Surround yourself with great people who will lead you in the right direction and offer good experience and expertise.
Michael Eckerman is a real estate investor and vacation rental owner in Arizona. Born in the small mining town of Globe, Arizona, Michael prides himself on providing an upscale vacation experience to families and companies at a reasonable cost.
Michael originally took interest in real estate when he and a colleague saw the potential to improve low-income areas in Sacramento, California. He relocated there for some time and began by flipping homes in that area. While he found success with that, his heart belonged to Arizona where his family had lived for more than three generations. He returned to Phoenix and changed his focus to vacation rentals.
The goal for Michael’s rentals is to provide a white glove experience to those who rent from him. His love for racing cars has spawned a new venture, including luxury car rentals with his vacation properties. It is this ability to see new potential that has helped Michael Eckerman be so successful in his endeavors.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I wanted to be able to provide a bucket-list experience for people. I wanted to offer a vacation option that allowed people to stay in a multi-million dollar home for a lower price. As we are bringing in the idea of adding the luxury vehicle rentals, I feel that will increase the value to our clients. These rentals are available to many different income levels and are a great way for families to take some time off and enjoy the things they may not have access to in their everyday lives. That is why people want to vacation, anyway. They want to get away from their normal and I love that we can provide this for them.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My normal day I spend looking at a variety of potential vacation rentals to see if they fit our standards. I also spend a lot of time dealing with Homeowners Associations to ensure that we are within their restrictions and are good areas where we won’t bother neighbors. I also have been looking into small apartment complexes or hotels where we can do the vacation rentals without having to go into neighborhoods and potentially upset the residents. It’s a very important balance between those who are vacationing and those who live in these areas. We definitely do not want to interfere with their lives, so there is a lot that goes into finding the right spots and using them to everyone’s advantage.
How do you bring ideas to life?
A lot of our new ideas and practices actually come from our clients. We love to hear their feedback on their experience and ask what we may offer to make it even better. We want to provide a white glove concierge experience so the information they provide us has really helped us gear more toward that and we are excited to grow our offerings. For example, we’ve had several people contact us for wedding packages and we’ve been looking into expanding that idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The evolution of the vacation rental space is exciting for me. It’s an area of real estate investing that is growing rapidly and there is a lot of potential there. You have to be willing to meet the challenges that come with it, so you have to be ready to adapt. It is an ever-changing marketplace so it can be stressful, but also very rewarding when you hear how well you’re doing from the people who stay with us.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My best habit is that I don’t give up. I am very persistent and keep working until I find a resolution that benefits everyone involved. I always work through things.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say stay true to yourself and have faith that everything will work out. I would also say to surround yourself with great people who will lead you in the right direction and offer good experience and expertise. I think it’s also very important to always stay humble. Appreciate your success but recognize that it takes hard work to get there.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
This industry is just kind of booming now but has been something that a lot of people considered too risky in the past. When I first started getting into the vacation rental side of the business, I had several people voice their concern at how profitable it could be. At the end of the day, though, you have to be willing to take that risk. It’s great to listen to everyone’s insight, but you also have to be able to weigh that against your own judgment and choose a path that works for you. It was a risky step entering this field, but I am so happy I followed my instincts and I have enjoyed all of it.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
You have to constantly evaluate an ever-changing landscape and not getting complacent with your work. You have to change on a dime sometimes if there is a problem area that needs work. Being nimble and ready to deal with anything that may come up is one of the best things any entrepreneur can do for themselves.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I try to look at things from a macro level for areas that have a good growth potential. We really try to provide somewhat of an all-inclusive experience, so areas that offer things like golfing or fine dining are a good potential investment for us. It’s also extraordinarily important to us that our renters don’t disturb the community that they’re in. That is the driving force behind us now really looking into the other options like a small, kind of boutique-style hotel where a larger group can come stay and have fun, but not disturb the neighbors.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of the failures we have had was operating a rental in a high-end area and having the HOA come and change the covenants, conditions, and restrictions that no longer allowed us to use that area. We overcame that obstacle by changing up our model and going in this new direction for the apartment complexes and hotels. We could have just given up altogether, but those changes didn’t change our want to give clients this experience, so we had to make changes.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It’s really more advice than idea, but I would say keep in mind that when you run your own business that it is not an easy venture. It doesn’t matter what field you are in, there are always going to be challenges. You have to stay true to yourself and really believe in what you are doing. If you keep moving forward, you’ll reach your goal.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I have two daughters in middle school, and I make it a point whenever we go out to dinner to talk about business, the highs and the lows. The benefit to them is that they’ll grow up with the knowledge that if you do what you love, it’s not work. I want them to know that they can overcome challenges in life. So, while the meal may cost around $100, the takeaway they get from it is infinitely more valuable than what I may pay for that meal.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I think Google is the best service I use. I do a lot of research online, looking at competitors and where they are at. I am always researching the markets we are in and the economies in those areas. It gives me the information I need right at my fingertips.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins. I always come back to it from time to time.
What is your favorite quote?
“The time to buy is when there is blood on the streets, even when it’s your own blood,” said by Nathan Rothschild. Basically, it’s saying the time to buy is when others don’t want to make that investment.
● Be adaptable
● Have faith in yourself
● Be willing to take risks
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.