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


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