Our guest today is Jordan Muela, CEO of LeadSimple, a company that provides CRM solutions to the Property Management industry. Alex, who hosts the podcast, is the CEO of Fourandhalf, a digital marketing agency that works exclusively with the Property Management industry.
Over the last few years, Jordan and Alex built their respective businesses to a multi million dollar growth machines while solving real problems in the Property Management industry. After seeing 100s of property management companies succeed and fail, Alex and Jordan have a wealth of experience to share on how to Grow and Scale a Property Management business in 2016 and beyond. Take a listen.
Here is the transcript of the Interview:
10 Property Management Business Growth Hacks for 2016
Hello and welcome to The Property Management Show. I am your host, Alex Osenenko. My day job is serving as the CEO of Fourandhalf, a marketing company working exclusively with fee-based property management companies. I have spent the last seven years of my life helping property management companies become more successful by improving sales, marketing and operational efficiencies. In this show, we’ll deconstruct success down to its key components and invite subject matter experts to help you improve every facet of your business
The topic today is 10 tips for growth hacking your property management business. Let’s define growth hacking. It’s an interesting term that a lot of people don’t understand. I had to go on Google and look it up.
Growth hacking is a marketing technique that use creativity, analytical thinking and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. Specifically, most growth hackers focus on low cost and innovative alternatives to traditional media marketing.
Our guest and co-host is Jordan Muela, who is the CEO of LeadSimple, which provides software for property managers to handle their lead nurturing and sales process. Each of us will provide five growth hacks that we see as being useful for property managers.
- Productized Rental Reports. A lot of companies have different offers and enticements to get people in the door. A popular offer is to establish an exchange of information for an email address. The rental report allows potential customers to find out how much their home will rent for. It’s a straight forward, basic proposition. Consumers understand what they’re being offered. A lot of people are putting this offer out there, so the challenge is in getting them to bite. You want to provide a rental report that is interesting and well designed. People will feel like they gained something. Don’t jot some information down or type it up loosely in a Word document. Work with a company like Rent Range which has professionally put-together report. You can customize them with your brand logo. This provides a nice, slick deliverable. When you get people to your website and you’re offering this report, take a miniaturized image of it and use it as part of the enticement. People need to see a visual ahead of time so they know they’re getting something of value. Renters Warehouse does this really well. Check out their Contact Us form and you’ll see the preview graphic of the report. It’s an inexpensive offer that will give you a lot more mileage out of website traffic.
Once you start getting those leads, people who want to download that report and see what their house will rent for might not be ready to work with you right away. That’s okay, because it leads us to my first growth hack, which has to do with marketing and growing your business.
- Content. At Fourandhalf, we talk about the value of content all the time. We know that 80 percent of all searches are long tail, which means people are asking Google questions. Another interesting statistic is this: Amazon.com makes 57 percent of its sales from keywords outside of popular terms. So people aren’t searching for shoes, but they might be searching for green shoes that reach the knee for fishing. This demonstrates that content is by far the foundational way to monetize just about every avenue of your business, including productized rental property reports, your website and pay-per-click programs. Here’s an example of content and how it can become your ultimate growth hack: Five Ways to Remodel your Rental Property in Chattanooga to Cash Flow in 2016. There’s your article. If 50 people find it in 60 days, how many of them do you think will have a rental property in Chattanooga that they are thinking of remodeling? Most of them. That’s why content is my number one.
I love content because you don’t just publish and leads start coming. You produce the content and the value comes in over a period of time; maybe 5, 10 or 15 years. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
- Lead Nurturing. Lead nurturing is so valuable. Lead nurturing is not throwing away leads that don’t convert within 14 days. Your lead is a real person with real person problems. They might not be ready now, but they could be in a year or two. As a lead provider, we have seen what happens with most companies in terms of follow up. Their follow up is not pretty in the short term and nonexistent in the long term. Don’t burn your leads. Nurture those long term relationships, even if they don’t close right away. Lead with value and follow up with value. Building a buying preference and when that lead is ready to buy two months from now or they have a friend who needs to buy two years from now, you own that preference. Having a lead nurturing program in place allows you to own the mindshare of your consumers when they’re ready. Set up a process via email automation where you pair high quality content with well-timed relevant emails that go out over a period of 12 to 24 months. Very few companies do this, so it’s a wide open opportunity and you always want to compete in these types of spaces.
All of these pieces go together. Just providing the property reports is going to close a few deals but will take some time. But when you plug all these three things together, your growth hack gets bigger. People think it’s too expensive and time consuming for property managers. If you don’t do this yourself, there are people like us who can do it for you. You can do it on your own if you want to, and if you don’t think you have the time or the resources, hire someone who can.
- Reputation. Without reputation, you might as well not try to grow your business at all. It’s a simple focus on asking your happy customers to give you their testimonials on channels that other people trust, like Yelp and Google. Post these reviews on your website so people see it’s real. If you aren’t focused on your reputation, you may win a battle or two, but you’ll lose the war. It’s paramount. It’s also the ultimate equalizer. A company that has been around for a year can compete with a company that has been around for 20 years. Reputation management allows a new company to look better than the older company. People look at star rankings and reviews and they also look at the number of reviews. If your review capital is low and you have three five star reviews, that’s great. But if you have 300 reviews and a four-star ranking, you’ll outsell the competition every time. Ask your good customers for help, and you can turn around your reputation. Get those people on the record talking about your company.
At the end of the day, you’re catering to the reality of how people search. We are all consumers who want to read reviews. It doesn’t matter what you’re buying. This is a hack or a way to get ahead, but this is also necessary for your survival. Don’t be ambivalent about it. Property managers have dual customer bases – property managers and tenants. One group is way more motivated to leave reviews. One segment of the population spends a lot of time leaving negative reviews. You have to fight back against that.
- Throttling Pay-Per-Lead Services. There are a lot of services you’re familiar with when it comes to Pay-Per-Lead. I like Pay-Per-Lead services because it’s a value for value transaction. There are list directories where you pay for an ad but you don’t know what you’re going to get. With Pay-Per-Lead, the math adds up. They work. When you have a good conversion rate, all of these services are effective. Many people choose between Pay-Per-Click and Pay-Per-Lead, but it makes sense to use several different services. If you’re not focused on aggressive growth and you want to stay steady, then maybe you’ll choose one over the other. You have to be signing new contracts even to stay in the same place. If you have any ambitions to aggressively row, you can’t work with just one. Most companies that grow big claw into every lead source available and combine them to have something that really works. If you’re actually growing aggressively, you don’t have to pick just one or the other. Throttle the Pay-Per-Lead market and get qualified leads wherever they come from. ROI is your focus, so calculate your cost per contract, which is a function of customer lifetime value. If you have a good business and strong retention, your customer lifetime will be high enough to pay for leads from more than one vendor.
My next growth hack is completely aligned with that. It’s Pay-Per-Click.
- Pay-Per-Click. If you want to go out and buy accounts or property management companies, you’ll pay at least 12 to 18 percent to acquire properties under management. If you buy a 100-unit property management company, you will pay $1,200 per property at a minimum to acquire that business. Growth hacking means finding alternative means. Traditional growth is acquisition. The reality is, if you maximize your Pay-Per-Click budget, you will pay less than you would acquiring a property management company. When you have a landing page for your Google Ads campaign and your sales staff is succeeding, you can spend $300 to $400 per contract. That’s half the price of acquiring management contracts, which is growth hacking.
It’s reliable and steady, so there are a lot of attractive aspects to Pay-Per-Click. You’re owning more of the asset involved, instead of just the lead.
- Calling FRBOs or For Rent by Owner. This is different territory. The companies we work with who have a portfolio management model use this from time to time. Property managers who are just starting out and looking for business will be aggressive, calling signs and FRBO properties and visiting realtors. We don’t see it as much with companies at scale. It’s a discipline. No one wants to make these calls. You also have to find a list. However, it’s another lead source to consider. It may or may not work for you. You need a good script and a good list if you’re going to use this growth hack. You’ll have to get over your call aversion. You can get lists from sites like PMleads.com. They provide daily lists of FRBOs that are scrubbed. It’s one option. Rent Range and Rentometer will also provide lists. It’s not the sort of thing I suggest to do intermittently. If you’re going to do this, have a dedicated and delegated person in your company to do this.
I think outbound strategies are different and we don’t see a lot of outbound calls unless a computer is calling. Does it work?
If you look at an adjacent industry like real estate, the outbound dialing model works. No one likes cold calling, but people can build business off it. This is an activity based model with ales. It does work in real estate; it’s just not as mature in the property management world. We have some clients who do it and do it well. It can become a long term channel.
We do 10 well-researched calls per day per person. We’ll send an email with a topic that’s relevant so people open it, such as How to Get Started on your 2016 Property Management Marketing Plan. Blindly dialing, however, is not a great plan. Always think quality over quantity with outbound marketing. If you can figure out evictions and get your hand on a list of evictions and find those landlords who are dealing with evictions, you’ll clean up.
- Join Local Organizations. This is a growth hack for a couple of reasons. First, you are a local business. You have a territory. You’re not going to manage outside of that territory. So it’s important to physically get to know people and become a pillar in your community. Join the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary and teach a class at the local community college. Talk to local rental housing associations. Teach them something. Become known in community. Let them know who you are and what you do. That will lead to referrals and business. The second reason is that it improves your SEO. There is tremendous value in the link to your business from your local college or rental housing association or Chamber. That link goes to your website and it doesn’t even matter if people don’t click the link. You’ll get a huge SEO boost. In a competitive search landscape, the company with the highest quality and quantity wins. That’s how you get to search positon number one. You have content and structure, high quality backlines from authoritative institutions, and you will trump your competitors. Make sure you’re listed on their websites with your link and you’ll do well.
I love relationships and branding as well as giving back. You’re actually serving your local community when you become part of it. It’s a long term lead generation hack, and that’s how you win.
- Having a Growth Plan. Your growth plan is to audit 2015 and see where your inbound inquiries came from. Review your conversion rates and lead sources. This is not push-button for most companies. You may have reporting, but you don’t know if it’s accurate. So go back and if you have a system or some reporting, check it. Collect information and generate data. Audit the last year and see what worked and what didn’t. Use that to strategize for the next year. Having a goal and plan will force you to make certain decisions. Write down how many additional contracts or properties you want to gain and work backwards to understand what you have to do to get there. How many leads will you need to generate and what will your conversion rate have to be? Do the math backwards and have a plan. Work the plan.
This is exceptional, and my last growth hack is similar. You have to get tactical.
- Having a Marketing Plan. If you start pounding the pavement and you know what you want to do, you need to have a whole plan. Don’t just pick one or two things that might work. Get as much as you can out of your time. Be strategic when you implement it. Get all the elements together, review your business and gather data. Look at what is closing and what lead channels you used. Calculate the cost per lead for each channel. Figure out the closing ratio. Really plan out the marketing part of your business. Then, get out of the grind and build a plan that will grow your business.
Thank you to Jordan for talking to our audience. You can find Jordan Muela at LeadSimple.com. Think about taking their sales course, which can give you some perspective on growing your property management business. You can always find us at Fourandhalf.com, where we do property management marketing.