I am surprised that most property managers think they are differently from their competition! Ask any property manager what they do different, and they will all start saying what they believe is their difference. In most cases, there are two major flaws with their answer.
The first is that their ‘difference’ is not really a difference at all! Things like ‘we return emails and calls on time’, or ‘we treat the property as if it were our own’ or ‘we offer great customer service’! These statements are vague, generalised and are really what every property manager should be doing!
The second is that prospective clients see most property management departments as the same. They do not see any difference at all! When they see their property management marketing brochures as looking the same, and their message the same, it’s no wonder the client tries to force a difference and request a discount on fees.
The unbelievable thing is that a department only needs to have 2-3 real points of difference to be noticed and remembered. If you have any more than this, there is a good chance you will not be remembered at all because there is too much to remember!
Implementing 2-3 strong points of difference is the key. Be willing to invest to get your points of difference because when the client clearly sees that you are different, then the business will roll your way! The point of points of difference is that they must be properly promoted to the prospective client in brochures, booklets and as part of your promotional listing kit when at the rental appraisal. Just briefly mention them, and they will not have any power at all!
Really promote them and the prospective client will want you to manage their property. When they do request a discount, you can then easily justify your fee difference by highlighting the points of difference that only you have.
So let’s look at Ten Points of Difference. These are points of difference we have seen work well in businesses all around Australia. Remember though that they are no good if you do not promote the points of difference powerfully to prospective clients to be noticed.
1- Landlord On-Line Statement Information
Similar to the convenience of internet banking, implementing an online web-based service that landlords can download their own monthly statements and even check on the progress of a maintenance order. Imagine sending an email to the owner to confirm their end of month statement is ready for accessing and printing! No more posting of statements! This is a very strong point of difference that is attracting new clients all on its own if implemented and promoted properly. The implementation investment is well worth the potential return!
Please note- for REST Computer System users, Rockend have created ‘iRest’- an online service that allows landlords to access their information via the web 24/7. Log onto www.rockend.com.au, products, REST, additional modules and then scroll down the page to information on the ’iRest Web Access Brochure.’
2- Exclusive Property Owner’s Handbook
Having a complete User Guide to your property management department will set you apart in the Listing Appraisal. Answering commonly asked questions, having a checklist of getting the property ready, quotes from your state Residential Tenancies Act- all impresses landlords with your thoroughness and expertise! Promoted to prospective clients as exclusive to ‘signed up clients’ this property owners handbook works wonders when used correctly!
Click Here for more information and access to a sample of the contents page.
Check our Tenant Handbook with a 22-page sample as well.
3- Fee Packages
Offering the prospective client 2-3 fee packages to choose from gives them the perception of choice. Packages named like ‘Platinum, Gold and Silver’ or ‘Premium, Standard and Basic’, you can call them whatever you like! The top package could be ‘one fee does all’, the second could be your usual fee structure and the last one could be a lower management fee with lots of ‘add on’ fees. Keep in mind that clients will probably go for the middle package, be sure that this package is where you want your fees to be!
Ten power keys to winning the business
4- Customer Service Standards and Guarantee
List to the client in writing exactly what you will do for the property marketing, application processing, tenancy processes (renewals, rent collection), inspections etc. The only list what you know you will do 100% and you cannot go wrong. Provide them with a guarantee (for example you will manage their property for 3 months free if you breach any of your written standards) and in their eyes, you take away the risk of going with you!
For Customer Service Strategy Resources
5- Use of Two Tenant Check Internet Databases
When a lot of agents use one tenancy database, only a few use two services when checking applications. By promoting to the client that you screen tenants against the ‘two most extensive internet databases in Australia’ sounds very impressive- especially if your competition down the road cannot be bothered to use any!
6- The ‘Local Expert’
Setting yourself apart with your media presence is a great way for people to want to use you over your competition. Perceiving yourself as the local expert is one way to do this effectively because everyone loves to deal with who they perceive as the best! Spending time creating this perception will definitely bring home the gold! Placing weekly property investor tips about property management or offering free property investor guides like ‘Common Mistakes Landlords Make’ all will get interested from the very people you want to do business with. If you are giving away a free guide, be sure that when people call for the guide get their contact and email details and keep them informed with a newsletter (in compliance with Spamming legislation).
7- Promotional Material
The way you package yourself also has a major impact on perception. By spending quality time and resource producing a simple first impressions brochure which is light on information but high on colour, photos and impact will give a favourable first impression. Yes, some money on a graphic artist and quality printing may be involved here. Extending that perception to a ‘wow factor’ information booklet will also do the trick. I am not talking about a booklet like every department has one. I am talking about your booklet containing colour, design and including photos of property managers at work. This material works best when a client calls to enquire on your services and have been shopping around with other local agents. By sending them your material before you meet with them can make you stand out much better over your competition than if your material just looks the same.
8- Wow Factor Listing Kit
Like your promotional brochure and booklet, you must have a presentation folder for your services when meeting with them. A lot of property managers show examples of their work (inspections, tenancy agreement etc) however presenting your work with presentation pages listing down what you do and how you do it in large, the bullet-pointed format looks great. Further adding colour to these presentation pages with photos of property managers at work adds to the impress factor and polish of your presentation. This allows you to stand out over the competition who probably do not use a listing kit or one that looks quite boring!
9- Video Camera
By extending your ingoing inspection agenda by including a 10-minute walk-through video of the property will have a great impression with landlords in the listing appraisal. By showing them what you do (have a presentation page in your listing kit with a photo of a property manager holding a video camera) and promoting the benefits of added video footage as well as digital photos and a detailed written inspection report when a new tenant takes possession, this all contributes to the ‘impress factor’. Make a big deal of the issue to the client and they will perceive it to be a big deal, plus it makes you look so much better over your competition that thinks they do not need it! If the boss thinks a video camera is not necessary and too expensive, a second-hand video camera will be probably cost over $500. You can even get low-cost video cameras with internet video resolution called ‘Flip-Video Camera’ for approx $200- $300. In comparison to the potential of $1000 to $1500 each new property management will bring into the company, you only need to get one new property over the line using this technique to justify it!
10- Landlord Follow Up
Just following up landlords after a rental appraisal will make you stand out a mile away! The point is that no one follows up! The fact you have gone to the trouble of phoning them and asking how they went with their decision after their enquiry or following up after a listing presentation appointment with you will make you stand out as a person that wants their business!
Again, being different and doing things differently will get a different result. Too many property managers all look the same, and ‘bleet’ the same message.
Be daring, be different and get great results- go for it!