Calendar icon November 27, 2023

10 Property Management Goals to Set for the Year (with examples)

Goal-setting is critical to planning for a changing industry. Before we dive into specific property management goals we recommend for the coming year, let's take a minute to define how to approach goal setting in property management. 

Think long-term

Dr. Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit is “Begin with The End in Mind,” the principles of which should be applied to your property management strategies as a single-family rental property manager. This is especially true now as we enter 2024 with an industry that continues to evolve.

Goal-setting should start with an understanding of where you want to be in several years, not just at the end of this year. It forces you to consider industry trends that you may not feel the impact of immediately but will definitely affect the viability of your business in the future. 

Short-term goals should ladder up to long-term goals. They should serve as pieces to the long-term puzzle. It’s important not to lose sight of what that puzzle is supposed to look like when it’s finished.

 

download rental inspection checklist template

 

Identify opportunities to improve resident experience and retention

The most important property management industry trend continues to be the evolution of demand from a simple service to a more complex experience. Thus, you should be identifying opportunities to improve resident experience and setting goals based on how you want to achieve said improvement.

What can you do this coming year to improve the living experience for your residents? This could include new programs to be developed and implemented, new roles on the team specifically focused on experience, or a number of things, depending on your answer.

The best way to identify opportunities is to listen to your residents. It sounds simple, but they’ll tell you what they perceive as a great living experience, and that becomes data you can act on.

Consider a list of services you think a resident may like, some of which could be rental rewards, home-buying assistance, credit reporting, holiday gift certificates to local businesses, etc. You can survey your residents on these ideas pretty easily, or you can simply roll them out and gauge resident response. 

Identify opportunities to improve investor experience 

We talk a lot about the triple win here at Second Nature. The third branch of the triple win is a win for your clients. Typically, this is laddered up to by a resident win, which minimizes vacancy to the benefit of the client.

There is more you can do, though, to really deliver something irreplaceable to your clients. 

A popular takeaway from PMLX was the value of communication with clients. Scheduling quarterly meetings with your clients has proven valuable to the companies that pioneered this concept. Launching these quickly became a popular short-term 2024 goal for many attendees. 

Clients leave with an extensive understanding of what is happening with their investments. That’s an additional win for them and for you, as investors are not only more involved, but they tend to appreciate the time you take to communicate with them and can gain deeper insight into the full value that your company provides. 

Plan sustainable growth initiatives

Like thinking longterm, creating sustainable growth initiatives involves expanding your business in a manner that's not only profitable but also manageable and responsible. This means considering how growth will impact all facets of your business, from your operational capacity to the quality of service you provide to residents and investors.

Start by analyzing market trends and potential areas for expansion, whether it's by increasing the number of properties you manage or venturing into new geographical regions. Balance ambition with practicality. Ensure that any expansion doesn't stretch your resources too thin or compromise the high standards of service that have contributed to your current success.

Automate and streamline operations to build efficiency

James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits, "You don't rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems." In some ways, setting goals is secondary to ensuring you have the right processes and procedures in place. Mark Cunningham shares that he has a KPI to achieve 6 percent quarter-over-quarter net income growth. It's not about setting new goals for a number of new doors each year; it's about focusing every quarter on that consistency. 

If you aren't confident in your processes yet, that should be an area to focus on when you are goal-setting.

For example: Identify areas where manual processes are slowing down operations. This could be anything from rent collection and lease renewals to maintenance requests and property inspections. Or, look into streamlining communication channels. Efficient communication tools not only facilitate better interaction among team members but also improve the way you engage with residents and investors. Data management and reporting can also be significantly enhanced through automation. 

Think about who you want in the room with you

Who are the most strategic thinkers in your company? What personalities will be at the table? Set the rules of engagement for the meeting to help your team be successful when you are actually setting goals.

You should also decide your approach: Do you want to be deeply collaborative and get everyone's opinions or if you want to hear from your team and then make the executive decisions on your own. (Our recommendation!) Goal-setting isn't a time to give everyone an equal voice.

Know your "who" and make sure they're the ones in the room. 

Ask: What should we stop doing? 

For you as the leader of your company, ask, "What should I stop doing and delegate away?" But, just as importantly, you should also be asking a broader question: "What does my company need to stop focusing on?" This may be about refocusing your niche, the types of properties you want to handle, the clients you want to focus on, etc.

What are the things you're doing that don't qualify as "absolutely killing it." It might be time to cut those out. If you're contemplaing stopping, you probably should.

Follow the opportunity

Another way of saying this is to pay attention to the market.

For example, five years ago, focusing on accidental owners would have been a bad strategy because the market was being flooded with investors. But, going into 2024, the market has changed. Now accidental landlords are the majority of new opportunities. Homeowners are hesitant to sell because of high interest rates and have found themselves needing property management for a property they hadn't intend to keep. 

In short, be ready to pivot to follow the biggest market opportunities. 

 

Happier residents

 

Get your KPIs organized before you set goals

It becomes a very expensive goal-setting meeting if you don't have all your metrics and year-in-review numbers prepared beforehand. Have your SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) ready, as well. 

Review all of your numbers before you sit down to set your next year's goals. It's critical to measure against last year's goals, see where you succeeded, where you hit below the mark, and how that might affect your coming year. Review your financials, dashboards, KPIs, etc., before setting goals. This could include anything from average management fee, to number of google reviews, open work orders, average rental rate, profit margin, number of employees, etc.

This pre-review will help you assess where you actually are and where you want to go. Are you ready to take bigger risks? Do you need to double-down on some goals from last year? Your team should come to a goal-setting meeting prepared with all of these numbers ahead of time so you don't waste time.

Be specific

Your goals should have specificity or they set you up for failure. Get really clear on what is possible and what you really want to accomplish. Be clear and concise about your goals and what would constitute success. That may mean setting different levels that you target: things that must be accomplished, things that are a stretch, etc. If anyone on your team could read one of their goals and ask, "What does that mean?" you need to keep digging into more specificity.

Example goals for property management companies

Here are some examples of smart goals to set for a property management company. For your company, you should find ways to make these extremely specific and time-bound in a way that make sense for your team, your niche, and your focus. Our examples are more general so they apply to most SFR property managers who are in our audience. But remember that these can be made more specific for your own business.

1. Grow property portfolios

Increasing your portfolio signifies not just an increase in business scale but also an enhancement of market presence and revenue potential. To achieve this, focus on networking with property investors, leveraging marketing strategies to attract new clients, and providing exceptional service to encourage word-of-mouth referrals. It’s also essential to identify emerging markets or areas with high rental demand.

Careful market analysis and strategic partnerships can be instrumental in uncovering opportunities for portfolio growth, ensuring that each new addition aligns with your company’s strengths and long-term vision.

2. Increase resident satisfaction KPIs

Great property management success is all about improving resident experience and satisfaction. Focus on understanding and addressing the needs and concerns of your residents. Implement regular feedback mechanisms like surveys to gather insights into their living experience.

Prioritize swift and effective responses to maintenance requests, and explore ways to add valuable services that residents want, like those offered in a Resident Benefits Package. Training your staff in customer service excellence can also play a significant role.

3. Improve ROI

To enhance ROI, focus on optimizing rental rates without compromising occupancy rates. Conduct market research to ensure your pricing is competitive yet profitable. Explore ways to reduce operational costs, such as negotiating better deals with vendors, implementing energy-saving measures in properties, or implementing new services that can increase your ancillary revenue. Regularly reviewing financial performance and identifying areas for cost savings or revenue enhancement can lead to significant improvements in your overall ROI.

4. Increase occupancy rates

It's just math: Higher occupancy directly correlates to more stable revenue streams. To achieve this, focus on making your properties more attractive to potential tenants. This can involve the obvious like ensuring your properties are well maintained. But it also means providing services that residents are excited to pay for and stay for.

Boosting occupancy rates and increasing retention are two major benefits of a resident benefits package. Understanding the needs and preferences of your target market is crucial. Tailor your services and communication to meet these needs, thereby making your properties more appealing.

5. Improve maintenance quality and speed

Implementing a streamlined process and/or software for receiving and responding to maintenance requests can significantly reduce response times. Consider adopting technology solutions like maintenance management software to track, prioritize, and dispatch maintenance tasks promptly.

Regularly sourcing feedback from residents post-maintenance can also help in continually assessing and improving the quality of your services. High-quality, quick maintenance responses not only keep residents happy but also contribute to the long-term upkeep of your property.

6. Enhance digital marketing efforts

A strong online presence can significantly increase your property management company's visibility and appeal. Focus on building a user-friendly website, optimizing it for search engines (SEO) to improve your ranking in search results.

Use social media platforms to engage with your audience, showcase properties, and share valuable content. Consider leveraging email marketing to keep clients and residents informed and engaged. Additionally, exploring online advertising options such as Google Ads or social media ads can help target potential clients more effectively. 

7. Improve client satisfaction KPIs

Enhancing the satisfaction levels of your clients – the property owners – is as crucial as focusing on tenant happiness. To improve client satisfaction KPIs, start with transparent and regular communication. Keep your clients updated with comprehensive reports on their property's status, including occupancy rates, financial performance, and any maintenance issues.

Implement client feedback mechanisms to understand their expectations and areas of concern. Tailor your services to meet these specific needs, whether it’s providing more detailed financial analysis, offering advice on property upgrades, or improving tenant screening processes.

Demonstrating proactive problem-solving and value addition can significantly boost your clients' trust and satisfaction. Remember, a satisfied client is more likely to retain your services and refer you to others, enhancing your business growth.

8. Adopt automation

Automation can streamline various aspects of your operations, from tenant screening and lease management to rent collection and maintenance scheduling. Investing in property management software can significantly reduce manual tasks, minimize errors, and provide real-time data analysis. This not only frees up time for your team to focus on more complex tasks but also improves the overall tenant and client experience.

Automated communication tools can keep tenants and property owners updated, while automated reporting can provide insightful analytics for better decision-making. Embracing automation is about staying ahead in a competitive market and offering a more responsive, efficient service.

9. Increase convenience

Convenience has become one of the most significant deciding factors for clients and residents. Start by evaluating your current processes from their perspective – how easy is it to pay rent, report maintenance issues, or get updates about their property? Implementing online platforms for rent payments and maintenance requests can greatly enhance convenience for tenants.

For property owners, providing easy access to property performance reports and financial statements through a client portal can make a significant difference. Additionally, consider adopting mobile solutions that allow both tenants and owners to access services and information on-the-go. The goal is to make every interaction as seamless and hassle-free as possible.

A little twist? Implementing a Resident Benefits Package can make life more convenient for them and for your team. We're all about making things easier. You can learn more about how we do it on our benefits page.

10. Reduce rent arrears

To achieve this, start by implementing proactive rent collection strategies. Set up automated reminders for rent payments and offer multiple, convenient payment options to make the process as easy as possible for residents. Implementing a strict but fair rent collection policy can also help in minimizing delays.
Educating residents about the importance of timely rent payments and the potential consequences of falling behind can foster a sense of responsibility. In cases where residents are consistently late, consider personalized communication to understand their situation and, if possible, work out a payment plan.
A great strategy to hit this goal is to increase incentives for on-time payments. Credit reporting is a great way to incentivize on-time monthly rent, as are resident rewards

The importance of goal setting in property management

Setting clear and strategic goals is essential for steering your company towards success and growth. Goals act as a roadmap, guiding your decisions and actions, ensuring that every effort is aligned with your broader vision.

Effective goal setting in property management also allows for measurable progress. It enables property managers to track performance against specific benchmarks, making it easier to identify areas that need improvement or adjustment. This process of continual assessment and adaptation is key in an industry that is constantly influenced by market trends, regulatory changes, and evolving tenant expectations.

Moreover, well-defined goals can motivate and unite your team. They provide a sense of direction and purpose, fostering a proactive work culture where every team member understands their role in achieving the company's objectives. This collective effort not only drives the company forward but also contributes to a more rewarding and engaging work environment.

In essence, goal setting is not just about envisioning a successful future for your property management business; it's about creating a structured approach to make that vision a reality. It's a vital tool for navigating the complexities of the industry and securing a competitive edge in the market.

Keep learning

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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