Calendar icon May 23, 2023

How to Design An Effective And Adopted Ancillary Revenue Program

Ancillary revenue programs like resident benefits packages have really hit their stride in the property management industry. Many property managers get into the industry in the first place because it’s a great way to start building secondary income. The work rewards creativity and innovation in terms of revenue streams and value-generating services. 

And that’s exactly what ancillary revenue is all about.

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, how to incorporate revenue management, and how to know which ones can work for your business.

What is Ancillary Revenue? 

First, let’s get down to brass tacks. 

Ancillary revenue is any additional source of income generated by a property that is not directly related to its primary function or purpose. In property management, property managers offer additional services to generate additional income for themselves and their client investors beyond the rent or lease payments they receive from residents.

Most of us are familiar with ancillary revenue streams like those used in the airline industry or hotel industry. Companies may charge for early check-in, late check-out, in-flight entertainment, wifi etc. But what many of these programs miss is the opportunity to generate value without nickel-and-diming people.

Examples of ancillary revenue in property management can include things like pet fees, renter’s insurance programs, management fees, and more. These compound to boost your total revenue alongside adding value for residents and investors. In some ways, you can think of it like an upsell, but it's really about value generation and finding a way to diversify revenue streams.

By diversifying their revenue streams, property managers can increase their income and offset some of the costs associated with maintaining the property.

How to Design an Effect Ancillary Revenue Stream

“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 add-on services that don’t create a benefit for the resident can have long-term consequences as a result of dissatisfaction.

Most ancillary revenue opportunities today are operated as part of a resident benefits package built into your business model. 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 CDO 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.


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Ancillary Revenue Examples

Let’s look at some examples of the best ancillary revenue ideas in property management right now. The services with an asterisk (*) are all available in Second Nature’s fully-managed Resident Benefits Package.

Filter Delivery Service*

Air filters delivery is a premium service for residents that automates air filter delivery to all your properties on a set schedule. Filter delivery simplifies the process for residents and ensures timely replacement at a low cost.

HVAC repair costs have increased by 48.7% year over year, and an air filter delivery subscription can cut costs up to $300 per year. At Second Nature, we’ve seen our filter delivery service result in a 38% reduction fo total HVAC ticket requests, and save residents $14.82 per month in energy costs.

Resident Rewards Program*

Rewards aren’t just a perk for residents – they’re a powerful way to incentivize on-time rent payments. Talk about a win! 

Residents receive rewards such as discounts to local businesses when they pay rent on time. You and your investors see an increase in on-time payments, and residents now see rent day as rewards day.


Rent is one of the most significant regular payments any of us make. Why not report that to build credit? That’s what property managers are doing as a benefit to residents and another innovative incentive to on-time rent payments. A study by TransUnion found that 67% of residents would choose homes with rent reporting over other equivalent homes. 

Credit building supports your residents, helps attract financially responsible applicants, and encourages residents to pay rent on time. 

Move-In Concierge*

Any time we move, one of the biggest headaches is setting up utilities. One great ancillary revenue stream is to provide a move-in concierge. At Second Nature, we manage this for you. Our move-in concierge helps residents with their best options int he area and can help simplify setup. In one phone call, residents get what they need.

Identity Protection*

Did you know that identify theft is a larger security risk today than home burglary? One in eight Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2021, equaling up to $52 billion in losses. Identity protection gives residents peace of mine and protects them finacially – which also protects their abilty to pay rent. 

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. Good renter’s insurance will cover risks like all breeds of dogs, making renting from you a very attractive option.

Did you know that 90% of professional property managers require residents to carry insurance on their lease? And yet only 41% maintain compliant coverage. At Second Nature, our renters insurance program has 100% compliance, protecting residents, investors, and the PMCs.

Holiday Gift Program

A holiday gift program helps residents feel seen, known, and remembered. Residents receive coupons or gift cards to local establishments as a wish of good cheer during the holiday season. Who doesn’t love a holiday gift?

Security Deposit Alternatives

We’ve seen security deposit alternatives proliferate in the last few years. Property management companies are choosing to 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

Many PMCs offer pest control services to residents to keep cockroaches, ants, etc., out of the property. PMs generate extra revenue while offering a massive benefit to residents, and asset protection for them and their investor.

Pet Fees & Services

With pet fees, you can because a universally pet-friendly company while still protecting yourself and your investor from risk. You offer the investor a guarantee that their property will be safe from pet damage and the resident pays you for this service.

Home-Buying Assistance Programs

Home-buying assistance helps boost resident experience and trust, while also investing in resident retention. Learn more about assistance programs for long-term residents looking to purchase a home.

How Second Nature Helps Create Ancillary Revenue

At Second Nature, we work with property management companies around the country to help them generate more value for their residents and additional revenue for their business through a Resident Benefits Package (RBP). The Second Nature RBP is a custom suite of benefits that elevates the resident experience while adding profit to your bottom line. 

An RBP is a powerful ancillary revenue strategy – and having one fully managed means that it doesn’t add any burden to your team. Generate more value for your investors, ease for your residents, and profit for your PMC with an RBP.

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How to Optimize Operational Frequency with Processes and Software

Property management software is currently helping property managers establish efficient and reliable processes at a higher rate than ever before in the PM industry. With that development in the proptech industry has come the development of tech for self-managers that has changed the capacity of the accidental landlord. Thus, the demand for efficiency at scale has risen in order to separate the professional from the amateur, and the establishment of processes that allow such a thing has become a critical topic for professional property managers. Optimizing property management processes Carter Fleck of Triton Property Management, a growth-oriented firm out of northern Virginia that is approaching 300 units with larger goals for 2024, joins us to share his expertise on process definition. Fleck is the General Manager responsible for operations and strategic growth, and he has been developing effective processes to ensure efficiency at Scale at Triton, and in the process, he has garnered an understanding of how to do so. “A lot of failing,” says Fleck. “In the early days, we were getting a lot of good and bad feedback, but typically the bad feedback is what you adjust off of.” Fleck believes that assumptions are the enemy when it comes to defining procedures and sourcing software for your PMC. “The image that we use is if you're going to build a sidewalk before people even start walking on a field, it's kind of dumb. You have to see where people will walk first, and then you'll build a gravel path. So number one, you see where they walk, see where their intentions are in the grass, then you build a gravel path. And then eventually, once that walkway is established, that's where you build your processes and procedures.” The analogy is a visualization of the concept that you have to see how people operate before you can establish processes to make how they operate more efficient. Fleck encourages the negative experiences of process breakdown and cites them as the only way to really nail down what your processes should look like. “Over time, between the tenants giving feedback and owners giving feedback, we adjusted our processes. It's a mix between figuring out where the owners walk and where the tenants walk, and then building paths that align.” Fleck details an example of how Triton adjusted its process after an assumption it made got challenged: "We had an assumption that payment plans were helpful for residents," says Fleck. "And so the way we handled delinquency is we would reach out to them and would be like, ‘you need to pay this. Do you have a payment plan option?’ And they would always say yes. Our process was we'll put you on a payment plan, we'll invite you to a payment plan, you'll accept the payment plan, and then we'll monitor the payment plan. That in itself was a lot of work, but we thought it was doing well. But some of the owners that we had managed for mentioned that another property manager doesn't allow any payment plans. And if you're not fully paid up by the end of the month, then the eviction process starts if you’re over $500 due. So we're like 'alright, well, we'll serve you in that we'll change our processes.' And we did, and our delinquency percentage shrunk significantly. So, consistently, by the end of every month, we're around 5% APR. Whereas with payment plans we're like 5 to 10%.” Fleck obviously credits seeing the assumptions in motion as what prompted the need for process iteration, and he firmly believes that making too many of these assumptions is one of the biggest mistakes growing property management companies make. Like any business experiencing growth, process definition is critical to achieve efficiency at larger volumes. What Fleck is essentially advocating for is processes based on what you know, not what you think, and there is a big distinction. Managing property management software Fleck has installed both general and tech-based processes, and cites that understanding of how people interact with processes as the key in both areas. "They don't focus on user experience. That's really important. Number one, how the tenants like the tech, but specifically how the people who are using the tech are gonna adopt it. So when we were choosing a rent inspection software, we had so many people recommend one, software and I, we almost pulled the trigger on it. But then I was like, let's do a trial run on both these two. And we chose the other one because it was way better user experience for property managers. So user experience, both for us and for residents." Tech is a tool that is ultimately as good as its users, and if it's not used correctly or at all, its potential is wasted. An over-reliance on technology can actually go hand-in-hand with an under-reliance, as both often spring up from a lack of understanding of how to choose, implement, and manage it. In this vein, Fleck can't recall many property managers who operate with too much tech. As long as you're not purchasing redundant software and you've done and continue to do your due diligence, tech-based process can make your business more efficient. "I more often find myself having that conversation," says Fleck. "When I'm talking to property managers in my sub-market, who aren't connected with like a NARPM, who aren't connected with like a Crane group, or who aren't connected with a Second Nature, aren't connected to the tune of what the property management industry is doing and the cutting edge of it, I'm just like, 'you could save so much of your time and you could scale this so much more if you only even if you just had tenant Turner, or if you had LeadSimple.'" No matter what your story is a property manager, if growth is in the cards, so is process and technology refinement. Hopefully, Fleck's experience in these areas can help you stay efficient and organized as door counts grow.

Calendar icon April 19, 2024

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Why offer a tenant benefits package?

In the residential real estate sector, like everywhere else, residents and property investors alike are getting younger – and with this generational shift comes expectations for a certain level of convenience and support. To put it bluntly, today’s residents want their needs proactively anticipated. It’s something they're willing to pay (and stay) for. That’s where a tenant benefits package comes in. In this article, we’ll explore what a tenant benefit package is, how it improves the experience for both property managers and tenants, and crucial mistakes to avoid. Before we get into the details, we want to give a shoutout to our very own “Resident Benefits Package” – which is how we refer to the benefits comprised in the “tenant benefits package.” “Tenant” is not yet a legacy term, but we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve it. That’s because, in our experience, property managers work hard to make renters feel like they’re not just parties to a contract – they’re residents. On one hand, this is just humans being humans, but on the other hand, it also encourages them to invest in care for their new home and add value to the property. Ready to get started now? Build your Resident Benefits Package today. What is a tenant benefits package? A tenant benefits package is typically a bundle of services, conveniences, and provisions offered by a property manager on top of the basic lease agreement. They represent a triple-win situation for property managers, residents, and property owners, as they enhance the overall rental experience, generate additional income, and protect the real estate investment. It might include conveniences such as online monthly rent payment options, or portals for submitting maintenance requests and tracking their status. It could also include various financial perks, such as credit rating improvements that are contingent on on-time rental payments, or discounts on nearby services such as fitness centers. It might also include amenities ranging from move-in concierge or utility set-up services, to identity protection services, to HVAC filter delivery. The cost for resident benefits packages is typically included in the lease and added as a monthly fee, with the fee being dependent on the specific benefits. Indeed, the benefits contained in a tenant benefits package will vary depending on the property manager and the type of rental property. The overall goal is to provide tenants with an enhanced quality of life while simplifying the experience of renting. At Second Nature, we pioneered the only fully managed resident benefits package, in response to PMs who wanted to make their business stand out. Our RBP includes an array of services and supports for residents, from filter delivery to credit building to maintenance. Why should property managers offer a tenant benefits package? Beyond the triple-win considerations mentioned just above, there are compelling and concrete reasons why property managers should offer tenant benefit packages. We'll turn to these now. Ancillary revenue Some tenant benefit packages include optional services or add-ons that can generate additional revenue streams for the property manager. This might include things like renter insurance or HVAC filter delivery. Resident experience Tenant benefit packages deliver numerous savings and value to tenants, beyond the value they would get if they were obtaining the same benefits "à la carte." Additionally, by offering additional services and conveniences, benefit packages can make tenants feel valued and more satisfied with their living experience. For instance, maintenance hotline requests, tenant portals, and air filter replacements all make life easier. Add-on services like identity theft protection can offer a sense of security. And discounted renters insurance coverage, utility concierge services, or other perks can save tenants money. Decrease tenant turnover and vacancy rates In a competitive rental market, tenant benefit packages can be a major differentiator toward boosting retention rates and reducing vacancy rates. Properties that offer these packages can also attract a wider pool of qualified tenants, and potentially command higher rents. Note that certain benefits in the package, like online rent payments and maintenance requests, can automate tasks and free up the property manager's time. This allows them to focus on more value-added initiatives. How does the tenant benefits package improve the tenant experience? Tenant benefit packages can significantly improve tenant satisfaction in several ways, by making life easier, more convenient, and potentially more affordable. For instance, if an online portal (a baseline feature for most property management software) is included for rent payments and maintenance issues and requests, this eliminates the hassle of writing checks or waiting on hold to speak with someone about a clogged drain. In other words, tenants have the peace of mind of knowing they can manage their tenancy 24/7 from the comfort of their own devices. Some packages might include features like filter delivery services or regularly scheduled HVAC maintenance. This frees tenants from having to remember these tasks – and ensures their apartment is well-maintained. Certain packages might also offer "verified vendor" services – in other words, a vetted vendor network that can help provide a more secure feeling to residents when service providers are on-site. On the financial side of things, a benefits package might offer discounts with local suppliers for various goods and services, or on a renters insurance policy obtained through the property manager (with applicable waivers for residents who have their own insurance). This can save tenants money on a necessary expense. Some packages also help residents with their credit scores via credit reporting and credit building services, so they can transition from renting to home buying when the time is right. The idea is that the credit reporting program reports on-time rent payments automatically to all credit bureaus, helping residents build their credit simply by paying their rent on time. Some benefit packages include resident rewards programs that represent a powerful and positive incentive for on-time rent payments, including gift cards or cash. As far as living perks go, packages sometimes include added benefits such as access to fitness centers or community events. This provides tenants with additional spaces to relax, socialize, or stay healthy. Packages can include security deposit alternatives that serve to provide a means for residents to be financially liable for damages without having to pay a significant lump sum upfront, such as pure insurance, surety bonds, and ACH authorization programs. Ultimately, tenant benefit packages create a more professional and responsive image for the property management company, which helps tenants feel valued and allows them to experience a smoother, more stress-free rental experience. What are the mistakes to avoid when offering tenant benefits packages? Property management companies should take care to avoid certain pitfalls when implementing tenant benefit packages to ensure they are providing true value to tenants as well as delivering profitability to the PM company itself. For instance, it's important to ensure that the services you're offering are actually relevant to your target renters. For example, young professionals might appreciate discounts on gym memberships, while families might prefer pet-sitting services. You should also take care to clearly communicate what's included and not included in the package to new residents. Don't oversell the benefits – focus on how they genuinely improve the living experience. It's also very important to set realistic expectations for response times on standard maintenance requests, emergency maintenance requests, or virtual concierge services. Likewise, be clear on all available payment methods, as well as rent due dates, late fee structures, and any associated payment processing fees. If your package includes services from third-party vendors, ensure that these vendors are reputable and reliable. Research their customer service record and responsiveness to ensure a smooth partnership and a positive experience for tenants. Above all, regularly monitor the usage of different benefits within your benefits package. This can help you refine your offerings and ensure you're not spending where spending is not required. Looking for a Resident Benefits Package? If you’re looking for a “plug and play” resident benefits package, Second Nature’s RBP is the way to go. Designed to be easy to implement and simple to use, all the services it includes are managed by Second Nature – which means there’s no day-to-day upkeep required from the property manager: Second Nature keeps it running. It’s a simple way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon April 2, 2024

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