It took a pandemic, busy work-from-home parents, a very bored homeschooler, and the delivery of a new, cloud-controlled smart lock to bring this story together. Since there’s nothing usual about these times, it shouldn’t have surprised me and my wife that our 11-year-old son took charge of setting up our new cloud-controlled smart lock.
If you’re in the vacation rental business, aren’t already able to control property access remotely, and are looking for something you can do now to prepare for when the market improves, then this post might be for you.
We’re small-time “property managers,” but RemoteLock’s software is designed to be scalable to allow you to control a single door or a hundred thousand (infinite really, but that’s hard to get the mind around isn’t it?). We’re fortunate to have a cabin nearby that enables us to move out of our house and short-term rent it during the summer (an unnecessary exodus this year with a stalled vacation rental market).
Re-enter our son... Despite having school work to do, he’s bored. Not just a little bored, but out of his mind bored. Mail delivery still works in these crazy times, and with both my wife and me working, he happily greeted the arrival of our newly delivered smart lock. And he decided he was going to install it, connect it to our internet, and set up the device on RemoteLock’s cloud-based software.
He politely pushed us aside and made clear he wanted absolutely no help doing it. While installing a smart lock is supposed to be easy, we figured this was at least the domain for full grown humans. “That’ll keep him busy,” my wife said. “It’ll be a good life lesson, and maybe help cure a stubborn streak,” I said. He just gave us a look, so we left and figured we’d bail him out and get our door working at the end of the day.
Replacing a traditional key-only lock with a smart lock is supposed to be pretty simple. It requires a screwdriver and up to an hour of time depending on your comfort with very basic projects. In our case, we’d been using a simple code lock for the past couple of years. While it’s vastly better than dealing with the hassle of key handoffs for an influx of guests—and inevitable lost keys—it falls short of the promise of today’s smart locks that can be controlled remotely via the Internet with a computer or smartphone.
Previously, we’d manually input codes for upcoming guests directly into the lock. And we’d delete them, also manually, when guests departed so we wouldn’t have the liability of prior guests being able to enter our home after their stay. With smart locks, we were attracted to the ability to control the lock from wherever we were, and for the ability to issue temporary, self-expiring codes for cleaners and guests. We liked the peace of mind from configurable alerts when codes were used—so we’d know our home was cleaned and that guests had entered without issue.
Something unique to RemoteLock’s software—that larger operators will especially appreciate— is that it’s the only platform that can control smart locks from all of the leading brands, giving you the flexibility to use whichever locks you want on your doors today or in the future.
After working awhile in my basement “office” (between the treadmill and sofa), I went upstairs to refill my coffee and slyly check on progress. My son looked at me a bit over-confidently, and sure enough the old lock was laying on the floor, and part of the new lock was already on the door. The little locksmith seemed to be making progress, but I was still secretly betting against him despite him having more of it installed when I went downstairs with a fresh cup of coffee.
I asked him how it was going? “I like how the deadbolt can be set to extend a little or a lot so it will work with how far it has to reach depending on where the hole is on the door,” he stated. You following all of the directions? “Yeah, mostly,” he said. I knew we had him now. No way this thing was going to work right.
Sure enough, I heard some frustrated stomping upstairs. Turned out he set the deadbolt lever in the wrong open / close position when installing it, so when he connected it to our Wi-Fi network, RemoteLock’s software thought it was already in the open position when in truth it was locked. I estimate it took him 20 minutes to reverse that mistake. He later told me that the instruction manual that he hadn’t fully read had a section he ignored but there was a way to address his mistake by entering a code into the panel of the lock to tell the lock what position it was in.
A bit later, I went upstairs and the little installer was setting our old family code into RemoteLock’s software on the iPad as well as that of the cleaners we use between guests (guests that have all cancelled for the foreseeable future, I’m sad to say).
So, it turns out that our boy won the battle with the lock. I think it took him two hours, but that was entirely by himself. Truly, he didn’t get a single bit of help from either me or my wife, and that’s including a couple of deviations he took from the short instruction manual.
We’re looking forward to not being tethered to our door any longer to change codes. We’re also looking forward to configuring our Airbnb and Vrbo accounts to automatically issue self-expiring codes as part of our communications with guests though those platforms. RemoteLock does that through their integration with those platforms; they’ve integrated with many others in vacation rental as well as the long-term rental space.
For us, it feels we should have made this move sooner. Whether or not you have an 11-year-old installer in your home or business, it seems obvious that the ability to manage access remotely is well within your grasp too. Perhaps now is the time, and you too can emerge from the vacation rental freeze in a position to better, and more easily, manage your business.