Staying Personal at Scale: Sandy Highland Talks About Service and Relationships at Nearly 2,000 Doors | Fourandhalf - Internet Marketing for Property Management Companies

Staying Personal at Scale: Sandy Highland Talks About Service and Relationships at Nearly 2,000 Doors

If The Property Management Show looks and sounds a bit different this time around, it’s because the podcast has new hosts.

Marie Liamzon is the Director of Product Development at Fourandhalf and Brittany Stephens is the Director of Client Success at Fourandhalf. They got together with Sandy Highland of Sacramento Delta Property Management just after PM Grow to talk about the overarching theme of the conference and the current buzz in the industry: customer experience and customer relationship.

Sandy does a particularly good job of making people feel important, which is a critical component in improving your customers’ experiences.

Sandy Highland’s Story: A Brief Background

Sandy has been the Business Development Manager (BDM) at Sacramento Delta since 2015, and she started with the company in 2007. The VP who hired her was a mentor and a true professional who was willing to teach Sandy everything she needed to know about property management, which was a new industry for her.

After Sandy became the VP’s assistant, her mentor became ill and passed away. One of the last things she said to Sandy was get your license, so she did. She finished her licensing courses and convinced her broker she was ready to jump into the management process.

“She’s with me every day,” Sandy said. “Sometimes I feel her words coming right out of my mouth.”

Sacramento Delta manages between 1,700 and 2,000 doors depending on the season. It’s a large company that maintains the feel of a small family business.

Talking to Customers about Pain and Fear

If you could listen to Sandy’s sales calls, you’d find it interesting how naturally she gets people to open up to her. It’s because she’s willing to let them talk about their fears.

Everyone who calls your property management company is afraid of something.

Maybe it’s an investor with a large portfolio who is coming off a bad experience with another property manager, and they fear that every management company is the same. Maybe it’s someone who has been self-managing and is afraid and overwhelmed. Sometimes, callers can’t articulate what exactly they’re afraid of and they don’t know what to ask. It’s your job to talk them through it and figure out how to fix it.

Finding out where your prospect’s paint point is and what they’re afraid of will help you close more business and develop a better customer relationship.

This is the same strategy you use with content marketing. People go online to ask questions and if you can offer solutions and answers in public and in real time, they’ll feel more comfortable.

When someone is worried that a tenant will trash the house, you know that this is a personal investment as well as a financial investment for that owner. When someone calls to share their fear of having to evict tenants, you need to really listen and ask questions and do everything you can to alleviate the fear.

Asking Questions and Establishing Personal Connections

Start with the basic questions. What’s the status of the property? Is there a tenant in there now?

Even when a property is occupied by a great tenant and things are going well, managing that home is time consuming and exhausting. That’s how many of your self-managing landlords will feel when they call you.

If your caller is currently with another property management company and unhappy, find out why. This is important because if they’re angry about something that’s pretty standard in the industry, you can find yourself the next target of their frustration.

For example, fences are notorious for taking time because there has to be due diligence and neighboring properties have to be on board with the fence. So if an owner wants to leave his property manager because the fence he approved a month ago still hasn’t shown up at the property, you’ll want to be sympathetic but also temper his expectations.

Make sure that you aren’t going to provide the same pain points.

From Selling to Delivering Services

To effectively sell your services, you have to have a strong faith in your property management team. Have a system in place that ensures the services you’re providing are as outstanding as the services you’re selling. It’s the only way to win and retain customers.

You also don’t want to promise what you cannot deliver. This isn’t fair to your property managers. You don’t want them to be thrown into a situation they can’t handle. Be direct about what you can do and what you will do. Point out what differentiates you from the competition.

Then, deliver.

Adapting to the Style of Your Prospect

When you’re developing a meaningful relationship with prospects, make sure you’re flexible enough to adapt to their style of communication. Some people want to talk about everything on the phone. Others would rather have it all in front of them in writing. Some prospects will just want your rates and some rental values.

You should be confident that you’ll measure up in any way that you communicate your services and your value.

That confidence comes from knowing that the foundation of your operations and systems are good. You can stand behind what you’re offering.

Your reputation is important, and when you’re on the phone with a prospective customer, you’re feeding that reputation. Reinforce the positive reputation you already have.

You might have to vary your discussion based on where the lead is coming from. Sandy has found that word of mouth leads and Realtor referrals will stick faster. She has to do less explaining when the prospects know something about her already.

But, other prospects may play the what-if game for an hour. They’ll want to know what happens if a tenant doesn’t pay rent, what happens if a pet damages the floors, etc.

Be patient and build trust.

Keep in Touch with Leads – Personally

Make notes for every conversation so you can reference things that were discussed previously the next time you’re on the phone. Sandy has had leads call her three years after their initial conversation, finally ready to do business.

When you follow up, it has to be more than an automated email. Those nurturing emails and drip campaigns are useful, but a personal phone call every few months is also an important way to stay in touch and provide a great customer experience. Share stories that are interesting to your prospects. Offer free rental comps – anything you can do to keep in touch.

We are all consumers and we have all been treated badly at least once before. It’s important not to let the prospects or the customers you’re talking to feel processed. Work on those personal connections so you can keep the clients you have now and build a larger base of new clients.

Remember that retaining clients is less expensive than an ad on Google.

Responsiveness is Part of Customer Service

Business Development Managers (BDMs) like Sandy often bring in the clients and then hand them off to property managers. The relationship will be a little different, but hopefully your BDM will be willing to continue taking calls from those clients when necessary. Sandy points out that she hears from customers when they’re thinking about buying a second or a third property and they want to know how those homes will compare to the one they already own.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of accessibility. Sandy is easier to reach because she’s in the office most of the week. Property managers are in the field, managing inspections and showing properties and meeting with maintenance vendors. If a client she brought into the company wants to call and ask her about a rent survey, she’s happy to respond.

Make sure the transition from BDM to property manager is smooth. The customer should still feel important. If you’re doing your job right, those customers will be so happy that you won’t hear from them very often.

A big part of customer service is responsiveness. Sometimes, property managers get a bad rap because prospects don’t know what they do. So if a property manager doesn’t pick up the phone right away, they don’t know that it’s because the property manager is out doing his or her job.

Establish in-house standards about how quickly you get back to people. There should be some hard and fast standards about how fast your team picks up the phone. The people calling will likely be shocked that a live person is answering the phone and willing to answer questions. Your prospects don’t get that everywhere. It’s shocking how many property management companies don’t answer the phone.

Everyone is Important, and Passion Translates

Talking to Sandy, you can tell she has fun at her job and she loves what she does. Her personality makes people feel special, and it’s a great example of how to treat employees, clients, prospective clients, vendors; anyone you come into contact with. Your co-workers are your customers, too.

Vendors can be a great source of referrals, so treat them like they’re important. Word of mouth advertising, remember, is free!

It all goes back to listening. If you really listen to your customer and put yourself in their shoes, you can get them out of their pain and fear. Some people are in a real jam. Property management is never boring, and you need to make sure people don’t feel like they’re all alone.

Sandy’s next steps in her business are to master event planning and demonstrating gratitude. Make sure you’re working out your own strategy for how to show your existing clients that you’re grateful for their business.

Sandy can be reached at Sacramento Delta Property Management, and if you have any questions about this podcast or internet marketing for property management companies, please contact us at Fourandhalf.

Marie Liamzon

About Marie Liamzon

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. She started as a member of the Fourandhalf Account Management Team in 2015, and is now the Director of Product Development and Marketing. 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.

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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 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 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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