Ms. C, we have to be politically correct these days, had very high expectations of her staff. No local management or cleaning company staffs were good enough and only the best would do. Having coaxed a member of staff from Amantridala resort, she now had the perfect person to look after her house and service her rental guests. After all, paying a 20,000 Baht plus salary with that pedegree, what could go wrong. That is until things started to go missing.
Welcome to the challenges of employing staff in Phuket.
Hardly anyone you meet comes from Phuket these days. They are all from nakhon Unpronounceable or Udon Godknowswhere and are all called Nok or Noi anyway.
The Thais are some of the most pleasant and helpful people I know but that doesn’t mean I am going to leave them in charge of my life’s investment a couple of days after I have met them. I certainly wouldn’t employ the housekeeper I met in the Holiday Inn in Torquay look after my house in Newton Abbot when I am in Phuket.
Thailand has comprehensive labor laws, most; very similar to the ones you would know from back home. It is fortunate for many homeowners in Phuket that few Thais know what they are entitled to which enables some to propagate their colonial ancestry and take advantage. That is where it can all go wrong.
If you are intending to rent your home, check with your rental agent to find out what services they provide. The local bloke asking 10% to forward you an email enquiry probably won’t but companies such as PIPS, Phuket Villas and Homes, CBRE and JLL will.
They have the capability to provide staff that have gone through a vetting process, have proper employment contracts in place, provide the legislated benefits that you as an employee demanded as a right in your home country and know how to handle disciplinary procedures if anything goes wrong.
Many is the story round the beer barrel about the unannounced arrival by the Owner to find Noi’s family has moved in whilst away.
If you own a super-home, one of those with the big sea view, you would do well to have a brigade but you will want to have it headed up by an individual or company with some standing in Phuket. Butlers, maids, chefs and drivers are all part of the team but don’t be surprised when you need to install one of those Internet camera systems so you can check on things from your Hong Kong office.
Those with more reasonable abodes that are available for rent do not need full time staff and you will find that the girl who cleans doesn’t speak very good English or if she can, isn’t going to do cleaning.
Using a rental agent with service capabilities can alleviate many of these problems. They will offer scheduled services to make sure all is OK when the property is unoccupied, prepare the home before check in and provide a number of important back up services such as guest services, 24 hour emergency assistance for guests, experienced English speaking staff, provide advise and assistance to guests and a host of add on services to enhance the guests experience.
Finding staff in the more popular holiday rental areas of the globe is a lot easier due to the prevalence of English. Thailand is clearly more challenging in that regard. With Phuket’s emergence from rental obscurity to brand name prominence, first time renters may find expectations coming up short if the staff servicing your rentals can’t communicate and there is no backup.
Having your rentals serviced by a competent and established rentals company will save you some of the harder knocks. Even if Noi behaves perfectly, all that time spent training her up may be lost as soon as she gets a job at a big service charge hotel. Having "supplied" most of the more recent hotels and agents with staff over the years, I know.