Taking Owners from Fear to Trust: Controlling the Whole Customer Experience

Taking Owners from Fear to Trust: Controlling the Whole Customer Experience

Scott Brady, owner of Progressive Property Management, had 52 doors in 2013. Now, his company manages about 1,052 doors, and he plans to grow to 3,100 units by 2020.

We think he’ll do it.

Today, he’s joining us on The Property Management Show podcast to talk about executing the kind of growth that most property management companies only dream about.

Growing with Good Systems

Scott says that while some companies choose to grow, he has to grow. His business model has evolved to the point that he has 20 branch managers who are counting on him to deliver doors for management. That’s forced him outside of his comfort zone a little bit, but he’s committed to those branch managers, so innovating his marketing and distribution channels has become critical.

Good systems, he’s discovered, are essential. You cannot manage 200 doors without good systems. You cannot manage 400 doors with systems that are designed for 40 doors. And, the bigger you get, the bigger of a target you become for the Real Estate Board and competitors. A dedicated staff is needed to help you make sure every process is documented.

Many successful property management companies have a target market. For Scott and his company, the target is self-managing owners. That’s the biggest market available in southern California. We know that 70 percent of rental properties are self-managed. In Los Angeles, that translates to over a million self-managing property owners. By focusing on the emotional and financial pain points of that segment, Scott was able to come up with some compelling products.

His question, while building his company, was pretty simple: Why aren’t these owners hiring property management companies?

Reaching the 70 Percent: Providing Better Service

The entire property management industry has tried to tackle the astounding 70 percent statistic. A shift has begun, but that large percentage of the market still does not trust a professional property manager. Several things feed that distrust. The reputation persists that property managers:

  • Are untrustworthy
  • Are overpriced
  • Provide terrible customer service
  • Nickel and dime owners at every turn

It takes more than one person to correct that reputation. But, property managers can turn things around individually and collectively. The keys to changing the current reputation are:

  • Transparency
  • Value propositions
  • Customer service

Pricing is pricing, but if you can offset an owner’s pain point around pricing by demonstrating your amazing value, it’s easier to make some progress. This takes the owner from fear of being screwed to trust. Trust is earned, and it resonates with owners. Slowly bring people to your website and use your programs and your value propositions to earn their trust.   

Transparency: Websites and Pricing

Transparency is the first filter for many property owners. If they don’t feel like you’re being transparent, they aren’t going to be interested in hiring you.

So, why are companies afraid of putting their pricing on their websites?

It could be that they feel as though they’re at a competitive disadvantage. They worry that owners will seek out their lower-priced competitors. It’s a better to put your price up there, and also to put up your value around that price. If property managers position themselves as people who collect rent, owners will likely look at price first. But, if you do more for your owners, price becomes less important and your value propositions take center stage.

With more and more companies being transparent with their pricing, you’re going to look more suspicious every day that you don’t put your prices out there.

Controlling the Whole Customer Experience

To position your company for growth, you need to target multiple segments of the market, and you need multiple marketing channels, and you have to create multiple revenue streams.

This will insulate you against what may or may not happen in your market and the industry.

Scott has found himself wanting to control the whole customer experience. He doesn’t want his owners going to another real estate company when they want to buy or sell. He doesn’t want them going to another plumbing company or home warranty company when they have repairs. Scott would rather keep the owners inside a world that he can control.

When he has more products and services to offer, he controls the customer experience and earns multiple revenue streams.

By controlling the whole customer experience, Scott can provide better service and create raving fans. He can be the one-stop shop for all the owners he works with and their friends. They don’t need to call other companies when they want to sell a property or make an upgrade.

You can protect the relationship you have with your owners, and not let anyone else get into that relationship.

Take his lesson. Continue to innovate if you want to grow.

The pocket listing is a good example of holding onto and expanding the relationship you have with your current clients. For Scott in southern California, pocket listings don’t make a lot of sense because it’s not a big investment market. Sales prices start at $500,000. However, he has managed to find other ways to extend his services and increase his revenues. He’s just started a realtor referral program, for example.

Leverage your portfolio and be creative. When Scott lists a property for rent, he’ll get 29 or 30 leads, and only one of those tenants will get the property. So, he’ll take all the remaining tenants and ask them why they’re renting. He puts them on a path to purchasing a home, and he has a new crop of potential clients that other property managers might have neglected to put into their sales funnels.

When investors realize you can help them make more money, you’ll find them in line at your door.

The best way to leverage your portfolio depends on your market. Find a way to make yourself the trusted source of real estate information, and create a multi-dimensional relationship. If you’re that resource in your client’s life, you won’t lose them.

There’s a Danger in Thinking Small

There are a lot of smart people in the property management business, and a lot of opportunities. Unfortunately, we sometimes think too small or too narrowly. If you market yourself as being the Condo King or advertise that you’ve been in business for 50 years – that’s great. But, you’re not really expanding your role in the lives of your clients. You aren’t giving potential customers the idea that you can make them more money.

The larger you grow, the more difficult it becomes to turn quickly and to innovate. It has to be coordinated.

Recently, Scott’s company rolled out a preferred tenant program where tenants could choose to waive their security deposit and pay a monthly fee. Some of his property managers were a little freaked out about this, and a lot of colleagues were doubtful. But, he’s willing to experiment if it means benefitting his owners. Programs that differentiate your services need to be tried. 

If You Have Something to Say, Say It: The Importance of Content Marketing

Scott was a pioneer of content marketing, and he believes that if you have something to say, you should say it. 

He uses video, website copy and other types of content in two different ways.

  1. To create an emotional connection with a customer. He says his dream is to never talk to a prospect. He talks to clients after contracts are signed, but there should be enough content available to tell prospective clients everything they need to know. You can use content to tell people who you are, what you do, where you do it, and what your price is.
  2. To create compelling calls to action. Effective content will tell people what you want them to do and why. It’s not compelling to say your clients love you or you’re the property management leaders in your city. Raise the bar. If you’re not improving your content and using it effectively, you’ll be left behind.

Target your market with content.

Here’s a great example. Oregon recently passed a rent control law for the entire state. If you’re a property management company in Oregon, you should have stopped everything to go write a blog and film a video about what rent control means for landlords. In Spokane, a tenant bill of rights has just been passed where landlords have to pay for a tenant’s moving costs if you serve a notice to vacate. That’s an opportunity for Spokane property managers.

Educate your clients when things like this happen in your area. Get out in front of it and be the resource.

One of the best examples of killer content marketing is Stephanie Gordon at Gordon Property Management. She talked about rent control in San Francisco when no one else did. She never paid a dollar to Google AdWords or used other paid advertising, but she’s the leading property management company in San Francisco.

Create your content and title it properly so Google picks up the information it needs. Oregon property managers should be writing blogs entitled 2019 Oregon Rent Control and how it Impacts your Investment Property. 

Rent control will be the hot topic in southern California in the next 20 years. Start getting that traffic now.

Five years ago, no one was doing video blogs, but the companies that did are cashing in now. It’s a great opportunity, especially if you concentrate on timing.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, said that if we’re successful this quarter, it’s because of something we did five years ago.

Everyone wants immediate gratification, but it doesn’t happen that way. Do today what will be effective in a year. Focus on the issues in your community, and start setting yourself apart as a resource.

Another Form of Content: Direct Mail

Scott also uses direct mail, which he says is a numbers game. The key is to target the right audience. Here’s how his numbers work:

  • He sends out 10,000 pieces of mail in a year.
  • 8,000 owners are reached.
  • Only five percent of those people are looking for property management.
  • That’s 400 owners in a year or 30 owners in a month.

After spending $7,500 on the direct mail campaign and winning 30 doors, that’s about $250 per door in acquisition costs.

It’s not all numbers. Successful direct mail has effective value propositions.

Scott has been doing direct mail for five or six years, and the content is targeted and useful. Sometimes, there’s a quiz. It might be about basic laws every property owner should know. If owners get two out of 10 laws correct, they will be more inclined to reach out to a property manager. Sometimes, you have to show owners what they don’t know. 

The direct mail has to be compelling and it has to connect to your other marketing channels. It needs to be consistent with your website and your social media. Everything must be integrated. 

You won’t see those 30 doors after your first mailing. But, you will see it after the sixth or seventh wave. People might hold onto your postcard for a year or more. Continuity counts, and persistence pays. 

You can hear more from Scott at PM Grow in April. This is the premier conference for property management companies focused on growth. You’ll be able to catch his 30×30 15-minute presentation, and he’ll also do a one-hour deep dive on this topic.

If you want to talk to Scott before then, check in with him at Scottbrady1963@gmail.com.

Thanks for being with us, and contact Alex and Fourandhalf if you have any questions.

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
Customer Lifetime Value: $0
Estimated Annual Profit: $0
Estimated Lifetime Profit: $0
Estimated Portfolio Value Upon Sale: $0

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)
• Estimated Portfolio Value Upon Sale (1.2 times ACV)


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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
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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
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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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
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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
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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.

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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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