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Ancillary revenue programs like resident benefits packages have really hit their stride in their property management industry. We sat down with some of the best innovators in the business to talk about what makes an ancillary revenue program effective, how to make them sustainable in the long-term, and how to know which ones can work for your business.

“There is one characteristic that is the most important, and that is that you have to believe in it,” says Steve Pardon, Head Broker at JMAX Property Management. “If you believe that there is a benefit to doing it, then you’re good. If you don’t, then it’s hard to sell.”

Pardon hits on the most important question any time you’re adding cost to your residents: Does it really create a benefit? All ancillary income programs are theoretically beneficial to the PM, as it directly affects the bottom line, but services that don’t create a benefit for the resident can have long-term consequences as a result of dissatisfaction.

Most ancillary revenue programs today are operated as part of a resident benefits package. Pardon has rolled out an RBP to his residents, but took a very measured and analytical approach to ensure that everything his residents were paying for created value for them.

Pardon summarizes his thorough process for determining value with "you have to believe in what you're charging people for." JMAX operates in the Roanoke, Virginia area, and Pardon considers the nature of his specific area when deciding what he believes in charing people for, noting that he feels certain programs work better or worse in his rural market than they would in an more dense market like an Atlanta

Residents rarely object to paying for services they find value in, which is why an RBP built with the principles Pardon describes above can be so successful.

“You can make anything mandatory, but if it doesn’t create value for the residents, you’re going to pay the price down the line,” says Paul Mauk of Invitation Homes.

You can read about resident pushback to RBP here.

Good ancillary services can come in many different shapes and sizes, and not all are part of a third-party managed RBP, although that certainly is a proven way of adding them. HomeRiver Group, for example, sends each and every resident in a HomeRiver group managed home a holiday gift.

“One thing that we're getting ready to do right now is our holiday gift to the residents, which is another win-win,” says HomeRiver Group CEO Andrew Propst. “We find local companies like restaurants or movie theaters, or the year movie theaters were closed, we were looking at maybe doing some bowling alleys. We buy a bunch of gift cards at a discount. We put it in a nice little letter and we send it out to the tenants. They get $50 in value, we paid $25 for that. And you know we make a pretty good spread, and we spread Christmas and holiday cheer. And, you know, we get good Google reviews. It makes some money. We help local businesses. It's a big one.”

Paul Mauk of Invitation Homes notes that ancillary services that don’t directly drive profit can still be hyper-effective as long term initiatives if they contribute to asset protection and low turnover rates in properties.

“I think the type of initiatives that we're having success with are those things that provide for enhanced leasing lifestyle for our tenants or residents,” says Mauk. “And that's all often driven via survey and input from residents. So instead of us pretending that we know every potential amenity they would like, we’re actually reaching out to them and asking them what the value proposition would be from their perspective.”

“And then one of the additional things would be, you know, items that aren’t necessarily potentially revenue drivers for us, but items that help us relative to asset preservation. So things that may be very specific and required within the lease, if we can find ways in which to make it an easier process for our residents, we can enhance our offering, enhance the experience for them, and increase the length of stay that we see from our residents.”

This is a point that can’t be made enough, that minimizing turnover is the most important thing for property management companies. Your client is the investor and your product to the investor is the resident who lives in the property. The more time a resident lives there, the better ROI for the owner, which means better client retention for you and more potential for referrals. That’s why the resident experience aspect of ancillary services is so critical, even more so than the additional funds they can procure. We can talk about ancillary services for days but the successful adoption of your program will always hinge primarily on one question: Does it create value for the resident? Hence why JMAX Head Broker Steve Pardon weighs so heavily whether or not he believes he can offer a service in good faith.

Ancillary Revenue Program Ideas

Filter Delivery Service*

  • Air filters delivered to all your properties on a set schedule to simplify process for resident and ensure timely replacement.

Resident Rewards Program*

  • Residents receive rewards such as discounts to local businesses as an incentive to pay rent on time.

Credit-Building*

  • On-time rent payments from residents contribute to growth of personal credit. Can include back-reporting.

Move-In Concierge*

  • Consolidate four phone calls into one by handling communication like power and water turn on for the resident.

Identity Protection*

  • Residents are enrolled into an protection program that shields them from identity-related crimes.

Renters Insurance*

  • A quality renters insurance program will allow residents to keep current coverage if they wish but be automatically enrolled in the PMs program if they don't/don't have insurance, and will cover risks like all breeds of dogs, making renting from you a very attractive option.

Holiday Gift Program

  • Residents receive coupons or gift cards to local establishments as a wish of good cheer during the holiday season.

Security Deposit Alternatives

  • PMs offer other ways to cover financial liabilities for damages that do not require a huge payment at move-in, such as a surety bond or ACH authorization.

Pest Control

  • Pest control services provided to residents to keep cockroaches, ants, etc. out of the property. Also serves as asset protection for you and your investor.

Pet Fees & Services

  • Fees to keep pets in properties

Home-Buying Assistance Programs

*Available in Second Nature's fully-managed Resident Benefits Package

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