Written by Mike O'Neil
If you want to grow, adding doors is part of the deal. Even if growing isn’t your goal, just to stay even you need to add a few doors to cover folks selling their homes, etc.
At Geek we’ve generated over 16,000 property management leads and have listened to hundreds of sales calls between property management companies and prospects. Because of this, we’ve seen first hand the common ways that companies tend to drop the ball when it comes to adding doors. Here are our top 10 tips about how to add more doors.
As you approach a new prospect via digital or offline advertising, you need to say something that will get that prospect to stop and say “hmmm, that’s interesting, tell me more”.
If you want to see why this is so important, just search for ‘property management yourcity’ and see what your competitors are doing for starters. DON’T copy them verbatim; see what they are doing and ask “how can we offer something more valuable to the prospect?”
And no, we don’t necessarily suggest the ‘25 months free management’ (ok, an exaggeration) we see some companies offering.
You’ll be tempted to skip this first step. You can if you want, but trust me when I say that you’ll never get out of the gate at all if you sound the same as other companies. It’s just too competitive.
In the beginning, many companies rely on the “do good work, get referrals” strategy. There is anything wrong with this, however its tough to grow on referrals alone because its hard to predict referrals and there typically aren’t enough of them.
In order to grow, you need consistent “at bats”. Something you can count on month in, month out to bring you opportunities to close deals.
It doesn’t matter where you decide to get leads from. You can ‘do it yourself’, pay some SEO person to get you ‘free’ leads (which we all know aren’t really free, can I get an amen?), hustle foreclosure auctions (yes, I know someone who built their PM business on that tactic alone), pay for leads from companies like Geek, APM or Manage My Property.
Yes, these all cost money or significant amounts of time, but you can’t make consistent gains without consistent at bats. Find one or a few that work for you to keep that new business coming in.
If you’re going to be shelling out money to get a steady flow of leads, your LCV (Lifetime Customer Value) is CRUCIAL in deciding how much money to spend on marketing.
We have heard PM owners who say “I can’t afford to pay more than $300 for a management contract”. We have also seen PM owners who are overjoyed with a closed deal that costs $1000. So which is the ‘right’ number: $300 or $1000? Neither. It depends on the LCV.
If you know you make (IE net of standard costs), on average, $3000 for every client you sign up, how much can you afford to pay for marketing to get another client? I don’t know but if I made $3000, spending $1000 to get $3000 seems like a pretty good plan.
A simple formula for LCV is net lease up fees + (net management fee monthly x average months a typical customer is with you) + net re-lease fees + ancillary fees (maintenance, etc) minus a figure for overhead (keep the lights on, pay office staff).
Yes, there are other numbers to track, but LCV (and cost per closed contract) are the key marketing numbers you need to know. Don’t obsess about lead costs; they are fluid. Focus on what it costs you get a new client and LCV, then you can worry about ancillary numbers.
Reality is, most prospects are not going to walk into your offices. Most will call or email you most likely. If you fail in the 2D world of the internet and phone (is phone two dimensional? Well, you get my point), you likely won’t get a shot to meet with the prospect in the 3D world (IE face to face appointment). And this may be your only option for the out of area prospects who contact you; you may never meet them face to face.
This means you need digital ‘leave behinds’. A “leave behind” is something you would normally call ‘sales collateral’. So skip the fancy brochures in favor of professional looking documents (or even videos) that really SAY something. Why you are different. What makes you unique. What is the list of services you offer. What things cost. Your reviews and endorsements. These are the questions most prospects want answers to. And the MAJORITY of companies we see leave all or major portions of this out. So if you do it, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
This selling you have control over, that’s consistent. You aren’t hoping that your salesperson doesn’t forget something important; a video or document will keep saying exactly what you want over and over. A 2D salesperson that never forgets. By having this material for your salespeople or BDM, you will help them convert more leads into contracts.
This seems obvious, but in practice, following up on leads quickly is a HUGE differentiator. I could quote statistics, but I’ll keep this common sense simple: if you don’t follow up fast, you decrease your chances of either reaching the prospect or making a good impression. And the majority of property management companies don’t call a lead back….in 48 hours. Yes, that is correct, 48 hours is average. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
So always make sure somebody in your office answers incoming calls live. And if you can’t pick up a call live (IE an email lead), be the company that calls every lead in 2 minutes. Yes, 2 minutes. Shock the prospect with how fast you are.
This sends an unconscious message to the prospect: ‘this company is ON THE BALL’.
A first call is like a job interview, and the prospect knows that if you are slow to get back to them when they aren’t a client, how much sloooower will you be once they sign a management agreement with you? Flip side is also true: if you are prompt, they silently think “whoa, that’s the kind of response I want from someone managing my multi-hundred thousand dollar asset”.
Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen salespeople use just one or maybe two ways to contact a prospect. And then give up once they don’t get a response after 2 tries. Weak.
Beyond that, they only follow up in one way, maybe 2 at most. But there are more tools are your disposal. Here are some ideas for how you can add some more variety into your follow up:
Also make sure to contact people on a variety of days and times. If you strike out contacting prospects at 10am, maybe they are at work? So think like a prospect: contact them in early evening or weekend. Make a point of trying to contact when they are most likely to be available versus when it’s convenient for your salespeople.
This is “part 2” to the point above, but an important idea all on it’s own. I used to be a national sales manager for a software company. God bless salespeople, but they are the inspiration for the term “herding cats”. If you are counting on your salespeople to remember to follow up, you my friend are in for a sad awakening in the not too distant future. They will give you “creative” reasons, but in the end, follow up won’t get done unless the majority of it is automated.
This is particularly true for leads that aren’t ‘buying now’, which is most leads statistically. We suggest a blend of automated and ‘homemade’ emails/calls, etc. for follow up in order to make sure this important step happens. If you don’t have at least 6-7 actions (text, call, etc) in your follow up sequence you are leaving lots of money on the table. Take advantage of automation to make that happen.
It’s one thing when you’re a one person shop; you can have any system you want and it’s “The System”. But once you have more salespeople in the process, you need to get organized…fast. Why? You’ll have chaos.
I have seen some crazy messed up LeadSimple accounts (and other systems…IE one company used POST IT notes). One salesperson says this is a ‘lost deal’ and another calls it a ‘bad lead’. Well, which is it? Now multiply that by 300 entries and its chaos supreme, and very, very, very tedious to fix later.
If you skip this, managing the sales process as an owner will be a nightmare. You’ll pull reports as the owner and they will be worthless because ‘‘garbage in, garbage out’ (GIGA). We have seen it more than one time where an owner says “WTF! We’re only closing 7% of our leads!!!” Only to find out that salespeople are not using the tracking software correctly and the true conversion rate is 18%. If you want to rely on the numbers from your CRM system, you have to nail this one.
Your sales team takes its cues from the owner. Yes, you may have other things to do and yes, it’s their job, but you’ve probably heard that you “can’t EXpect what you don’t INSpect”? If you’re going to have a successful sales process like we mention above, it’s probably not going to happen without your direct involvement and management, especially in it’s early days.
Go out of your way to make sure that your staff knows it’s a priority. It’s nice that you came up with all these great ideas for how to improve your process, but let people know how much it matters and track how they’re doing at implementing it. Everyone needs that little ‘gentle nudge’ from the head honcho to focus on the hard work of follow up.
Amazon has changed the world in terms of reviews. I ask you, when was the last time you bought a product on Amazon with 2 or 3 stars? I thought so. So if your PM company has 3.2 stars and your competitors have 4.5 stars, do you think that makes a difference in your ability to close deals (correct answer: YES).
You want quality reviews on Google first of all (Yelp is nice, but it’s a much tougher animal, especially if you started with a few bad reviews). Don’t bother with services that post your reviews on a special page or similar; consumers don’t care because they don’t know and trust these companies. They trust Google. Get LOTS of Google reviews. And get lots MORE than your competitors. Your prospects are comparing, trust us on this. We know.