Running a successful property management company can be boiled down to two key tasks: recruiting owners and retaining them. It seems simple, but really it is a very complicated and difficult chord to strike properly. Here are a few practical tips to help you recruit more owners for your portfolio and keep them longer. There are certainly more tactics you can use—and more advanced ones—but the following are great places to start.
1. Recruit using many marketing channels
Create a robust marketing strategy that integrates all channels, both old and new, to spread awareness of your company. Print ads and direct mail can still make an impact simply because potential owners do not receive as many pieces of mail as before.
Scale up your sales team with competent and knowledgeable staff members. This is critical for larger businesses, and a proper prospecting and outreach program can net high dividends.
New media is an absolute must for any business in 2014. An updated website, active social media channels, a weekly or quarterly newsletter, paid online ads, and an industry blog that demonstrates your thought leadership are all critical to marketing your business. Choose strategic partners in your industry; this can also be a smart decision to increasing your brand awareness and recruitment. Work on marketing campaigns with them, cross promote, and find ways to make the partnership win-win.
2. Know your market & yourself
When crafting your plan to recruit owners, be sure to know who your prospective customers are. Know where they can be reached, and during what time periods. Most importantly, know how far you're willing to stretch your marketing and recruitment budget to make this happen.
Find your niche and exploit it. Offer services that are unique to you and your customers, so you can easily answer the "why should I go with you vs. your competitors?" question. Knowing yourself (the strengths and weaknesses) goes hand in hand with knowing your audience (including how to reach them, what they value, and what their pain points are.) This honesty will greatly help you recruit and retain owners.
3. Grow your business along with your portfolio
Don't get stale. Continue to grow your offerings and your business. This shows prospective owners that you are changing with the times, and not stuck in your ways. Expand your services to become a much more robust management partner. Offer referral rewards and other enticements to fish for owners that need the little something extra to sign on.
4. Communicate expertly
Whether pitching would-be owners or communicating with your portfolio, all outreach needs to be professional and well-planned. Firing an off-the-cuff email to your hundreds of owners with no design elements or call to action is fool-hardy and could be mistaken for spam. Purchase an email marketing software to help you send your messages with some style.
Most importantly, track everything in regards to communication. This helps you see which is the most effective type of message so you know which to send more Tracking everything also helps you be sure you are sending at the right time and to the right people, as we described in step #1.
5. Expect and Offer the Best
After you’ve signed on owners, your hard work has really only begun. Stay up to date on technology, best practices for guests, standards, and industry ratings.. You should offer exemplary service to both travelers and owners so everyone leaves feeling satisfied.
Housekeeping is incredibly important so that the cleanliness of a unit is without question when a guest arrives. The reviews that guests leave after a stay can make or break your relationship with your owner, so make the process as smooth and comfortable as you can from first contact to check-out.
6. Track & report everything
As with email, tracking and reporting everything you do in your business practices is critical to improvement. You need to be tracking every single booking. The more information you have on each customer and how they booked with you, the better—both for your financials and for reporting to your owners/stakeholders.
Also, have a repository of information on each of your properties to help your analysis. What type of home is it? How many beds/baths? How many can it sleep? What type of setting is it in? How much money does this property make for you during a given year? Having data to back up all these questions will assist your day-to-day activities and future planning.
Internally, track your budgets and the return on those budgets to help you determine where you allocate funds in future years. Do an annual analysis of your results to see where you need to steer the company in the next three to five years to ensure profits increase and the portfolio grows. There are many tools available to help with this analysis, or you can hire a third-party vendor, too.