As an independent property manager, your business thrives or dies depending on how well you can attract and retain clients. Here are some easy tips you could start using today to grow your business.
Know Your Audience
You will need to target two different groups of people: property owners and future residents. Property owners will want to see results; that means rent is collected on time, maintenance issues are dealt with immediately, and all reports are filed accurately. In your advertising, address common pain points that owners have and why you are the best candidate to help them. Owners who invest out of state rely on property managers to help them handle the day to day tasks and any issues that may arise.
A common pain point for owners is a lack of visibility into their rental properties, especially if they live farther away. Emphasize your willingness to communicate and keep the owner informed without overwhelming them with minor details. It’s a balance, but one that can be achieved.
You want to present yourself as a qualified professional who is well versed in your state and local laws. Since landlord-tenant law varies wildly from state to state, owners will want to be confident you’ll know what to do in case of an eviction or a dispute about the security deposit.
In addition to property owners, you will also want to think about how you can attract and retain residents. Here, your message will change to focus on the property itself, especially the location and the amenities. Emphasize the features that make this property special, whether that’s a pool, an outdoor space to entertain, an exercise room, or an in-unit washer and dryer. Find what renters in your area want from a property and see how you can best attract new applicants.
Even though residents are not technically your clients, your interactions with them are a reflection of your business. If you are curt, rude, or unfair to tenants, there will be higher turnover and more negative reviews on any website you have. The goal of most property owners is long term tenants who will take care of the property. This starts with a relationship based on mutual respect.
How can people find out about your business if you have a weak online presence? A website, blog, or even social media platforms are all great ways to generate leads and grow your business. Let’s take a look at different strategies needed for each platform.
Having a good marketing strategy starts with a solid website. Think of your website as a landing page for clients where you explain what you do and what separates you from the competition. All your online marketing efforts should drive traffic back to your site. Include contact information so that property owners can communicate with you directly.
Your website should have a good design, be visually appealing, and easy to navigate. Don’t put up walls of text. Keep sections short and scannable.
Some property managers create original content for their website in the form of blog posts or videos. Updating your website regularly with original content helps improve your site’s search engine ranking, which makes it easier for people to find your business.
Good content should address a problem and offer a solution. You can offer tips to property owners, information about state or local laws, or you could comment on trends you see in the real estate industry. Your website’s content should establish you as a professional in your field and make people want to trust you with their business.
Love it or hate it, social media is a lens through which many people view the world. Ignoring it neglects a wellspring of untapped potential.
Different platforms have different strengths. On Instagram, for example, visual content is king. Facebook is a good way to connect with people through news and entertainment. LinkedIn is obviously more professional. Twitter focuses on frequency and short updates. Be aware of how other property managers use social media and borrow the best strategies.
Ideally, social media should be a way for you to connect with your clients and residents, generate new leads, and put your business on display.
While many balk at the idea of sending out cold emails, try to reframe your mindset. Everyone has problems that need to be solved; you just might be presenting them with a solution.
Before you begin writing, start thinking about how to present your business to someone who has never heard of you before. Why should they trust you with their investment? What experience do you have? Was there a time you handled a difficult situation gracefully? Anything you can do to highlight your experience and establish trust will help your email to stand out. Write up your thoughts. Edit. Have a friend look it over and make suggestions.
Next, start compiling different lists of people to contact. Target homebuyers, renters, and real estate agents. Keep in mind that agents who specialize in investment properties are often asked to recommend property managers. Your email should change slightly for each group to highlight the different things they care about.
Be prepared for a low response rate. Most people don’t have the time to read emails, especially from people they don’t know. For this reason, some managers ignore this method entirely, while others have had some success. View it as an experiment and see if it yields any fruit.
When people are comparing different businesses, they usually go straight to the reviews to see what other people have to say. If you have clients and residents who are satisfied with your work, encourage them to leave a positive review on either Yelp or Google Business. Be aware that while positive reviews have the power to give you credibility, negative reviews (especially from multiple sources) have the power to take that credibility away. Respond to negative reviews whenever possible; always be professional, even if the reviewer chooses not to be. This will reflect positively on your business.
As helpful as an online presence is, it never completely replaces face to face interactions. Attend networking events or real estate investor meetings where you can present yourself and your business to agents and property owners. Make a set of business cards to hand out so that people will remember you. Offer your current clients incentives to recommend your services to other landlords.
Getting the word out is only half the battle. Running a successful business requires attention to detail and tight organization. For property managers, using a free platform like Tellus can go a long way toward automating some of the more time consuming tasks. For example, collecting rent online saves trips to the bank, and having a ticketing system allows you to streamline the work order process. Being able to keep all tenant communication in a separate, searchable database makes everything more organized.
Even if you’re just starting out, it’s important to find ways to save time from the beginning. When it comes time to scale your business, you don’t want to be stuck with outdated methods for managing these properties. You’ll need to operate in the most efficient way if you hope to grow. It’s best to start early and constantly ask how the current methods could be improved.
Keep Excellent Records
Imagine you have two owners wanting to know what their cash flow was for the month. One owner employs Property Manager A, while the other employs Property Manager B. Property Manager A takes a look at their records, but remembers there were some replacement parts from the last repair job they didn’t write down. They spend 20 minutes hunting for the receipts before being able to record the expenses. They jot down a late fee they forgot to record, assemble the report, and then send it off to the owner.
Now let’s imagine the situation with Property Manager B. Property Manager B has already recorded receipts as they spent money. Since their records are up to date, their property management software can produce the latest version of an income-expense report in seconds. Late fees also feature in the report as added income.
In the two situations, both owners get accurate reports. However, how confident would you be that Property Manager A could handle an additional twenty doors? What about fifty? As you start to grow and scale your business, nothing beats having a simplified process for handling all income and expenses. It not only saves you time, but helps make you less stressed since you know where everything is, what has been done, and what you still need to do.
Technology can help keep everything organized. You want to make sure you’re keeping track of rent payments, late fees, security deposits (where holding laws and return dates vary by state), and rental expenses like repairs and utilities. Find a system for keeping track of the details; the owner is depending on you to get it right.
Growing your business as a property manager is challenging, but not impossible. The tips described above fall into two key focus areas:
1) Marketing your business. Know your audience’s needs and how you can address their pain points. Amplify your online presence through a well-designed website, social media platforms, and original content.
2) Running your business. Keep stellar records of all income and expenses. Have a system for communicating with renters and handling maintenance. Leverage technology to help automate tasks and scale your business faster than you could alone.
Lastly, keep cultivating relationships. The real estate market is ever changing; your current clients may add more properties to their portfolio and will need someone reliable to help them. Your current tenants won’t be renting forever and may eventually want to be homeowners themselves. In both cases, running your business well puts you in a good position to start expanding and growing.
As you're growing your business, see how a rental management platform like Tellus can help streamline your workflow.