Disclaimer: This blog was originally published in 2017, and not all of the information regarding Jock McNeill, PM Grow Summit, Alliance Property Management, and Rent Napa Valley is current. However, the advice given is still applicable today and we updated the blog with even more relevant information in June 2023.
Jock McNeill was a guest speaker at the 2017 PM Grow Summit, where he gave a thought-provoking talk about Growth Through Acquisitions. He’ll be back with Michael Catalano at the 2018 PM Grow Summit to discuss the 5 Principles of Success in Growing Through Acquisitions.
While we were chatting about his presentation, he said in an alarmingly off-hand manner: “By the way, after learning at the last PM Grow Summit how a Business Development Manager (BDM) can help grow a business, I decided to try it and now we’ve doubled our growth.”
DOUBLED OUR GROWTH. As if it was no big deal.
Jock owns Alliance Property Management and Rent Napa Valley in Northern California, and he is joining The Property Management Show to discuss his past sales process, and what happened when he changed his course of action.
Jock McNeill’s Background
Jock is the co-owner and broker of Alliance Property Management, Rent Napa Valley, and also True Real Estate Partners. He has been doing property management since 1999, and his role has shifted from doing everything himself to currently having a staff of 12 or 14 people full-time, and a handful of part-timers. He has three offices in the North Bay area of California.
Jock runs a tight ship, and he has a staff of people who have been with him for a long time. It’s hard to keep good people motivated, but he has found success by treating his team well and providing opportunities for them.
His property management sales process has changed significantly over the last five years.
The Alliance Property Management Sales Process Before 2014
Before 2014, their sales process was pretty old fashioned. When new or prospective clients called, Jock would take the call as the broker and co-owner. He set up the appointment to check out the property, and he went there to meet the property owners and evaluate the home. He’d sign them up, bring them into the Alliance Property Management portfolio, and hand the client off to a property manager.
He tracked everything in a spiral notebook.
Jock did his own follow up and knew he was missing opportunities. The sales funnel had leaks, but he was still able to close two or three new properties a month. He had to speak to five or six property owners in order to close those two or three, but that’s not a bad success rate. Jock’s leads were warm, and mostly referrals. His company was well-known in the community, so while he was closing enough new business to make up for the natural loss of current clients, he knew he could be doing better.
Revamping the Sales Process and Going Digital: 2014 – 2017
In 2014, at the Atlanta NARPM conference, Jock made a commitment to sign up with LeadSimple and Fourandhalf to begin managing leads and investing in marketing. This created a good foundation for his company’s sales funnel. He started tracking leads. He began following up. His close ratio went up due to the new processes he had in place.
If you’re wondering what made him realize he was ready for marketing, it’s simple: Numbers.
Jock said it was easy to do the math and see that if they invested a little in a sales and marketing infrastructure, they’d earn it back pretty quickly. They began to do more advertising, invested in marketing, and learned that the more volume they put in the funnel, the more efficiently they were able to use their efforts and resources. When you’re putting more money into that sales funnel, the leaks get more expensive.
Jock knew to plug the leaks.
With these new processes, the four property managers in the Santa Rosa office began taking new business calls when Jock wasn’t available. He didn’t want to miss those calls, and the LeadSimple system of call routing was put into place so that someone would always respond to a call from a potential new client. This increased business, and Alliance doubled what they closed every month. That meant five or six new doors were being signed every month.
This also worked well because when property managers were talking to new clients, they’d be the ones who ultimately took on the management of that home.
Sometimes, accounts are won simply based on chemistry. If you don’t like the person you’re talking to, you’re not going to work with them. If you can talk to one another with ease and it seems like you’re on the same page, your working relationship is already off to a good start.
Exponential Property Management Business Growth After The PM Grow Summit 2017
A few months before the PM Grow Summit in February of 2017, Jock began evaluating his business plan and thinking again about going a different route. He was thinking about hiring a sales and marketing person because there was a sense that with the new business responsibilities, property managers weren’t able to spend enough time managing properties.
Business Development Managers and Company Culture
At the Summit, there was a lot of talk about Business Development Managers (BDM). Several speakers discussed what they do, how they contribute to the organization, and what their responsibilities are.
This is information you have to be exposed to in order to use it. There’s not a book you can read or a blog you can follow. You have to talk to people who have experienced what a good BDM can do for a company. The exposure to this expertise solidified a lot of ideas for Jock, and that sales and marketing role began to take form.
Shifting Cultures in the Workplace: Finding the Right Property Management BDM
One of Jock’s property managers was waiting for him when he returned from PM Grow earlier this year. He wanted a different role in the company, and he had some ideas on how to talk to new potential clients about their property management services and what to do to bring in more business. This was a property manager Jock and the team knew and respected. He was an asset to the team, so they decided to give him a shot in the BDM position.
Making the Most Out of Your Property Management Business Development Manager
Putting together the job description was tough. Jock knew he wanted the BDM (Michael) to bring in new potential clients for his property management company and not miss any inquiries. It evolved into the additional role of helping to get the new properties to market. That takes a lot of time, and as new clients were coming on board, property managers were feeling swamped.
So, Michael, the BDM, began taking pictures of the homes, and preparing the listings. Then, it was handed off to a property manager for marketing, showing, and leasing. Michael is also responsible for networking events and other outbound marketing initiatives.
Better Business, Better Numbers
Remember, Jock is a numbers guy.
In the first three months of having Michael in the BDM role, 30 new units were closed. That breaks down to about 10 a month. In the second three months, they’re on track to close about 15 new units per month.
Quality Control and a Strange Way to Lease Homes
It’s important that the property management Business Development Manager understand what kind of homes the company wants to bring in. At Alliance Property Management, they’re looking for specific locations and properties in good condition.Landlords and owners are screened. It’s easy to tell what kind of client you’re getting when you recommend work that needs to be done before the property goes on the market, and there’s pushback. If an owner is comfortable renting out a home with 20-year-old carpet, that’s not going to bode well for the future of your relationship.
Some BDMs will be involved with lease renewals. That’s a non-issue for Jock’s company because they don’t do leases.
That’s right – no leases.
Alliance Property Management writes month to month contracts. If a tenant becomes a problem or doesn’t pay rent, you can terminate the contract the very next month. You can get them out of your property without cause. This is brilliant because with a lease, you have to prove the breach. That takes time, and everyone knows California is a tenant-friendly state. So, while you give up the guarantee of a long term renter, you’re achieving the peace of mind that you can eliminate the problems that come with a non-performing tenant right away. The market right now is strong enough that vacancies are not a concern. Turnover can be easily managed.
Alliance Property Management Business Growth Goals for Jock
Jock is comfortable with this growth. He believes in smart growth over rapid growth.
Why? So that he doesn’t kill his employees.
He’s got a great team working with him, and he doesn’t want anyone burning out. It also impacts the level of service he can provide his property owners. Everyone needs to feel supported, appreciated, and capable. Bringing in 10 new units a month means 120 new units a year. That’s 12 percent growth, which is pretty exceptional and extremely sustainable.
In terms of tracking results, Jock is not a micro-manager. He gives his BDM the goals and objectives, and lets him work towards them with his own methods. They talk a lot, and share information constantly. Everything is loaded into LeadSimple, from phone calls to meetings to networking events.
Favorite Topics: Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) and Annual Contract Value
Spending around $100,000 a year on both salary and marketing, Jock’s customer acquisition cost is $833. Each of the new units his BDM brings in has a contract value of $2,000. Do the math, and you’ll see that Jock is paying back his acquisition costs in about four months.
That’s a recipe for success.
When you can pay back your customer acquisition cost within six months, you’re working with a phenomenal opportunity.
How Do You Grow Your Property Management Company?
You may be wondering how you can implement what Jock’s doing in your own business. Whether you’re looking to start a property management company or you’re already well established as a property manager in your area, here are a few ways to help grow your business. It all starts with your property management business plan.
Evaluate Your Property Management Business Plan Often
Jock is always thinking ahead and planning new ways to grow his property management business. You should too.
When you start a property management business, it’s easy to just set practices and then never return to them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed as tasks start piling up and forget to think about ways to improve your business.
That’s why it’s important to have a business plan, a living document that outlines all of your numbers, your reasons for how you’re running your business and your goals for the future of your property management company.
Take a look at your own property management business plan and see if there are any areas that are holding you back. If there’s an area in your business that is preventing you from growing, change it. Talk to other property managers and see how they solve the issues you’re facing.
Invest in Sales and Marketing Infrastructure
Having a solid marketing strategy will get your property management company in front of more property owners. This can be as simple as using a property management software such as Leadsimple to manage your leads and fix leaks in your sales funnel. Making sure to follow up with all property owners in your pipeline insures that you will close more clients.
How much you’re able to invest in marketing depends entirely on your personal numbers but whether you invest in paid advertising, content marketing, or just a software solution such as Leadsimple, getting more eyes on your business will get you more doors. As your business grows, you’ll be able to invest more.
Hire a Good BDM
Often times, property managers want to do everything themselves. But having a competent team to help answer phones and do property inspections when you’re not there is one of the best ways to get more doors and clients.
This is one of the strategies property management companies often wait too long to implement. Hiring a property management business development manager doubles the amount of time that you’re able to put into your business, which means you’ll be able to onboard more property owners and have more leases signed (if that’s how you’re running things).
Emphasis on the “Good”
You won’t truly get time back if you’re spending all your time micromanaging your employees. Hire people you trust to run and grow your business and then let them. A good BDM should allow you the freedom to do other things in your business be someone to bounce ideas off of. Goals and objectives can be outlined in a business plan to keep everyone on the same page.
Be Comfortable Thinking Outside the Box
Having no leases might not work for your property management company. But there are many unique ways you can solve problems in your property management business plan by thinking outside the box. There’s no reason to follow the status quo if it’s not working for you. As long as you’re following local laws, there’s no limit to the creative solutions you can come up with for your property management business plan.
Having a property management business plan is just the first step. We may not be able to guarantee that you’re able to double your growth the way Jock did – but we’re confident that if you follow these steps as they make sense for your own company that you’ll find success and business growth.
Jock is always learning and implementing, which we think is important in this industry. If you have any questions about what he’s done or how you can grow your property management business yourself – contact Fourandhalf – Digital Marketing for Property Managers.