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Property management strategies for growth must contend with the risk of burnout. The annual turnover rate for property management stands between 33%-36%, which is significantly higher than the national average of around 22%. Property management companies take a huge hit when they need to hire and train new staff – and team burnout impacts investor experience and churn, and resident experience and churn. 

We’ve asked this before: How can you effectively grow your PMC if you’re already overworked, short-handed, and doing everything possible just to stay afloat? 

That’s what we’re talking about today, pulling in insights and observations from property management and business leaders from around the country. Here are the top 7 property management growth strategies to expand your business without burning out. 

1. Set core values & know your priorities

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.” 

We’ve spoken with hundreds of property management leaders, and all of them have reflected: Get your values and priorities 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.”

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 property management often get in the way of important big-picture work. 

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 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…

2. Get the right people on board

To fuel growth 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. 

If you get the “Who” in place – i.e., the team you trust to delegate work to – the “How” becomes much simpler. 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?’” 

Lohmann continues: “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.”

How to hire the right people for your property management company

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.

3. 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, PMCs should double down on their 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.

4. 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. 

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.

5. 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.” 

6. 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 ultimately helps your team by releasing them from any unproductive leads and focuses them on generating growth.

7. 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. 

How Thousands of Property Managers are Growing and Scaling in 2023 and Beyond

Ultimately, growing your property management business without burning out your team is about providing winning experiences for residents, investors, and your team. 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, which 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 our RBP and how we can help you grow without burning out at RBP.SecondNature.com.

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