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Smart Growth for Smart Property Managers Part 3 (7 Strategies to Get New Clients)

There are multiple avenues of obtaining new business. Some are online, and many are offline. All of these methods of new customer acquisition are actual methods that I have discussed at length with our customers. The customer has tracked the results and the spend, and the ROI is at least 3 times the spend. While there are many methods, I have identified what I think are the 7 most effective that apply to every market. Obviously, each market is different, and there are certain tricks that will work in certain markets. Here are 7 battle tested methods of acquiring new business. They are in no particular order, and all of these tactics have a high return on investment.

1. Referrals

Every property manager has customers. Those customers have properties that you manage, and birds of a feather flock together. Odds are that your homeowners with investment properties and your real estate investors know other people like them. While you might assume that they know what you do and that they are actively referring new business to you, they are not. It is your responsibility to let your customers know that you are actively seeking new management accounts. Here are a few battle tested methods to let your customers know what you do and that you want new business.

  1. Email campaign. Compile a list of all of your owner’s email addresses and build an email campaign to them. This is not an all-out sales pitch, but will give you the opportunity to stay on your customer’s minds when they run into someone that needs your help. Do this monthly, and you can combine it with your monthly financial statements. Make sure that you ask for new business and tell them how to contact you. Offer them a month of free management or other consideration for each property they refer.
    • Time Investment – Low
    • Financial Investment – Low
  2. Monthly Newsletter. Keep your customers informed of what is happening with your business. Tell them about market conditions of both the rental and sales markets in your area. Tell them about any legislation that might affect their investments. After you do all of that make sure that you tell them you need new customers and how their friends and colleagues can hire you. This is also great content for your blog which will be a part of your SEO strategy.
    • Time Investment – Medium
    • Financial Investment – Low
  3. Host Events. Get your customers together for a party/class and tell them to invite a friend that might need your help. Customer connection is often overlooked, but an event that your customers can look forward to will help to keep you on their mind.
    • Time Investment – High
    • Financial Investment – Medium

2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM for our purposes will mean any type of paid online advertising to include search engines. SEM is the practice of paying for people to visit your website, or landing page, or some type of online presence. By marketing to the correct customers, you can convert a percentage of them into paying business. Unfortunately, most property managers think this practice is as easy as paying for some traffic to your website, and hopefully some of them will magically turn into customers. Like anything else in life worth doing, it is much harder than that. SEM involves a measured approach to attracting customers to the correct area of your website and then converting them into business with the content and forms that you present on your site. Here is the exact 4 step approach that we have found to be most effective for property management companies:

  1. Set a monthly budget. Using the math from part 1 of this series determine the budget that you are willing to invest to acquire a customer. Commit to at least 3 months of this spend and track the effectiveness.
  2. Carefully craft your display ads. Display ads are the ads that appear in the paid search section of a search engine results page (SERP). Remember that you have a lot of competition in this space and you need to offer searchers a compelling reason to click on your ad, and not your competitors. You can also use this area to qualify your traffic. Maybe you only want new management accounts that rent for at least $1500/month. You can state that in your display ad and discourage those that have lesser properties from blowing your budget. Don’t take this area for granted and say something vanilla like “Atlanta Property Management.” There is no compelling reason to click on this ad versus all of the other ones.
  3. Build a Landing Page for each series of terms. Paying for traffic can either be a complete waste of money, or an effective growth tool for your business. A landing page with a CONTACT FORM is usually the difference between a wasteful PPC campaign and an effective one. Paid search campaigns with landing pages and lead forms can convert more than 10 times better than driving traffic to one’s home page. 10 times, build one or don’t bother with PPC. Here is an example of the best converting landing page we have “ Richmond Property Management.”
  4. Using the information about lead response from part 2, you know to call the leads that you receive within 5 minutes and to set the appointment immediately.
    • Time Investment – High
    • Financial Investment – High

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Due the complex nature of SEO, we will produce a dedicated series specifically for SEO after we complete this series.

4. Realtor Referrals

In today’s difficult real estate market, many realtors have inventory of homes that they cannot currently sell. Your fellow realtors can be a fantastic source of new business for your company as long as you are sensitive to a few concerns they might have. Realtors don’t want to send you business in the form of sales opportunities, and they will view you as competition for that client if your firm does sales in addition to property management. A property management firm can be most effective in attracting realtor business if you do not compete with them for sales. If you do, make sure that you have a rock solid non-compete to set their mind at ease in referring business to you when that client is ready to sell. A firm that does not engage in sales will be significantly more effective with this strategy:

  1. Create an engaging post card size leave behind for realtors to understand that you can help their clients during the rough market, and guarantee that they will get their customer back when they are ready to sell.
  2. Visit real estate offices in your area and drop off the post cards with the front desk and ask them to put it in each of the realtor’s boxes. Get a list of all of the realtors in the office and call back the ones that do a decent volume of sales and introduce yourself. Don’t bother with the low volume ones, they are probably disorganized and won’t be able to send you much business anyway. Offer to take the highest volume realtors to lunch and get to know them. Most realtors are lost when it comes to property management, and having you on deck will remove a big source of stress for them.
  3. Set up a referral program and compensate them for their referrals.
    • Time Investment – High
    • Financial Investment – Low

5. Home Owners Associations (HOA’s)

Many home owners associations have very strict rules regarding rentals in their communities, and are generally not thrilled with rentals at all. This is an opportunity for you to help set their minds at ease by offering a professional and strict rental plan that you develop and enforce with the HOA board's help.

  1. Identify the top communities where you would like to manage properties. 
  2. Invite the board out to lunch or dinner to discuss your plan for handling rentals in their community.
  3. Present your plan and emphasize that you will do your job to make sure that tenants are in full compliance with their rules and regulations and that you will be a resource for them to deal with tenants. Offer special and consistent pricing for their owners that decide to rent their units using your services. This will make you the go to person for handling all of the rentals in their community. It will also concentrate your rentals in a more manageable radius.
    • Time Investment – Medium
    • Financial Investment – Low

6. Investor Organizations

Every community has an investor organization or group that meets to discuss their investments. Adopt an attitude that you will genuinely help these people with their problems even if they do not hire you to do so. Freely and openly give out information that will help them and after time they will start to hire you. Most property managers have a bad reputation with investors, and this is your chance to show them that you are different.

  1. Identify your value to the investors. Specifically, make them aware that through your volume and experience you generally get better advertising value, lower maintenance costs, higher rental rates, and lower time on market. All of these items, despite your fee, can save them money and more importantly time. 
  2. Attend all of their events, and purchase a booth if they have a trade show.
  3. Offer to teach a class on any number of items that you are far more experienced in than most of the group members.
  4. Offer to introduce them to other members of your network that can help them maximize their investments.
    • Time Investment – High
    • Financial Investment - Medium

It is always difficult to help people do what you do for a living for free. There will always be those that use you a free resource, but if you do a good job, many of them will start to hire you.

7. Other Property Managers

Many property managers do not service all types of properties in all areas of your market. If you service a certain type of property that your peers do not, let them know that you want the business. If you serve a part of town that they do not, make sure they know that you work that area.

  1. Offer a referral arrangement. Agree to send each other business that the other does not want to service. Alternatively, offer a referral fee for any business other managers might send your way and PAY IT IMMEDIATELY!
  2. Once you get some referral business, take extra care to insure that those clients are taken care of. Nothing will end your flow of business faster than an unsatisfied referral.
  3. Join NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Managers) and other property manager organizations. Join NARPM and attend the monthly luncheons and national and regional events. You will meet other property managers from around the country that can refer business to you on a regular basis.
    • Time Investment – High
    • Financial Investment – Medium

Get the appointment.

Make sure that you revert back to part 2 of this series with any growth plan that you choose. Answer your leads in five minutes. This is the key to converting a high percentage of business, and in measuring the effectiveness of your initiatives. Set the appointment, and after you do so, go to the meeting prepared. Don’t walk into an appointment empty handed, or just carrying your management agreement. Develop a presentation that you give to all prospective clients. This presentation needs to make it clear to them what you are going to do to earn your fee, and why they should hire you instead of doing it themselves. Have a professional, visual presentation that covers your advertising strategy, tenant screening process, financial reporting, eviction policy, and all other items that you cover for your fees. After doing so, ask them for the business and be prepared to go over your management agreement with them. Then ask them to sign it.

Remember that each of these initiatives are separate endeavors that require a strategy and diligent execution and tracking. Each is a part of your overall growth plan, and you only need to execute those portions of the plan that help you reach your growth goal. If you can get your entire growth goal from referrals at a cost that is acceptable to you, then you don’t need to execute the rest. If you have a very aggressive growth goal, you might need to diligently execute all 7 items in addition to some local tactics that help you reach your growth numbers.

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