Putting People First for Property Management Business Success | Fourandhalf - Internet Marketing for Property Management Companies

Putting People First for Property Management Business Success

A Chat with Aaron Robertson of Authority Property Management

About a year before Alex Osenenko started Fourandhalf, he met Aaron Robertson, and they were both doing different things. Alex was working for Appfolio and Aaron was running a property management company with some business partners.

Today, Alex is hosting The Property Management Show, continuing to grow Fourandhalf, and presenting The PM Grow Summit, a conference for the top level property management entrepreneurs. Aaron has started Authority Property Management, and after only 30 months is up to 435 units.  

The two are on the podcast to discuss leveraging tech experiments, marketing, and the importance of running an emotionally intelligent company.

Experimenting and Decision Making

After nearly 10 years in the property management business, Aaron realized that he didn’t need a business partner who wasn’t his wife or his bank. He likes to make decisions quickly because it’s easy to start something, fail, and then get up and try again. Usually, that process is a lot faster and more successful than taking months and even years to contemplate whether or not to adopt a particular business strategy.

Making decisions in two or three minutes makes sense to Aaron and his wife, and it’s helped their business grow.

To grow quickly, you need to implement technology that puts systems into place and automates a lot of the work. This is a huge factor in fast growth.

Those experiments cost money. But, it may be worth it to you to spend a couple of hundred dollars to try a system or a product for a month. In that time, you’ll know if you want to use it or if you want to look somewhere else.

Run tests on software. Experiment with new technology. Every management company is different and you need to adopt whatever works for you and your customers.

Automating and Saving Time: Some Examples

Aaron is willing to invest in high quality walk-through videos of his properties. A prospective tenant can look at walk through video and really get an idea of what the home looks like. His team writes beautiful, detailed descriptions that read like real estate sales ads.

There’s a cost, but it gives a property management company an edge. It also gives the property owner an edge, and it helps the prospective tenant who is looking for a home. A lot of companies talk about the importance of quality walk-though videos, but very few invest in them.  

Remember that you don’t always have to hire out for these services. Maybe you will pay for drones and camera equipment, but a staff member can go out to the property and take and edit photographs. The equipment is then worth the investment because it makes that staff member’s job easier. The result of this process is better quality for tenants and owners.

Appfolio is another amazing tool that can save a lot of time. Use software in a way that works for you and your clients. Property managers need to think past the generic things that are offered by software, and add to it when necessary. Do some integration and overlap your systems for optimal functionality.

Google Suite is a good example. You get calendars and Gmail and hangouts and messaging all on your phone as well as your computer. The efficiency and collaboration makes a difference. Put it to work for you.

The advice here is to experiment with what you already have.

Adapt your process to see what sort of efficiencies you can gain from a piece of software.

Stop Saying We’ve Always Done it This Way

Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your systems. It’s pretty easy to do things because they’ve always been done a certain way. But, the world is changing. Ask your team if they have the tools they need to do their jobs. Your staff can provide feedback on what’s working and what isn’t.

One of Aaron’s mottos is: We Make Rentals Simple.

To live by that motto, it’s important to always re-evaluate and make sure the best programs and technology are in place.  

But…Don’t be a Squirrel

There is a squirrel mentality, and you want to avoid that, too. You can get carried away with all the vendors out there who are trying to get your attention. There’s so much tech out there, and the industry is ballooning into something much bigger and more advanced than what it was.

It’s hard not to try everything.

But, you need to be disciplined. Find out how long a company has been in business before you jump into discussions about what they have to offer.

Aaron won’t waste his time sitting through sales webinars and demonstrations. He’ll ask if he can test a product on his own for a while. If a company is willing to let him run his own demonstration and sample what they have to offer, he feels comfortable that it will be a decent project. This criteria protects him from the squirrel mentality – or the need to try everything.

Marketing a New Property Management Company

The quickest way to introduce a new company to landlords and investors is likely through the local marketplace. Aaron talked to the Chamber of Commerce, met with the Board of Realtors, and networked with brokers, lenders, and anyone who dealt with investment properties.

He wore a logo shirt.

Beyond that, you need to get tech savvy with marketing. Aaron was easily able to use social marketing, and focused on Facebook because he knew that’s where most people spend at least 30 – 50 minutes of their day. He invested in Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns and got his company in front of the right people.

Reputation: People First, Profits Second

If you look at property management in Redding, California, you’ll see that Authority Property Management inspires trust through their online presence. They’ve got 37 5-star reviews on Yelp. They built this reputation by putting people first and profits second.

Treat tenants like people, not rent checks. A lot of property managers look down on tenants, and such attitudes create a humongous death spiral.

When you are humble and service-oriented, you have the opportunity to move someone from a customer to an apostle. Many companies prioritize how to get an extra dollar out of someone. They have a list of ancillary fees that they’re quick to charge, and they boast about having the biggest late fees in the industry. You don’t have to go about your business that way.

Instead, you can do good business with good people.

That’s what spurred their growth and created profits that they could be proud of.  

Whether it’s waiving late fees or rewarding on-time rental payments, there is a strategic advantage to treating tenants like people and investing in their well-being and their experience. Property management companies need to look at their tenants as valuable constituents.

Making people feel welcome, special, and appreciated is easy to do.

If you’re not into the feel-good stuff, understand this: Aaron and his company are making a lot of money. You can do good business and make good money.

Measuring Success: KPIs and Feeling Out the Future

Aaron measures success through profits, not number of units. His company is selective about the properties they work with. His goal is to double the company’s profits, but not necessarily by doubling their doors.

That’s the one-year plan. The four-year plan is to have the company set up so well that it can run without him while he and his wife are enjoying la dolce vita in Italy.  

There are a few key KPIs that Aaron tracks, and one of them is a bit unusual: tenant re-rents.

A re-rent describes when a tenant moves out of one of your properties, but right into another one of your properties. Maybe one of your tenants needs a larger home or a smaller home. Rather than look around at what’s on the market, they just want to know what else you have available.

That’s pure profit to a property manager because you’re saving on turnover. If you spend $385 to get a property rented, most of that is saved when you’re moving a tenant from one property to another.

The results are pretty astonishing: 70 percent of Authority Property Management tenants re-rent from them. Not a bad record.

Spending on advertising versus new client acquisition is also tracked. Right now, they spend $551 for a new client.

Next, Aaron will work on tracking annual customer value and lifetime customer value. He’s promised to return to The Property Management Show with those numbers, so make sure you stay tuned.

Thanks to Aaron Robertson, who can be reached at authoritypm.com.

If you have any questions about how to achieve this sort of growth, contact us at Fourandhalf. We can help you with property management marketing and share some ideas on sales and business development.

Alex Osenenko

About Alex Osenenko

Alex’s professional mission in life is to help small businesses grow and thrive. Alex is the President and CEO of Fourandhalf.com and a Co-Founder of the PM Grow, Inc. His business philosophy is simple: Happy Customers are created by Happy Employees, which results in Happy Shareholders. Alex's deep commitment to entrepreneurship and improving the lives of small business owners everywhere empower him to host “The Property Management Show” bi-weekly Podcast and speak internationally on the subjects of Growth, Marketing, Sales, and Entrepreneurship.

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Desired Growth (# of properties) :
Average Monthly Rent :
Annual Contract Value: $0
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Estimated Lifetime Profit: $0
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How we got these numbers

• Annual Customer Value (8% of average rent multiplied by 12)
• Customer Lifetime Value (4 multiplied by ACV)
• Estimated Annual Profit (at 20% of ACV)
• Estimated Lifetime Profit (at 20% of LCV)
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Alex Osenenko
President and CEO

Alex’s professional mission in life is to help small businesses grow and thrive. He is the President and CEO of Fourandhalf.com and is serving his 5th year on the Board of Directors for CALNARPM.

After spending 9 years in the trenches with his property management clients, Alex draws on his experience to host “The Property Management Show” Podcast and co-authors a weekly Property Management Blog on Fourandhalf.com. Alex has extensive experience speaking for various NARPM events at the local, state, regional and national level.

Alex is a graduate of San Francisco State University with an Electronic Commerce Systems Degree. His business philosophy is simple: Happy Customers are created by Happy Employees, which results in Happy Shareholders. Alex serves on the Board of Directors of CALNARPM (California Chapter of National Association of Residential Property Managers) and hosts a Podcast “The Property Management Show“, available on iTunes.

 

John Bykowski
Chief Operating Officer

After graduating from the University of Michigan with a film degree, John proceeded to do everything but. During his career, John has specialized in operations and has developed processes for small companies in diverse industries, such as bleeding-edge marketing technology, social networking, trade shows and exhibitions, and cloud software. John and Alex had worked together previously, and when he needed someone to help take Fourandhalf to the next level and beyond, Alex brought in John as his first employee, and later, business partner.

In addition, now that he’s using his film school know-how to help property managers look their best in their blogs, his mom no longer feels his degree was a complete waste of time.

Danny Morris
Director of Account Management

Born in Australia and growing up in Israel, Danny has spent a lot of time traveling the world between those two places. After completing his military service in Israel, Danny began following his biggest passion, writing, which he discovered while backpacking South America and publishing his first book.

When it was time to unpack, he returned to Australia to complete his Journalism studies amongst the beaches of sunny Perth. Danny is a huge online fan and after working in a number of related jobs, he finally gets to combine his two favorite things, working with media and people.

Marina Osenenko
Product Manager

Marina draws upon her real estate, business operations and customer service expertise for Fourandhalf. Her favorite part of being with Fourandhalf is the opportunity she has to really get to know our clients, build professional customer relationships and truly be part of a team that assists in their success.

Her time away from work is happily spent watching her children grow up and attempting to keep up with them! Any spare moments beyond nurturing her children are filled with hiking, spending time with friends, exploring the Bay Area and squeezing in a non G-rated movie every now and then.

Marie Liamzon
Product and Marketing Manager

Before joining Fourandhalf, Marie worked for one of the largest banks in the world. She took on different roles, but couldn’t find what she was looking for. She pursued a variety of side projects until she finally decided it was time for a career change.

Marie is very passionate about helping people and learning new things. In her spare time, you might catch her exploring new places and taking far too many pictures.

Kyle McLean
Customer Success

Born in San Diego County, Kyle McLean has since migrated to the Oakland woods. A fan of tall trees and tall tales, he holds a bachelor’s degree from the creative writing program at the University of California, Riverside and is a licensed California Certified Shorthand Reporter.

After a few years as a freelance court reporter, Kyle has joined Fourandhalf for an opportunity in sales and digital marketing. In addition to reading and writing, his hobbies and interests include gardening, hiking, soccer, coffee brewing, and craft beers.

Karen Wyle
Account Management

Originally from the Philadelphia area, Karen moved eight times in seventeen years all over the East Coast and to the Midwest before settling here in Northern California six years ago. She is an alumna of Brandeis University with a BA in American Studies and earned a MBA in Marketing Management from Indiana University in Bloomington. Karen’s business career has been well-rounded, with experience including advertising, direct marketing, corporate retail, product management, new product development, and new customer generation. Beyond an office setting, she has been thrilled to volunteer her time giving back to the community with KPMG’s Family for Literacy, at her daughter’s school, and as a Girl Scout Troop Leader. Karen enjoys music, good food, traveling to new places, completing jigsaw puzzles, meeting people and making connections.

Karen became a part of Fourandhalf’s Account Management team in 2016, relaunching her marketing management career after a pause to raise her family. She is excited to rejoin the business world and to work with such a strong marketing management team.

Paige DeRuyter
Account Management

Paige graduated from Chico State University with a degree in Journalism. Her favorite part of working at Fourandhalf is helping clients create and produce educational blog content to grow their business. She is an avid sushi enthusiast who enjoys riding her bike and watching college football and in her free time.

Nissim Boozaglo
Web Hosting Support

After working as a Radioshack store manager, Nissim decided to change his career path and pursue his passion for music production by getting his B.A.S. from Expression College for the Digital Arts. Nissim has a beautiful 8-year-old girl and loves cooking delicious homemade food and going camping with her! At Fourandhalf, Nissim is responsible for the implementation of the clients’ Landing Pages and Google Adwords campaigns.

Theresa Barnes
Campaign Director

Theresa Barnes was born and raised in the Bay Area and graduated with her Bachelors Degree in Communications Studies at San Francisco State University. She worked in aviation at a private FBO for 3 years, and other industries, before joining the Fourandhalf team. She finds a balance between being a young mother, work, and living a healthy lifestyle outside of work by staying as active as possible. She is dedicated to customer satisfaction and having a great work ethic.

Brittany Stephens
Campaign Director

Brittany recently moved to the Bay area after graduating from California State University Chico with a degree in Business Marketing. She is known for her excellent communication, customer service skills, and shameless nerdyness. Her passions include: music, tabasco, Lord of the Rings, and the Golden State Warriors.

Logan Jones
Business Development

After graduating from CSU Chico with a Degree in Business Marketing, Logan moved back to the East Bay and pursued a career in sales. With an attention to detail and a relentless drive, he strives to improve himself and his passions each day. When not at work Logan enjoys playing guitar and writing songs, and occasionally performing around the Bay Area. He is an avid sports fan keeping up with everything SF Giants, 49ers, Cal Bears, and Golden State Warriors.

Hope Lumbley
Account Management

Hope recently moved to the Bay Area after graduating from Chico State University with a degree in Journalism. She is coffee crazed, dog obsessed and hopes to visit all National Parks. One of the greatest times in her life was when she lived abroad in Costa Rica and hopes to travel more of Central America in the future. She feels blessed to work for a company who supports her love for travel and the need to learn more about what the world has to offer.

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