The Key to Client Retention

Vasili Hadzellis

An article by Vasili Hadzellis

Keeping customers makes good business sense yes? But most will say it’s not always easy! There are a lot of case studies and great books to read that speak to creating customer loyalty and some allude to how now more than ever, a lot of businesses have a tendency to become complacent with their customers i.e. that providing a good enough service is satisfactory and a long time relationship equals loyalty.

I often hear “this landlord has been with us for a long time…they really like us…” but equally I hear “we lost a management that we had for many years to go with another agent…the owner never did repairs anyway!” It begs the question. Are we truly aware of what our clients really want and expect from us as Property Managers? Or do we just think we know?

Was there something that we could have been done or done a little better to have salvaged that lost management?

How are you looking to improve the value add to our clients?

How can we innovate our service and experience offering to inspire loyalty?

Not just for the landlord but for the tenant as well.

The best way to shape any of these answers is to go to the source! Yes, you’ve probably heard it before but it’s from a landlord and tenant survey. A quick and simple questionnaire sent out electronically to truly capture an understanding of what your clients think your Property Management team is great at and where you could improve.

The common 2 areas that are usually highlighted for improvement from a lot of the surveys I have reviewed boil down to:
1. Communication and
2. Education

Landlords and tenants expect a certain level of accessibility and responsiveness now days, particularly since the introduction of Internet and email capable mobile phones and social media. With two of the highest used phrases in a lot of the feedback that came from both landlords and tenants surveys being “kept informed” and “kept up to do date”, have a look at these few simple value adds that I know you can implement (if you’re not already doing so) to help create clients for life!

  • Call your landlord a minimum of 3 times a week when you have a property on the market for lease. The most important phone call being on a Saturday. Even if you didn’t have any one through the open, no news is good news. Use it as an opportunity to review the strategy that you have in place, whether it be a price adjustment or a suggestion around an improvement to get tenants across the line.
  • CC the tenant on a work order sent so that they know that a tradesperson has been engaged to attend to their repair request. The tenant then knows you’ve gotten on to the repair and the tenant has the contact details of the tradesperson.
  • Send a quick note to the owner after the invoice has come in indicating that the repair has been completed. My motto for landlords when managing their properties has always been ‘no surprises’. Give them an understanding of what was done, send a before and after photo perhaps and ultimately let them know the dollar amount so that they know what to expect when they see the deduction on the end of month statement.
  • Educate the owner with the prices of properties sold by your sales team. Particularly if a property has been sold in the same street or around the corner from a property that you are managing for them. A lot of landlords want to know that their investment is growing and are always intrigued by sales results. The sales agents in your agency will be thankful for the opportunity too if the owner wants a market appraisal.
  • People are more likely to see, read and act on text messages through their mobile phones than any other form of communication. It is simple, effective and direct. So why not SMS remind your tenants a day before you are due to go in and conduct a routine inspection? Or send a reminder to pay a water usage invoice? Or even thank prospective tenants that came through an open for inspection and that you look forward to receiving their application?

These are just a few suggestions that you can implement straight away which will show your landlords and tenants that you understand the importance of communication, the significance it brings when managing an investment property and enhance the notion that you just don’t collect the rent but go above and beyond to earn the loyalty that you have and want with your clients.

In Pursuit of the Awesome Customer Experience

Vasili Hadzellis

An article by Vasili Hadzellis

Whilst great first impressions give that instant “wow” factor (think, sleek contemporary offices, eye-catching branding and glossy brochures), it’s the entire customer experience you create for your landlords and tenants, that results in long-term clients and referrals for years to come.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Recently, I was looking to book a hotel room. The hotel I went with, came highly recommended with a long list of fantastic reviews: ’It’s really lovely,” “Close to everything you need, “it’s a brand new building,’ and ‘such a great price!”

Going ahead with my booking, was an easy decision.

Checking into the hotel however, was a very different scenario.

In the lead up to my stay, all I could think about was, how amazing this hotel would be. And on first impressions it was. The building was impressive and beautifully designed. The brand new interiors were fresh and clean, and the modern decor reflected a cool hipster vibe.

But as I approached the reception desk to check in, I was greeted (or rather ignored), by two people with their heads buried in computer screens. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity for them to look up, I was finally addressed with a lukewarm – ‘May I have your credit card please, Sir?’ Really?! Not exactly the enthusiastic welcome, you would expect for a new customer!

Mr “Un-Hospitality,” was only interested in listing the technicalities of my stay – ‘Your room is 302. You’ll find it on level 3. ‘Check out is at 11am.’ ‘Oh, and if you need anything just dial 0 on the phone in your room.’

I may as well have been greeted by a robot!

There was no “Hello” or “Welcome to our fabulous hotel”. There was no, “How was your flight?,’ or “Have you stayed with us before?” Heck, they didn’t even make a fanfare about their fabulous new hotel, with all its bells and whistles!

This clearly was a business based purely on a transactional model. Just check each person in, then swiftly move them along! Next. Next. Next.

An establishment that focuses purely on their “product” only to attract new clients. Problem is, simply relying on your product to attract clients will never be enough.  It’s the experience you provide that sets you apart as a brand and business (and retains your clientele).

Delivering on Your Promise

Just like we choose a hotel based on the great reviews it receives, a new landlord usually chooses an agency, based on what they have heard about the agency, or indeed, the BDM in front of them at the listing presentation.

The BDM will sit in the landlord’s lounge room and describe all the amazing benefits of signing with their agency – how great their agency is, how they’ll secure the perfect tenant, and, the great service provided by the property management team.

It’s an enticing promise. But will the agency, deliver on that promise?

You want to make your client feel awesome at every stage of doing business with you. To be “seen” and “heard” and acknowledged. To be appreciated for choosing your agency.

After all, they did choose “you” over everyone else.

Creating an Awesome Customer Experience for Landlords & Tenants

Let’s look at the ways you can ensure your clients receive an awesome customer experience:

For Landlords

  1. Offer to Help
    When a landlord receives their very first end of month statement, give them a call and offer to go through the document with them. They’ll appreciate you helping them to understand how to read it, and it gives them the opportunity to ask you any questions they may have.
  1. Pro-Active Feedback
    Don’t wait for a landlord to chase you for updates during the leasing process. Instead, call them at least 3 times with regular updates about the potential tenant’s interest &/or feedback. In addition, ensure you call them every Saturday and Monday with a full report after each weekend’s open.
  1. Make It Personal
    Nothing says I care, more than a handwritten note. Prepare a handwritten thank you card in advance, so you can leave it in your new landlord’s letterbox after winning the listing. Highlight in your note, how excited you are to work on their behalf and start the leasing and management process for their property.
  1. Share Your Expertise
    Owners are always curious to know what their property may be worth, so if a property goes up for sale in the same street or around the corner, call the landlord and let them know. Every time there is a new sale in the area, the value of their property can increase. Therefore, providing them with sale updates, may alert a landlord to use equity they didn’t know they had, and invest in another property. Another property means another management.

 

For Tenants

  1. Make It About Them
    The lease signup appointment is the perfect opportunity to make your tenants feel fully appreciated. Rather than just focusing on their legal requirements as a tenant, highlight that they’re an important customer for the agency too. You can share with them what to expect from you as their managing agent, introduce them to your routine inspection process and how photos and videos protect all parties involved. Most tenants can feel intimidated by inspections, and worried you’ll take photos of their personal stuff. Reassure them, by showing them examples of what a routine report looks like, so you can put their mind at ease.
  2. Warm Welcome
    Providing tenants with a “Welcome to your new home” gift, when they first move in, is a wonderful gesture. You can include helpful information such as, the night garbage is collected and council pick up days, guides to the local area and community events, plus discount vouchers for local restaurants or cafes.
  3. In the loop
    CC the tenant on a work order sent so that they know that a tradesperson has been engaged to attend to their repair request. The tenant then knows you’ve gotten on to the repair and the tenant has the contact details of the tradesperson.

 

Whenever you create a customer experience that surprises and delights your landlord and tenant every step of the way, you’re guaranteed you’ll have clients that will love doing business with you for life.

Vasili can be contacted on 0401 387 873 or vas@corepmc.com.au.

 

A great article for your Landlord Clients

Karen Herbert cropped

An article by Karen Herbert

 

HOW TO MAXIMISE RENTAL RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT PROPERTY

PROPERTY PRESENTATION

One of the most difficult times for us a Property Managers is coming into a home where an owner has lived and try to explain the standard and the level of cleanliness and presentation that expected today when renting a property.

Our tenants have become very educated. They know the law. Rents are high and therefore they expect a higher standard in a rental property than ever before. So we try to encourage owners to engage professional cleaners before renting the property. Anything that we can do to make their job easier and to make our job easier in the first place.

The first inspection can either make or break a potential tenant putting in an application if the property is not cleaned!

NEUTRAL COLOUR SCHEMES

Usually a very good tip is to use neutral colour schemes when you’re getting your property ready for rent. Coloured feature walls are out, paint over them. Properties that have all the colours of the rainbow make it harder to try and rent the property.

Keep it all nice and neutral so that a tenant’s furniture can fit in. Usually we advise a fresh coat of paint on the interior every 5 to 7 years to keep it looking clean and up to date.

GOOD QUALITY CARPETS AND CURTAINS

Professional carpet layers will recommend a hard wearing carpet and usually darker in colour, so that will be easy to maintain from a tenancy perspective and minimise the evidence of stains or marks.

WINDOW COVERINGS

Most states now have legislation for supplying new window coverings in rental properties. This has to do with the cords, which are a safety hazard to children.

We recommend removing large heavy timber blinds. Too high from a maintenance perspective., something simple and easy to use.

ATTEND TO MAINTENANCE

Tenants have become very astute today and inspect a property thoroughly! Leaking taps or showers, broken blinds, rotten stair treads, just don’t cut it anymore. Tenants will not rent a property now where they can see unattended maintenance upon their first inspection because that usually indicates that an owner will not spend money on maintenance.

In fact, a lot of the tenants who come to us today move out of their old property because of unattended maintenance!

SECURITY

Controversial topic at times. Security usually has two components to it.

Firstly, there are suburbs whereby deadlocks need to be installed and locks on any accessible windows in order for a tenant to obtain contents insurance. Needless to say, this poses problems when trying to rent a property and the tenant is aware of this.

The other issue today is break-ins. Seems to be on the increase and of course at particular times of the year, especially around Christmas.

We recommend good quality deadlocks on the front doors, patio bolts on sliding doors and window locks on accessible windows.

EXTRAS ARE NO LONGER A LUXURY

We don’t even call them extras anymore; we call them a must have.

Air conditioners

Paramount in our weather. If one property for rent had an air conditioner and the other didn’t, even for another $10 per week, which do you think a tenant would choose?

Fans

At minimum if you cannot afford to install air conditioning at the property, at least spend $250 and install fans in the bedrooms. We can sell this to a tenant saying that they will keep cool at night when sleeping.

Dishwashers

Necessary. Tenants have been seen to walk in and walk out when they have discovered there is no dishwasher.

Built in robes

People don’t give this one enough emphasis. It’s just more difficult to rent a property that has no built ins. Even if you don’t want to spend that kind of money, at least provide something, even if it comes from second hand shop!

CAR PARKING

Will a property with a double lock up garage rent before a property with a single garage?

Will a property with a single garage rent before a car port?

Will a property with a carport rent before no car space?

The answer is yes. So if you’re looking to purchase an investment property, these are just some of the tips you need to look out for in order to make it easier to rent. Or at the very least provide a shade cloth over the driveway! Again, some insurance companies will not insure a property unless is securely garaged.

GARDENS

Tenants do not want to maintain gardens! We are all so time poor today the last thing most of us want to do is to look after someone else’s garden let alone our own.

So can I suggest that if your garden is really important to you or difficult to maintain, then include the maintenance it in the rent. Even if the tenant mows the lawn and you just engage a gardener maybe every two to three months, less stress on you, less stress on the tenant less stress on everyone.

 

Karen Herbert

Property Management Rescue

What is your Agency 'tone'?

Lisa Pentland Headshot sandstone

An article by Lisa Pentland

If I asked your principal to select 3 words they would like your clients to use when describing your agency, what would they be?

Would they be:

 "to the point"     -    "legislatively correct"    -     "bullish"     -     "old fashioned"

Probably not!

However, when I read the standard letters of many agencies this is the language and tone that is commonly used. Of course, many of our communications are highly regulated and the fact that they must always be legislatively correct, goes without question. 

Our tone on the other hand, is what can separate us from our competitors, it's what allows our clients to identify with us, reassuring them on the basis of our relationship and essentially carving out our specific market sector.

Your agency is more likely to flourish organically if your tone is appropriate for your market demographic, here are a few ideas: 

Locale / Demographic Language Tone Sense
All Accurate Professional Approachable
Coastal Friendly Relaxed Lifestyle
Up & Coming Upbeat Exciting Community
CBD Business like Formal Opportunity
High % investment property Familiar High energy High tech / automated

Perhaps you could workshop the above for your business, but don’t forget "everything speaks" so you'll also have to consider your fonts and any images you use. Do they align with the message your words are sending?

Overall people and our language is far more casual today than it has been in the past, however, this is never to be confused with unprofessional.

Examples of brands that successfully captured new markets, simply by employing a more youthful and energetic tone even though they were offering virtually the same product:

  1. Vodafone & Telstra
  2. Virgin & Qantas

In each case above, the new players won market share from the incumbents, within a specific demographic due to the language and imaging used in a targeted marketing effort.

In short, they figured out what they wanted, who had it, walked the walk and talked the talk of that specific group and won it! 

Customer Service Words to Avoid

 

Bob-cropped

An article by Bob Walters

If you want to stand out from the crowd in the area of customer service, it starts with getting rid of any unprofessional words and phrases you may be currently using, and start using customer service words that paint you as a world class property management professional.

• “Hold on”
   Use “May I place you on hold?”

• “I’ll check if he’s in, who is calling?”
   Use “He’s out of the office until 2pm, may I have your name and I will have him call you when he returns?”

• “She’s gone for the day”
   Use “She had a late afternoon appointment and won’t be returning to the office until tomorrow morning”

• “I don’t know where he is”
   Use “He is at a meeting with a client”

• “I’m not sure when she will be back”
   Use “She will be returning to the office at 3pm, can I ask her to call you before the close of business today?”

• “He is busy at the moment”
   Use “He is currently in a meeting with a client”

• “It’s not my fault”
   Use “I’m very sorry this situation occurred”

• “Myrtle made the mistake”
   Use “It seems we have let you down badly, let me resolve this for you now”

• “Hi” or “Hello”
   Use “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening”

• “Okay”
   Use “Certainly, My Pleasure, I would be happy to”

• “How can I help you?”
   Use “How may I assist you?”

• “Bye” or “See you later”
   Use “Have a pleasant day (or evening)”

• “I’m sorry”
   Use “Please forgive me”, “Please accept my apology”

 

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