Growing your rent roll can be difficult, particularly if you’re a new business. Ellen Bathgate examines the importance of generating referrals and how you can secure them when your rent roll is too small to return the favour.
If you’re in the first couple of years of growing a rent roll, you’re going to need to focus on getting more landlord leads into your business.
And, if you’ve ever attended BDM or rent roll growth training, you’ve probably been told to “network, network, network”.
This is great advice.
You should be networking.
You should be growing your referral network.
But, how do you take networking and turn it into a steady stream of landlord referrals in your rent roll?
Once you’ve done your networking, there’s a follow-up process.
If you follow the process, you’ll start generating referrals from your network every month.
But first, remember there are two types of networking:
You need to do both types of networking.
Organised networking is a scheduled networking event as part of a networking organisation.
You usually pay to attend these events, and you’re expected to show up to the scheduled meetings.
I love organised networking events.
They’re especially useful when you’re first starting your rent roll, and you need to establish yourself in the business community.
They require you to commit to attending the networking events for a fixed time.
Often they will teach excellent business networking strategies to you, as a member.
If you’re in the first couple of years of growing a rent roll, and you don’t already have a strong referral network of businesses who can refer landlords to you, get yourself involved in an organised networking group.
Informal networking is more self-driven.
It’s as simple as calling your mortgage broker and grabbing a coffee together.
There’s no scheduled networking event, there’s no group attendance, it’s just you and one other business owner catching up.
If you’re part of an organised networking group, then you’ll be able to create informal networking opportunities with other members of this group.
But if you’re not in an organised networking group, it’s time to make contact with local complementary businesses in your area who could become part of your referral network.
HOW DO YOU GET LEADS?
Usually, when you meet with someone in your network, you want to ask them to send you referrals.
But quite often, they’re going to want referrals in return.
If you’re a well-established agency, with a decent rent roll, you can probably do this.
But if you’re in the early years of growing your rent roll, you might not have enough clients to be able to send referrals back.
I’ve discovered three effective ways to get your referral network sending you more referrals, even if you can’t return the favour (yet).
Well, not just coffee. Meeting for coffee with people in your referral network is key.
When I was growing my rent roll, I found that I needed to meet with people in my referral network at least once every four to six weeks.
If I didn’t meet them that often, they would forget about me.
I found that if I met with a referral partner for a coffee, two out of every three coffees would result in a lead.
That means, for every three referral partners I met in person, two of them would say, “I’ve got a client who is buying an investment property, I’ll send you their details”.
That’s $9 well spent ($9 is how much it costs to buy two coffees, in case you’re wondering).
The best way to ensure you’re meeting with people in your referral network every four to six weeks is to set reminders in your CRM software.
This way, you can treat your referral network almost like they are leads to follow up regularly.
Remember, when you meet with a referral partner for a coffee, there are many things you can discuss with them.
Of course, you can swap stories about being business owners and use some of the time together to bond.
But, there’s also an opportunity to talk about shared promotional activities.
Discuss opportunities to film videos together (interview each other), talk about writing articles or guest blogs for each other and make plans to run other promotions together.
You probably know you should be creating content regularly to share with your following.
That means blogs, videos, tips and guides that you can share via email and your social media platforms.
But this content creation isn’t just for potential landlord clients.
It’s also for your referral network.
Creating content and getting it in front of your referral network achieves three things:
- It forces your referral network to take you seriously. If they see you creating content and publishing it widely, they’ll realise you mean business.
When you’re a small or new agency, this is important.
Many established businesses (who you want to become your referral network) will want to see that you’re taking your business seriously.
Publishing content regularly is a great way to prove this to them.
- It positions your agency as the expert in the marketplace. Your referral network will want to send clients to the best in the industry.
- It puts you in front of your referral network digitally. Even though you’re meeting them in person every four to six weeks, if you’re also emailing them your weekly blog article and they’re seeing your videos and tips on social media, you’re going to be front of mind.
The other side of this content strategy is to be sharing their content too.
This means, when your accountant publishes a great blog about preparing for tax time, share it on social media.
But remember, if you’re going to share it on social media, make sure you tag the accountant in the post, so they know you’ve shared it.
The secret to using your content (and theirs) to prompt your referral network to send you more referrals, is staying front of mind.
Your content marketing strategy might be the difference between no referrals coming in from your network and being inundated each week.
Besides meeting with people in your referral network in person, and including them in your content marketing strategy, plan to help them with their publicity too.
Social media is the ultimate way to give shout-outs to your referral network and to feature them in your marketing plan.
When you promote your referral network on social media, they’ll receive a notification about it (if you tag them, of course).
This is a way to keep you front of mind and score a few brownie points with your network too.
Remember, you don’t just give shout-outs on social media to your referral network.
You can be strategic about the posts you create and include them in.
Plan your social media to include video interviews with your referral network.
Add some guest blogs on their website (and yours).
Create cross-promotion and other shared marketing opportunities too.
There’s no denying it’s hard to grow a small rent roll.
But if you apply these three strategies with your referral network, they will reward you with new client referrals.
Ellen Bathgate is the founder of Rent Roll Starter, and helps rent roll owners to start and grow their rent rolls using affordable growth strategies. For more, visit rentrollstarter.com.au