Are you tired of the challenges that come with managing properties? From dealing with difficult residents to handling maintenance issues, property management can often feel like an endless list of responsibilities instead of a strategic small business venture.
Fear not! In this article, we’ll unveil a range of effective property management strategies to alleviate your property management woes and empower you to achieve smooth operations and maximize returns. Get ready to discover practical tips and proven techniques that will revolutionize the way you approach property management.
Here are the top 15 property management growth strategies to expand your business without burning out. Say goodbye to stress and hello to efficient, hassle-free property management.
1. Set core values
In the renowned book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey outlines the second habit as: “Begin with the end in mind.” When building property management strategies, setting core values is the absolute foundation for everything else.
We’ve spoken with hundreds of property management leaders, and all of them have reflected: Get your values right from the start. Your goals and growth come from that foundation.
Kevin Hommel, COO of Memphis Turnkey Properties, puts it this way:
“Anyone who encounters or interacts with your business needs to be able to feel your core values coming through when they meet with you, when they explore your company online, or if they talk to somebody else about you. You have to have your core values right there.”
2. Know your priorities
The next step after outlining your values is to identify and document your priorities. For many of us, articulating core values or taking time to nail down priorities can feel like an important thing we’ll never get around to. The urgent tasks of managing a property portfolio often get in the way of important big-picture work.
Many property managers find their teams spread too thin over too many tasks and responsibilities that really don’t iimpact their company’s bottom line. Or, maybe they’re focusing on too many areas, too many types of houses, etc. Setting priorities can help you niche down and then begin to see growth.
Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy have an upcoming book about this called “10X Is Easier Than 2X.” We had Dr. Hardy on our podcast to explain what the phrase means and how getting the right priorities can make all the difference in growth and burnout:
“Whatever your goal might be,” Dr. Hardy says, “it's not the obstacles between you and the goal that stops you. It's that you have too many competing priorities. Eighty percent of everything you're doing right now and the people you're working with are a distraction from 10X.”
In terms of rental property management, that means that as a leader, you have to be able to delegate priorities. And that, of course, means getting the right people on board, which leads us to our next point…
3. Get the right people on board
To grow property management without burning out, it’s imperative that you get the right people on your team. The reason staffing makes such a difference goes beyond just having more hands. Your team answers the question “Who, not how” – another principle from Dr. Hardy in his book of the same name. Peter Lohmann, Co-founder & CEO of RL Property Management, explained this concept in conversation with Dr. Hardy on the Triple Win Podcast:
“The concept from the book Who Not How is that you need to stop thinking about ‘HOW can I do this,’ which is kind of our default framework for clients coming to us with a problem. They’re thinking, ‘How can I get this done?’ But as a property manager, you need to reframe that and ask yourself, ‘WHO can help me with this? Who’s the expert?’”
4. Hire based on culture fit
Onboarding the right people brings us back to our first tip: Find people who embrace your core values. Hommel says he focuses on hiring motivated people who buy into what he’s trying to achieve – rather than people who necessarily have all the property management experience.
“You don't want to let anybody through a round of interviews that you wouldn't love to come in and go to bat with everybody. And then you have employee retention, which we know creates a lot of efficiencies. So, define what your core culture is. Define who you want to join you.”
Whether the team has previous SFR management experience is less important than ensuring they have a triple win mindset. Look for team members who understand that proactively driving progress and success for others (residents, investors, teammates) is the best way to achieve progress and success for themselves.
These people are more likely to be A-players and grow in your organization over time and can help you deliver what “totally taken care of” feels like.
5. Build strategies with your team
One of the best solutions for burnout is simply ensuring that you and your team are on the same page. Assuming you’ve hired people who are a culture fit, who get what you’re trying to do, and who think creatively and resiliently – they should be involved in building your business strategies, too. They need to be in the conversation around managing a property portfolio.
After all, it’s important to be able to trust your people. Lohmann says: “I would challenge everyone to step back from the need to know everything that’s going on and ask yourself, ‘Why?’ Why do I need to know this information if it's being handled? The need to ‘stay plugged in’ is not going to help you unlock growth for your company. Time to work on 10x opportunities instead.”
6. Find your property management niche
Setting the right priorities also means focusing on what you’re best at. Being “all things to all real estate investors” may help you add a new property in the short term, but you risk slowed growth and burnout. Instead, a more effective property management strategy is to double down on your specific property management niche.
On this topic, we spoke with Bob Preston, CEO of North County Property Group, CRMC. Preston shared how he quickly learned to go deep, not wide, with his business. The result? A booming property management services company with some of the best real estate in San Diego county.
“When I was starting things out, I learned really, really quickly that sometimes less is more. In the early days, when I would take on anything, the worst properties were taking up 80% of our time.”
Based on their location, they ended up focusing on a specific region within the county – high-value coastal properties in the north part of San Diego County. These properties only made up about 20% of his total doors, but they made up 80% of the profit margin. So, he started to carve out a niche.
Preston says, “At that point in time, we started all of our messaging, positioning, outreach, and pitch to the higher end of the market. We may not be the cheapest, and that's okay. If you don't like that, don't come to our company.”
Instead of shrinking their business, they have $550+ monthly revenue per home, expanded their services to include maintenance, and have had zero evictions. To grow property management, the key is to niche down, not go broad.
7. Create more value & charge accordingly
Finding your niche and saying no to properties may seem counterintuitive. So does our next tip: When you start finding ways to add more value, charge for what it’s worth. Evalute your current services and consider whether you are charging a reasonable price for them.
On this topic, we had Mike Krause, Partner at Atrium Management Company, weigh in:
“We were always afraid of charging more fees and owners being turned off. So we stuck to the big three: renewal fees, leasing fees, and management fees. And that's kind of what we lived on for a while, so we were staying kind of just barely profitable.”
Krause and his team decided it was time to take a risk and make some changes. Atrium built new programs like a resident benefits package, which created fantastic new value for residents and investors – and brought Atrium new revenue streams. The result? They had their biggest year ever and are now on track to double that in the coming year.
Krause says: “We stopped being afraid to charge fees. We sat down and made a list of the fees we thought were valuable and what we wanted to charge, and we started charging more. And guess what? Not many people left. What we were afraid of – losing current owners or losing current management contracts or not winning new ones – just didn't happen.”
When you start generating value beyond those core three fees, you can generate more revenue by monetizing those programs. Then you can reinvest in the business to bring more value to investors and residents. We like to say: There's no shame in making money in property management, the only shame is not putting it to good use.
8. Don’t be afraid to “fire” a client
This is a question we see all the time. When you have a frustrating investor, do you just deal with it or cut them loose? While there are all kinds of nuances to that question, the long and short of it is that you can’t be afraid to get rid of a client.
Bob Preston has experience “firing” investors and says it has contributed to his company’s ability to grow without draining his team.
“I always try to save a client, but often it’s a small number of properties that are causing 80% of the problems – whether it’s an owner who likes to complain, who doesn't like to keep their investment property maintained, who drags their feet, who threatens to fire us, etc. For me, it's three strikes, and we're out.”
Cutting difficult clients loose frees you up to focus on higher-value opportunities that don’t take away 80% of your resources.
This brings us back to Dr. Benjamin Hardy. “You (have to) start saying no to the lesser goals. Then you start finding ways to get the opportunities at the level you want.”
9. Develop an excellent marketing strategy
To develop the right marketing plan, you must apply all the skills we’ve discussed here. It means really digging into what works, what’s driving results with new clients – and getting rid of the rest.
Hommel again: “One of the more important factors in driving revenue into the company is: How do I get new doors? Understanding your sources of marketing, what's effective marketing, and where are you wasting money. Where do you see fruits?”
If you can drill down into the data and find which marketing messages, landing pages, blog posts, and campaigns drove your ideal client, you can start cutting out the messages that only bring in busywork or “bad” clients.
This property management strategy ultimately helps your team by releasing them from any unproductive leads and focuses them on generating growth.
10. Use digital tools & AI solutions
AI property management is growing and we have software tools that can make work so much easier for our teams. The current primary use of AI as a property management strategy is to automate workflows and repetitive tasks.
AI solutions can seem daunting at first, but they are one of the best ways to take busy work off your team’s plate and let them focus on more strategic tasks that require human skills.
AI and software solutions can help with processes like:
- Email marketing and communication
- Scheduling (with rules built in for your priorities and goals)
- Marketing listings
- Maintenance requests
- Rent payments tracking
Automation tools are an incredible way to reduce burnout, increase productivity, and deliver better results.
11. Build SEO & social media strategies
SEO and social media marketing are both strategies to grow your business without daily updating.
Build your website and blog content with SEO practices in mind – or hire or contract an SEO expert to help optimize your website. If you’re already blogging, make sure to follow best practices in SEO so that your content actually draws new customers in. SEO can continue to organically grow your traffic – and your business.
Social media is another great way to build your brand, influence, and client base without doing any aggressive marketing. Start growing your network in the property management industry and real estate world. Post things in property management that seem interesting to you and make them easily shareable. Follow best practices for social media, tag colleagues, and watch your following and your network grow.
12. Network with peers
Networking is one of the best ways to grow your brand and your business – and for many, it’s fun! In property management, the network of professionals is an incredibly supportive community of tactical advice, generative solutions, and rigorous debate. We’ve seen so many companies grow simply through meeting with like-minded professionals and sharing ideas, strategies, and referrals.
One great place to plug in is in various Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, and other social media. Wherever you are in the country, you can share questions, solutions, frustrations, and wins. Check out the Triple Win Property Managers Facebook Group for a thriving community of PMs.
13. Stay familiar with local businesses and listings
SFR property management is all about local communities and regional reach. To grow without burning out, it’s critical for your property management company to have a good reputation in your community, and to be visible to property owners or anyone looking for property management solutions. Make sure your information is up to date in local business listings, and think about places to drive more visibility in your specific market niche.
This connects with the point above about networking. The more your community knows you, the more leads you’ll see coming in without putting extra pressure on your team.
14. Improve current properties
This might not seem like a growth strategy, but improving your current properties can do a world of good for your property management company’s reputation. Happy residents make referrals, as do happy investors. In your efforts to grow, you need to first ensure your foundation is strong.
Visit your current properties and discuss with your team if there are any ways to improve the quality of resident experiences. The better the resident experience, the more easily you can leverage growth opportunities.
15. Invest in resident experience
All of this leads to one thing: better resident experiences. Ultimately, growing your property management business without burning out your team is about providing winning experiences for residents. You do this by defining your business goals, carving your niche, building a high-quality team, and staying laser-focused on your priorities throughout.
Starting with experiences residents pay for and stay for leads to better retention, which reduces turnover costs, which brings in more revenue – makes your business more attractive to investors and talent, and the virtuous cycle goes on.
At Second Nature, we believe in the power of saying yes to what benefits you, your investors, and your residents – and cutting out anything else. That’s why we’ve built the first fully managed Resident Benefits Package. The RBP is the most powerful way to transform your resident experience, without adding a burden on your team or a cost to your investor. Talk about a Triple Win!
Learn more about how property managers are building better resident experiences and turning it into profit.