Calendar icon May 23, 2023

Property Management Strategies to Grow Your Business Without Burning Out

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. 

 

New call-to-action

 

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 impact 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.”

 

download rental inspection checklist template

 

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.

 

Happier residents

 

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 in 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
  • Etc. 

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.

Keep learning

Property Management Pest Control Gone Wrong: Resident Horror Stories & Nightmares

In the world of property management and real estate investing, maintaining a clean and pest-free environment is central to the well-being of the residents who live in your properties. That being said, effective pest control is not only a best practice, but also a strategic move that enhances your properties’ living experience, making your life as a property manager easier and your residents happier. Pest control is crucial for several reasons: Investing in pest control saves significant potential costs by avoiding large-scale infestations and property damage, enhancing resident satisfaction with a healthier, pest-free environment, and preserving property value. This approach reduces health risks, protects against liability, and maintains a good reputation by demonstrating the property management company’s dedication to providing safe, comfortable living spaces for great tenants. Ultimately, pest control sets professional property management companies apart from DIY and amateur real estate investors by safeguarding both residents' well-being and property assets. By addressing these points, you can foster a positive living environment that benefits both you and your residents. It’s important to note that our goal is not to call out “good tenants” vs. “bad tenants.” Instead, we always aim to foster a constructive dialogue focused on addressing problems and finding solutions. By emphasizing respect and fairness, we can help create a positive environment that benefits all residents, ensuring their rights and dignity are always respected. Also note that even though we here at Second Nature prefer the term "resident" over "tenant" to foster the human element, the word "tenant" may still be used occasionally due to its long-standing legal and real estate context. "House of Horror" Stories Most property managers have encountered their share of resident horror stories – and many, not for the first time. These tales often involve unexpected and severe pest infestations, made worse by residents' behaviors. Indeed, from bedbugs and roaches (the truly bad tenants any property manager is looking to be rid of) to animal issues, the range of pest problems is vast and daunting. Our "House of Horror Stories" video provides a vivid account of these situations, including some landlord horror stories that are too distressing to include here. Maggots falling from the ceiling: A tenant reported maggots falling from the ceiling onto their bed. The pest company discovered that these maggots were larvae of beetles infesting the air ducts in the neighborhood. Pets and extensive damage: Animals in one property caused extensive damage by covering all floors with feces and chewing through doors, door frames, flooring, HVAC systems, and appliances, with clean-up costs exceeding $15,000. Flushable wipes backup: A tenant flushing baby wipes caused a major sewage backup, leading to water damage throughout multiple rooms (including the living room and master bedroom), with clean-up costs close to $5,000. Donkey in the basement: During the purchase inspection, a donkey was found tied to the deck and later moved to the basement to hide it from animal control, calling for its quick removal. Rodents damaging appliances: Rats infested a property, chewing through a new dishwasher, insulation, and electrical wires, requiring repeated pest control visits and extensive repairs. These stories from a range of contributors highlight the unpredictable and often extreme challenges property managers face in maintaining their properties and ensuring the safety and well-being of their residents. How to Control Resident Pest Issues A robust pest control program is often the property manager’s best friend. After all, infestations can be difficult to proactively defend against, given that background checks, references, and tenant screening go only so far in uncovering the pest issues that can befall even the best tenants. Regardless of the challenges residents may present, a comprehensive pest control plan can mitigate potential infestations before they escalate into true horror stories. This includes timely intervention, and educating residents about maintaining cleanliness. Providing residents with clear guidelines on waste disposal and food storage can also significantly mitigate pest problems. Additionally, offering pest control services as part of a Resident Benefits Package can encourage residents to report issues early, allowing for swift action. Planning Ahead When dealing with problematic residents, it's essential to have a clear action plan. Issuing notices to clean the property promptly (e.g., with a 7-day notice period) is a critical first step. Leveraging a notice-to-clean template can streamline the process and ensure that you comply with tenant laws and legal standards. If worst things come to worst, an eviction notice may become necessary. However, this process is governed by various rules and regulations that can differ significantly across federal and state lines. It's important to be well-versed in these laws to avoid legal pitfalls. A detailed “notice to vacate” template can be incredibly helpful for property managers looking to take care of these complex situations. Nipping Things in the Bud In conclusion, maintaining a pest-free environment is integral to property management success. On-Demand Pest Control is a service in Second Nature’s fully managed Resident Benefits Package (RBP). It offers predictable, cost-effective, and fast solutions when a pest issue arises. Instead of expensive scheduled preventive treatments, residents can request service as needed. This approach ensures fast response times, directly addressing the problem at hand and saving costs over recurring treatments Property managers simply select the best pest plan from four tiers of service levels to include in their RBP. When an issue arises, the resident reports it in the On-Demand Pest Control portal, and the pest issue will be resolved. Learn more about On-Demand Pest Control by getting in touch, or read our latest study on the impact of our RBP on the resident experience.

Calendar icon July 3, 2024

Read more

Your Guide to Property Management Laws, Regulations, & Rules

Property management activities involve overseeing rental properties, ensuring they’re maintained, residents are managed, and finances are handled effectively. While a real estate license is not always necessary to manage rental properties, licensing requirements can vary significantly by state. Typically, states may require property managers to hold a real estate license or work under a licensed broker. Property managers should familiarize themselves with the specific regulations in their state to ensure compliance. What Are Some Important Property Management Rules and Regulations? Property management laws encompass various areas, ensuring the safety, rights, and responsibilities of both property managers and tenants. Key areas include: Anti-discriminatory laws: Fair housing laws such as the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) prevent discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Lease paperwork: Legally binding lease agreements must include specific terms and comply with local regulations. Safety, maintenance, and repairs: Property managers must ensure properties meet habitability standards, including weatherproofing, heating, water, and electricity. Financial management: Proper handling of security deposits, monthly rent collection, and financial records is essential to comply with regulations and avoid disputes. Property management laws by state Each state has specific property management laws that property managers must adhere to. For instance, in many (but not all) jurisdictions, property managers must obtain a real estate broker license to operate. These laws are typically drafted and enforced by various regulatory bodies such as the state's Department of Real Estate or similar agencies. For instance, the California Department of Real Estate is responsible for regulating real estate activities, brokers, and salespersons, including those who work in property management, while the Texas Real Estate Commission handles these responsibilities in Texas. These agencies ensure compliance with state licensing laws and often provide resources and guidelines for property managers of both residential properties and commercial properties. Below is a table linking to the respective government sites for state-specific regulations: State State Body Alabama Alabama Real Estate Commission Alaska Alaska Real Estate Commission Arizona Arizona Department of Real Estate Arkansas Arkansas Real Estate Commission California California Department of Real Estate Colorado Colorado Division of Real Estate Connecticut Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Delaware Delaware Real Estate Commission Florida Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation Georgia Georgia Real Estate Commission and Appraisers Board Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Real Estate Branch Illinois Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Indiana Indiana Professional Licensing Agency Iowa Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, & Licensing Kansas Kansas Real Estate Commission (for commercial real estate property management only) Kentucky Kentucky Real Estate Commission Louisiana Louisiana Real Estate Commission Michigan Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Minnesota Minnesota Department of Commerce Mississippi Mississippi Real Estate Commission Missouri Missouri Division of Professional Registration Montana Montana Department of Labor and Industry Nebraska Nebraska Real Estate Commission Nevada Nevada Real Estate Division New Hampshire New Hampshire Real Estate Commission New Jersey New Jersey Real Estate Commission New Mexico New Mexico Real Estate Commission New York New York State Division of Licensing Services North Carolina North Carolina Real Estate Commission North Dakota North Dakota Real Estate Commission Ohio Ohio Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing Oklahoma Oklahoma Real Estate Commission Oregon Oregon Real Estate Agency Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation South Carolina South Carolina Real Estate Commission South Dakota South Dakota Real Estate Commission Tennessee Tennessee Real Estate Commission Texas Texas Real Estate Commission Utah Utah Division of Real Estate Virginia Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation Washington Washington State Department of Licensing West Virginia West Virginia Real Estate Commission Wisconsin Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Wyoming Wyoming Real Estate Commission Note: This list excludes resources from Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Tenant screenings Tenant screenings are a critical step in property management, involving background checks, credit checks, income verification, employment verification, rental history, and proof of ID to assess prospective tenants. This process helps ensure that potential renters are reliable and financially responsible. It's important to obtain signed consent before running credit checks, as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), to comply with legal standards and protect tenant privacy. Another important guidance is provided by the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing-related activities based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability, ensuring equal access to housing for all individuals. Learn more about Tenant Screening Tips for PMs Lease agreements A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and tenant, outlining the terms of the tenancy. Key components of rental agreements include lease terms, rent amount, security deposit regulations, and common clauses such as maintenance responsibilities and lease renewal terms. Regulations governing lease agreements can vary by state, so it's essential to ensure that leases comply with local laws. For instance, state laws often contain security deposit limits, provisions for the return of unused portions, as well as a clear accounting for any deductions. Consulting with a lawyer is crucial to ensure your agreement is legally sound and reflects your specific circumstances. We’ve shared some relevant resources below: Learn more about property management agreements, featuring a free template Learn about security deposit insurance, and its pros and cons Financial management Effective financial management in property management involves establishing clear rent collection procedures and maintaining organized financial records. This includes tracking rent payments, managing tenants’ security deposits, and adhering to landlord-tenant laws to avoid legal disputes and financial penalties. Keeping detailed records can help property managers resolve issues efficiently and ensure transparency with tenants and property owners. Solutions such as property management software can streamline financial operations, automate routine tasks, and perhaps most importantly - ensure accuracy and regulatory compliance with respect to various accounting regulations and legal requirements. Evictions Evictions are a legal process to remove a tenant from a property. Common reasons for eviction from rental units include nonpayment of rent, property damage, lease violations, and criminal activity. Property managers must follow their state's rules for eviction notices, such as unconditional quit terminations and termination for lease violations, to ensure the process is lawful and fair. State laws regarding unconditional quit terminations and terminations for violation of a lease vary widely. Unconditional quit notices typically demand that tenants move out immediately without an opportunity to remedy the violation. States like Indiana and Mississippi allow landlords to issue these notices for serious or repeated violations, with Mississippi requiring 14 days to move out. For lease violations, the notice period and the opportunity for tenants to remedy the breach also differ by state. For example, in Kentucky, tenants generally have 15 days of written notice to cure a violation, but if the same violation occurs within six months, landlords can issue a 14-day unconditional quit notice. In contrast, states like Iowa and Maine require a seven-day notice period for tenants to address lease violations before eviction proceedings can begin. In California, on the other hand, tenants must be given three days or more to cure the violation before landlords can file for eviction (source). These legal nuances emphasize the importance of PMs and tenants understanding their specific state regulations to navigate eviction processes appropriately. Property maintenance and repairs Maintaining rental properties is a legal obligation for landlords, ensuring that properties are safe, habitable, and free from hazards like lead, asbestos, and mold. This includes weatherproofing, providing adequate heating and water, and ensuring electrical systems are functional. You can find out more about these issues in our Property Maintenance Guide for PMs. Landlords must also give notice to tenants before entering the property for repairs, as required by most state laws. When in doubt, consult a legal advisor to ascertain the specific laws that apply to you in your state. Tenants have the right to a habitable living environment, and failure to meet these standards can lead to legal consequences as well as issues with occupancy rates. Indeed, when landlords fail to make required repairs, tenants have several options depending on their state's laws. Tenants may withhold rent, make the necessary repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the rent, pay a reduced rent, report the issue to local building inspectors who can order repairs, or even break the lease and move out. Additionally, tenants can sue the landlord for a partial refund of past rent or for damages caused by the substandard conditions, including discomfort and emotional distress. Get our preventative maintenance checklist for property management Learn about the importance of pest control to maintain a pest-free environment Second Nature's Guidance Staying informed about state-specific regulations, maintaining organized records, and ensuring compliance with federal laws such as the Fair Housing Amendments Act is key to successful property management. On a practical level, understanding and adhering to property management laws and regulations is crucial for property managers to ensure smooth operations, maintain property value, and foster positive tenant relationships. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon July 3, 2024

Read more

Receive articles straight to your inbox

Deliver the ultimate resident experience

Our Resident Benefits Package gives residents everything they want without all the work.