Sunday, June 14, 2009

Random Recollections and Reflections in My Spare Time

Which headline best depicts this image?
1) Swine in the INN at Loreto Bay Pool
2) Entrepreneurs - Time to Sink or Swim
3) Citi Babes deserting sinking ship

I would like to thank all the people who wrote to me in the last couple of days (has it only been 2?) with their support of my new property management company. There has been enough interest generated that we can now move to the next steps of finalizing our services and price list, which will be emailed out and posted here on Thursday, June 18.

It is a little risky to be the first out with actual prices as we open ourselves up to undercutting by the competition. However, competition is good because it keeps prices honest and there is a need to provide better value and services to keep client loyalty.

Baja BOSS Property Management Services will be a full service company and our objective is not only to exceed your expectations, but offer the experience of truly having your own Concierge to ensure that you and your home are well taken care of. Both Daniel and I understand what the client wants instinctively because we have been interacting with them here for the past five years in Loreto. BOSS is the acronym for Business One Stop Solutions and describes not only what we do, but who we are.

Our basic program will offer weekly home inspections, bill payment, and mail delivery. There will be a standard menu of options available including landscape (gardens, fountains and irrigation system), pest control, pool cleaning, A/C maintenance, regular housekeeping and thorough move in/out services, grocery service, etc.

What separates us from the competition is our Concierge Service that manages your stay in Loreto similar to staying in a hotel. Would you like chilled glasses, candles by the bathtub, or a party catered, just call in advance and we will be happy to make your arrangements. Our teams experience in hospitality makes this a natural fit for our program.

We also offer hourly consulting services related to your home and your enjoyment of it. Whether you wish to receive and place your furniture, to import a boat, oversee contractors and make progress payments, need assistance with legal or tax advice regarding your home, we can assist in hiring the right people at the right price and ensure the work is done to your specifications. This is a very small part of our business, but vital for those that need it. We have the contacts and the experience to get things done.

Baja BOSS will be an alternate choice for those clients that want to truly enjoy their home without having to work it. Many Independent Property Managers offer this personal service, but their client lists are getting full. This leaves plenty of room for the newest players in Loreto, us and Bahia Management.

One of the first people that I told about starting my own property management business was Rodolfo Guerrero, who has been my friend since he started with his first house Casa Warner back in 2005. I was already a seasoned manager with Loreto Bay Company by that time and we shared the nightmare experience together, along with the good nature and kindness of Mike and Dottie Warner. Through the years, we have shared many experiences, stories, and empathy for each other’s roles in a truly dysfunctional company. He has developed a very loyal and friendly team, and I fully support his efforts as he transitions from employee to entrepreneur. We will continue to build on our friendship and share similar stories along the way.

It is difficult to believe that I began this journey almost exactly three years ago with my first blog post July 1st, 2006. Since then I have developed a regular readership of 500 visits a week; and this week received a whopping 1408 visits. This is a labor of love of a place that I want others to enjoy as well. Occasionally I leave a small window open into the harsh realities of pioneering the Wild Wild West, but for the most part I try to remain positive and optimistic. The alternative is pretty damn depressing.

People are amazed I was able to open five different businesses (sushi bar, hotel, fishing charters, professional services, real estate) in one year, and employ 14 Loretanos. I did not read the Memo that said I was supposed to fail and quit. Although many did and tried to keep me down. I saw the economic downturn coming in late 2007 and voluntarily commenced shutting down some of these businesses even though they were just starting to break even. By the end of 2008, I had the fishing charters boat and my real estate company, with no more employees. Some of my staff continued to work for me on a contractual basis as needed and they are still with me today in this capacity.

I am often asked if it was difficult to close the businesses. This question always makes me quizzical … as the answer seems so obvious. It is like a relationship breakup. It may be better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all … but it still hurts a lot.

Of course it was hard, particularly letting go of my employees who had become friends. We had learned to rely on each other and help each other. Luckily at that time there were other jobs available for them. My heart goes out to all the employees of Loreto Bay that have been dismissed this week in such a devastating manner. Throughout the years with this project, I have seen many trying times, depression, anxiety, and panic. However, I have never seen such quiet desperation in so many at one time. Yet, they keep smiling and say hello and ask how you are, and really stop to listen.

I have already sought out a few familiar faces that you will all recognize to join our team. Regardless of which Property Management Company you decide to go with, you are supporting the local economy and people that have been providing you with valuable service for the past several years. This includes me, who has spent endless hours of my free time sharing Loreto through the blog, answering emails and phone calls in times of crisis, and sometimes just a drink to “get the scoop”. I tirelessly worked around the clock for 4 weeks solid to educate, inform and get people involved in the Condo Regime Annual General Meetings. On hindsight, thank god I did. I have helped homeowners on how best to get a solution or at least an answer from the amorphous Loreto Bay Company for the past three years without expectation of remuneration. It is not my intention to blow my own horn, simply a reminder that I need to earn money too.

One day I may write LBC – The Untold Story, but I am quickly losing interest in remembering all the battles that I fought to do what was right and for the good of many. There are scars that are better left unexposed. Ironically, I offered to pay property taxes in January 2007 and Mike Ravenhill immediately sent out an intimidating letter to homeowners that I was conducting property management services, and thereby quashing my simple effort to make a living. But here I am, still standing, and now truly opening a property management company.

Many of you know my battles about the right to have an Open House sign to represent homeowners trying to sell their investment. This was in direct retaliation to my company offering 6% commissions, when LBC was charging a non-negotiable 10% and had the first right to the listing. Through public support of the homeowners, together we have set the standard at a tolerable 6% and refuse to ever go back to the ridiculous demands of management that contributed to the downfall of a great project.

I remain 100% positive about this place; otherwise I would not be here. However, 3 years working at Loreto Bay and 3 years living la vida loca, I hopefully now the experience, wisdom and courage to make the next 3 years successful for many.

There has been a shift in my focus and perspectives, in part due to the realization that the dream was just that. In my beginning blog postings I described my first 15 minutes in Loreto when I had this intense sense of destiny that I needed to be here. I still do not know why I am here, or if it is a stepping stone to lead me to a better place. However, the reality is that I still have the Vision of Community and along with the thousands of others, both foreign and local, and a little time, luck and perseverance, we can make it our reality.

Miss Nellie
centerpointe