USPs or UFOs?

Bob Walters True PM cropped

An article by Bob Walters.

Unique Selling Point (USP): “the unique benefit exhibited by a company, service, product or brand that enables it to stand out from competitors.”

Unidentified Flying Object (UFO): “any apparent anomaly in the sky that is not identifiable as a known object or phenomenon.”

Industry trainers are always telling us we need a Unique Selling Point (USP) or a Point of Difference when pitching for new business in property management. 

But so many Property Managers (and many Business Development Managers) don’t really know how or why they are different, and most don’t know how to demonstrate why they should get the business over a competitor. 

For many years, I have been presenting at seminars and conferences on the topic of rent roll growth. On several occasions, I have posed the question to a room full of property managers and BDMs “Why should a property investor give you their property to manage”?

In most cases, the response I get back is a blank look or uncompelling statements like:

  • “We are a long-established firm”, or
  • “We have the most experienced team”, or
  • “We are using the latest technology”
  • And the list goes on….

The problem here is that the above statements are not only not unique, but only provide the FEATURE of that particular service, not the BENEFIT to the client.

“Long established firm” – that statement rarely means anything to the client except that you have managed to remain in business for quite a while. It has no bearing on the quality of your service offering.

“Experienced team” – experience does not equal skill and knowledge in my books. Over the 4 decades I have been in business I have met hundreds of experienced property managers. In many cases, the “10 years’ experience” they have is merely 1 years’ experience 10 times. i.e. They haven’t learnt much during their time in property management.

“The latest technology” – this means nothing to a landlord client unless you can reflexively demonstrate how the use of this technology will BENEFIT them. In fact, many older clients are still afraid of technology.

Everywhere I go I hear property management practitioners saying things “competition is tough” and “I have to cut my fees to get the business”.

They were saying that in 1973 when I first started in the property management business, so that’s not new.

Yes, it is true that today competition is strong and there is pressure on fees. But, in my view, the biggest challenge facing growth focused property management businesses is not potentially cutting fees to win the business, but sharpening the selling skills of property management team members who touch a prospective client.

When it comes to rent roll growth, what today’s property management professional needs is:

  • A clear knowledge of what it is about your property management business that is unique or different (otherwise, if the client thinks you are the same as the others he/she will try to separate you on price)
  • An understanding of what landlord clients really want from you, and how to demonstrate this in a compelling way
  • Knowing to add value to the client over and above the fee being charged
  • How the cheapest Property Manager is not the one with the lowest fees, but the one who puts the most money in the landlord’s bank account every year
  • Knowing how to present your services in a compelling way, how to overcome any objections raised by the client, and how to close the sale.

 

I will be presenting the session “USP’s or UFO’s?” at the LPMA 2017 West Coast conference in Bussleton, WA on 21/23 July. More details can be found at www.lpmawestcoast.com.au

 

Pre-Qualifying Questions Every Property Manager Must Know

Vasili Hadzellis

An article by Vasili Hadzellis Core Property Management Consulting www.corepmc.com.au

Being prepared with a handful of pre-qualifying questions for prospective clients, will not only save you time, but also give you the edge when it comes to winning new business.

 

Nothing is more frustrating to a potential customer, than being led through a whole sales discussion, only to discover, that the product or service you’re pitching to them, is not the perfect fit.

 

It’s a frustration, I’ve been reminded of, too recently.

 

Last week, I was in the process of buying a new mobile phone. My existing phone was in need of replacing, and I wanted a quick upgrade to a new model, whilst remaining on my same plan.

 

Problem is, when I rocked up to my service provider’s store, instead of it being a simple process, I was taken on a time-consuming merry-go-round that ended up with me visiting 3 stores and speaking to 3 different sales reps, before I got anywhere near, to the new phone in my hand.

 

If the first rep (at Store No #1), took the time to ask me the right questions straight up, he would have avoided a lot of headaches that followed.

 

Problems that left me (their valued customer) frustrated and resentful for the time and energy they wasted.

 

Like that fact that . . .

 

1. The phone he eagerly demonstrated to me, with all it’s cool features – wasn’t even in stock!

 

I was literally signing the papers, already seeing my new phone in my hands, only to be told there “wasn’t one at the back of the store.”

 

Oh, but I “could wait for one to be delivered, or try another store!”

 

Are you kidding me?

 

2. Or the fact that, when I arrived at Store No #2 (an infuriating 45 minutes later) I had to repeat myself all over again – who I was, what I was looking for, and could they arrange the changeover for me.

 

So 30 minutes later, we’ve proceeded forward again, and I’m signing the papers . . . . until I’m asked “What’s your mobile number?” (I tell them my number).

 

“Oh! You’re a business customer?!…Sorry sir, but we can’t do this for you here. You’ll have to do it over the phone or visit a business center store.

 

Are you serious?

 

Why didn’t the first guy at Store #1 – ask me what type of customer I was in the first instance?

 

And then, to add salt to the wound, they didn’t even offer to make the call to the business store, on my behalf!!!

 

Major fail, service provider!!!

 

So, now that my rant is over – here is my case in point.

 

Pre-Qualifying Your Property Management Clients

 

If every property manager took the time to pre-qualify a prospective client, before diving into a rehearsed sales pitch, it would not only avoid wasting time discussing things that are irrelevant, it would also give them a better opportunity to win the business.

 

The right pre-qualifying questions arm you with the right information you need, so you know what the next steps should be.

 

Let’s say you have a prospective client who calls your agency enquiring about renting their property. You start explaining the whole letting process from start to finish, explain the benefits of your service, and highlight how fabulous your agency is.

 

Then, about 15 minutes or so into the call, you ask you client, if they’d like to make an appointment to proceed, only to find out that they were only do some research on price way in advance or they only want to rent their property for a 3 month period over the Xmas holidays!!!!

 

Ouch. You’ve just wasted your time and theirs!

 

If the right questions are set up from the get-go, then you can quickly determine whether or not this potential client qualifies for a listing appointment or just some quick helpful information.

 

You certainly will avoid wasting time explaining your services and processes, to a home owner, who not ready to hear it yet.

 

On the flip side, if they ARE ready for a listing appointment, those pre-qualifying questions are “listing gold.”

 

You can determine:

  • how much time to commit to the appointment
  • what their current circumstances are
  • any property challenges
  • the motivation to lease out their property
  • what anxieties or frustrations they have, from working with other agencies.

 

In other words, you can head into your appointment knowing EXACTLY what objections you have to overcome.

 

You’re armed with everything you need to win the business!

 

Pre-Qualifying Questions

 

Below are a few key questions to help you create your own pre-qualifying process for clients.

 

Just keep in mind that this process is meant to be a quick one, so you can achieve this by keeping your process simple.

  • Will this be your first experience as a landlord?
  • When it comes the leasing and management of your property, what’s most important to you?
  • Do you currently live in the property? Is the property already on the market for lease or currently under management?
  • From the front door to the backdoor/sliding door, can you give me a brief description of the property?
  • Were you thinking unfurnished or fully furnished?  Long term tenancy?
  • To fit in with your ideal timeframe, how quickly would you like lease your property? This side of Easter/End of Financial Year/Spring/Christmas?
  • Have you seen any properties on the market right now that you think compares to your property?
  • How do you think you’ll go about selecting your Property Manager?  What’s important to you?

 

How easy is it to do business with you?

Lisa Pentland Headshot sandstone

An article by Lisa Pentland (Chief Thought Leader, BWT)

Most business owners invest and reinvest a large proportion of their time and money in the growth of their business, one principal recently reckoned about 90%.

These business owners invest thousands of dollars in clever and creative advertising, marketing, branding and sponsorship efforts year after year, trying to stand out from the crowd and generate more business inquiry.

But how successful are these efforts? Well that depends on how we view their purpose initially and at which point we measure the results. Most often results are simply measured by a notable surge or lack of new managements. However, of the business’s we profiled we noted a huge opportunity for variable outcomes between receiving an inquiry and converting it to new business. It’s fair to say that even the most brilliant marketing campaign will not result in new business if no-one returns a call or responds to an email inquiry.

Sound ridiculous? Well… over the last couple of years we have conducted hundreds of Mystery Shopping exercises with surprisingly little variation in the results regardless of brand or location.

 We noticed that despite the huge desire and investment in business growth, very few business’s invest in refining and managing the process, once the inquiry is received. Our results showed that this massively reduced and in many cases completely negated the business owners return on investment.

With a possible 30 points up for grabs the first time average score was 18 with some company scores as low as 3. To their credit, those that took the feedback on board, reviewed and repaired their procedures and invested in the next stage of the inquiry management workflow took between 4 and 8 months to increase their score to between 23 and 25 with one business reaching 30, and ultimately increasing their new business success.

The mystery shop we conducted took us on a journey from the initial inquiry about an agency to engaging with them and finally making the appraisal appointment.

Areas we covered were:

  • Ability to articulate a point of difference in a conversational way
  • Ability to handle questions regarding fees and service offerings
  • Perceived market knowledge
  • Management and processing of the inquiry
  • Effort made to build rapport
  • Follow up and supporting documentation
  • Overall customer experience
  • Web and social media profile

When was the last time you looked at your business from the outside in?

Keeping the Door Open at Inspections for More Business

Rachel Barnes

An article by Rachel Barnes

It’s 5.15pm on a cold winter’s night and Penny the proactive Property Manager is caught in peak hour traffic on her way to an Open Inspection.  For most average managers (like Pam who we wrote about last time) this would feel like a waste of time because they already have an approved tenant signed up to move into this property.

But for Penny every Open is an opportunity for more business!

Brian, the principal of the agency is delighted that Penny has such a great attitude and is very proactive with business development.  He knows from experience that most average and/or uneducated property managers don’t realise that increasing the company’s rent roll, being efficient AND getting continual commission on sales, is the only way this agency can be sustainable. 

Brian is very aware that with the right staff, right training, right attitude and right systems, he gets to spend less time working (and stressing) in the business himself.

Penny isn’t stressed at all because she’s allowed plenty of time to reach the property early so she can open up and prepare it to be presented brightly and warmly.   The agency makes it a policy to ensure that the power is available between tenancies so it’s safe and welcoming for staff and prospects at all times.

With the lights and the heater on, the prospects start arriving and immediately feel comfortable. Some of them comment immediately on the difference in presentation of this property compared to others they’ve viewed which were cold and dark. That helps impress them with the property, but also Penny’s positive approach and disarming smile confirm that this is a great agency to be dealing with.

Penny welcomes each person as they come in, ensuring that she addresses both men and women equally.  She introduces herself and takes their names and contact details up front.  She thanks them for coming out and invites them to look around.  She explains that time is short here today… however she’ll ring them in 24-48 hours.  When is the best time to call?  Which of the couple would prefer to be contacted?  Then she hands them a business card with her picture and contact details included … and a small chocolate.  That leaves a good taste in any one’s mouth and Penny wants to make sure they remember and like her. 

Although she knows they have a signed lease already, she wants to take the opportunity to connect with more prospects. 

Wayne is the first to arrive and is eager to dominate Penny’s time and get an application completed for this property.  He looks very well presented and says all the right things, but Penny is polite yet persistent that she can’t talk to him now.

That night she plans her next day’s calls and blocks them out in her calendar with any notes to remind her about each prospect.  She knows the first impression of that call counts if she wants to engage them.

Each of them are expecting her call and are impressed she’s calls as promised!  Her boss is pleased too.  He spends hardly any money on external marketing because Penny gets so many great leads from her open inspections that they always have a funnel of prospects for property sales as well as management.

Penny calls Theresa who’s a lawyer.  She’s brief and to the point with Theresa so as not to waste her time.  This property isn’t for her, there’s another coming up soon that will be better.  Penny promises that Theresa will be one of the first to know when it’s available.  It’s a higher priced rental but Theresa is happy that Penny can save her a lot of time and stress in her property search.

Ian is an Investor who’s looking to rent a home to live in. Penny doesn’t have anything suitable for him at the moment, but she has a great network in the industry and offers to find him a rental she thinks would be perfect. Helping another agent may not give her income, but she’ll undoubtedly get a reciprocal referral down the track. Either way, Ian is happy and impressed with her service.   After a little more conversation about property investing, Penny offers to introduce him to one of her team to find a suitable investment.  Ian is very happy and tells his network of Investors about this great agency he’s found!

Chloe it turns out was only doing some research when she attended the open.  However she’s very impressed with Penny and will certainly use this agency to manage her rental in future, and possibly even get their help in sourcing a property to buy!

Sue the sticky beak neighbour may have seemed a waste of time to many managers, but Penny knows the value of word of mouth referrals, especially in the local neighbourhood.  Sue’s sister Betty may be a buyer, and Betty has a property to sell – so that referral goes to Brian’s sales team.

At the end of the day, this 15 minute inspection has provided some great business, reinforced a fantastic reputation for Brian’s agency and provided future leads, not just from the people who attended, but from their friends, family and colleagues too!

 

By Rachel Barnes

Property Investment Coach and Trainer for Investor Friendly Agents;  helping agents and investors reach new heights and greater profit together through training, consulting and coaching services.

Book a free consultation http://investorfriendlyagents.setmore.com/

Fast Forward EOFY 2017

Lisa Pentland Headshot sandstone

An article by Lisa Pentland.

It's that time of year again, when our focus shifts to our annual financials and questions like:

"How has the year shaped up?" foster in our minds.

 

Depending on the year you've had, you could either be feeling:

A. A bit of excitement building with the knowledge that it's been a great year and you've smashed your financial targets.

or

B. A few regrets could be coming to the fore, knowing that you failed to take some actions or make some tough decisions and these will have a negative impact on your profitability for the year.

Either way we all now have the opportunity to make some decisions - the greatest potential limiters to your business success are:

indecision                      -                 complacency                  -                  inaction

I dare say that if you have some of those feelings of regret lurking, it will be due to one of these factors.

 

For those of you feeling excited - congratulations!

 

Your decisions and actions have been prosperous, you've been diligent and determined, take a brief moment to celebrate and enjoy your achievements with your team, but beware - the new risk for you is complacency.

 

With a clean slate ahead, for all of us, what is your strategy for 2017?

 

Let me throw a few ideas out there for you. Depending on your business strategy 1 of these 6 capabilities might be of interest.

For further GROWTH, some possible options to consider:

  • Improve your data and communications model
  • Employ more specialist business development staff
  • Invest in skills training to improve conversion volume
  • Purchase another rent roll
  • Enter into a partnership
  • Take on another premises

To sure up the foundations you may choose to reinvest in the MECHANICS of your business for improved outcomes in areas such as:

  • Customer satisfaction (NPS scores)
  • Efficiencies - technology
  • Efficiencies - improving team members technical and specialist industry knowledge and skills

To attract and retain a high performing TEAM, providing great career paths and options, you might implement:

  • Staff wellbeing and whole team initiatives
  • Update the working environment
  • A review of your organisational structure
  • Refreshed management and leadership strategies

To elevate your reputation, community standing, online presence or transaction value you might update or overhaul the QUALITY of your marketing collateral:

  • Review your purpose, vision and values - align your messaging and materials
  • Employ a specialist to assist you to design a quality marketing strategy and materials
  • Refresh your branding, shopfront, uniforms, car wraps
  • Update your client communications to better reflect your business identity
  • Align with a local community event or charity

To provide you with greater peace of mind and decrease your exposure to RISK you should:

  • Review and test your policies and procedures manual
  • Contract a 3rd party auditor to review your business practices
  • Survey your existing and exiting clients to identify failings and opportunities

To provide greater FINANCIAL comfort and rewards:

  • Work with an industry specialist business coach to help you develop your business plan and goals
  • Employ a business manager or coach to help you implement and monitor your focus and progress
  • Know what's achievable and what you want, surround yourself in the best people for each role
  • Be open and agile in the execution of your plan, but don't compromise on your expectations
  • Manage your time and ensure you allow sufficient time to invest in yourself and your people
  • Schedule your work in the business & work on the business time proportionately to your goals
  • Know your numbers and your goals, set your waypoints, review and track them diligently

Now is the time to decide how you want to feel this time next year and how you want your business to look, I wish you all the very best!

The concepts above are outlined in greater detail in the book "Connecting the Dots" for which I was a collaborator. The book can be downloaded from Amazon Connecting the Dots or you can contact me lisa@bwt.com.au for more information.

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