices

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Speaker A: Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of all Things considered franchising, powered by I am your host, Scott. Scotty Milas. I am the founder of all Things considered franchising, now posting podcasts on franchising entrepreneurial type topics for over a year now. We just launched our 51st episode, so tune into more episodes as they come up. But all things considered franchising can be found on Apple, Spotify, all the big podcast channels, or just visit If you have been listening to my podcast, you know that I like to feature a lot of what I call the rising stars in the industry, people that are kind of making their position known, their input into franchising. As guys like me age, the younger generation is coming in, and I'd like to kind of introduce everybody to, I think, which is probably one of a great rising star. And that's Jonathan Marr, who's director of franchise development for a kind of a unique brand. Grand welcome. Welcome to the show. [00:01:22] Speaker B: Thank you very much, Scott. Really appreciate it. I've been appreciative of our relationship and working together with you and excited for today's great. [00:01:31] Speaker A: You know, Jonathan, let's talk a little bit about your background before we jump into grand welcome, because you kind of have a unique background. You started out as a national account executive, did some sales. As we all know, franchising, the franchising industry, especially in development, isn't about sales. It's more of the consultative approach. So tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into franchising and landed with grand welcome. [00:02:00] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. I really appreciate it. So grand welcome. The franchise offers vacation rental management. So I had a background for several years in the vacation rental management side of things. Not necessarily franchising, but vacation rental management. And that led me into an opportunity with Grand welcome on the corporate side of the business and then got along really well with leadership here, got lucky enough to be offered an opportunity to grow the franchise development side of things. And it's actually funny, at the IFPG event there a couple of months ago, there was a big slide about how everyone accidentally falls into franchising. [00:02:39] Speaker A: It wasn't planned. [00:02:40] Speaker B: It was an opportunity that kind of just sprung on me, and I was blessed to be able to take advantage of it. And that was about two and a half, three years ago now. And I've been forever grateful for taking the opportunity, met amazing people like you and several others, and have been extremely happy in the role. So kind of stumbled into the franchising side of it, but been on the vacation rental side of things for quite some time and now love the franchising space. [00:03:07] Speaker A: That's a great lead in, Jonathan. Let's talk about the vacation short term vacation rental space. If I go back ten years, this was not a crowded space. It was an individual space, so to speak. I don't like to use the word mom and pop, but a lot of individuals, so to speak, managing a few houses here and there. Then a company kind of emerged, became a leader, and then you guys had been in the business, on the corporate side, if I remember correctly, grand welcome. But then decided to take your business and become a franchise opportunity. And now you're probably, if not one of the leaders in the industry, allowing people who are interested in the market becoming in the short term vacation rental without having to own property, offering franchises. So tell us a little bit about grand welcome, where you fit into the industry and maybe explain to our listeners what the short term vacation rental business is all about. [00:04:13] Speaker B: Absolutely. Yeah. So as you shared, we have a lot of experience from the property management side of things. We grand welcome have been an organization since 2009. Our founder acquired a property management organization in Mammoth, California, grew them from a few units to a couple of hundred units, and started to expand from a corporate perspective throughout the country. And then as of 2019, the end of the year, we started to offer the franchise opportunity. So we've been franchising for about three years now. We're blessed to say that we have 76 units in these past three years. Some are doing extremely well, which we're super excited about. And the idea is, like you kind of hinted at there is that you can build an amazing and then lucrative portfolio without having to own any property yourself. So you're working with different homeowners, different entrepreneurs, investors, whoever it is that owns vacation rentals in your territory, and you provide them with a turnkey service. We hold your hand throughout the entire process and have software, processes, experts in place to take care of most of the heavy lifting. But you're providing these homeowners with a turnkey service to take care of everything start to finish. And you don't have to own any property. You don't have to have a lot of capital up front to buy several properties, things of that nature. So there's a very low barrier of entry, which is exciting. You need a laptop and a cell phone to get started and can also build this out to be very successful with a pretty small staff and the short term side of things. Like you said ten years ago was just somebody stayed on your couch and you maybe got a little bit of money if you were lucky. Now it's transformed into an entire industry and is the fastest growing segment of the travel space as a whole. So unbelievable opportunity and timing. [00:06:10] Speaker A: Let's dissect that a little bit because you brought up a couple of interesting points. I kind of vision some of the people that are listening to the podcast who have thought about the short term vacation rental. They're scratching the heads and going, well, what the heck? Do I need a company like grand welcome for when I can do this myself? But there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. While there may not be a lot of moving parts, there are some pieces to the puzzle and that's mostly on the technology end. I would think that tie in on how people try to find properties available. Let's just assume you go out and you've got 40, 50 properties you're managing now. Now the idea is you got to go out and market these for your clients. So instead of doing this on your own, you tie in a lot of the technology to the support that you're offering to your franchisees. Maybe explain that a little bit, because like I said, there may be people listening to this saying, well, look, what the heck, I can do that. Let me go out and get a couple of properties, I'll put them on a website. But there's a lot more to the technology than just putting them up on a website. [00:07:16] Speaker B: 100% spot on. So from a big picture, we are thinking from a volume perspective. From day one, we want you, if you work with us, to be managing somewhere between 75 to 150 properties in the next three to five years. And like you said, there's a lot of intelligent people out there that could go and start a small management organization, manage 1020 properties and do all right. But if you want to make serious money, you need to scale. And that's the biggest advantage of partnering with someone like us. Like you said, we have a lot of technology and software in place. I call it taking care of most of the heavy lifting. So if you, the franchise owner, can focus on growth and business development and growing your portfolio, we're going to provide you with a seamless setup to take care of all the back end systems. For example, one of the most important parts of the entire process is the competitive pricing of these properties. We have an entire revenue management team who analyzes each property based on the size, the quality, the location, the amenities, things of that nature. And puts together a dynamic pricing structure that's going to fluctuate throughout the year for peak seasons, holidays, big events, things of that nature. And that's for every single vertical. Just like creating the listing, we have a team internally that creates that for you. They manipulate the algorithms, search engine optimization, keyword optimization, all the little attributes that really add up, and to your point, again, of doing it on your own versus someone like us, once you get north of 2030, 40 properties, every single vertical that I'm referencing, revenue management, guest marketing, guest experience, et cetera, becomes its own job in itself. And that's where the bottleneck happens. If you don't have the support of a franchise or who has all the resources and things that you'll need to take it to the next level. But I would say in short scale would be the biggest reason to partner with somebody like us. So you can knock it out. [00:09:18] Speaker A: On the technology side, though, when we talk about having the property up on multiple sites, we all know what those sites are. I think there are 50, 60, 70 different sites that property listings could be on. One of the drivers here is that, and correct me if I'm wrong, is on the technology side that if you have a listing on, let's say, 50 sites, and somebody goes in and books a week, it's really important that that inventory or that reservation or availability of that property comes down from all of the other 49 sites, so there's no duplication. And if somebody was in mind of doing this all by themselves to go in and then edit 50 or 49, I should say, websites about availability, it could become very tiresome, it could be very complicated. So your technology allows people to automatically have that availability come off and on as the property is rented and put back on if it's canceled for some reason. [00:10:26] Speaker B: 100%. Exactly. That's one of the several ways of us trying to, quote unquote, take care of the heavy lifting. So that way it's seamless. They don't have to worry about it. They can focus on continuing to grow the portfolio, so they're actually making money and contributing to their bottom line, and we're taking care of the things that would typically bog the average person down. [00:10:45] Speaker A: Now, your typical franchisee. Not typical, but the franchisee that really should be thinking about a business model like this. I like to use the word sales aptitude. And what I mean by sales aptitude, I'm not talking about the ability to make cold calls or knocking on doors, Willy Lohman. But there is a networking side to this, the partnerships getting out and meeting realtors and of course, meeting people that own two or three properties that they may want to be leasing out during primetime or seasonal type times, I guess is the best way. So other than that sales aptitude, that networking ability, what else are you seeing as a criteria and kind of the characteristics of your successful franchisees? [00:11:31] Speaker B: Absolutely. So as you said, sales is extremely important. Obviously you need to put food on the table in any business. But of course behind that, the reputation building management, just like we discussed in franchise and consulting, connecting with the guests to make sure they've got a great experience, connecting with the homeowners to maintain their business throughout the process. Attention to detail is huge. All the little things. There's no rocket science involved in this business, but there is a lot of moving parts and variables and things of that nature. So attention to detail is definitely huge. Solid work ethic. Again, no rocket science, but you will have things coming up day in, day out to take care of. So making sure that you're providing a timely, quality service on a regular basis is exactly what we need as well. But those would kind of be the top three points, I would say, being sales aptitude, attention to detail and work ethic. And you can be extremely successful in this business. [00:12:27] Speaker A: When we look at one of the big things, and you touched on this earlier, one of the things that people are looking for today, and I use the term, there are not a lot of moving parts. And when people say moving parts, we're talking about number of employees. So it really is a simple model when it comes to the number of moving parts. You can eventually, if you wanted to hire a general manager to kind of oversee the properties for you or do it yourself, obviously any type of cleaning services or anything are probably going to be subcontracted out. Tell us about that. Passive semi absentee. Obviously, there's an effort here to have to build the business. So we're not talking about from day one, but if you are going to go out and kind of have that two to three years, I want to be kind of that semi absentee work from a laptop or work from the beach, so to speak. Talk to us about the moving parts and the employee count and what one can expect if you got up to that 100, 125 properties. [00:13:37] Speaker B: Absolutely. That's one of the great parts about this opportunity as well, that you can build a very lucrative business with a pretty small staff. So typically the rule of thumb, and this is on average, some people with a lot of experience can push this number, or vice versa if they need a little bit extra support earlier than this. They're more than happy to, but around 30 to 40 units is when we recommend bringing on an additional person into the team. So the first hire we recommend is called a general manager. As you referenced. At first, we want the owner themselves getting into the trenches, figuring out the business and building that foundation. And when they get to around that 30 40 property count is when we recommend bringing on a general manager. That general manager's responsibility is to take all the time consuming and laborious tasks off the owner's hands. So that way the owner can still focus on executive tasks like strategy, expansion, closing deals, things of that nature. And then again, once you double. So around probably 60 to 80 properties or so is when we recommend bringing on an operations manager. Their job is very straightforward. Maintain that high quality of service, keep the well oiled machine well oiled, and then with this specific franchise opportunity, the territories come into play big time. So your third hire is typically pretty unique to your territory. You might need additional guest services, support. You might need additional marketing support, field operations, whatever it may be. We have training in place, and then we'll provide you with recommendations based on your territory and what you're dealing with at the time. But two to three years out, like you mentioned, you're ideally three to four employees delegating 90% of the tasks. You're on that beach kind of mindset and can take that step back. And I paint the picture. You're either two to three years from now, you're either, like you just mentioned, on the beach with a laptop and enjoying your time, or building an empire and then hopefully building an additional unit with us and so forth territory. But three to five employees at two to three years, and you will have a very solid setup. [00:15:49] Speaker A: We're talking to Jonathan Maher, who is the director of franchise development for Grand welcome, which is a short term vacation rental business franchise opportunity. I am your host of all things considered, franchising Scotty Milas. One of the things or one of the questions that comes up quite a bit in discussing with my clients the short term vacation rental is the government having its hands into this business. A number of states require a real estate broker's license to operate in the short term vacation rental business. Others do not. In the states that do require a broker's license, real estate broker's license. Are there opportunities for people who don't possess that broker's license to maybe partner with a real estate broker? Maybe get into that a little bit on how that's operating because the industry is being regulated for a lot of good reasons. I mean, we don't want government and everything, but obviously we don't want the people coming in and out of communities day in, day out. So we want to keep those communities safe. But tell us a little bit about the regulations and how one can handle the regulations if they don't possess a real estate broker's license. [00:17:12] Speaker B: Absolutely. So great point. So unfortunately, regulations are coming into play. The more popular vacation rentals are, the more popular regulations are becoming. Like you said, they're not all negative. Most of them are just asking for you to register your property so the cities and towns can account for it and collect the necessary taxes, things of that nature. [00:17:32] Speaker A: Right. [00:17:33] Speaker B: And there are some that are a little bit more strict than others. But me and my team will help hold your hand prior to signing the agreement to make sure that we set you up for success. We'll do our due diligence and research the regulations for your territory, but for the specific kind of real estate and brokerage requirements during training will connect you. If you do not have a real estate license or a broker's license and it is required in your state during training, we connect you with real estate agents or brokers and have you work under their license, we will hold your hand throughout the entire process, but it's your responsibility to actually have the conversation with that broker and or real estate agent. But I can connect you with several of our current franchisees that have gone through this process and secured relationships. But the reason behind this requirement is that the cities and the states want to make sure that somebody trustworthy is the merchant of record and making sure all finances are running smoothly. So what happens is you work under a specific broker or real estate agent's license and list them as the merchant of record. Everything else operates the same. There's usually a small retainer of month for working with that real estate or broker. That's something that you will work with together to figure out, but we will hold your hand, set you up and it is not a deal breaker, it is just a small box that needs to be checked throughout training. And we have people that you can validate with that have gone through that process. [00:19:10] Speaker A: Right. And of course during that time frame you're working with that real estate broker and have partnered. I just want the audience to understand they aren't necessarily an owner of that particular territory as a franchisee, they're just acting as a strategic partner. And eventually, if that person franchisee decides to get their real estate broker's license, and again, that is a timely process. It's not a 24 hours course and take 20 questions and you got your license. It's a series of years and steps to attain that. It's really compensating the real estate broker and awarding them for being part of the process. And I would imagine that real estate broker could be a GM in your business. [00:19:59] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. They could if they would like. [00:20:01] Speaker A: Okay. [00:20:02] Speaker B: But you hit the nail on the head. Ideally, they're a completely silent partner. Obviously, if they're experienced and bring value, then of course feel free to take their feedback and strategy. But most of our partners are, all the brokers are completely silent. They're just in the back end for checking the box to make sure that they're the legal. [00:20:21] Speaker A: Great, great. Jonathan, it's been awesome speaking with you. Any closing statements in regards to grand welcome? The know what would be the best way for someone to get in touch with you? Obviously they can go to the grand welcome website, but there's any contact information or anything else you'd like to share with us? [00:20:39] Speaker B: Yeah, no, just we're in a very blessed position. There's tons of territory available for us. We've got a really dialed in system. We've got some owners that are doing extremely well. For example, one of our franchise owners in Branson, Missouri is with us for 18 months and is managing over 300 properties. [00:20:57] Speaker A: Wow. [00:20:57] Speaker B: Unbelievable. We also have some other rock stars that are hitting over 100 properties in their first year. So there's an unbelievable opportunity with a low barrier of entry and then really high return. Best way to get connected with me is either email or my phone. My email is my first name, Jonathan. My last mayor [email protected] and the best number to reach me at is 323-657-0256 and I'm open at all hours to take calls. Feel free to reach out. No worries there. But Scott equally appreciate all the time and spotlight on grand welcome. It's been a pleasure working with you and can't wait to continue to work with you, but really appreciate having me on the podcast. [00:21:46] Speaker A: Unique brand, unique opportunity. Need a unique investor, unique franchisee business model is not for everybody, understandably, but it is a need, not a want. The short term vacation rental market has boomed over the last five years and will continue to boom as people look for secondary ways of spending their vacation. It's just amazing. I know as a family we very rarely ever stay in a hotel anymore. It's always the short term vacation. But we've been talking to Jonathan Marr who is the franchise development manager for Grand Welcome, a short term vacation rental organization. As I mentioned, I am your host, Scotty Milas of all things considered franchising. Powered by, all things considered franchising is a podcast dedicated to the entrepreneur. is an organization consulting organization I started many, many years ago, helping people research and explore business ownership, preferably franchises, where we help you build that roadmap and introduce you to the potential opportunities and helping you through the process, making sure that you're getting all of the validated information to make a decision. For anyone who's interested in reaching me, you can go to my website, or allthings considered Reach out to me at 860-751-9126 or [email protected] until next time, this is Scotty Miles signing off. Jonathan, again, thank you much for your time and we appreciate and hope to get you back in the next six months for an update. Absolutely. [00:23:22] Speaker B: It's been a pleasure. Thanks for having me. Scott.

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