Property management is a business built on relationships. The better you are at creating them, nurturing them, and sustaining them, the more your business will thrive.
It is always interesting to me that people spend a large part of their budget on marketing to attract clients. Then, they don’t take the first step to follow through, which is to return the call or email. They may say, “I’m not good at sales” and do nothing to improve this aspect of themselves or find someone who can help them with sales. Then, they wonder why their business isn’t growing.
I have always likened getting new clients to dating. You aren’t going to ask someone to marry you on the first date, are you? Yet, we ask a potential client to commit to us to manage their rental, their asset. If you live in California like I do, their asset could be worth over a $1 million. That takes trust and on a first date there is no trust. You are just trying to figure out if you like the person and are interested in going on a second date.
Potential clients are attracted to us based upon how we present ourselves. The world is suddenly awash in virtual reality, video, and web content. Think social media, podcasts, blogs, vlogs (video blogs), and our websites. These are the accessories we now use which mirror how we show up in the world. What does our website say about us? Are we direct, transparent, or minimalist? Do we like to keep things simple, detailed, formal, informal, homey, or corporate in our style?
When a potential client reaches out to you, what message are you sending? Do you return their call within five minutes or within the time frame stated on your voicemail, such as by the next business day? Do you do it? Or do you “ghost” your client. OK, trendy word meaning you are a “no show.”
Think back to when you were dating. Weren’t you attentive by asking lots of questions to get to know the other person? Were you reliable and kept your promise, such as being on time for the date? During the courtship, you probably gave gifts or did something special that you knew they would love, demonstrating that you were listening to them.
We should be doing the same thing with potential clients. Just be yourself if you are a person that doesn’t want to be labeled a “salesperson.” When we are ourselves, we have a much better chance of meeting someone that is like minded and a good match for us, right? Do the same thing with potential clients. Are you going to accept every client that wants to do business with you? You shouldn’t. You want to work with people that you feel are a match to how you do business. After all, you are in a relationship that could last for decades. As you meet the needs of your clients, trust forms and is the basis for any long-term relationship.
So how can you create a long-term relationship?
- Always return calls and email communication.
- Keep your promises and commitments. Follow through on what you say you will do.
- Set expectations for how you work and what you expect from them.
- Listen and be attentive to your clients’ concerns and questions.
Think about the services you offer. Do you provide an easy entry for doing business with you? For example, do you offer Tenant Placement Services or Concierge Services so a prospective client can try you on for size before making the big commitment of having you manage their property full time? Do you offer guarantees to make it easy for them to say, “Yes?” Some typical guarantees are:
- All calls returned within 24 hours or by the next business day.
- Owner distribution on a set day of the month.
- All non-emergency maintenance completed within five business days.
- Live Answering Service for Maintenance Emergencies.
- A Pet Program that covers damage costs when they are over the security deposit by a certain amount.
- Annual Preventative Maintenance Report.
- No long-term contract. Client can cancel with a 30-day notice.
- Monthly Management Fee is set for a certain number of years.
- Rent guarantees through insurance or up to a certain level.
- Eviction coverage up to a certain limit.
Whatever your promise, make it easy for you to fulfill, and easy for your client to want to do business with you.
Then, you nurture the relationship through continuous communication. For example, when updating your clients through a turnover or lease-up. Survey your clients annually or every other year to make sure you are seeking feedback and adjusting for improvement. With one-time placements, once the tenant is in a unit, check in with the owner at the one-month mark and again in six months to see how the tenancy is going. Demonstrate that you care about your client.
Client appreciation events or gifts to clients are another way to nurture the relationship. A gift that was a big hit in my company was coffee mugs with the client’s photo on them. Gift certificates to local businesses are a personal touch. Plan events, such as ice cream socials, BBQs, and free workshops for clients with other professionals. Estate Planning Attorneys, Certified Professional Accountants, Insurance Agents, Wealth Managers, Contractors, REALTOR®s, and 1031 Exchange Specialists, etc., all support your clients’ real estate investment. These are all good ways to nurture and sustain your relationships. Everyone wants to feel special so find ways to make your clients feel cared for and appreciated.
When you have relationships built on mutual trust, your business will be easy to manage and it will grow through referrals. Referrals are the equivalent of your best friend setting you up with the perfect person. Your friend knows both of you well and the match and the relationship are often a success. The same is true with client referrals. Your clients will refer those that will be a perfect fit for your business.
Take the time to court your clients so when the time comes both of you are ready to commit to the relationship and say, “I Do.”
Article by Kathleen Richards, MPM® RMP®
NARPM Residential Resource | June 2021 Issue | Volume 32 | Number 6