Business partners Fiona Hayes and Michael Marshall established Kerry House Management in March 2009 to provide services to holiday home owners in Kenmare and the surrounding areas.
According to Hayes, the idea behind the company was to address a gap in the local market for a comprehensive home care service.
Caring for your property
‘‘Kenmare is known as a tourist area, with so many holiday homes around here. There were key holding services available and house maintenance companies or cleaners, but nobody who would care for your property as if it were their own. We thought this was something we could do,’’ she said.
Hayes and Marshall used their own personal savings to start up the business, but not before they had researched the market to ascertain the viability of their idea.
‘‘We quickly established that there was a demand for a professional, reliable house management service,’’ said Hayes.
‘‘We found that many holiday homes were left vacant for several months each year. Owners we spoke to had safety concerns about burglaries or vandalism, worries over burst pipes or storm damage during bad weather and other issues such as untended gardens, problems with electricity, oil, gas or water.’’
Comprehensive “visit report”
‘‘We make sure our clients return to a warm, cosy house, with the gardens maintained and food in the fridge. We complete a comprehensive ‘visit report’, which includes 57 checks and can be tailored to suit a particular property or customer need. After carrying out an initial client visit, this report and accompanying photos are e-mailed to the client.
‘‘This offers an independent baseline should there eventually be an insurance claim. We then visit the property at agreed intervals thereafter, regularly updating the full report. It is very important to be reliable and trustworthy.’’
Eighteen months in, the company’s customers included second-home owners, busy locals and full-time homeowners away on business and holidays. ‘‘We operate along the Cork/Kerry border, with customers located mainly between Kenmare and Bantry,’’ said Hayes, who advised other business owners to use new technologies to market their services. ‘‘House-minding is a relatively new service in Ireland, although it is well established in America. A challenge for us is explaining to people exactly what we do,’’ she said.
‘‘We are on LinkedIn and Facebook and have got as many people to ‘like’ us as possible. We are also getting more involved with the Smallbusinesscan.com community. It is all about networking and building connections with people.’’