WHAT’S WORKING AND WHAT’S NOT IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT RIGHT NOW

If we thought Covid made us pivot, I think 2022 has been the year I would entitle ‘the year of the bigger pivot’. Businesses HAD to switch their growth strategies, change their marketing strategy, adopt more software and technology and recruit in a whole new way. And if they didn’t – they were part of the group of businesses that shut their doors. If you’ve felt this, know you are not alone. Even within my own real estate business and that property mum, I’ve had to lead many changes to match the rapid shifts within the real estate and in particular the property management space.

I had to reduce some of my old school marketing methods inside my own business and invest heavily in more digital and online strategies. Many business owners, BDMs and property managers I’ve worked with are feeling frustrated, burnt-out and feel like giving up – I hear constantly it’s all TOO hard!!! I’ve personally had over 100 strategy and coaching calls last year and everyone is wanting the same thing more managements, more time and better systems. When I look at my own business, I hardly recognise it, the marketing strategies I’m now using are so different to even just 12 months ago.

 

IF THERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO TAKE AWAY FROM THE LAST FEW YEARS:

1. Change is constant in business. Change is normal and change should be embraced, or you’ll constantly feel like you’re in a battle.

2. If you’ve struggled with burnout, leads, sales, profitability or just being a Business Owner in 2022, you are not alone and it’s not a reflection of your ability to run a successful business.

3. If you’re still standing and pushing through, you’re part of the 1% who can make it through anything. Resiliency is one of the biggest keys to success in growing a business.

Despite the massive shifts and changes that happened this year in the world, economy and the real estate industry we can celebrate massive success with clients. Especially those who were willing to try new things like work consistently on their social media, try new marketing strategies, and get out from behind their computers and start connecting and building relationships with people in the industry or closely connect industries. Believe me I totally get it… I hid behind my keyboard for years, the biggest changes in my business this year came from me stepping out of the shadows and into the light. Connecting with others has been crucial to my success.

All that said, you may have heard the fear mongering that we are headed for a recession, interest rates are going to get higher, the property market is on the decline. I’M GOING TO CALL BS…. Not on all those things happening, because I don’t have a crystal ball and they very well might happen. But the one thing I do know is that there will always be cycles in real estate history has proven it. I personally believe any business can survive in any conditions you just need to know how to PIVOT, and quickly. While everything is moving and changing so quickly, if you are willing to embrace the changes and you are willing to shift how you do things you will see results and you will see growth and success. People will always buy, sell and rent homes. Despite the economic climate, despite a global pandemic, and despite any natural disasters we go through.

 

WHAT IS AND ISN’T WORKING IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT CURRENTLY?

We see behind the scenes of A LOT of brand businesses, and many of them are struggling with the same things as the boutique and independent businesses. Unless we shine the spotlight on the issues and find solutions to the major issues everyone will continue to stick their head in the sand and struggle away as if it is the norm. The truth is every business has problems. If there are no problems, no struggles, no failures— there is no GROWTH. Learning to address and make changes to fix those problems is what sets successful businesses apart.

Success isn’t quick and easy! it takes time, patience, and a ton of hard work. if you aren’t willing to put in the effort, you might as well not even start.

It can take years of gaining leads, massive amounts of work, and growing a huge network and database before your business turns a profit. If you’re expecting to have a huge number of managements immediately, but you haven’t done the work- potentially years of work building your brand, nurturing your leads, and learning how to win new business – you’ll probably end up disappointed.

The truth is every business has had to pivot within the last year. No one has the secret formula or blueprint for long lasting, guaranteed success. Just because it worked before doesn’t mean it’s always going to work. Businesses that refuse to pivot and change with the times and with their ideal customers will crumble and fall. I saw this happen firsthand to several business owners this year who refused to accept that what used to work just wasn’t going to work anymore and a change was needed.

 

WHAT IS WORKING IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

1.RENT ROLL GROWTH STRATEGIES

Relationships – Off the back of a booming sales cycle referrals from sales played a major role in a lot of businesses growth throughout 2022. Building relationships with either your own sales team or seeking out business that focus on sales only became a popular growth strategy. Developing relationships with Buyers Agents was also a smart way to work to ensure a steady stream of new managements coming in. These relationships also saw the addition of a new income stream for savvy agencies with the costs of investor education and inspection report expenses being on-charged to the buyer agencies.

Networks – Networks like BNI’s and community network groups also provided management growth for businesses. Again, a lot of this was due to the strength of the sales market, which saw huge numbers of properties exchanging hands.

Referrals – Existing clients also played a part in either referring other investors or added to the growth in agencies by acquiring more properties themselves.

Websites – WEBSITES One of the biggest lead generators inside my own business has been websites. A well created and optimised website has helped many businesses capitalise on the growing number of investors and property owners searching and researching new property managers online. Having good SEO so that you are appearing in a Google search and then having that backed up by a website optimised to capture leads and social proof through reviews has led to a steady stream of new business inside my own business but also with many clients I have witnessed as well.

2. SOCIAL MEDIA

Property Managers and business owners who built solid personal profiles and capitalised on their social media growth by consistently posting relevant content were able to grow their leads and following significantly as well. With Instagram changing their algorithm to favour reels and videos at the start of the year, video content has become a major way for businesses who pivoted with Instagram to get huge brand awareness from their reels. We are talking about going from a hundred people seeing your content to thousands of people being exposed to it. one of my recent videos have 1500 views – 1000 were from non-followers..

3. FACEBOOK ADS

I personally experimented with Facebook and Google Ads this year. They have played a major role in brand awareness and lead generation. Facebook ads have led to a string of new business, mainly through the repetition of seeing the brand so consistently.

4. REVIEWS & TESTIMONIALS

The number of new clients that have joined businesses after reading Google reviews is astounding. If you don’t have a lot of Google reviews yet, I recommend you start building them consciously. Reviews are becoming increasingly more important and relevant as the competition grows for new business. Savvy clients are doing their research, and chances are a lot of investors have had a few bad experiences with property managers, they aren’t going to jump out of the fire and into the frying pan without doing their research first. How does this research look. Well, it is simple really, and I share the exact strategy in episode 23 of the Property Management Podcast.

BUT …

The big BUT here is that it is hard to attribute just one of these things to new business growth. It could be a combination of all these growth strategies that influenced someone to join your business. Perhaps they consistently saw your posts on social media, maybe they drive past your office every day or see your signage at the bus stop, maybe they have a friend that knows you, or they found you on Google and researched your reviews. The key is making sure that your marketing efforts are spread across the board, and once you do find something that is working to bring in those new leads, double down on it. Scrap the things that are wasting money and draining your time.

 

WHAT DIDN’T WORK IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

LETTERS

Pre covid a three-letter strategy I’d used for years was once of the biggest drivers inside my owner business. What changed? Well for starters the vacancy levels became so low during and now post Covid, and rental prices were going up which meant there was a lot of happy landlords. The three-letter strategy I previously used was targeted to unhappy landlords who had properties sitting vacant for months, were losing a ton of money and waiting for poor property managers to do something. Which inevitably they didn’t, and so I would swoop in with my introduction, recommendations and offer, and boom new management signed and sealed. That isn’t currently working, well not as instant new business. It is still a lead generator, but the nurture campaign I now use is going to take months or years, not weeks, until the market shifts back to high vacancy that is.

COLD CALLS

Cold calling was a struggle. Many people found it hard to even get anyone on the line or a return call, and unless you were relentless and keep calling and calling, the results from cold calls were across the board too much effort for too little results. Afternoon /evening calls were the most successful periods to call and get someone on the line.

FLYERS

If you are still delivering flyers to mailboxes, it might be time to put that money elsewhere. Think about your own habits, do you read any of the junk in your letterbox? I certainly don’t. The only businesses that should be using flyers for property management are perhaps new businesses that want to get some additional brand recognition. Make sure that it is in targeted locations though like suburbs where your ideal clients are living, not where their rental properties are because these will go directly to the tenants.

PAYING FOR LEADS

My clients that worked with companies promising amazing results from lead generation … found out after a lot of expense … if it sounds too good to be true it likely is.

 

TOP PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE, PROCESSES AND SYSTEMS

ONBOARDING NEW CLIENTS

With the growing power of reviews the onboarding process has become a critical factor in businesses. Unless you are giving clients the onboarding you promised you are very unlikely to secure that important review and keep the new client long term. As managements have become harder to get the focus has moved to fostering better relationships with new and existing clients. Seeking out referrals from new business has also been key to many agencies’ growth success. Offering a reward for a referral like a gift card or hamper, has worked well for some businesses as well. Ironically, we have forgotten the value of our existing relationships with clients or our customer experience, and it really shouldn’t take a challenging growth period to remind us of the importance of those relationship

SUPPORTING PROPERTY MANAGERS

We all are very aware of the challenges with recruitment in the industry right now. Latest statistics show that 1 in 4 property managers have left the industry since Covid. A lot of agencies are struggling to find qualified property managers and the only way to get them is to pay for it. Which of course is not a bad thing, I’m all for getting paid what you’re worth. The key issue here is why have so many people left? Largely it is because of lack of training and support. This has been identified by a lot of businesses and I have witnessed a real shift in the way businesses are now onboarding new members into their teams and businesses. It is no longer the sink or swim mentality, but a more conscious effort to support and train property managers

CLOUD BASED SOFTWARE

Property Me and Property Tree have cemented themselves as front runners for the top end to end property management software again. Console Cloud is gaining back some market share that they lost by coming late to the market with their cloud-based solutions, although the feedback has been mixed on its functionality. I can’t speak from personal experience on this one though.

INSPECTION SOFTWARE

Inspection Express has taken property inspections to the next level for many businesses. It is seamless to use and provides great points of difference to other inspection software. Their 360-degree video inspections are an incredible feature that I’m sure will provide great points of difference for many businesses who take this up.

AI SOFTWARE

Rental Heroes has provided a unique solution to one of the greatest property management struggles, maintenance. Their artificial intelligence chatbot ALEX, allows for a dramatic reduction in the amount of tenant enquiry coming into an office for maintenance. RITA has emerged as a genuine player in helping businesses capitalise on their databases. Their AI cleans up your data and builds automated campaigns for lead generation and new business. Great for large databases that haven’t been utilised properly for lead generation. A game changer if you are a sales business as well.

VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS

Working with VA’s – there has been a huge uptake on seeking out the support of VAs for admin tasks.

 

THE ONE THING THAT STRUGGLED

End to End property management – With more business adopting pod, task or hybrid systems, and using VA’s – the businesses that were still doing the end-to-end property management were really struggling with workload, and customer service suffered … which ultimately resulted in large numbers of lost managements for some agencies.

 

WHAT HAPPENED WITH RECRUITEMENT

RETAINING

Retaining existing employees became paramount for many businesses. With thousands of property management jobs advertised on Seek, I think businesses were extremely fearful of losing quality property managers, because it was going to be hard to find a replacement. This was good news for existing team members, with business owners and Principals forced to redirect focus back onto training, support and implementing systems that eased workloads and burnout.

INDUSTRY NEWCOMMER PROGRAMS

It was a breath of fresh air to see trainers and the industry bodies like the REIQ implementing training and programs to help new property managers onboard into the industry. For far too long newcomers to property management were left to either sink or swim, and I carried that mentality for a very long time, something I’m not proud of. Apologies to all my trainee property managers back in the day.

WORKING WITH RECRUITERS

There are pros and cons to working with specialist recruiters, but I think this year in particular the pros outweigh the cons. With such a shortage of property managers, the cream of that crop who are career property managers and serious about working in the industry were working with specialist recruiters. While business owners and team leaders were head down working to cover the gaps provided by the exiting team, recruiters were able to hand pick and supply only the most suitable candidates, saving lots of valuable time. The con is obviously the financial investment you outlay, which can suck if the newly recruited person doesn’t work out or stay long term. Make sure you have arrangements with your recruiter to cover those scenarios.

 

WHAT’S NOT WORKING WITH RECRUITMENT

Advertising on Seek

There are literally hundreds of property management jobs on there. It is hard to stand out in all the noise and I imagine there’s a lot of time-wasting sifting through applicants.

Checking References

This has been a long and ongoing issue in property management, we simply don’t check employment references. And yet, we don’t put tenants into rental properties without one, but we put people into our businesses without them? This is something that needs to change, well actually it’s the revolving door of property managers that needs to change. But start checking previous employment references, but open minded and make judgements on people based on your own instincts as well

This year is an exciting time in real estate. We are entering a new cycle in the market, and this presents new opportunities for you and your business. The important thing is that you embrace change and keep abreast of the new era of digital marketing upon us.

 

If you want to join our 3 Day PM Mastery Bootcamp where we break down everything that is and isn’t working in Property Management. Where to focus your time, money and energy to grow and systemise your business. We also break down all the latest growth and digital marketing secrets and strategies: Join here.

 

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