Amy Sanderson from LJ Hooker gives some practical tips and scripts for differentiating your property management service from the competition.
When a prospective owner asks you how your agency differs from others, what do you normally say? It’s not such an easy question to answer; ‘we are the best’ just doesn’t cut it. Neither do the basics: collecting the rent, chasing arrears, letting the property, regular inspections, property reports, and payments – these are all just considered to be ‘must haves’.
What is it that really differentiates you from your competition? Do you even know what they do?What do you do better? Why should a prospective landlord client choose you, and pay you the fee for leasing and managing their property?
If you can’t differentiate yourself, you will never win this battle. Research your competition, ask your investors what they want from you, find out what they like and don’t like about your service, and work your business model through to meet their needs.
When you present your services to an investor client, you must remember to question them closely about what they want, and when you tell them what you can do, you must speak in terms that only benefit the investor. They are not interested in the fact that you will collect the rent for them; they expect that. They will, however, be interested in the fact that you give payment choices to tenants through a rental collection system which is shown, through office statistics, to result in fewer rental arrears.
We are most at risk of losing a landlord client when the property is vacant or the tenant has not paid their rent. Let’s look at some particular scripts you might use during presentations, to help show what you do better than your competition.
Our arrears are really low: “You can see here that over the past six months our arrears statistics are below two per cent. This is due both to our extensive systems which make it easier for tenants to pay the rent, and to the follow up processes we use if they do not.”
When it comes to vacancy rates, landlords have three common needs:
- the highest possible rent
- the best tenant
- the shortest time
“We understand how important it is to you to locate a good quality tenant at the highest possible rent and in the shortest time, to ensure that you maximise your return on investment. Over 80 per cent of our prospective tenant enquiries come from the Internet; with this in mind, we have spent considerable time and energy ensuring that our internet listings get the right response, that is, prospective tenants come and view your property”.
It amazes me how many property managers seem to take photos with their eyes closed! In our business, we have made a conscious effort to ensure that each photo presents a property at its best, with good lighting, and the right angles to show a property’s maximum floor space. Instead of showing whole rooms, for example the combined lounge and dining area, take a photo of each component separately and do not show the other room in the shot. Separate them completely and take more than one shot. Then pick the best one: remember, we only have one opportunity to get their attention.
“Once the prospective tenant has clicked on the photo to see more, what do they look at next? The caption and the copy. In order to engage this prospective tenant we need to capture their imagination and really activate their call to action – which is to call the office or to view the property. Our copy needs to sell the benefits of living at that property and get them to envisage themselves living there, not just give a list of features. Anyone can write a 2br ft with a SLUG. My biggest concern here is that they do not teach real estate abbreviations at school, and we live in a multi-cultural society. To achieve maximum results, that is, more people viewing your property, the copy needs to be understandable to a wide readership. If not, they won’t ring us and ask; they will click off your listing and look elsewhere. With this in mind, we have an office policy that we do not include abbreviations in any of our internet advertisements. These are all tools that we use on a daily basis to ensure that we have the best pool of prospective tenants to choose from, allowing us to find you the best tenant, in the shortest amount of time, for the highest rent.”
Talk about things that are important to an investor and things that you know that you do better or differently from your competition. The arrears dialogue above is successful since most property managers do not know their statistics off the cuff, and most will baulk if asked, because they are unsure of how this will look to the prospective client.
I pose the question to you, “Why should I choose you to lease and manage my property? What do you do differently or better than your competitors?’
Amy Sanderson is the LJ Hooker Network Performance Manager – Property Investment Management. She has close to twenty years’ experience in the real estate industry, starting with zero properties under management to more than 500 in less than four years. She went on to manage one of the largest rent rolls in the country, overseeing a team of more than 30 people and close to 3,000 properties. She is therefore able to assist property managers and business owners right across the full spectrum of property management operations.