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 a new or prospective client 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 owner 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 able to close two or three new properties a month. He had to speak to five or six leads 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:
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 potentially 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 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 clients 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 BDM
Putting together the job description was tough. Jock knew he wanted the BDM (Michael) to bring in new clients 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 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 clients. 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.
Something Alex talks about all the time is this: when you can pay back your customer acquisition cost within six months, you’re working with a phenomenal opportunity. Check the Fourandhalf website. On the pricing page, you’ll find a widget that’s doing some serious math to help you calculate your CAC and ACV and other things.
Jock is learning and implementing, and if you have any questions about what he’s done or how you can do it too – contact Fourandhalf – Internet Marketing for Property Managers.
A Note from Our Sponsor – The PM Grow Summit
Jock made an important business change because of the PM Grow Summit.
This is the premier conference for property management entrepreneurs. If you want to take your business to the next level, meet and mingle with smart people, and associate with business owners focused on smart growth – you’ve got to get there. PM Grow Summit 2018 will cover everything from company culture to technology. Mainly, we’ll focus on growing and sustaining your property management business and building in new revenue streams like sales and maintenance. You’ll hear from experts on sales and business development.
You have to attend this.
We have 315 tickets available, and maybe 100 are left at this point. It’s early, and it will sell out. Put in the code ALEX when you book, and get $100 off.
PM Grow Summit 2018 will be from January 31st to February 2nd. Visit https://pmgrowsummit.com/ for more information or to get your tickets.