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Why Pest Control Is Important for Property Management

Pest control plays a critical role in effective property management. That's because pests are not just a nuisance – they can also contaminate food, damage belongings, spread diseases, and make rental properties unlivable. In this blog, we'll cover the impact of pests on your property and residents' lives, practical strategies for controlling these unwanted guests, and the benefits of a preventive approach to pest management. On hand to help us deliver these insights is Landon Cooley, the Co-Founder and CEO of Pest Share, a commercial pest control expert. Cooley's extensive experience in the pest control industry provides valuable knowledge on how property managers can effectively integrate pest control into their maintenance routines. What you'll learn: Why preventive pest control is a smart strategy How to monitor and control pests on your property The responsibilities of property managers and residents in maintaining a pest-free environment Common pests, how they enter properties, and the importance of immediate action and resident education By the end of this article, you’ll have a thorough understanding of the importance of pest control in property management and actionable steps to ensure a healthy, comfortable living environment for your residents. Why Preventive Pest Control Is a Good Strategy The most important part of pest control? Prevention. There are so many reasons that a good preventive pest control program can pay off for your company, your investor, and your residents. It sets professional property managers apart from the crowd. Here are some of the top reasons why preventive pest control works. Cost-effective in the long run Investing in a preventive pest control plan can save significant costs in the future. While there is an upfront cost, it's generally far less than the expense of handling large-scale infestations or property damage caused by pests. Prevents major infestations Pests have a way of multiplying exponentially. A preventative approach can nip potential critter nightmares in the bud. By treating small issues promptly, you can prevent them from developing into major infestations that are difficult and costly to eradicate. Enhances resident satisfaction Preventive pest control contributes to a comfortable and healthy living environment. By keeping pests at bay, you increase resident satisfaction, which can lead to longer tenancy periods and positive word-of-mouth referrals. Preserves property value Pests can cause significant damage to the structure and aesthetics of your property. By keeping properties pest-free, you protect and preserve the value of the property. Property managers are, in the most foundational way, asset managers for their property owners. This is a critical way to protect those assets. Reduces health risks Many pests carry diseases that can pose health risks to your residents. A preventive approach to pest control helps maintain a healthier living environment by reducing these risks. It also protects you and your investor from liability associated with those health concerns. Maintains reputation Effective pest control is a key aspect of property management, and a preventative approach helps maintain a good reputation. It shows prospective and current residents that you are proactive and dedicated to providing a safe, comfortable living environment. Again, prevention sets you apart from hobbyists and amateur property managers. How to Monitor and Control Pests in Your Property Regularly scheduled inspections are the best mechanism for effective pest monitoring. Ideally, qualified personnel should conduct quarterly or biannual checks. These inspections will focus on identifying potential entry points for common pests, and might include checking for cracks in the foundation, gaps around pipes and wires, and proper ventilation in crawl spaces. Maintaining open communication with residents is equally important. Encouraging residents to report any signs of pests, like droppings or unusual noises, allows for early intervention. Property managers should have a clear procedure for responding to such reports, ensuring a swift and effective resolution to prevent infestations from escalating. Of course, understanding the problem only gets us halfway (if even!) to solving it. As property managers, the responsibility of dealing with pest issues falls squarely on your team’s shoulders. Great property management companies employ a strategic approach to integrated pest management (IPM), minimizing the possibility of pests – and dealing with them immediately when there’s an issue. Along with routine inspections, here are some of the top property management pest control trips we’ve handpicked from the industry. Immediate action Taking immediate action at the first sign of a pest problem is crucial. Delays can allow the pest population to grow, making the issue more difficult and costly to handle. A quick response to reported issues shows your residents that their comfort and safety are a priority and can often prevent minor issues from escalating into serious infestations. Whether you call an exterminator or handle it in-house, a swift response is key. Tenant education Educating tenants on proper food storage and waste disposal can drastically reduce the attractiveness of your property to pests. Regular communication about cleanliness and preventative measures empowers residents to contribute to a pest-free environment. Professional pest control services Sometimes, professional intervention becomes necessary. Pest control services can effectively deal with large infestations, employing safe and targeted solutions. They can also provide expert advice on preventing future infestations. When hiring pest control companies, Cooley says, it’s important to understand what types of specializations they offer. “There are several different segments of the industry, and not all companies do everything,” he says. “Some do only residential insect control, or maybe rodent control. Some are very robust and specialize in all these areas. Every company is a little different.” Landscaping and exterior maintenance Maintaining the exterior of your properties is as crucial as looking after the interior. Regularly trim overgrown plants, manage water drainage effectively, and keep outdoor trash areas clean to deter pests. Seal entry points Prevent pests from entering by regularly checking for and sealing any potential entry points. This includes filling cracks, fixing broken screens, and covering crevices. Keeping your property in good repair helps make it less accessible to pests. Proper waste management Secure and timely waste disposal is key to pest prevention. Ensure that all trash bins are properly covered and regularly emptied to avoid attracting rodents, insects, and other pests. Each of these methods contributes to effective pest control, helping to create a comfortable, pest-free environment for your residents. Property Management Pest Control Concerns Who is responsible for pest control? The responsibility for pest control can vary depending on the state and the specific situation. In many states, landlords are largely responsible for maintaining a habitable dwelling, which includes addressing existing pest infestations and taking preventative measures. However, some states place more responsibility on residents, especially if the infestation arises from unsanitary conditions within the unit or from a tenant's actions that attract pests. Lease agreements often address pest control by outlining each party's obligations. It's important for both property managers and tenants to understand these clauses to avoid confusion or disputes. What are the most problematic pests? In terms of structural damage, termites and rodents are high threats due to their ability to gnaw and burrow. Ticks pose significant health risks as they can transmit diseases. For general nuisance and quality of life issues, cockroaches and bedbugs are common culprits. Ultimately, the most problematic pests will depend on the specific location, property type, and potential health risks. Do I need preventive pest control? If the properties you're managing have historically had pest problems, or are situated in an area with frequent infestations, then proactive measures will certainly be beneficial. Regular inspections and preventative treatments can offer peace of mind and potentially save money by stopping infestations before they start. Even if you haven’t had any issues, a purely reactive approach can end up costing you. How can pests enter my property? Pests can enter properties in a surprising number of ways. Cracks in foundations, gaps around windows and doors, holes created by utility lines, and damaged vents are all potential entry points. Even seemingly small openings can be enough for some persistent pests, like rodents and insects. Additionally, pests can hitchhike inside year-round on cardboard boxes, used furniture, or on pets. Why Pest Control Is Important When we talk about property management, pest control isn't just an afterthought—it's a crucial component of providing the peace of mind that comes with a safe and comfortable living environment. Dealing with these “visitors” is important beyond just the ick factor. “The pest control industry only serves 15% of US residents, and yet 86% of US residents have an experience of pest infestations every year,” Cooley says. “So there’s a big gap.” Let's delve into some of the key reasons why pest control is so important. Pests contaminate food Many pests, such as cockroaches, ants, and rodents, are notorious for finding their way into food supplies. They can carry harmful bacteria and other pathogens, contaminating food and cooking surfaces. Mouse droppings, for example, can spread disease, in addition to just being … gross. This can potentially lead to foodborne illnesses amongst residents, causing unnecessary discomfort and potential health issues. Pests destroy property Pests like termites and carpenter ants can cause costly damage to the property structure, eating away at wood and compromising the integrity of the building. Other pests may gnaw through electrical wiring or insulation, leading to costly repairs. By maintaining consistent pest control measures, you can prevent such destruction and safeguard your property, making it a more secure and stable environment for your residents. Pests destroy residents’ belongings Some common pests, like carpet beetles or silverfish, may seem small and harmless, but they can wreak havoc on a resident's personal belongings. These pests can destroy everything from clothing and books to upholstered furniture, causing financial stress and discomfort to your residents. Pests spread diseases Pests are known carriers of a variety of diseases and can be a public health risk. Rodents can spread hantavirus and salmonella, mosquitoes transmit West Nile virus and Zika virus, ticks carry Lyme disease, and fleas are known to carry several diseases or allergic reactions, to name a few. Roaches carry any number of bacteria and diseases. Keeping these pests at bay is critical to maintaining the health and well-being of your residents. Pests make it difficult to live Beyond physical health risks, pests can create an uncomfortable, even distressing, living environment. The presence of pests can lead to anxiety and sleep disturbances, negatively affecting residents' quality of life. Pests like fleas and bedbugs cause physical discomfort if not outright health problems, and many pests, like mites, spread or trigger allergens. In short, effective pest control is essential to maintaining the integrity of your investors’ property assets, the health of your residents, and your reputation as a caring and responsible property manager. How Much Does Pest Control Cost? The last, and sometimes biggest, hurdle when it comes to pest control? Cost. General pest control methods can cost hundreds of dollars per service. Here’s an average breakdown for budgeting purposes: Cockroach/flea treatment: $350-$750 per service Bed bug treatment (heat): $1500+ per service Bed bug treatment (chemical): $1000+ per service Rodent trapping service: $250+ per service Quarterly general insect service: $40-$50 per month How can property managers find a cost-effective solution that drives value and comfort for their residents without breaking the bank? Throughout his years of experience, this is the question that Landon Cooley found was nagging the property managers he met. “We wondered: Can we take these specific pain points – bedbugs or cockroaches or fleas – and find a solution that we can build into our Resident Benefit Program?” Property Management Pest Control Solutions Cooley’s solution? He co-founded Pest Share, which is a new service in Second Nature’s fully managed Resident Benefits Package. The Pest Share model is a subscription model that works like a co-op: everyone pitches in, and the collected funds go to the more expensive parts of the plan without burdening any one client with too much cost. Property managers simply select the Pest Assurance plan from four tiers of service levels. They add that plan to their RBP or OBP and pay a flat rate for it, which they can also roll into their overall RBP ancillary fees. Their residents can then go directly to Pest Share on their mobile phones to get pest services for no cost. “What we’re offering is unique, on-demand, and very tech-forward. Pet Share gives quick access to service but allows us to offer cheaper price points for the same end result,” Cooley explains. “Our approach is, 'How can we take this off the property manager’s plate?’ We aim to create ancillary revenue for them, take an annoying task off their list, and enhance the resident experience.” The result? Pest Share has helped their property management clients increase their Benefit Package ROI by 75%. For Second Nature, including Pest Share’s model in our Resident Benefit Package – and upcoming Investor Benefit Package – was a no-brainer. Learn more about Pest Share by getting in touch, or read our latest study on the impact of our RBP on the resident experience.

Calendar icon June 24, 2024

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Property manager filling out rental inspection check list

SFR Property Management Problems and Solutions

In recent years, the single-family residence (SFR) rental market has seen significant growth as more property owners recognize the potential for steady income and long-term appreciation. With this rise in popularity comes a unique set of challenges for the rental property managers (PMs) who are tasked with overseeing these properties. Unlike multi-family units, managing single-family homes can present a range of issues that require tailored solutions. Scattered-site properties also present a logistical challenge, as they are by nature harder to service and manage. From finding quality residents to handling unexpected maintenance emergencies, a strategic and proactive approach is required to ensure a smooth and profitable rental experience. Note that even though we here at Second Nature prefer the term "resident" over "tenant" in order to foster the human element, the word "tenant" may still be used occasionally due to its long-standing legal and real estate context. What Are the Most Common Property Management Challenges? The most common problems faced by SFR property managers generally fall into three buckets: finding quality residents; maintenance and repairs; and time management and communication. Let's explore each. #1 Finding Quality Residents One of the most critical aspects of managing SFRs is resident placement. Indeed, inadequate resident screening processes can significantly impact resident retention as well as profitability. That’s because poor screening can lead to high turnover rates (including evictions), increased property wear and tear, and ultimately, financial strain. Additionally, attracting responsible residents who will treat the property with care and adhere to lease agreements can be particularly challenging in competitive rental markets. #2 Maintenance and Repairs Unexpected maintenance issues are a common hassle for SFR property managers. From plumbing leaks to HVAC failures, emergencies can arise without warning, leading to unplanned expenses and logistical challenges. Finding reliable and responsive contractors who are able to address repairs promptly adds yet another layer of complexity. The inability to swiftly manage these issues can result in resident dissatisfaction as well as potential property damage. #3 Time Management and Communication Managing multiple single-family homes requires excellent time management skills. Balancing the diverse needs of residents, coordinating with vendors, and ensuring regular property inspections can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s essential to establish clear and timely communication channels to maintain good resident relationships and efficient operations. However, juggling these responsibilities can lead to lapses in communication, resulting in time-consuming misunderstandings and unresolved issues. Solutions for a Smoother SFR Rental Experience While the challenges of managing SFR rentals are significant, there are effective strategies and tools available to streamline operations and enhance resident satisfaction. Here are some solutions to common property management business problems. Strategic Resident Screening Implementing a robust resident screening process is crucial for minimizing vacancy rates and securing responsible residents. To this end, utilizing professional screening services can help identify prospective tenants by thoroughly evaluating their rental history, credit scores, and background checks. Clear lease terms and expectations should be established from the outset to ensure residents understand the responsibilities and obligations that occupancy brings. Learn more: Tenant Screening Tips for PMs 10 Steps to Onboard New Tenants Proactive Maintenance Proactive maintenance is key to preventing costly emergencies and maintaining the property’s condition. Scheduling regular preventative maintenance inspections allows property managers to identify and address potential issues before they escalate. Building relationships with reputable and responsive repair professionals ensures that maintenance tasks and requests are handled promptly. Consider leveraging technology that allows residents to conduct their own regular inspections to provide early detection of problems and streamline the property maintenance process (learn more). Vendor and Supplier Selection Choosing the right property management service providers and vendors is crucial to successful property management. Establishing relationships with reliable and responsive contractors ensures that maintenance and repair issues are addressed promptly, reducing downtime and inconvenience for renters. It’s essential to vet vendors thoroughly, checking their credentials, references, and reviews to ensure they meet the necessary quality and reliability standards. Building a network of trusted professionals can lead to better service rates, priority scheduling, and consistent adherence to due dates as well as work quality standards. Additionally, negotiating long-term contracts with preferred vendors can offer cost savings and a more streamlined management process. By prioritizing quality vendor and supplier selection, property managers can enhance the overall efficiency of their operations and maintain high tenant satisfaction. Technology and Automation Incorporating technology and automation into property management can significantly enhance efficiency and communication. For instance, online portals for collecting rent payments and addressing maintenance requests simplify transactions and ensure transparency. They can also facilitate incentives for prompt rent payment, follow up on late payments, and generally optimize rent collection with an eye to optimizing cash flow. Property management software can also streamline vendor and tenant communication, track maintenance schedules, and provide detailed financial reporting. These tools not only save time but also build trust and improve resident satisfaction by ensuring quick and effective responses to their needs. Naturally, you will need to conduct a due diligence process of technology selection and provider assessment that addresses pricing, customer support, and support for the features that are mission-critical for your organization. Second Nature’s Outlook Effective property management is essential for maximizing the profitability and longevity of single-family home rentals. By addressing common challenges with strategic solutions, property managers can enhance resident satisfaction, reduce vacancy rates, and maintain the property’s value. Embracing technology and proactive management practices are critical components of any successful SFR business strategy. Property managers are encouraged to explore these solutions and adopt the approaches that best suit their specific needs. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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Property manager handing new residents the keys to their new home

Property Management Compliance with Insurance Regulations: Answers to Your Top Questions

Property management companies navigate a complex world of regulations. Indeed, ensuring legal compliance goes far beyond collecting rent and handling repairs. For instance, the tenant screening process involves legal obligations and occupancy considerations outlined in fair housing laws, along with background checks to ensure resident safety. Habitability standards and safety regulations, dictated by local landlord-tenant laws, may require meticulous property maintenance – or real estate rental properties may require improvements to meet tenant rights and safety standards as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, the key areas of security deposits, lease agreements, and eviction procedures all have legal requirements that must be stringently followed to avoid legal issues. Audits can arrive unexpectedly, and failing to comply can result in hefty fines or loss of licensure. However, one of the most intricate areas of regulatory compliance involves insurance, particularly when it comes to insurance for residents. We delve deeper into this specific challenge in the following sections. A note on language: At Second Nature, we prefer the term “residents” rather than “tenants.” That’s because focusing on the people in every interaction helps us create better business strategies in the long run. After all, property management is all about focusing on what residents and investors – human beings – want and need! But throughout this article, you’ll see us use both terms interchangeably due to the technical nature of various compliance issues. What Makes PM Compliance with Insurance So Complex? The biggest hurdle property managers face with insurance compliance requirements is the jurisdictional complexity. Federal laws provide a framework, but individual states and even municipalities can have their own regulations regarding insurance for tenants. Understanding these variations is crucial. Property managers must stay up-to-date on the specific laws governing their area to ensure they are not only compliant but also considering the best interests of both the property owner and the tenant. Insurance Compliance FAQs A recent discussion between Second Nature’s very own Andrew Smallwood (Chief Customer Officer) and Rob MacKethan (VP of Risk, and the Designated Responsible Licensed Producer for Second Nature’s licensed producer subsidiary, Second Nature Insurance Services, LLC, NPN No. 20224621) highlighted frequently asked questions and issues raised over the course of a number of industry discussions. Rob has been in the insurance space for about 35 years, and worked with multiple startups in the industry prior to coming to Second Nature, where he leads the team in creating value for customers using insurance tools. Below is a summary of FAQs and responses from their conversation. What aspects of property management should PMs be aware of when offering a solution for a tenant to meet the PMs’ liability insurance requirement? The key thing to remember is that insurance is a highly regulated industry, especially at the state level. If you operate in multiple states, you need to make sure you comply with local regulations in each one. In the end, regulators are there to protect consumers from being misled and to ensure insurance companies will pay out claims when needed. Can property managers require residents to get a specific renters insurance policy? No, but, in the majority of states, they may include a requirement in the lease agreement that requires residents to carry an insurance policy that provides for tenant liability coverage that meets a minimum coverage level. Regulators don’t want residents to be forced to purchase a specific policy. They want them to have the option to shop around and meet lease requirements with a policy of their choice. Can property managers add an administrative fee on top of the premium, or reduce the premium themselves? Regulations related to PMs' involvement in premiums and fees vary by state; however, such involvement is typically limited to establishing the tenant liability coverage limits. Some states prohibit any changes to the premium, while others may allow reasonable administrative fees within certain limits. The safest approach for a PM is to not change the premium at all. Is it important to avoid inducements like discounts on rent in exchange for purchasing insurance? Absolutely. Offering incentives related to the purchase of insurance can be seen as anti-competitive or a form of rebating, both of which should not be offered by unlicensed PMs. PMs must be careful to avoid acting in a manner that may cause the PM to be considered by regulators as performing certain acts without proper licensing. Unlicensed PMs should avoid any act that may cause them to appear as though they are selling, soliciting, or negotiating insurance. What should property managers be aware of when creating marketing content about renters insurance programs? This is a crucial point. Selling, soliciting, and negotiating insurance are activities that require an insurance license. Property managers should avoid creating their own marketing materials about insurance coverage, deductibles, pricing, or comparisons to other policies. They should partner with a licensed insurance company or broker and reference them in their materials. Brochures and website content are best reviewed by legal counsel to ensure regulatory compliance. How can property managers ensure residents meet and maintain liability insurance requirements throughout the term of their lease? Partnering with a licensed company that provides policy status tracking and record keeping is key. This will help ensure residents comply with the lease requirement and that the property manager, or their vendor, is notified of any lapses in coverage and can action them appropriately. What should property managers keep in mind if residents pay insurance premiums through the property management software along with their rent? It's critical that those payments be passed through to the insurance carrier or broker promptly upon collection. Withholding or retaining premiums can have serious consequences due to non-compliance with regulations. How Second Nature Helps with Your Resident’s Insurance Coverage At Second Nature, we know how valuable your investor clients’ assets are – and how much risk you take on as a property manager. While compliance with insurance regulations can sometimes feel like a zero-sum game, we aim to make every opportunity a win for everyone involved. In the end, successful property management not only fosters smooth operations, but better outcomes for all stakeholders. That’s where the renters insurance program offered by Second Nature’s licensed insurance subsidiary, Second Nature Insurance Services, comes in. Second Nature Insurance Services offers a master policy with convenient enrollment, and a customizable HO4 policy option if residents want to tailor a policy to their needs, both of which will meet your tenant liability insurance requirement. Or they can get their own policy and show they’ve met the requirements on their own. PMs get a fully managed renters insurance program that helps ensure compliance and that you, your investor, and your residents can rest easy knowing you’re protected from key areas of risk. With our fully managed renters insurance program, we’ve seen our partner PMs go from: 41% of residents covered → 100% of residents covered Self-managed portal administration → Fully managed for you Leasing team tracking certifications → 100% certificate management Higher premiums → lower premiums Complex implementation and vendor management → 1 RBP, 1 Invoice Every property manager knows insurance matters, but that doesn’t make it any less of a headache. Learn more about how our Resident Benefits Package just makes life simpler. * Renters Insurance Program is provided by Second Nature Insurance Services, LLC (NPN 20224621)

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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5 Best Property Management Inspection Software

Property management inspection software is designed to simplify and streamline the process of conducting property inspections. Typical features of this property management software include customizable inspection templates, mobile compatibility, photo and video capture, scheduling capabilities, and report generation functionality. More broadly, inspection software is an important tool for establishing "Triple Win" conditions that benefit residents, property managers, and investors alike. That's because it improves overall operational efficiency and promotes proactive/preventative maintenance, while also helping to improve transparency. In a nutshell, it’s an indispensable tool for property management companies looking to deliver high-quality services and maintain property value. Today, we’ll provide an overview of some of the best property management inspection software currently available. A note on language: Developers of property management inspection software often refer to "tenants” in their workflows, and for the sake of cohesion, we’ll be picking up on that term in this software review. But here at Second Nature we regularly see the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just a tenant – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just a philosophy, it’s also a business decision that encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call renters “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home. Related: Best Single Family Property Management Software Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Property Management Inspection Software The inspection solutions on this list were selected from top-ranked inspection software on sites such as Capterra and G2, as well as sites devoted to property management solutions. Note that all inspection tools come with pros, cons, and distinctive features. In today’s overview, we’ll confine ourselves to outlining core features, as well as positioning and pricing. However, for true apples-to-apples comparisons of property management inspection software, you should evaluate its performance in the context of real-life requirements and conditions. In particular, focus on the following aspects in your assessments: Workflow templatization Workflow templatization in property management inspection software refers to the process of creating templated automations that sequence common inspection tasks and steps. Essentially a user-friendly "smart inspection checklist," these workflow templates reduce the likelihood of inspection oversights or errors when assessing property conditions. They can include areas and elements to focus on during the inspection process, as well as evaluation criteria. Ideally, users can customize workflow templates as required. Ease of tenant communication Features that focus on ease of communication are central to improving the resident experience, as they streamline communication, save time, and enhance the overall process for both parties. Examples might range in complexity from simple direct messaging capabilities to automated translation features. How fast it is to complete an inspection While workflow templates can help make inspections more efficient, other factors also considerably impact overall process optimization, including features like automatic appointment scheduling, the extent of offline data access, the degree to which report generation is automated, and more. Inspection report readability Readability is key to creating transparent communications and positive overall experiences for everyone involved in the process. Different factors include the general layout and formatting of property inspection reports and inspection data, clarity and concision of language, and accessibility considerations that promote inclusivity for any reader. Customization options No one size fits all out of the box. That’s why inspection software ideally allows user to tailor the app to their specific requirements. Customization capabilities might refer to branding options, changes to the user interface, reporting format, workflow triggers, and more. Ease of syncing between mobile and desktop Not all server capabilities are created equal, which is why it can be helpful to evaluate whether or not information can be seamlessly accessed, updated, and shared across the software’s mobile app and desktop platform. Ultimately, seamless syncing enables better property management practices. Areas to consider include data update latency, offline functionality, consistency of feature accessibility across platforms, security of data transfer, and conflict resolution in case of simultaneous data changes. Value-add services In the context of property management inspection software, "value-add services" refer to any additional services that complement the core inspection capabilities of the software. These services can be offered by the software vendors themselves, or via third-party partnerships. Examples might include yard services associated with HOA compliance, pet screening, or Second Nature’s very own air filter delivery service. Best Property Management Inspection Software 1. zInspector Billed as “the most powerful and affordable property inspection toolkit in the market,” zInspector is designed as a collaborative field-to-office solution for the property management, real estate, and construction trades. Features include the option to upload unlimited date- and time-stamped photos and videos, offline inspection capabilities, and unlimited options for customizing templates. zInspector also provides a number of tenant-directed features, including move-in/move-out inspections as well as periodic and renewal inspections, and remote tenant signing. Property inspection companies can brand zInspector capabilities within their own app, or simply customize zInspector with their logo and color palettes. Featured zInspector integrations include AppFolio, Rent Manager, Rentvine, PropertyWare, Rentec Direct, and Google Drive. Pricing ranges from free (for up to 5 doors) to the “Max” plan at $110 per month. 10% discounts are provided for annual subscriptions. According to users on G2.com, the zInspector property inspection app is “super easy to learn and use,” with “thorough options for evaluating all our units upon turnover, from our smallest and most basic efficiencies to massive 6-bedroom single-family homes.” Learn more about zInspector 2. RentCheck RentCheck is a popular solution for the scattered site property management market. It’s designed to help save time for property management teams by eliminating the need for in-person inspections. In that vein, the mobile app version (available in Android and iOS versions) allows residents to complete inspections (move-in and move-out as well as periodic) using their mobile devices, without having to coordinate with a property manager. Features of the software include the ability for property managers to customize home inspections, set reminders, generate reports, and compare new and existing reports side-by-side. Pricing options range from a free version for up to 10 doors to an enterprise tier that includes advanced API and customization features. Per Capterra, RentCheck scores extremely well (4.7 out of 5) for ease of use, value for money, and customer service. Learn more about RentCheck 3. HappyCo HappyCo is more fairly characterized as a platform rather than an inspection software solution. It’s billed as a “real-time multifamily operations platform” that aims to help property owners and managers unlock more accurate valuations, better returns, and higher property value. The function of its Happy Property suite is to streamline leasing, renewal, and maintenance tasks, and this includes core inspection functionality, including scheduling, notifications, and work order generation. It integrates with several other technologies, including AppFolio, MRI, RealPage, Rent Manager, and Yardi. Pricing is determined based on a consultative process with the HappyCo team. Reviewers on G2.com call out its simplicity and ease of use. Learn more about HappyCo 4. Onsight PROS OnSight PROS is an in-person service for property managers, landlords, and insurance companies. However, they leverage an app to streamline the inspection process. Different types of inspections include move-in/move-out (MIMO) inspections, periodic inspections, acquisition inspections, and exterior inspections (roof, gutters, landscaping, and fencing). Inspection reports can be customized and branded as needed. The service coverage area is nationwide, and pricing for the service is determined based on a consultative process with the OnSight PROS team. Learn more about OnSight PROS 5. SnapInspect Designed for a wide range of markets, including multifamily, residential, commercial, vacation rentals, and student housing, SnapInspect incorporates features such as video recording, custom reports, and custom property inspector workflows. A free trial of the software is available, and multifamily pricing starts at $199 per month, which includes iOS and Android apps, Google and Dropbox sync, report customization, and scheduling & automation options. SnapInspect reviews on G2 describe SnapInspect’s customer service as “above and beyond,” and refer to the app’s user-friendliness. Learn more about SnapInspect Property Management Inspection Software by Second Nature Inspection software by Second Nature is currently in the works! As always, our goal is to create an experience that will benefit property management companies, residents, and investors alike. Drop us a line if you’d like to be among the first to learn about our upcoming release - or take a tour of our Resident Benefits Package to explore the Triple Win experience we’re offering you right now.

Calendar icon March 13, 2024

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How to Start a Property Management Company in 13 Steps [Startup Checklist]

From the Second Nature perspective, focusing on a high-quality resident experience is the secret sauce to standing out in a crowded property management industry. That’s because happy residents lead to higher retention rates, more on-time payments, better care for the property, and shorter vacancies. Our property management checklist can help ensure you build that strategy into the DNA of your company from the beginning. This property management startup checklist is intended to help you orient your company toward a resident focus from the get-go. In the absence of a checklist, it’s all too easy to get caught up in real estate and rental property considerations that do not reflect long-term winning conditions for all stakeholders. 1. Write a Property Management Business Plan In some ways, a property management business plan is a document intended for potential clients and investors. And certainly, it can help you concretize start-up costs and get funding for the business (learn more on what’s needed to get SBA financing). But in many more important respects, it’s a structured foundation for you to gain insights into what residents are looking for, which in turn will help crystalize the type of clients you want, what types of property you’ll manage, and what kind of property management company you are. You’ll find a property management business plan template here, but in broad terms, here is a framework of the distinct components: Executive Summary Company Overview Market Analysis (Industry, Customer, and Competitive Analysis) Services Marketing Plan & Sales Strategy Operations Management Management Team Financial Plan Growth Opportunities Each component will lay the foundation for your future resident-focused success. Related: Property Management Business Plan Template 2. File Your Property Management Business In order to correctly file and pay your business taxes, you’ll need to register your property management business and choose a type of legal entity. This step is important, as it can also impact the protection/exposure of any personal assets, associated paperwork, or even the way in which you raise funds for your business. Note that it is certainly possible to change your business structure once it's established, but this can be a convoluted and high-stakes process. For property management businesses, different legal entity options are possible. Common legal structures include Limited Liability Company (LLC), S-Corporation (S-Corp), and C-Corporation (C-Corp). An LLC offers personal asset protection, while S-Corps and C-Corps provide additional legal safeguards. The choice involves considerations such as pass-through taxation for LLCs (where business income passes directly to the business owner's personal tax return) or potential double taxation for C-Corps, which can be mitigated via accounting measures. Other options include sole proprietorships as well as partnerships, where taxes and business liabilities are the responsibilities of the individual owners. Once you’ve identified your new business for tax purposes, you can get a free Employer Identification Number from the IRS. Which type of legal entity you select ultimately depends on your appetite for control, flexibility, and complexity. Learn more about how to structure your property management company. 3. Setup Bank Account for Your Property Management Business Opening a business bank account will help you build credit for your own property management company, maintain separation between your personal and business finances, and streamline tax accounting. It may also be required by law, depending on state laws applicable to your business structure. Some banks offer account features, flat fee or zero fee structures, and services that are particularly beneficial for new businesses and small businesses, so it is worth taking the time to shop around rather than defaulting to the same bank you use for your personal accounts. 4. Setup Accounting for Your Property Management Business With the help of OnSightPROS, we've developed a rental inspection checklist template for single-family rental property management companies. Use this template to build out your checklist. Not all accounting is equal. Property management accounting deals specifically with the financial management of rental properties. It helps property managers track rental income, manage expenses, handle tenant deposits, and produce financial reports. Essentially, property management accounting helps you maintain accurate and comprehensive financial records for each property you manage. Property management accounting consists of two components. The first is corporate accounting, which is similar to the kind of accounting done at any company. The second is trust accounting, which is specific to property management. This kind of accounting relates to the client funds that you hold, including security deposits, rent, and funds intended for property upkeep and repairs. Managing rental properties can be daunting when it comes to accounting and finance management, but that certainly doesn’t make it a show-stopper. Learn more about property management accounting, as well as accounting software and single family property management software that can make it significantly easier. 5. Obtain Required Licenses and Permits for Your Property Management Business The licenses and permits required for property management businesses vary depending on your location, but common requirements can include a real estate broker license (which often involves an exam-based accreditation as well as potential background checks), a property management license, a leasing agent license, and a business license, as well as any other locally required permits. 6. Secure Liability Insurance Liability insurance is important to keep your business running on solid foundations. In fact, it’s essential, as it protects not just you but your investor’s assets and your resident’s safety. At Second Nature, insurance is so important to us that we incorporate an insurance product into our resident benefits package. General liability insurance for property managers safeguards against potential financial liabilities arising from physical risks. It typically covers expenses related to repairs, replacements, legal fees, and medical bills, and is applicable to both residential and commercial properties. Coverage can include bodily injury, medical payments, physical damage, reputational harm, and even copyright infringement in relation to marketing efforts. Note that Second Nature's renter insurance program ensures 100% compliance and liability coverage protecting you, your property investors, and your residents. 7. Hire Your Team Hiring the right team has a huge impact on your ability to achieve the business targets you’ve established in your business plan. Note that “right” doesn’t simply mean “qualified.” That’s because who your employees are is fundamentally more important than what they’ve achieved. After all, you’re setting the stage for them to deliver the best work they’ve ever done in their careers to date. The hiring process begins by understanding what characteristics you’re looking for. For any given candidate, how do they build the new skills required to address new situations? How do they handle challenges when things get tough? And perhaps most importantly, what is their response to failure? Insights into these questions will help galvanize a people-focused approach that is truly a value-driven team. After all, at Second Nature, we want to generate value for ourselves, our investors, and our residents—and we want people who buy into that approach. Get more Second Nature hiring tips on building a people-focused team. 8. Create Solid Pricing Structure and Property Management Contracts Once you hire a team. establishing a good pricing structure for your business and creating all the legal documents required to run the business should be the priority. That's because the right approach can generate value beyond management fees for property managers, their investors, and their residents, which reflects Second Nature’s “triple win” focus. General rental property management fees include collecting the month’s rent, following up on arrears, organizing property maintenance and repairs, and keeping up-to-date on legal issues. Much of the profit in property management comes from driving better value for investors and residents, and pricing for that value. After all, people are willing to pay for better quality experiences in their homes. Additional fees, which will help drive company growth, should be communicated during the onboarding process and lease agreement. In other words, they are never about hidden markups. They’re about charging for value and driving great habits. Fees can be applied on the resident side (for instance, paper lease setup fees, lease renewal fees, late fees, or special programs fee) as well as on the investor side for a number of property management services (inspection fees, vendor screening fees, rent protection or eviction fees). Again, fees help you drive value for both your investors and your residents, and support your business at the same time. Note that because regulations vary across regions, it may not always be possible to charge fees for certain types of services. That's why it's important to discuss any fee and contract proposals with an attorney before implementing them. 9. Execute the Marketing Plan Set Out in Your Business Plan While it’s true that businesses thrive on referrals and word of mouth, it’s executing on your marketing plan that will help drive more consistent revenue — and help you capitalize on the market research you conducted to assemble your business plan. As with so many other things, the marketing landscape has changed enormously in just a short time. We’re now living in an era when an active, well managed online presence is critical. This means that a robust marketing strategy is more than simply managing a social media account (although this too is important). It also includes investing in search engine optimization for your website, executing on content creation and distribution strategies, conducting networking events, and advertising online. For optimal property management marketing, where work often stays within specific regional areas, it’s also important to maintain a presence in local business listings. 10. Network with Fellow Property Managers and Owners to Expand Your Business We touched on networking in the context of a marketing plan, but for new business owners in particular, networking can be a valuable source for those first few clients. There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities for establishing your business name, ranging from local vendor fairs to national property management conferences and events with thousands of attendees. In addition, there are numerous property management associations that provide opportunities for networking, education, and advocacy for property management professionals. The business and personal development opportunities available through such options present great avenues to expand and optimize your property management business. 11. Write a Resident Retention Strategy - and How You Can Improve the Resident Experience You should be thinking about the resident experience from the very start. After all, in an industry where churn is the norm, an effective retention strategy pays its own way. To be truly effective, however, it’s key to recognize that “resident retention” is not simply a one-dimensional number at the bottom of a spreadsheet. The “triple win” approach to resident retention asks the question: “How do we create experiences so good that residents never want to leave?” Answering that question maximizes residential property owner ROI and boosts property manager success. In other words: A win for residents is a win for investors is a win for property managers. In the same vein, we often hear from professional property managers that a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is a powerful way to retain residents over the long term. RBPs can help with resident satisfaction and resident retention rates. After all, a proactive, differentiating approach to resident retention means building experiences that people will pay and stay for. This is a useful lens with which to examine the full property manager/resident journey, from move-in to collecting rent payments to move-out, for opportunities to generate resident retention ideas—and deliver those wins. 12. Create SOPs to Handle Complaints, Disputes, and Requests Once you have the first few properties under your management, it’ll be important to ensure processes and procedures are in place to handle complaints, disputes, excessive maintenance requests, rent collection issues, and tenant problems. In such cases, rather than automatically assuming the resident is the problem, some property managers approach resident issues as behaviors that can be changed. That’s because the root cause is often addressable and the behavior changeable. This emphasis on the people element pays off — and lets you focus on how to adjust “bad” behavior through benefits and rewards, rather than just being transactional. This reframing aside, one of the best ways to deal with complaints and disputes is to avoid them in the first place, which often comes down to non-discriminatory tenant screening processes and background checks. Other standard operating processes include documenting all incidents and updates thoroughly, calling law enforcement in the case of illegal activity, implementing eviction processes if necessary, and staying current and compliant with local laws and regulations. 13. Create and Execute a Strategy to Improve the Resident Experience Once again, improving the resident experience goes a long way in retaining the residents and creating ancillary revenue streams. From the get-go, you can actively ensure great first impressions with services such as move-in concierges or coordinators. After all, a resident who's had a positive move-in experience is a happier one. Happier residents stay longer, pay on time, take care of the property, and make positive recommendations. Throughout the residential journey, other strategies for improving the resident experience include pest control for property management, credit reporting, and resident rewards. Above all, one of the cornerstones of a great resident experience is responsiveness. This responsiveness is a two-way street! It covers improved maintenance service and response times, as well as opportunities for residents to provide feedback through resident surveys. By setting up this kind of feedback loop, you demonstrate to your residents that their voices matter, which instills a sense of ownership and care that often lead to better property care and longer tenancies. Property Management Startup Checklist It’s famously said that property managers are in the business of helping many different people with many different things. And sometimes, this can feel like a lot to tackle, especially at the startup phase. That’s why we’ve assembled this property management startup checklist to help you begin: Write a Property Management Business Plan File Your Property Management Business Set Up a Bank Account for Your Property Management Business Set Up Accounting for Your Property Management Business Obtain Required Licenses and Permits for Your Property Management Business Secure Liability Insurance Obtain Required Licenses and Permits for Your Property Management Business Hire Your Team Create Solid Pricing Structure and Property Management Contracts Execute the Marketing Plan Set Out in Your Business Plan Network with Fellow Property Managers and Owners to Expand Your Business Write a Resident Retention Strategy — and How You Can Improve the Resident Experience Create SOPs to Handle Complaints, Disputes, and Requests Create and Execute a Strategy to Improve the Resident Experience How Second Nature Helps Run a Property Management Company Profitably At Second Nature, we focus on creating “triple win” experiences for residents, property managers, and investors. This helps property management companies go beyond transactional basics and create new, professional, and holistic experiences that generate growth all around. We didn’t invent this stuff, and we’re certainly not rowing against the tide! Companies like Google, Uber, and Amazon have already changed how consumers think. A convenient experience is no longer a luxury—it’s an expectation. Accordingly, for property management profitability and growth, experience is the winning strategy. That’s the insight that led us to create the Second Nature resident benefits package (RBP). It’s a foundational tool to create unforgettable resident experiences and keep your property management company on a growth path. Learn more now.

Calendar icon February 13, 2024

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6 Reasons Property Managers Should Choose Clients Carefully and Why

Finding the right property management clients can make or break your business. Experienced property managers often declare this with vigor: “Be very specific and selective about who your customers are.” A simple idea, yet one that can feel tricky to execute. And like many things, there is no one-perfect-strategy-fits-all here. The right action plan likely depends on your situation. So here are six next-layer ideas that might help. 1. Push up or push out toxic property management clients Ok, let’s say you’ve made that grit-your-teeth, pain-in-the-keester client list. What’s next? Sure, you could just politely fire them. And if nothing is stopping you, then nothing is stopping you. But there’s another approach that doesn’t torpedo all your revenue all at once: raise prices. Some will leave. Great. Some will stay and pay. This makes it easier to afford resources that mitigate the distraction. You can keep doing this until the premium is worth it or they’ve parted ways. 2. When the exact opposite advice might work best (for a stage) Let’s say you haven’t been at this for years. You’re newer, just starting out. Being super specific about a customer this early could work. But it also could be the right advice at the wrong time. Yes, you could say you’re only working with class-A, single-family rentals with intentional investors who have 2-20 units and don’t live in your market. Yet, while you have a specific idea, the reality is that it usually takes time and hard work to hone your business to actually deliver a service distinctly for this customer. And after getting some reps in, you may learn that you have strengths and competencies naturally built for a different investor profile, a different asset type, etc. Or, you discover a new market opportunity you didn’t see before. I heard an analogy once that early on, you try a wider net. The net pulls up all kinds of fish. Grouper, tuna, mahi, probably seaweed too. Then you start to realize which one you’re really a match for. And you start adjusting your net and where you fish, just for tuna. Or, you realize you want a different net tailor-made for shrimp or crab. Doing this for months can be a good way of learning through doing what’s good and bad. What complexities do you want to take on, and which do you want to avoid? But be sure you do start tightening the net eventually. The suffering comes from not monitoring and tightening when you’re ready. This wide net approach not being time- or stage-bound turns a thoughtful trade-off into the drag weight everyone warns against. 3. Powerful team incentives Maybe you’re in the owner's seat, less involved in the day-to-day. It’s your team that’s bringing new clients on, and they’re responsible for handling good and bad-fit customers. So, let’s say you want to drop bad clients because they’re keeping you from the next level, but you’ve invested in staff and need to replace the revenue. Raising prices is one way. But here’s another: For every 2-4 good-fit clients the team adds, they get to drop one bad-fit client. It may feel good to fire bad clients all at once, right away. But if the business is in the investment or break-even stage, tying it to replacement clients can be a responsible way to mitigate risk to cash flow. This approach motivates the team to not just find any new client or just the ”easy” client. It focuses them on the most valuable clients. And as more are brought in, you can responsibly filter out the worst fits. Empowering employees to improve their own experience at work by putting clear guardrails in place can be a powerful motivator for change. They now have a productive path that gives them agency, as opposed to feeling hopelessly stuck with a bad client until one of them leaves. Perhaps commission changes for better-fit clients are a worthy consideration. A great incentive structure is usually marked by whether or not people “game it.” And your business still wins. That’s a good segue to… 4. Shift your marketing and sales You can address the existing client base, but if your acquisition strategy never changes, they will keep coming in. So, how do you get upstream of the problem in your sales and marketing? Great marketing attracts who you are for and repels who you are not. Help your team understand both the ideal profile AND the anti-profile. Green flags and red flags. And it’s not just about what you’re messaging, it also can tie to where you find clients and invest in acquisition channels. Ask yourself: Do your best-fit customers come from realtor referrals? Client referrals? Which realtors or clients? Do they come inbound from your content marketing? Instead of spreading your budget all around, focus resources on places and programs that attract your best customers and tighten up less reliable channels. This doesn’t have the immediacy of other approaches, but the impact over time can be significant. The same applies to sales. Great sales processes quickly qualify out vs. wasting time with poor-fit prospects. And they prioritize the Glen Garry leads. Even a simple A-B-C grading with entry and exit criteria is a great place to start. When tracking marketing and sales KPIs as blended, it treats all activity as equal. Reality is different. Some leads are 20%-1000% more valuable. Putting policies and processes in place to prioritize and treat them appropriately is a win. 5. Is it possible to be too specific? Most property managers say they once worried about being too specific with ideal client profiles but then were surprised that the problem was almost always in not being more specific. Well, it’s a balance. Here’s an example description: “We work with rental property owners who want a more passive experience in real estate.” That’s very broad. This sounds like a sea of other companies trying to win the same customer. That makes it harder to pick you. How about his: “We work with Cincinnati SFR owners who are full-time OB/GYNs and want to hold for at least a full market cycle.” Ok, this is much more specific. Probably in ways that don’t really matter. For example: Why OBs vs. doctors in general? Or doctors vs. busy, high-income professionals? Do they really have different problems that would materially change your offering or go-to-market? But let’s stick with it, for example’s sake. Your messaging could definitely sound like nobody else. Let’s say it did work more efficiently, and you win 40% of leads instead of 25% with this targeting. I asked Perplexity AI (replacing Google search for me) how many OB/GYNs there are in Cincy. It’s 322 or 478, depending on the source. Let’s say 200 own or would invest in real estate. Some number less for just single-family rentals. Some already have a PM and are happy. How many are willing and want to hold for a full market cycle? This is likely not a viable business strategy for a dedicated PM business. It’s too specific a pool, and growth will likely be too slow even if you close 50% of leads. 50% of 100 is a lot less than 25% of 10,000. So, it helps to think about the tension between the size of the prize (market opportunity) and the opportunity to design and earn a distinct position in it (differentiation strategy). Thinking about both sides can help you find a sweet spot to commit to and focus on organizing around. If you map your market, you can ask and answer: What’s the smallest niche of the market that supports your business goals and model? What’s the biggest opportunity you can credibly develop and win in the near term? How might you expand as you win to keep growing toward your ultimate vision? You can see how a couple of years later, you can expand or add an adjacent customer profile (accidental landlords, new location, new property type, etc.) or adjacent new services (RBP, brokerage, in-house maintenance, etc.) to add dollars to the same customer base to grow. 6. Focus on wallet-share vs. market share Ok, so what if you want to remove problem clients but don’t want to raise prices, risk cash burn, wait until the team can add better replacement property management clients first, or test changes in your funnel or team’s comp? You might feel stuck, but there’s another way to add the revenue and profit you need to confidently pull the trigger without investing more in acquisition or relying on efficiency improvements to justify it. That’s adding more revenue per unit in a way that increases your customer lifetime value. If your ancillary revenue and profit per unit go up, you can afford to let clients go without risking churn. Second Nature helps property managers do this through a fully managed resident benefits package. Industry benchmarking studies show the average PMC profits $10-17/mo per unit. Every lease with an RBP can replace the profits at risk or more. And RBP isn’t the only ancillary revenue opportunity. Pet rent is another good example if you haven’t implemented it yet, amongst others. What are your thoughts? The goal of this article is not to be prescriptive; it’s to spark thinking about key considerations and paths to get there. To that end, did you find this content useful? Anything you can add that’s missing? Connect with us in our Facebook group or get in touch! We’d love to hear your input.

Calendar icon January 4, 2024

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Property manager handing new residents the keys to their new home

What is Security Deposit Insurance? Pros and Cons [+Best Providers]

Security deposits are an industry standard for property management. But new innovations are helping reduce some of the traditional pain points associated with security deposits. Here’s the thing; For property managers and investors, security deposits provide critical protection from financial fallout if the rental property is damaged. For renters, though, paying a security deposit upfront can pose a prohibitive cost, and an expensive security deposit can make it harder for the property manager to fill vacancies. Enter security deposit insurance – a modern solution that's reshaping rental agreements. We’re diving into everything you need to know about security deposit insurance: how it's different from the traditional security deposit, the pros and cons, and the scoop on the best providers out there. So, whether you're a seasoned property management business owner or just getting started, we’ve got you covered. (And that was an insurance pun.) What is security deposit insurance? Security Deposit Insurance is a coverage that residents purchase, which covers potential damages or unpaid rent during their lease period. Instead of paying a hefty upfront cash deposit, residents pay a fee for this insurance, which typically costs a fraction of the traditional deposit amount. For example, imagine a tenant moving into a home where the usual security deposit is $1,000. With security deposit insurance, instead of paying this amount upfront, the tenant might pay an insurance fee of $50 each month for a 12-month lease. This fee provides coverage to the owner for the duration of the lease, similar to a standard deposit, but at a lower cost to the tenant. This system not only eases the financial burden for tenants but also provides property managers and owners with coverage against potential lease violations, making it a potentially attractive option for both parties. What is the difference between a traditional deposit and security deposit insurance? A traditional security deposit is a lump sum paid by the resident to the owner (or held by the property manager) at the beginning of the lease. It’s often the cost of one month’s rent or another negotiated amount. The security deposit acts as a safeguard for the property manager in case of any damage to the property by the end of the tenancy. If there is significant damage, the property manager and owner can withhold refunding the deposit, depending on local and state laws that govern the use of security deposits. Security deposit insurance, on the other hand, gives residents a way to avoid paying that large lump sum at the beginning of their lease. Instead, they can pay for insurance. Like any insurance policy, they pay a monthly premium for coverage. The premium will be considerably less than a one-time security deposit. When a resident has security deposit insurance, their property manager can file a claim to the insurance company over things like lost rent or damages. The resident doesn’t get any of their monthly payments back at move out. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of security deposit insurance. What are the benefits of security deposit insurance? Security deposit insurance provides benefits to renters, property managers (or a landlord), and property owners. Here are a few of the top benefits. 1. Reduces the upfront cost of move-in and protects residents' ability to pay rent We’ll just say it plainly: Moving is a huge, stressful life event that costs a LOT of money. One of the major costs of moving into a new rental home is the traditional security deposit. Renters may be paying two times or more the amount of monthly rent just to sign a lease. Security deposit insurance solves that upfront-cost challenge by providing a service at a much lower monthly cost. From the property management perspective, that means residents can keep more of their money to ensure they pay rent on time, and they may be happier to cover other fees like pet deposit fees, a resident benefits package fee, etc. 2. Helps reduce vacancies Because security deposit insurance removes one of the biggest financial barriers to signing a new lease, it can be a great way to reduce a property’s time on the market. By advertising that you accept security deposit alternatives like insurance, you can differentiate your properties on listings and fill them more quickly. 3. Covers unpaid rent This is one of the best benefits for property managers and owners. Traditional security deposits typically can’t be used until the end of a tenancy. But with security deposit insurance, property managers can file a claim over unpaid rent. The insurance typically will cover this. Some states allow property managers to cover missed rent payments with a security deposit, but some do not. If you’re in one of the states that don’t, you may want to consider allowing security deposit insurance. 4. Claims can be made at any time during the lease Like the coverage for unpaid rent, security deposit insurance can cover claims at any time throughout a resident’s lease. You don’t necessarily have to wait to be reimbursed for damage. What are the drawbacks of security deposit insurance? Of course, there are a few risks to security deposit insurance and reasons you may not want to make it an option for your residents. Here are some of the cons of security deposit insurance. 1. Not all claims will be accepted When you, as the property manager, submit a claim for coverage of unpaid rent or property damage, the insurance company may not decide to cover it. Each claim is evaluated at the time of loss to determine if coverage is applicable. Things like normal wear and tear are not covered. Plus, you’re not the one who gets to make the final decision. 2. Not all insurance providers or products are reliable This is true particularly because the industry itself is a newer innovation. Residents may pay monthly premiums but then find the coverage is not all that great. All of us have probably had some kind of experience like this with other types of insurance, too. Some claims aren’t covered, and some insurance companies promise a lot and deliver very little. 3. Residents are on the hook for monthly payments Generally, security deposit insurance is cheaper than a cash security deposit. But if the lease is long-term, the monthly payments may end up being more expensive than just paying a lump sum at the beginning of the lease. For property managers, you want to consider if it’s ideal for your residents to have an additional monthly fee they’re responsible for on top of rent. 4. It can be a hassle Nobody likes submitting or following up on insurance claims. It’s a hassle! The process is often clunky and slow and requires a lot of management. It may take weeks or months to get paid for a claim. Property managers may also need to put time and energy into educating residents or clients about how the security deposit insurance works and the differences in their options. (Or you could show them this article!) Best security deposit insurance providers Security deposit insurance is fairly new to the SFR property management world. Here are three of the best security deposit insurance products on the market right now. 1. LeaseLock LeaseLock is the category leader in this particular security deposit alternative space. In October 2023, the company surpassed $9 billion in insured leases. LeaseLock offers a modern solution in security deposit insurance, replacing traditional cash deposits with a unique insurance model. Their insurance coverage provides property managers with protection while easing the upfront financial burden for residents. The monthly cost to the resident is generally around $30, with $5,000 in coverage for unpaid rent and damage. 2. Obligo Obligo was launched in New York and helps property managers reduce their risks while making security deposits more affordable for renters. Residents pay a small monthly fee for the service while Obligo sets up secure billing authorization between property managers and the resident. The property manager is then authorized to charge the resident for damages up to a pre-set maximum. It’s essentially the same as the type of pre-authorization hold that a hotel might place on a guest’s credit card. Residents won’t be charged unless they cause damage or miss rent, and they will only be charged up to a certain amount. Some residents will not qualify for Obligo’s services, depending on credit rating, etc. The company has a high trust rating on Trustpilot. 3. Rhino Rhino offers a slightly less straightforward insurance model but is a leading solution in security deposit alternatives. Through a surety bond model, their service provides robust protection for property owners while significantly reducing move-in costs for residents. Rhino is sued in over two million homes in the U.S. and claims to save renters over 90% on moving costs. Some former customers complain about unreliable costs and being on the hook for claims. Final thoughts Security deposit insurance is reshaping the rental landscape, offering benefits for both residents and property managers. Providers like LeaseLock, Rhino, and Obligo are at the forefront of this change, providing innovative solutions that ease financial burdens and streamline rental transactions. As the industry evolves, these services may become a new standard in property management. The goal is to make life easier for renters, owners, and property managers. At Second Nature, our goal is the same. We help property managers provide the best residential services and solutions, all while building opportunities for ancillary revenue. We provide a package with solutions like renters insurance, credit reporting, and resident rewards, all built to help protect a resident’s financial stability and reduce risk to your property management company. Plus, it’s completely handled for you, so your team can focus on what they do best: manage your properties.

Calendar icon December 21, 2023

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Tenants holding their cat

Pet Screening 101: How Top Property Managers Do It

Pet screening: it’s a big part of a property manager’s responsibilities, but – as any PM will say – it can also be a major headache. More residents have pets now than ever before. According to the 2023-2024 American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) National Pet Owner Survey, 66% of U.S. households own a pet. That means property managers are dealing with pets more often than not. On the flip side, investor clients may be reticent to allow pets on their properties. The result? It can be tough to fill vacancies in properties where pets aren’t allowed or the screening standards are too restrictive. So, how do you handle these situations? How do you push for more pet-friendly policies if you need to fill vacancies? How do you protect yourself and your investors from risk? In this article, we’re sharing the best advice we’ve gotten about pet screening, why it’s important to do it well, the steps to a good pet screening process, and a pet screening checklist. What is pet screening? Pet screening is the thorough evaluation of a prospective tenant's pet before approving their lease application. Essentially, it’s a pet background check. It's not just about keeping furry friends out of your pristine property; it's about minimizing risks, following any service animal requirements and ensuring you are protected from any potential damage. A thoughtful pet screening process allows you to delve into the true compatibility between a pet, its owner, and your rental property – and to ensure you’re prepared for any associated risks. A note about assistance animals: It’s important to distinguish that we’re talking about pets not assistance animals. If you’re dealing with an assistance animal, you should not have the word “pet” anywhere on the lease. This may sound odd to laypeople, but an assistance animal is legally considered a disability device, not a pet. Assistance animals include service animals, emotional support animals, etc. How you deal with assistance animals – both service and support – is guided by your local laws. Property managers should familiarize themselves with the Fair Housing Act, specifically the FHEO-2020-01 Assistance Animals Notice from HUD, for guidance on assistance animals. These animals are regulated through guidance by the ADA and ESA. But for animals that are simply there as beloved pets, you need to set up your own standards for pet screening – and understand where reasonable accommodation must be made. Why is pet screening important? Properly setting expectations and standards for pets – and screening any new pets at the home you manage – creates a number of benefits for you, the resident, and the investor. Here’s why it’s so important: Property protection One of the primary reasons for pet screening is to protect the property from potential damage. Pets can sometimes cause significant wear and tear beyond the usual scope, like scratched floors, damaged fixtures, or stained carpets. By conducting a thorough pet screening, property managers can assess the risk each pet poses to the property. This process often involves checking the pet’s breed, size, temperament, and history of behavior. Understanding these factors helps in making informed decisions about whether to permit the pet and setting appropriate pet deposits or pet rent to cover potential damages. Neighborhood comfort and safety Ensuring the safety and comfort of your residents – and their impact on the neighborhood – is a top priority, and pet screening plays a crucial role in this. Some pets may pose a safety risk, especially if they have a history of aggression. By screening pets, property managers can prevent potentially dangerous situations, ensuring that you don’t end up having to deal with complaints or legal repercussions. Other pets may simply be a nuisance. Excessive barking in the backyard can bring noise complaints, etc. Risk mitigation Pet screening is a proactive measure to mitigate various risks associated with allowing pets on the property. These risks include potential legal liabilities in case of pet-related incidents, such as bites or property damage. Having a detailed pet policy and screening process in place can protect the property management company from legal disputes and financial losses. Moreover, it ensures that pet owners are responsible and aware of their obligations, which include taking care of their pets. Incorporating a comprehensive pet screening process not only safeguards the physical property but also contributes to the overall well-being and safety of the home, neighbors, etc. How to conduct a pet screening According to Victoria Cowart, Director of Education and Outreach at PetScreening.com, the most important factor in your pet screening process is consistency. “The best policies are the ones consistently applied,” Cowart says. “That’s the greatest challenge I see in the industry.” Here are the steps to a successful pet screening process. 1. Document all pet rules and regulations Start with establishing the rules on your properties. Remember, you should be consistent in how those rules are applied across all of your portfolio, so don't make a rule unless you’re willing to enforce it equally. Make sure that all prospective residents are clear on the rules, restrictions, and fees associated with pet ownership. Do you charge a pet fee like a pet deposit fee? Make that clear from the start. 2. Have the right tools at your disposal While the pet screening process is very precise and should be taken seriously, you can also use tools and third-party services to help make it easier. PetScreening.com is one pet screening service that supports property managers in pet screening. Instead of leaving you with all the decisions to make, Pet Screening does it all for you. They have an in-depth questionnaire and screening process. In the end, they provide you with a FIDO score that assesses everything you need to know about the pet. 3. Provide a pet screening application For any prospective residents who are pet owners, the next step is to have them start the application process. This is the key part of the pet screening process. When outlining the content of your pet screening application, Cowart says to focus on two pillars: liability and responsibility. Liability will focus on the animal’s history. Responsibility is more like a “tenant screening” that will focus on the owner’s habits. “You need to know how much the resident is doing to ensure their pet doesn’t have an adverse impact on the rental and on the community,” says Cowart. “Are they picking up after their animal? Do they walk them on a leash? Do they take them to the vet regularly?” The application should include pet profile details like: Age Height and weight Breed/type of pet Medical history Spayed/Neutered Length of ownership Housetraining status History of obedience training Behavioral issues Vaccination status (and proof of vaccination) Previous history of aggression Veterinarian information (See our full checklist below for more.) Many property managers focus on breed restrictions, but the evidence shows that breed is less of a factor in a pet’s behavior than you might think. The animal’s history and the owner’s behavior are more important to look for red flags of whether a dog is aggressive or not. Breed or weight questions should always include greater context. 4. Conduct a pet interview Not all property managers will feel the need to do this. However, having a member of your team meet the animal in person may be something your investor-clients want or that you feel helps establish a better relationship and limit liability. This is also more common in apartment complexes or multifamily housing. For single-family property managers, the pet interview isn’t necessarily as important. However, if you do conduct a pet interview, it’s important to confirm that the pet you’re meeting matches the description in the application. Pay attention to how well it listens, how it approaches you, and whether it shows any signs of aggression. 5. Ensure you are complying with all laws Before approving or denying a pet, do a final check to make sure you’re following all local, state, and federal laws. This is most important when considering assistance animals. Even homes with a no-pet policy will often need to accept assistance animals. 6. Include pet rules in the lease You should have a pet addendum ready for your lease signing. Walk the new residents through these. They shouldn’t be surprised by anything if you follow Step 1 and are clear with them on rules and fees from the beginning. If you require a pet security deposit, that should be given at this time as well. 7. Make sure pets are covered through insurance A big reason people deny pets is because they feel unsure about the risks and they don’t have a way of addressing them. That’s what insurance is for, but here’s the rub: A lot of pet owner policies exclude a lot of breeds, which can limit the number of residents you can approve at your properties. At Second Nature, we provide a renter’s insurance program that covers dog bits for all dog breeds. It’s one of the few programs on the market that doesn’t include breed restrictions. Second Nature’s renter’s insurance program (a part of our Resident Benefits Package) covers all breeds that the property manager approves. What are the benefits? Residents with household pets have stronger lease retention than residents without pets as a group. Furthermore, residents with aggressive breed dogs have a higher lease retention than residents in general. Fewer properties are available to those residents because most people are saying no to their pets. You can be the one who says yes – and gets a happier resident who wants to stay longer and be a responsible pet owner. With the right coverage, you can: allow more residents to apply reduce vacancy costs fill homes faster have a stronger lease retention over time increase opportunities for ancillary revenue. It’s a win for the pet owner, a win for you, and a win for your clients. Pet screening checklist Here’s a brief checklist to help you keep track of what you need to know about pets. Share this with prospective residents to help them prepare what they’ll need. Pet Resume: Include your pet’s breed, age, weight, and a brief description of their temperament. Mention any training your pet has received, especially obedience or socialization training. Vaccination and Health Records: Provide up-to-date vaccination records. Include any regular flea, tick, and worm prevention treatments. Spay/Neuter Confirmation: If applicable, provide documentation confirming your pet is spayed or neutered. Behavioral Information: Disclose any known behavioral issues and the steps you’re taking to address them. Include information about your pet’s typical behavior around people and other animals. References: Provide references from previous landlords or neighbors, especially if you’ve lived in a rental with your pet before. A letter from a veterinarian attesting to your pet’s good health and behavior can also be helpful. Pet License: Show proof of a current pet license, if required by local laws. Pet Insurance: Consider obtaining pet insurance that covers any damages your pet might cause. Second Nature provides this as part of a Resident Benefits Package. Residents can opt into the coverage or provide their own. Photos of Your Pet: Include recent photographs of your pet for easy identification. Agreement to Rules and Regulations: Acknowledge and agree to any pet policies or rules set by the property management. Final thoughts Pet screening doesn’t have to be a major headache. With the right tools and a standardized process, you can make it easier on your team and easier on prospective residents. The goal, after all, is to find residents who will care well for their pet and the property – and hopefully stay for the long term. At Second Nature, we provide extensive pet coverage in our Resident Benefits Package. The goal is to reduce liability for you and make it easier to accept good pets, regardless of their breed. Rest easy knowing you and your residents are covered.

Calendar icon December 20, 2023

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20 Ways to Get More Property Management Leads

Here's something that might seem surprising about today's housing market: High mortgage rates for buyers could actually mean better property management leads for property management companies. That's right, we said it! Consider this: As high rates cut into the ultimate value a seller can get for their property, many homeowners are renting out their properties rather than selling them. That in turn creates a growing demand for skilled property management. The situation presents an advantageous landscape for property managers looking to expand their client base and get property management leads. And that's exactly what we're talking about in today's article: property management lead generation. We're exploring 20 effective strategies to tap into this market potential, from leveraging referrals and business networks to harnessing the power of digital marketing. Let's dive into how you can capitalize on the current market trends through property management marketing and secure more clients for your property management business. 1. Referrals This is a great step for new businesses. You can get referrals to new clients from friends and family, local BNI groups, realtors, and other clients. Leverage your existing network and ask for referrals. Satisfied clients and professional contacts can often provide recommendations to potential leads. You can also create ancillary revenue by charging a referral fee for your own referrals. 2. LinkedIn Another good one for new business, use LinkedIn to connect with potential clients, join industry groups, and share valuable content. It's a powerful platform for B2B lead generation. 3. Event Marketing New companies can host or attend industry events to network with potential property management clients. These can range from local real estate meetups to larger industry conferences. 4. Cold Calling While it may seem old-fashioned, cold calling can still be effective, especially if you’re just getting started. Just ensure you're targeting the right property owners and property investors in your local market and offering clear value. 5. Facebook Facebook, and other social media marketing, is effective for new and growing companies. Use targeted Facebook advertising or post in local groups to reach potential clients. Consider running ads targeting landlords or real estate investors. For growing companies, use advanced targeting options in Facebook Ads to reach a larger, more specific audience. Consider retargeting ads to website visitors or people who have interacted with your content. 6. Podcasts Podcasts also work well to launch your first marketing strategies or to help boost a growing company that has plateaued, or just needs a fresh take and new leads. Start a podcast or guest on existing ones (like our Triple Win Podcast). Discuss industry topics to establish your expertise and reach a larger audience. 7. Local Businesses & Strategic Partnerships When you’re just getting started, it’s a great idea to partner with local businesses that serve the same market. For example, a local moving company might recommend your services to new residents. You can also join local clubs and the Chamber of Commerce and attend meet-ups to build a network that refers high quality leads and clients. 8. Direct Mailing New companies should send targeted direct mail campaigns to potential leads. This could include newsletters, postcards, or informational brochures about your services. 9. Niche Forums Launching a new business requires support and community. Participate in online forums related to property management or real estate. Answering questions and sharing insights can help attract potential clients. 10. Read Local Listing Reviews Looking for your first few clients? Monitor local listing reviews such as on Google and Yelp to find landlords who may be having trouble with their properties. Reach out to offer your services. 11. Browse Newspaper Ads Another great way to find those first 10 or 20 clients is to look for rental listings or properties for sale. Reach out to the owners to offer your property management services. 12. Content Marketing Now we’re getting to a strategy for a growing and established company. Create valuable content on your website and social media channels. This can include blog posts, infographics, or eBooks that provide insights to property owners. A good example of content marketing for lead generation is Realty Medics. 13. Google Ads (PPC) Established PMCs can run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on Google to appear in search results for relevant keywords. This can help attract landlords or property owners searching for management services. This is one of the best online marketing strategies. 14. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) A great step for companies looking to keep growing is to optimize your website for SEO and content with relevant keywords to rank higher in search results, increasing visibility and attracting organic traffic. 15. Email Marketing Worried about your company’s growth plateauing? Nurture your existing email list with regular newsletters or updates, providing valuable information and promoting your services to encourage conversions. 16. YouTube (Videos and Ads) Create educational videos on property management topics or advertise on relevant channels to reach a wider audience on YouTube. This is ideal for a company that already has a network of clients, but could also help you start out. 17. Webinars Once you have an audience established, host webinars on relevant topics to provide value to your audience. This can help position your company as an industry expert and attract potential leads. 18. TV Ads Depending on your budget, consider TV advertisements. Although more costly, they can reach a wide audience and increase your brand visibility. These are ideal for large companies. Single-family rental property managers aren't typically going to go this route. 19. Billboard Ads Like TV ads, SFR property managers likely won't be using TV ads, but it certainly is a strategy in the larger property management world. Outdoor advertising, like billboards, can help increase local visibility for companies that already have an established reputation. However, it’s best suited to companies targeting property owners in specific geographical areas. 20. Pay-per-Lead Services Use services that sell qualified leads. While this involves upfront costs, it can provide a stream of potential clients who are actively seeking property management services. Final Thoughts For more insights about lead generation strategies, check out our Triple Win Podcast for residential property managers. Or, here are a few places to keep reading about growing your PMC: How to Create a Property Management Business Plan [Free Template] 15 Strategies to Grow Your Property Management Business Marketing Ideas for Property Management Companies

Calendar icon December 6, 2023

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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. 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 contemplating 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. 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.

Calendar icon November 27, 2023

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10 Best Property Management Maintenance Software

In the property management world, tech solutions abound. There are so many different players on the market, but sometimes, that wealth can be tough to navigate. When it comes to property management maintenance software, single-family property managers have to identify, first, how they approach maintenance and, second, what tech solution will best support their team, workflows, and operational structure. It’s a daunting task! That’s why Second Nature builds integrated solutions to support residents in preventing issues from ever developing. These solutions reduce maintenance needs through preventive maintenance strategies and take work off the property manager’s plate. But no matter how much prevention you build in with tools like our Resident Benefits Package, you’re always going to need some maintenance management. So, today, we’re going to look at some of the best approaches you can take and the best software available to you for property management maintenance. Property management maintenance software solutions come in two basic categories: Platform Solutions: Property management operations platforms or accounting software that include maintenance support, among other full-service property management solutions. Dedicated Point Solutions: Property management software designed to tackle one specific problem – in this case, maintenance. We’ll explore solutions that fit into both of these categories and how to weigh the pros and cons of each. Related: Best Single Family Property Management Software 1. Property Meld Property Meld is a leader in the small to medium-sized property management business space. It’s a maintenance point solution to optimize work order management, response time tracking, vendor and resident communication, scheduling, and analytics. Its built-in “Owner Hub” helps provide the right amount of transparency to your clients. Perhaps the best feature is the Insights Tool, which helps you track metrics like the median speed of repair, average resident satisfaction, vendor health score, total spend per unit, and more. Pros: The user interface is intuitive for PMs and residents Opening repair tickets takes just minutes Tracking repairs and resident satisfaction is easy and transparent Powerful analytics help you see your success at a glance Cons: If you’re looking for a full-service operations platform, Meld won’t be the solution for you. 2. Lula Lula is another dedicated point solution focused on property maintenance technology. They leverage a network of vetted contractors to make finding the best technicians easy. Lula’s team becomes an outsourced extension of your property management company, troubleshooting, coordinating, and managing maintenance tasks. They operate in over 30 markets in the US and boast results like 80% one-trip resolutions and a net promoter score of 80. Pros: They do the work to vet and provide the vendors You can bring your own vendors in if you want to Integrates with any software Customizable plans for self-service or full-service Cons: May not yet be available in your market Only focuses on maintenance 3. Buildium Buildium is a popular all-in-one solutions platform and property accounting software with excellent management features. The web-based solution and app provide support in accounting and invoicing, communications, leasing, and maintenance activities. Their portals provide tenant support, maintenance management, and templates to make every part of property management easier. Pros: A near-complete solution for property management Excellent tenant and owner portals and communication hubs Analytics and tracking to streamline operations and results A 14-day trial helps you evaluate if it’s a fit Customizable packages Cons: Lack of transparency for owners The listing process isn’t as comprehensive as some users want Can be pricey 4. Mezo Mezo is an AI-driven, cloud-based property maintenance management software. The aim of the app is to take work off your plate by automating maintenance ticket responses, resolutions, and insights. Mezo takes requests directly from residents and uses conversational AI to ask questions in real-time, identify problems, and diagnose the issue. It will support residents in resolving the issue on their own or integrate with your management system to get work orders quickly sent. Pros: Residents can get help immediately when they have issues and potentially resolve themselves with Mezo’s chatbot support Technicians arrive with Mezo’s analysis and diagnosis, allowing them to come prepared and resolve issues quicker Integrates with most PMS options Cons: Doesn’t integrate with all other PM tech solutions As a newer technology, still has some bugs and gaps 5. Lessen Lessen, formerly SMS Assist, is an enterprise-level solution providing tech-powered renovations and maintenance at scale. It’s an end-to-end platform for maintenance operations with a vetted vendor network and provides everything you need for maintenance or turning projects. PMs simply use the app to request projects, deploy Lessen network pros, track progress and checklists, check for quality control remotely, and process payments – all in one slick tech solution. Pros: Excellent, seamless tech that’s easy to use and deploy A fully vetted vendor network takes that work off your plate An established brand that has worked out the “kinks” in service Cons: More ideal for more enterprise companies who need scale (rather than smaller SFR PMs) 6. AppFolio AppFolio is a full-service rental property management platform solution that is very popular with single-family property management companies. The web-based app streamlines and automates every stage of real estate management, including management, training, marketing and leasing, maintenance, accounting, reporting, and communications. For maintenance, AppFolio includes workflow automation, work order managemen toolst, online maintenance request, mobile inspections, and more. Pros: Easy-to-use technology with great UX Fully mobile and automated Customizable dashboards and advanced reporting Cons: An expensive platform if all you need is a maintenance point solution Customer service is not always available for maintenance line 7. Rentvine Rentvine is a full-service property management platform that focuses on communication support between PMCs, residents, and clients. The platform streamlines application and tenant screening, inventory management, accounting with a manager’s ledger and client money tracked separately, marketing, leasing, and – of course – maintenance. The app tracks all your work orders from start to finish and supports communication between residents, property managers, and vendors throughout. Pros: Easy to use with excellent customer support Owner and tenant portals work seamlessly Excellent accounting process Cons: Has fewer features than some competitors but is continuously improving 8. DoorLoop DoorLoop is another full-service property management software that provides all the features a property manager needs to manage their portfolio. You can handle accounting, maintenance, listings, marketing, client success, and more, all from the app. For property management maintenance, their software helps manage work orders, handle vendor payments, and track the process from start to finish. Pros: Intuitive, streamlined UX that’s user-friendly Great customer service Excellent integrations Cons: Expensive if all you need is a maintenance point solution rather than a full platform Some functionalities are still being developed 9. FTMaintenance FTMaintenance is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) point solution platform designed for maintenance managers, executives, and technicians. While it’s not specifically designed for property management, the software streamlines work order management, vendor payments, tracking, and more. For some PMs, this could be the added solution they need to focus simply on complex maintenance jobs. Pros: Robust work order tracking Excellent mobile app for vendors and maintenance managers Analytics and organization Cons: Not designed specifically for property managers, focused more on commercial properties Complex if you are not tech-savvy 10. Latchel Latchel is a property maintenance point solution that helps automate maintenance communication, scheduling, work orders, etc. Your residents message the Latchel team directly on the Latchel platform and get an immediate response to begin troubleshooting the issue. If the problem requires a maintenance visit, the Latchel team will deploy that and follow up with the resident. Pros: Fast response times Easy to use for maintenance communication Cons: Many reviews say the issues didn't get fixed correctly App is great for communication but sometimes requires the PM to step in and manage How Second Nature Helps with Property Management Maintenance When it comes to maintenance, at Second Nature, we’re always looking to empower the resident. Our Resident Benefits Package provides solutions that minimize maintenance needs and costs in the first place. From HVAC/air filter delivery to on-demand property management pest control to rental rewards, we aim to incentivize residents to care for their property and take work off the property manager’s plate. We also work closely with other property management software providers to ensure you have everything you need for success in your SFR property management business. Learn more about the Second Nature RBP and how it can bring ease to your work.

Calendar icon November 17, 2023

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Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Property Management

A big part of property management is prevention. Property managers anticipate issues, plan for problems, and execute solutions. For some, a key part of this prevention is to develop a property management preventive maintenance checklist. For multi-family property managers, a regular preventive maintenance check is standard–and easy. Their properties are often all contained to one apartment building or community, and it’s easy to do a walkthrough to ensure everything is as it should be. For single-family property managers, it gets a lot more complicated. With scattered-site properties, regular inspections are impractical and expensive. In fact, one of the best ways to approach prevention is to help equip residents to take preventive measures themselves. At Second Nature, that’s our approach: “How do we make it easy for residents to handle preventive care of the property?” In this article, we’ll explore both approaches to preventive maintenance: Doing inspections as a property manager – or finding solutions where residents support the process. Let’s dive in. What is Preventive Maintenance? Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to keeping a property in good condition with the purpose of preventing unexpected failures and maximizing longevity. This type of maintenance encompasses a broad range of activities, from routine inspections (more common in multifamily) to air filter delivery services that keep HVAC systems running smoothly. By implementing preventive maintenance tactics, property managers aim to prolong the lifespan of property components, maintain property value, and provide a safe, functional, and appealing living environment for residents. What is a Preventive Maintenance Inspection – and Who Conducts It? A preventive maintenance inspection is a regularly scheduled, systematic evaluation of a property designed to identify and rectify any emerging issues before they escalate into serious problems. In other words, a preventive maintenance inspection is like a health check-up for a property. A well-documented inspection also provides a record of maintenance that can be valuable for insurance claims, move-outs, etc. Generally, SFR property managers find themselves in three different camps when it comes to property inspections: Those who visit sites only when an issue arises. Those who conduct scheduled annual preventive inspections, whether there are issues or not. Those who conduct biannual or seasonal preventive inspections, whether there are issues or not. In fact, we conducted a casual Facebook poll to see what single-family property managers said about the frequency of their property inspections. Most PMs who responded said they conduct an annual inspection. A smaller amount said they conduct two inspections per year, and another group said they do it only when needed. A very small amount of property managers polled said they conduct quarterly inspections. (To get more community insights and tips like this, join our Triple Win Facebook Group.) But there’s also a fourth option: Those who rely on a partner who helps manage prevention for them. There is so much residents can do themselves to prevent larger issues from ever developing – they just need a little support. For example, if a resident is changing their air filter on time, the property manager is going to get fewer HVAC tickets, and the HVAC system is going to last longer. If you can provide scheduled air filter delivery, residents can stay on top of their filter changes. Whichever of the camps you fall into, we want to provide you with resources in this article to make preventive maintenance easier. If you’re the type of property manager who prioritizes regular preventive maintenance inspections, we have a checklist template for you below. If you’re the type of property manager who prefers to react when issues arise (often more cost-effective), we have some suggestions for how to help residents manage preventive measures on their own. What to Include in a Preventive Maintenance Checklist Let’s say you do prioritize regular inspections. Crafting a preventive maintenance checklist for property management is all about anticipating needs and averting potential issues before they arise. Building your checklist begins with a thorough assessment of the property's unique features and vulnerabilities. By understanding the life cycle of various components of a property across the seasons – from HVAC systems to appliances – you can prioritize tasks and schedule maintenance in a way that minimizes wear and tear. Your checklist will likely include the following categories: Structural Maintenance Electrical Systems Plumbing & Water Systems HVAC Systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Appliances (if provided) Lawn & Outdoor Areas Pest Control Safety & Security Systems Interior Checks Miscellaneous (Garage, waste disposal, etc.) Sample Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Property Management Companies With input from OnSightPROS, we’ve built a preventive maintenance checklist template for single-family rental property management companies. Use this template as-is or tweak it to fit your property needs! If you want a downloadable and more in-depth template for all types of rental inspections, check out our original post on rental inspection checklists and Get the download here. Structural Maintenance Roofing: Inspect for leaks, damaged tiles, or shingles. Check gutters and downspouts. Foundation: Check for cracks, water damage, or shifting. Walls and ceilings: Look for cracks, dampness, and signs of mold. Electrical Systems Safety checks: Ensure that outlets, switches, and wiring are in good condition. Lighting: Regularly test all indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures. Inspect circuit breakers and panels. Plumbing & Water Systems Drains and pipes: Check for leaks or buildup. Water heater: Test hot water temperature and pressure relief valves and inspect for signs of wear. Faucets and fixtures: Ensure proper flow and check for leaks. HVAC Systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Filters: Ensure they are up to date. With Second Nature’s Air Filter Delivery, you’ll have the date stamped right on the filter itself. Ductwork: Check for mold or leaks. Seasonal checks: Ensure the heating system is ready for winter and cooling for summer. Appliances (if provided) Oven, range, microwave: Check for cleanliness and ensure they are working efficiently. Refrigerator: Check coils and inspect seals. Washer and dryer: Inspect hoses and ensure the resident is keeping lint and drainage clean. Lawn & Outdoor Areas Landscaping: Ensure that the landscaping is tidy and up to HOA standards, if applicable. Paths and driveways: Check for cracks or tripping hazards. Pools: Ensure safety measures are in place. Pest Control Notice any signs of pests With Second Nature’s Property Management Pest Control, you can be sure residents can call a professional immediately if they ever have issues. We handle it for you. Safety & Security Systems Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Ensure residents have kept up to date and they are installed properly. Fire extinguishers: Check expiration dates and ensure they're easily accessible. Emergency exits and paths: Ensure they're clear and well-marked. Interior Checks Floors: Look for damaged tiles, caulk problems, carpet wear, or wood floor issues. Windows and doors: Ensure they open and close smoothly, and check seals. Miscellaneous Garage and parking areas: Check for proper lighting, security, and cleanliness. Waste disposal: Ensure trash bins are clean and in good condition. The Importance of Preventive Maintenance Did you know that something as simple as getting air filters delivered on time can reduce HVAC costs by hundreds of dollars annually? More on that in a minute, but it’s clear that for property managers, preventive maintenance isn’t just about keeping the property in good shape—it's a strategic approach that yields all kinds of benefits. By prioritizing prevention, you can: Minimize costly repairs: Regular maintenance can prevent small maintenance issues from escalating into expensive emergencies. Extend asset longevity: Helping residents proactively care for components like HVAC systems extends their lifespan, saving money in the long run. Enhance resident satisfaction: Supporting a resident in maintaining their property means fewer complaints and issues, leading to higher retention rates. Ensure safety: Regular checks keep safety hazards at bay, reducing the risk of accidents and liability. Improve property value: Consistent upkeep maintains or even increases the property's market value. Stay compliant: Keeping up with building codes and safety regulations is non-negotiable, and preventive maintenance ensures compliance. By incorporating a preventive maintenance strategy, property managers not only safeguard the property's physical health but also its financial viability and desirability in the market. It's a proactive measure that resonates well with residents and investors alike. Best Tools to Support Preventive Maintenance Here’s the big question: How can property managers for single-family homes make preventive maintenance easier? Scattered-site properties don’t lend themselves to regular inspections. So, the best solution, as we mentioned above, is to help your residents do it themselves. Here are three of our favorite products to get that done. Second Nature We’ve built a Resident Benefits Package with proactive property management in mind. Each feature – from renter’s insurance to on-demand pest control to air filter delivery – aims to address ongoing needs and prevent common issues from escalating. Let’s take air filter delivery as an example. In the largest HVAC data study of its kind, filter delivery service reduced HVAC ticket requests by 38% Just by including a filter subscription for your residents, you can help them cut energy costs and ensure your HVAC system lasts for the long term. Learn more about all of the features of our Resident Benefits Package and how it delivers results for residents, property investors, and property management companies. RentCheck RentCheck is a property inspection app built to help residents do inspections on their own. The property manager can request and track routine inspections from the resident. You can set up any cadence you want and customize the self-guided inspection requirements. RentCheck will fully automate reminders and support residents in completing a video inspection that then gets sent to you as a shareable report. zInspector zInspector is another very popular rental inspection app in the SFR property management space. Like RentCheck, property managers use zInspector to schedule, customize, and receive inspections conducted by residents themselves. The app also includes a toolkit with an evolving set of property and task management tools. You can get 360 photos and virtual tours with a compatible 360 camera and printable, customizable inspection reports. FAQs Q: What are the benefits of preventive maintenance? Preventive maintenance offers a multitude of benefits, including: Cost Savings: It reduces the likelihood of incurring expensive emergency repairs and extends the life expectancy of property assets. Efficiency: Regular maintenance ensures that all systems and appliances are running at optimal performance, which can lower energy costs. Tenant Retention: A well-maintained property leads to higher tenant satisfaction, which can decrease turnover rates. Safety: It helps identify potential safety issues before they become hazardous, promoting a safer living environment. Value Preservation: Ongoing care maintains and can enhance the property's value over time. Compliance: Ensures that the property remains in compliance with the latest building codes and safety regulations. Overall, preventive maintenance is essential for maintaining a property's integrity, ensuring tenant satisfaction, and optimizing operational budgets. Q: What is included in basic preventive maintenance? Basic preventive maintenance for property management typically encompasses: Routine Inspections: Regularly checking the structural integrity of the property, including roofs, walls, and foundations. HVAC Maintenance: Ensuring heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are clean and functioning properly. Plumbing Checks: Looking for leaks, clogs, or wear in pipes and fixtures. Electrical System Audits: Inspecting electrical panels, wires, and safety systems to prevent malfunctions. Groundskeeping: Checking outdoor areas, including landscaping, gutters, and drainage systems. Appliance Upkeep: Servicing provided appliances to prevent breakdowns and extend their lifespan. Safety Inspections: Verifying that all safety equipment, like fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, is in working order. These tasks are designed to identify and address issues before they develop into more significant problems, helping to ensure the property remains safe, functional, and appealing to tenants. Q: What’s the ideal schedule for preventive maintenance? The ideal schedule for preventive maintenance can vary depending on the specific needs of a property, but a general guideline is as follows: Weekly/Monthly/Quarterly: Regular checks on a weekly to quarterly basis are more common for multifamily properties and apartment buildings, with quick checks on high-usage areas and equipment, such as communal spaces and gardening upkeep. Quarterly maintenance inspections could include more in-depth inspections of HVAC systems, plumbing and electrical systems, and seasonal preparations. Annually/Seasonally: A small number of SFR property managers will conduct seasonal or semi-annual inspections. A few more conduct annual inspections (unrelated to move-in or move-out, which always includes inspections). These are more in-depth inspections to keep an eye on potential issues.

Calendar icon November 15, 2023

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Property manager filling out rental inspection check list

Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist [Free Template]

In single-family property management, there's a hero tool that stands between you and potential disputes, wear and tear issues, and even costly oversights. It's not a fancy gadget or software for single-family property management – it's a Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist. Now, someone who isn't in property management might think, "It's just a checklist, right?" But professional property managers know that without it, everything can kind of fall apart. Throughout this article, we'll dive deep into what rental inspections are, their undeniable importance, the key items you shouldn't overlook, and – because we love making your life easier – we're gifting you a comprehensive checklist template. Stick around to have all your pressing questions answered in our FAQ section and discover how Second Nature can be your partner in acing rental inspections. What is a Rental Inspection? A rental inspection is a systematic evaluation of a rental property's condition carried out by the property manager, landlord, or a dedicated inspector. It’s not just a casual walkthrough of the premises. The inspector will thoroughly assess, every nook and cranny of the property – from the foundation to the roof, from the plumbing to the electrical fittings – is thoroughly assessed. The primary goal? To ensure that the property meets all safety and maintenance standards, that the residents are complying with their lease agreements, and that potential issues are identified and addressed before they escalate into major, costly problems. Think of it as a health check-up, but for properties. It provides an objective snapshot of the property's current state and offers insights into areas that might need attention or repair. Here's an example of what a checklist might look like: Why Are Rental Inspections Important? Rental inspections play a crucial role in the property management world, and here’s why: Resident Experience: A well-maintained property is a happy home for residents. When renters see that the property management company is proactive about upkeep, it fosters a sense of value and respect. This can translate to longer tenancies, on-time rent payments, and even positive word-of-mouth referrals. (Learn more about this in our State of Resident Experience Report.) Protection of Assets: Your rental property is a significant investment on the part of your client. Regular inspections ensure it remains in top condition, preventing minor issues from escalating into costly repairs, and protecting your clients’ real estate investments. Safety Assurance: By checking everything from electrical fittings to potential structural issues, inspections make certain the property is safe for habitation. No landlord wants to be on the receiving end of lawsuits or liabilities. Lease Compliance: Regular inspections ensure that tenants are adhering to the terms of their lease, such as not making unauthorized alterations or keeping pets when they aren’t allowed. Predictive Maintenance: Rather than always being in a reactive mode, inspections help in predicting potential issues. This way, you can schedule maintenance tasks before problems arise, which can be more cost-effective in the long run. Property Value Preservation: A well-inspected and maintained property not only attracts and retains quality tenants but can also help maintain or even increase its market value over time. In essence, rental inspections aren’t just a formality; they're a pivotal tool in ensuring the long-term success of your property management endeavors and in enhancing the overall resident experience. What to Include in a Rental Inspection When you're planning a rental inspection, your approach should be methodical and thorough. As Janet Sprissler, Broker/Owner at Rent 805, puts it: “There are no optional parts of the checklist. That’s why it’s a checklist; you have to check everything off. I don’t have any nice-to-haves on my checklist because everyone is treated the same. We don’t do for one resident what we won’t do for the other.” Organizing your checklist by room or space is a practical way to ensure no corner is overlooked. For each item listed within these spaces, always include a status, such as "Good," "Requires Maintenance," or "Replaced." This helps in keeping track of the condition and any changes over time. You should also consider what type of inspection you’re conducting and may want to tweak what you include depending on where the property is in its rental cycle. Different types of inspections include: Move-In Rental Inspection: Conducted right before a resident moves in, the move-in inspection serves as a benchmark for the property's condition at the start of a lease. It helps to document the existing state of the property, from the functionality of appliances to the appearance of the interior and exterior. This documentation can be invaluable in resolving potential disputes over damages when the resident eventually moves out. Move-Out Rental Inspection: Carried out once the resident vacates, this inspection compares the property’s condition to its state during the move-in inspection. It identifies any damages or changes that have occurred during the tenancy. Based on this, you can decide what portion of the security deposit needs to be returned. Routine Rental Inspections: These are regular checks conducted during a resident’s lease period. Typically done every six to twelve months, routine inspections monitor the ongoing condition of the property. They're also a great way to catch and address issues early, as well as to ensure lease compliance. “Drive-By” Rental Inspections: These are less invasive checks where property managers drive by the property to ensure its exterior is in good shape and being maintained appropriately. This type of inspection is less about detailed checks and more about getting a general sense of the property's outward appearance and ensuring no major lease violations are visible. For single-family property managers, these inspects may be less frequent since properties are often spread out from each other geographically. As you create your rental inspection report, remember that every property is unique. While categorizing by room ensures thoroughness, it's essential to adjust and add specific items tailored to each property’s unique features and needs. And always remember, communication is key. Ensure that residents are aware of inspections, their purpose, and the schedule to foster a transparent relationship. Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist With the help of OnSightPROS, we've developed a rental inspection checklist template for single-family rental property management companies. Use this template to build out your checklist. General Overview Date of Inspection: Inspector Name: Tenant Name: Address: Previous Inspection Date: Front Exterior Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Mailbox: Functional door and flag, no damage Lawn and garden: Well-maintained landscaping free of debris, no bald grass spots Driveway and walkways: No cracks or obstacles Fencing: In good condition, no damage Exterior lighting: All bulbs functioning Windows/Screens: Clean, no cracks, seals intact, screens intact Walls/Siding: No damage or cracked/peeling paint or caulking, no insect damage Downspout/Splash Blocks: Attached properly Light Fixtures: No missing bulbs or broken fixtures Roof/Trim/Gutter: No visible damage or leaks, discoloration, holes, clogged or loose gutters Rear Exterior Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Lawn and garden: Well-maintained, free of debris, no bald grass spots Patio/Walkways: No cracks or obstacles BBQ Grill: Set away from house, not under awnings Rear Door: Weather stripping intact, locks installed as needed Possible Hazards: Trampoline, open fire pit, swing set Pool: Clean, clear water, no damage, fence and lock in place Fencing: In good condition, no damage Exterior lighting: All bulbs functioning Windows/Screens: Clean, no cracks, seals intact, screens intact Walls/Siding: No damage or cracked/peeling paint or caulking, no insect damage Downspout/Splash Blocks: Attached properly Light Fixtures: No missing bulbs or broken fixtures Roof/Trim/Gutter: No visible damage or leaks, discoloration, holes, clogged or loose gutters Entry Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Patio/Porch: No cracks in concrete, railing, stair intact Front door exterior: No scratches, chipping, stains Locks/Keyless Deadbolts: Check for installation, functioning correctly Front door interior: No gaps in weather stripping, clean Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Living Room Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Ceiling fans: Working properly Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Kitchen Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Lighting fixtures: Operational Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Countertops/Backsplash: Clean, no damage, caulking intact Cabinets: Doors/drawers work, no damage Sink/Faucet: No leaks, drains well, spray hose works Pantry: Shelves intact, walls clean, lights functioning Appliances (oven, fridge, dishwasher, microwave, etc.): Clean, functional Exhaust fan: Functional, no excessive noise Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI where required Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Hallway/Stairway Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Railings: No loose or missing spindles Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Bedrooms (repeat for each bedroom) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Ceiling fans: Working properly Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Lighting fixtures: Working Door/Door stops: Fully functional Electrical outlets: All functioning Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Bathrooms (repeat for each bathroom) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No damage, no sagging floorboards or discoloration Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Exhaust fan: Working properly Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Lighting fixtures: Working Toilet: Flushes correctly, no leaks Sink/Faucet: Drains well, no leaks Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Shower/bathtub: Drains well, faucets work, no mold Towel bars: Present and functional Mirrors: Clean, no damage Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Utility Spaces (if applicable) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No oil stains or cracks Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Lighting fixtures: Working Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Washer/dryer: Functional, no leaks Water heater: No visible damage, no leaks HVAC system: Operational, air conditioning filters clean, no moisture issues around drip pan Satellite dish: Attached to house correctly Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Garage (if applicable) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Interior door/Door stops: Fully functional Garage door opener: Functions correctly Flooring: No oil stains or cracks Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Lighting: Functional Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Windows: No damage, hardware intact, no evidence of moisture Storage areas: Organized, no damage Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Additional Notes: Space for the inspector to make any additional comments or observations. Signature: Inspector’s signature, date. FAQs Here are a few frequently asked questions about rental inspections. Q: How often should you conduct rental inspections? A: The frequency of rental inspections can vary based on several factors, including local regulations, lease agreements, and the specific needs of the property. Generally, here's a recommended guideline: Move-In Inspection: Once, right before a new resident moves in. Move-Out Inspection: Once, immediately after the resident vacates. Routine Rental Inspections: Typically, every six to twelve months. It's a balance between ensuring the property is being maintained without being overly intrusive to your residents. Drive-By Rental Inspections: These can be conducted more frequently, perhaps quarterly, since they are less invasive and don’t require entering the property. However, always consult your local laws and regulations, as some areas might have stipulations on how often you can inspect a rented property. Also, it's crucial to provide residents with proper notice before any inspection, respecting their privacy and rights. Q: Can a tenant refuse a rental property inspection? A: While rental inspections are essential for property managers, tenants have rights, and their privacy must be respected. Generally, a resident cannot outright refuse a rental property inspection if: It's Stipulated in the Lease: Most rental agreements or leases have clauses that allow for periodic inspections by the property manager or landlord, given proper notice. Adequate Notice is Given: Many jurisdictions require landlords to provide a specific amount of notice (usually 24-48 hours) before entering the property unless there's an emergency. The Inspection is Conducted at a Reasonable Time: Inspections should be scheduled during reasonable hours, avoiding early mornings, late nights, or any time that might intrude on the tenant's reasonable expectation of quiet enjoyment. However, if a resident has a valid reason like health concerns, religious reasons, or personal issues, it might be possible to reschedule the inspection to a more convenient time. Always be sure to check local laws and regulations as tenant rights can vary by jurisdiction. Open communication and understanding between both parties can help mitigate any concerns or conflicts. Make Property Management Easier with Second Nature At Second Nature, our goal is to make property management easier for professional property managers. We built our Resident Benefits Package to support property management companies in delivering the best resident experience on the market. From a move-in concierge to air filter subscriptions to rent reporting, we deliver the services that residents will pay for – and stay for. Learn more about our RBP today!

Calendar icon November 6, 2023

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Property manager meeting with future tenants

10 Strategies to Become a Successful Single-Family Property Management Business

Navigating the world of Single-Family Property Management requires a blend of industry know-how, proactive strategies, and a keen understanding of both investors and residents. What is a single-family property management business? At its core, the business revolves around managing standalone properties for individual property investors, ensuring the rental property is maintained, tenanted, and profitable. But how do you optimize for success in this space? In this post, we'll uncover 10 pivotal strategies to elevate your single-family property management business, from staying updated on industry trends to streamlining your operations for maximum efficiency. 1. Keep up with the trends in Single-Family Property Management The dynamic landscape of single-family property management is constantly innovating and growing in response to various economic, technological, and societal factors. Property managers in the single-family space (vs. multifamily properties or even commercial real estate) also tend to be entrepreneurial, innovative, and adaptive. It’s what we love about this community! But some "trends" have staying power, and the key to long-term success is identifying those and adapting your services to the modern consumer. Over the past decade or so, the way we do commerce and services has been upended by technology and the convenience economy. The same is true in property management. In the words of Jonathan Cook at Revolution Rental Management: “I think ten years ago, property managers were only concerned with collecting rent and keeping tenants from doing damage to properties. It was a much more adversarial relationship than it is today. Today, the best PMs know that resident experience is vital to minimizing vacancy and creating a resident that strives to be a higher quality tenant.” So, let’s look at several trends that have emerged that are shaping the industry’s direction. The Convenience Economy: Sometimes we call this "the Amazon effect." Consumers and residents alike are looking for the easy button. They're looking for everything from online rental listings they can scroll from their couch to online rent payment services that make paying as easy as the click of a button. Technological Advancements: Today, property managers are leveraging technology more than ever. From smart home systems that enhance resident experience to advanced, AI-driven property management software that streamlines operations, staying abreast with technological trends is crucial. The key to staying on top of these transformations is to ask the right questions. Pay attention to general business trends. What are consumers demanding? What is new in technology that you could adapt to your business strategy? Running a property management business is just that: a business endeavor. Keep your eyes sharp on trends in commerce and get involved in the conversation of how that affects good property management. (Check out our Triple Win Podcast for regular interviews, updates, and tips from experts in the SFR property management industry!) 2. Understand your ideal investors in single-family property management When diving into professional property management, just like any other business, it's essential to identify your ideal customer profile (ICP) early on. You will get so much further by "niche-ing down" than spreading your company too thin. What kind of property and client are you ideally set up for or prepared to work with? Once you define your target audience, you can then be ruthless in saying no to anyone who falls outside that definition. Here are a few ways to explore the various dimensions of property investor clients: Level of Experience: Property investors are not all created equal. Individuals get into property ownership for different reasons. You can see experiences ranging from an accidental landlord who never intended to be an investor all the way to a sophisticated or institutional investor, and every shade of the spectrum in between. It's very difficult to build a business that serves all customers across all levels of sophistication. They'll have different needs for how much education they need, how they want you to handle things, and how they want pricing to work. Property Types: You should also define what type of property you want to manage, which will help you assess if a new investor is a fit or not. We're assuming since you're reading this that you're interested in single-family rentals. But within that category, there is still so much variation. Are you looking to manage luxury homes with higher rent, lower demand, and longer vacancies? Are you more interested in workforce housing with more demand and lower rents? Or maybe you're a specialist in Section 8 housing. Whether Class A, B, or C housing, it's very hard to specialize in all property types. Sure, all SFR homes are unique, but it's key to identify the general characteristics of the homes you'd like to manage (or already excel in managing). Then, you and your team are dealing with more consistent situations. Compatibility Fit: You also need to make sure the investor as an investor fits with your approach. And we don't just mean personalities. Have a list of questions that help define what type of investor you can work with. In his podcast Owner Occupied, Peter Lohmann (co-founder & CEO of RL Property Management) talks to Marc Cunningham (President and Owner of Grace Property Management & Real Estate) about their lists, which include questions like: 1) Is the investor financially stable? 2) Is the investor emotionally stable? 3) Are they realistic in expectations? 4) Are they willing to trust us as the expert? Cunningham says his company can manage any property if the owner is right. Define what's important to you and stick to your guns. As Lohmann says in the podcast, "The easiest way to deal with a horrible owner client is to never onboard them in the first place." The goal is to filter out the people who are not a fit before you get into a contract with them. "When you're first starting out in this business, you chase everything," Cunningham says. "But as you grow and become successful, you need to slide that bar on your 'yes' and 'no' and start saying no." In short, nailing the definition of what type of investor and property you want to work with will help you find the right clients and ultimately succeed with them. You're not saying yes to every person who is looking for property management; you're looking for a specific type of customer. 3. Make sure your rental application requirements are clear Are you getting applicants who don't end up being a fit for your properties? It's possible the requirements are not clear on the listing or application. Is your advertising penetrating where it's going to reach qualified residents? Do potential applicants know what credit score they need, income requirements, and more? Of course, how you advertise and where varies widely by the market in your area. Some property managers say they would never use Craigslist, and others swear by it. Understand the market in your area and make it clear from your listings what is required to be accepted as a renter. You'll save everyone frustration with transparency and clarity. 4. Simplify rent collection and accounting processes You know the old saying, "Time is money.” It's particularly true in the rental property management game. Think about it: Every hour you spend chasing down a rent check or struggling with complex accounting software is an hour taken away from growing your business, networking, or improving other operational aspects. Simplifying your rent collection means introducing online payments, setting up auto-pay options, and even mobile payment methods. Modern residents love the ease of digital transactions. Making their lives easier often equates to faster, on-time payments and a heightened sense of trust. One way to simplify rent collection is to incentivize on-time rent payments. Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package does just that by offering credit reporting and rental rewards to ensure that residents receive value for paying on time. As the property manager, it’s work off your plate! It's also a good idea to standardize your rent collection and use tools to support your team. New tech services like Colleen.ai and EliseAI can fully automate your rent collection communications. As for accounting, streamlined property management software solutions can auto-generate reports, offer real-time financial insights, and make tax season a breeze. By embracing these upgrades, you’re not just benefiting internally by saving time and resources – you’re showing current and potential residents that you value efficiency and are in tune with modern conveniences. The result? Higher resident satisfaction, a more enticing pitch to potential property investors, and an overall smoother business operation poised for growth. 5. Prevent vacancies with effective resident communication and engagement activities Remember when you first fell in love with your favorite coffee shop or that little bookstore around the corner? It wasn't just about the coffee or the books—it was the overall experience, the atmosphere, and the feeling of being recognized and valued. The same principle applies to a residential property management company. Resident communication isn't just about sending rent reminders or maintenance updates. It's about cultivating a relationship. Providing resident benefits, gifts, support services, and timely communication go a long way to showing residents you care about their home. Engagement programs like loyalty rewards or recognizing special occasions can also be game-changers. Looking for more inspiration on resident retention? Dive deeper into our resident retention ideas article to explore various strategies that will help keep your properties filled and your community thriving. 6. Automate single-family property management workflows Ever find yourself drowning in spreadsheets, buried under a to-do list a mile long, or juggling multiple software platforms? Surely we all have! The solution? Breathe easier with automation. The beauty of running a full-service property management firm in the 2020s is that there's likely a tool or system for nearly every task in property management, from rent collection to resident communication. Our best single family property management software article is a treasure trove of tools and platforms designed specifically for property managers. By implementing these solutions, you can automate repetitive tasks, reduce human errors, and free up time to focus on more value-driven aspects of your business. Think about it: a streamlined application and screening process, automated rent reminders, and digital maintenance requests—all working like clockwork without your constant intervention. Beyond the tools themselves, consider the integration possibilities. When your property management company software talks seamlessly with your accounting system or marketing platform, the result is a cohesive and efficient workflow. Need more insights into the power of automation? Dive into our in-depth automation-related articles to discover how you can revolutionize your day-to-day operations. 7. Invest in regular rental inspections Investing in regular rental property inspections isn't just about ensuring your property is in good shape—it's also a strategic move to bolster the relationship with your residents and maintain the value of your client’s investment. Here's the deal: Consistent inspections offer a proactive approach to property maintenance. They can catch small maintenance issues before they balloon into costly repairs. Got a minor leak? Catch it early, and you're saving both money and potential damage to a resident's belongings. But it's not all about damage control. Regular check-ins also send a clear message to your residents: you care about their well-being and the condition of the property they call home. It's an opportunity to foster open communication, showing residents that their feedback is valued. Moreover, well-maintained properties tend to attract and retain quality residents. Those who know their property manager is on top of things will likely stay longer and treat the property with respect. Plus, when it's time to find a new resident, you've got a spotless track record of upkeep to show off. In short, consider inspections as a small investment now that can yield big returns in resident satisfaction, property value, and overall peace of mind. 8. Create a referral program to increase your portfolio Word of mouth? It's powerful. And in the property management game, it's gold. Imagine this: your current clients, satisfied with your stellar services, singing your praises to friends, family, and colleagues. Now, what if you could incentivize that process? Enter the referral program. Happy real estate investors are your best brand ambassadors. They've experienced firsthand the quality of your management, and their endorsement carries weight. So, why not reward them for bringing in new business? A referral program can do just that. Start by offering incentives. For your investor clients, perhaps it's a discounted management fee for a month. The point is to offer something tangible that'll get folks talking and referring. But there's more to it than just the direct business benefits. A referral program demonstrates that you value the relationships you've built. It tells your clients that their trust and loyalty don't go unnoticed. Lastly, an added bonus: with every successful referral, you not only grow your portfolio but also create a network of investors who are invested in your success. It's a win-win, driving growth for your business while strengthening the bond with your current clientele. 9. Find new investment properties and pitch them to your current clients You're already managing a portfolio of properties for your investors, ensuring they get solid returns and have few hassles. But here's the question: What if you could amplify those returns for them and simultaneously grow your business? Actively seeking out new investment properties is more than just scouting real estate; it's an art of opportunity. By identifying lucrative properties that align with your investors' strategies, you're essentially providing them with golden opportunities on a platter. And guess who they'll want managing these new assets? That's right, you. When you present these potential investments to your current clients, it accomplishes a few things. Firstly, it reinforces your role as a trusted partner in their financial journey, showing them that you're proactive and always on the lookout for ways to amplify their wealth and boost their cash flow. It's not just about maintaining what they have; it's about growing it. Secondly, every new property they acquire based on your pitch naturally expands your management portfolio. This approach helps scale your business, fostering client trust and loyalty along the way. Remember, in the property management world, being static isn't an option. By constantly seeking growth opportunities for your clients, you're also carving out a pathway for your own business's expansion. 10. Invest in marketing activities for short vacancy cycles Imagine a prime property in a stellar location, decked out with all the bells and whistles...sitting vacant. The eerie silence echoing in those empty halls isn't just the sound of missed opportunities – it's also the sound of revenue trickling away. Maybe that was a little dramatic. But the real estate game is as much about visibility and appeal as it is about bricks and mortar. The quicker you can get a property off the market and into the hands of a reliable resident, the better for everyone involved. This is where strategic marketing steps in. Investing in a robust property management marketing strategy does more than just showcase a property; it strategically positions it in front of the right eyes. With targeted campaigns, engaging visuals, and compelling copy, you can ensure your property doesn’t get lost in the sea of listings. Use social media, virtual tours, and local advertising to create a buzz. Moreover, effective marketing helps paint a lifestyle. When potential residents can visualize themselves in a space, they're more likely to take the leap. By consistently shortening vacancy cycles through effective marketing, you not only ensure a steady revenue stream but also enhance your reputation as a go-to property manager who gets results. In essence, marketing isn't an expense; it's a pivotal investment. It's the bridge that connects empty properties with eager residents, ensuring your business always stays on the move. Increase revenue from your SFR property management business with Second Nature Optimizing your single-family property management business is not a one-size-fits-all solution. From engaging with the right investors to fine-tuning marketing endeavors, the path to success is paved with multifaceted, dynamic approaches. But the key to it all is creating a better experience: for residents, investors, and your property management team. That’s why, at Second Nature, we’ve built a Resident Benefits Package that supports SFR property management businesses. Each benefit is designed to meet resident needs and investor priorities while taking work off your team’s plate. In the dynamic world of SFR property management, adaptability and efficiency are kings. With Second Nature by your side, you’re not just keeping pace with the industry; you’re setting the benchmark. So, as you work towards crafting a business that stands tall and resonates in the market, remember: Your success is our second nature.

Calendar icon October 31, 2023

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8 Best Property Management Podcasts

As incredibly busy single-family and multifamily property managers, staying informed on the latest industry trends and resources on top of your ever-increasing list of to-dos can feel near impossible. But thankfully, there is now a wealth of excellent industry podcasts to do the hard work of staying up to date. All you have to do is tune in. Property management industry podcasts make it extra easy for you to gain insight, advice, and practical tips while commuting, cooking dinner, or working out. By listening to industry thought leaders and experts, you'll learn new ideas and perspectives on improving your strategies and ultimately growing your business. We've combed through all of the property management podcasts to find you the eight best ones. And we've made sure they meet the following criteria: The podcast's relevancy to your role as a single-family property manager – With so much information tailored to multi-use property managers, it can be hard to find industry insight into your particular challenges and industry issues. The caliber of the hosts and their guests – we looked for those run by reputable sources endorsed by trusted associations, organizations, and professionals in the property management business. Content quality and diversity of topics – We wanted to see that the podcast covered a wide spread of topics—from real estate investing to leasing challenges to tips like building your cash flow—and provided a well-rounded perspective on the industry. Actionable insights – We looked for podcasts that provided practical tips, strategies, and advice you can readily implement in your day-to-day work as a property manager. Length and accessibility – We all know how tiring it can be for a podcast to drone on and on. We looked for ones that were under an hour and were accessible, engaging, and even entertaining. 1. Triple Win Podcast The Triple Win Podcast is hyper-focused on the needs and challenges of single-family property managers. With each topic it addresses, The Triple Win Podcast looks at how property managers can create and monetize value for their company while also building strong working relationships. Its core focus is finding solutions that are a win-win-win for everyone involved—residents, real estate investors, and property managers alike. The Second Nature team hosts the podcast and invites experts across the industry to discuss topics such as using Practical AI for property management, turning customers into superfans, and tips for revenue building, annual goal planning, and more. The Triple Win Podcast is released twice a month and can be listened to here, and for more insights, subscribe to one of these property management newsletters. 2. Owner Occupied with Peter Lohmann Owner Occupied is an interview-style podcast. Each week, Peter Lohmann invites experts from across the industry to discuss the business side of property management. Lohmann covers super granular topics (like competing with the 3% management fee) and ones that look at the big picture (like how to know which opportunities to pursue and which to let go). Lohmann interviews experts such as Michael Girdley of the Complete HoldCo Course, Todd Ortscheid of Always There Repair, and Brandon Scholton of Key Renter Denver. The best part of this podcast is that Lohmann lists the time stamps in the description. So, if you don't have time to listen to the full interview, you can easily skip to the parts that most interest you. Find Owner Occupied on Spotify here and tune in weekly for valuable information and insightful interviews. 3. Property Management Business with Marc Cunningham Marc Cunningham of PM Build works tirelessly to help property managers build their people, profit, and processes. And he shares a wealth of industry tips in his podcast Property Management Business. Each episode is less than 30 minutes, making it incredibly accessible and easy to fit into your day. Marc brings an optimistic and grounded perspective to the industry, inspiring property managers to build strong working relationships with property owners, tenants, and realtors. He also encourages property managers to simplify maintenance and discover the industry's exciting future. Tune in for new episodes each month and be inspired to grow your business here. 4. The Profitable Property Management Podcast Do you love to hear success stories of non-stop go-getters? Well then, The Profitable Property Management Podcast is for you. The host, Jordan Muela, has worked in the industry for over ten years, started three businesses, hiked the Grand Canyon to raise money, launched two podcasts, and released the industry's first financial benchmarking study. And he brings all of that energy and expertise to his interview-style podcast. "This podcast is dedicated to the property manager entrepreneurs that refuse to settle in life and business," says Muela. And it's clear he's walked the talk. Tune in to his weekly podcasts on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen. He'll inspire you to find meaning at work, boost your profit margins, and stay resilient as you navigate the daily challenges of property management. 5. 300 to 3,000 300 to 3,000 is hosted by Matthew Whitaker and Spencer Sutton of Evernest. The episodes vary from 30 minutes to over an hour and a half, but because they are chock-full of tips for adding new properties to your portfolio, we decided to include it in our round-up. Evernest is a national property management company that grew out of necessity. When the 2008 economic crisis happened, Matthew Whitaker owned 30 investment properties he was desperate to sell but couldn't. Using all of their creativity and gumption, Matthew and Spencer launched their property management company. They have grown from the rockiest start to a thriving property management business that oversees 15,000+ properties across the U.S. Every week, Matthew and Spencer provide industry insight from an incredibly thoughtful perspective. They cover interpersonal dynamics (Episode 82: Trying to Build a Great Team? How Trust and Conflict are Essential), the emotional strain of property management (Episode 61: How to Find Clarity in the Middle of Painful Problems), and practical business tips (Episode 55: How to Grow Your Maintenance Department). Tune in here. 6. NARPM Radio The industry's most trusted association is the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). NARPM hosts conferences and trade shows, provides courses and webinars, advocates for policies that affect property managers, and offers ample networking opportunities for PMs. It's no surprise that their podcast is also an excellent resource. Twice a month, host Pete Neubig interviews different industry experts and provides invaluable insight into the various aspects of property management. Learn how to identify your business's core values, stay focused while growing your business, navigate property management taxes, and more. Connect with the organization on social media and catch the latest episodes here. 7. The Property Management Mastermind Show Like The Triple Win Podcast, The Property Management Mastermind Show focuses on single-family property management and is thus a valuable resource for those in that specific sector. Host Brad Larsen owns RentWerx, one of the fastest-growing property management companies in Texas. Brad brings his own hands-on experience to each episode and provides listeners with insight into the latest trends, best practices, tips for vendors, and more. Catch his weekly episodes here and take your property management strategies to the next level. 8. Property Management Brainstorm This podcast focuses primarily on maximizing your property value and raising your income while maintaining strong relationships with your tenants. Host Bob Preston brings his experience as a Silicon Valley technology executive to the property management space, guiding PMs on using the right technology and implementing effective operations to streamline and scale their businesses. Every week, Bob interviews other industry experts to help property managers think through business strategies and operations. Earlier this summer, Bob re-released our conversation on pest control in rental properties. It was such a delight to chat with Bob and I'm honored they have dubbed it one of their best episodes ever. Tune in to the full Property Management Brainstorm podcast here. Alright, there you have it—our eight favorite industry podcasts. We would love to hear which ones you enjoy the most and which ones you would add to the list. Happy listening!

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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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. 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.” 6. Find your property management niche Setting the right priorities also means focusing on what you’re best at. Being “all things to all real estate investors” may help you add a new property in the short term, but you risk slowed growth and burnout. Instead, a more effective property management strategy is to double down on your specific property management niche. On this topic, we spoke with Bob Preston, CEO of North County Property Group, CRMC. Preston shared how he quickly learned to go deep, not wide, with his business. The result? A booming property management services company with some of the best real estate in San Diego county. “When I was starting things out, I learned really, really quickly that sometimes less is more. In the early days, when I would take on anything, the worst properties were taking up 80% of our time.” Based on their location, they ended up focusing on a specific region within the county – high-value coastal properties in the north part of San Diego County. These properties only made up about 20% of his total doors, but they made up 80% of the profit margin. So, he started to carve out a niche. Preston says, “At that point in time, we started all of our messaging, positioning, outreach, and pitch to the higher end of the market. We may not be the cheapest, and that's okay. If you don't like that, don't come to our company.” Instead of shrinking their business, they have $550+ monthly revenue per home, expanded their services to include maintenance, and have had zero evictions. To grow property management, the key is to niche down, not go broad. 7. Create more value & charge accordingly Finding your niche and saying no to properties may seem counterintuitive. So does our next tip: When you start finding ways to add more value, charge for what it’s worth. Evalute your current services and consider whether you are charging a reasonable price for them. On this topic, we had Mike Krause, Partner at Atrium Management Company, weigh in: “We were always afraid of charging more fees and owners being turned off. So we stuck to the big three: renewal fees, leasing fees, and management fees. And that's kind of what we lived on for a while, so we were staying kind of just barely profitable.” Krause and his team decided it was time to take a risk and make some changes. Atrium built new programs like a resident benefits package, which created fantastic new value for residents and investors – and brought Atrium new revenue streams. The result? They had their biggest year ever and are now on track to double that in the coming year. Krause says: “We stopped being afraid to charge fees. We sat down and made a list of the fees we thought were valuable and what we wanted to charge, and we started charging more. And guess what? Not many people left. What we were afraid of – losing current owners or losing current management contracts or not winning new ones – just didn't happen.” When you start generating value beyond those core three fees, you can generate more revenue by monetizing those programs. Then you can reinvest in the business to bring more value to investors and residents. We like to say: There's no shame in making money in property management, the only shame is not putting it to good use. 8. Don’t be afraid to “fire” a client This is a question we see all the time. When you have a frustrating investor, do you just deal with it or cut them loose? While there are all kinds of nuances to that question, the long and short of it is that you can’t be afraid to get rid of a client. Bob Preston has experience “firing” investors and says it has contributed to his company’s ability to grow without draining his team. “I always try to save a client, but often it’s a small number of properties that are causing 80% of the problems – whether it’s an owner who likes to complain, who doesn't like to keep their investment property maintained, who drags their feet, who threatens to fire us, etc. For me, it's three strikes, and we're out.” Cutting difficult clients loose frees you up to focus on higher-value opportunities that don’t take away 80% of your resources. This brings us back to Dr. Benjamin Hardy. “You (have to) start saying no to the lesser goals. Then you start finding ways to get the opportunities at the level you want.” 9. Develop an excellent marketing strategy To develop the right marketing plan, you must apply all the skills we’ve discussed here. It means really digging into what works, what’s driving results with new clients – and getting rid of the rest. Hommel again: “One of the more important factors in driving revenue into the company is: How do I get new doors? Understanding your sources of marketing, what's effective marketing, and where are you wasting money. Where do you see fruits?” If you can drill down into the data and find which marketing messages, landing pages, blog posts, and campaigns drove your ideal client, you can start cutting out the messages that only bring in busywork or “bad” clients. This property management strategy ultimately helps your team by releasing them from any unproductive leads and focuses them on generating growth. 10. Use digital tools & AI solutions AI property management is growing and we have software tools that can make work so much easier for our teams. The current primary use of AI 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.

Calendar icon May 23, 2023

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How Property Managers Can Address An Evolving Industry

“PropTech companies are making the mechanics of property management easy – rent collection, maintenance, screening, the day-to-day mechanics of property management. Thirty years ago, that’s what a property manager did. Now though, when it comes to things like benefits packages, pet guarantees, and rent guarantees with security deposit alternatives – these are all things you can’t do with software. Software doesn’t solve this problem, especially for landlords trying to manage their own smaller-scale properties. The fact that we manage a lot of properties as opposed to just being a software solution, we can offer much more value.” - Revolution Rental Management CEO Todd Ortscheid ‍The basics of property management, that is collecting rent, conducting maintenance, and listing and filling properties, have never been easier. The wave of investment into the industry in the form of proptech companies, as described above by Ortscheid, has stimulated this change. This is a good thing in some respects, but it also poses new challenges for PMCs. As technology makes property management’s core competencies easier, the need for an owner to hire someone to do those core competencies decreases. The service is being commoditized, which is to say that the ability to differentiate your business simply by being proficient at those core competencies is approaching zero.This creates a need for property managers to offer something beyond the core competencies, to offer something that can’t be easily replicated by technology or the accidental landlord using that technology. Thus, the focus for the property manager has changed. Good property management is no longer just taking on screening, renting, maintenance, and so on for the client. Good property management is now about maximizing the investor’s ROI via innovative value-creation programs that technology cannot duplicate.‍ "So the advent of resident benefits packages really grew out of that. There was just more demand to be something more. This took property managers from being just a kind of a lackey to really being the professionals, to understand the laws, to understand who protects our clients and income streams.” - Formatic Property Management CEO Matthew Tandy‍ So how do you as a property manager offer something more in order to protect your clients and their income streams? You start upstream with the resident. ‍“The experience of the tenant is paramount in this industry. Our product is tenants. It's not all the systems. It's not all the organization. Our product to the homeowner is the tenant. Now we can go into psychological studies about making tenants happy and how they treat products better and treat the properties better, but you can have that conversation just from a logical standpoint with your homeowner. Let's talk about the resident experience in your property. And if we give them the best experience possible, they're going to feel appreciative of this address and of you as a landlord, and of us as a property manager. The better experience you can give them, the more likely they are to take better care of your property, pay you on time, stay in your property, and lower your vacancy costs. It's like a literal triple win in this case.” - RevUp Consultant Jonathan Cook ‍Obviously, the resident is the source of the monthly income for the investor, so protecting that income stream and maximizing ROI from it means protecting the resident’s interests. You need them to stay. Making the property and the rental experience as good as possible for the resident incentivizes them to stay, and less turnover means less lost vacancy and turnover costs to the property’s owner. A winning experience for the resident becomes a winning experience for your clients. Property managers have gotten ahead of the curve in the evolving market by redefining the resident’s role in the business. They’re not just a necessity anymore. They’re an opportunity to install a resident experience program that creates value for investors that the investors don’t have the capacity to create themselves. This committed evolution from a service provider to an experience provider is making all the difference for America’s top PMCs. Related: State of Resident Experience Study ‍ Four Keys to A Successful Resident Experience Platform 1. Create value This is the single most important part of an ancillary income program. Ancillary services are not just money grabs. Treating them as that will have undesirable long-term consequences. To be sure, there is money to be made for you as the property manager, but unless you’re also creating a desirable situation for residents, you’re not helping your clients, which threatens the long-term viability of your business. Vision is important here. Creating that undeniable value for your residents is the origin point of this entire strategy. It is the cornerstone without which the whole thing crumbles. There’s a long list of pretty easily accessible programs that are proving to be welcomed by residents, including things like air filter delivery, credit-reporting tools, security deposit alternatives, resident rewards, gifting programs, home-buying assistance, and more. 2. Convenience Residents perceive value in a number of different ways, but one of the big ones, especially in modern America, is through convenience. ‍ “What I'm seeing from our residents, whether they're paying $3,000 a month in rent or $1,000 a month in rent, the number one thing that they look for is ease and convenience. They don't want complicated instructions. They just want simple, they want right now. They want contact free, they don't want to talk to people. That's what our residents want. So everything we do from showings to moving into the experience after they move in is all revolved around design for that expectation.” - Skyline Properties Broker DD Lee ‍Delivering convenience really means making the obligations of the resident as easy as possible to fulfill. The resident is required by the lease to pay rent, they’re required by the lease to keep their air filter changed, they’re required by the lease to have renters insurance. A great resident experience doesn’t require a huge dog and pony show. Just making these basic things as easy as possible will thrill residents, especially considering how common negative perceptions of property managers can be. 3. Protect the asset Certain convenience programs for residents can also serve to create value for the investors by protecting their asset. Services like filter delivery and comprehensive auto-enroll renters insurance help minimize maintenance and the risk of charges coming back to the client. Studies actually show that filter delivery service decreases the number of HVAC maintenance tickets. This is not only a convenient service for residents, eliminating their need to go to the store and buy a filter, but it also extends the life of the HVAC system, which is one of the most expensive things in a home to replace. 4. It all adds up When you can create a ton of value for your residents, you can keep those residents in the properties. When you can show your clients that you can not only rent their properties, but rent them to residents who will stick around and take care of the property, while also providing services that make taking care of the property easy, you’re offering them more than technology can create. That’s how you differentiate your business in the modern era.

Calendar icon May 17, 2023

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Property Management Referral Program: Create, Promote & Track Success

A study by McKinsey found that the main factor behind up to half of purchasing decisions is word of mouth. A good referral can set up your property management company for the long term. A bad referral can lead to stress, late nights, and overwork. So how do you nail a good referral program? We sat down with an expert to get some answers. Jim Roman is the Director of Results at Business Owners Institute, LLC, and a speaker and coach well-known in the property management industry. Jim helped us talk through the best practices for getting referrals, how to build a (legal) referral program, and how to follow through for success. Key Learning Objectives: What you need for successful property management referrals How to optimize the referral process How to promote referrals How to track your success How to maintain and nurture your referral relationships Meet the Expert: Jim Roman, Director of Results at Business Owners Institute Jim Roman founded Business Owners Institute 18 years ago to help business owners and their teams make more money, have more time, and – most importantly – have a life beyond their business. He coaches leaders from many industries and has a strong client base in property management. From a course called “How to Double Your Income in 90 Days,” his work has grown into a nationwide coaching and consulting business. What’s needed for a successful property management referral program A property management referral program is a marketing strategy that incentivizes your current clients to refer new clients to your PMC and grow your doors. Referral marketing is one of the best ways to grow a quality client list in any business. But in the property management business – where relationships and word of mouth still reign supreme – referral marketing is an essential strategy. A relationship-based approach Roman urges property managers to keep local laws and regulations in mind when discussing a referral “program” rather than casual referral strategies: “A referral program would be that you get compensated for referrals,” Roman says. “You have to be careful in the property management industry when you do this kind of stuff. The laws are different throughout every state. For example, in Virginia, you’re required by law to give two to three people when asked about a realtor or realtor referral program.” Roman urges that a relationship-based, win-win approach – over a referral fee – is far more effective for long-term outcomes. He has coached hundreds of companies on how to build a successful, relationship-based referral strategy. Defined target audience A defined target audience is critical to the success of your relationship-based referral marketing. Roman outlines three key audiences for getting referrals: 1. Current clients According to Roman, the average investor has two to three property management relationships with many rental properties. You may not even know about those other properties if you don’t have a strong relationship with their investor. “One of the things I teach my clients to do is what I call an Owner Outreach Program,” Roman says. “Reach out to the property owner, check in on them and how they're doing. Tell them ‘We're not asking for money and there's nothing wrong with your property. I just wanted to check in and find out where your goals are for this year.’ Next thing you know, they go, ‘Well, it's funny you should call. I have a couple of properties I want to give to you.’” 2. Past clients The next strategy for your target audience is to check in with past clients. “You might check in with them and see how they're doing,” Roman says. “They might say, ‘Oh, it's funny you should call me. I'm not happy with my property manager. I should never have left you.’” He adds that if they are happy with their current arrangement, they likely won’t pick up the phone when you call anyway – “so you have nothing to lose.” 3. Strategic partners Roman says, “Think about people who have databases that you would want where partnering with them could be very profitable.” The number one source of business for property managers is real estate agents. After that, Roman lists CPAs, investment advisors, and estate planning attorneys. "If someone passes away," Roman says, "and someone else inherits some properties, who's going to know that? The CPA, the investment advisor, or the estate planning attorney.” Achievable goals for referrals The next factor is to set achievable goals for your referrals. Roman advises his clients to identify between six to eight referral partners to refer clients. “It only takes three technically, but you don’t know which of the six to eight will be your three,” Roman says. “If one quits, you’re down, losing a third of your referrals.” He advises a strategy to focus on the three target audiences above – current clients, former clients, and strategic partners. “I might have three relationships in each category,” Roman says. “Not all are going to refer you. But the key is that you can answer if someone asks you for a CPA, etc. Then, eventually, those partners will start returning the favor and referring you a lot of business.” A clear referral reward system Roman says that the best rewards systems give people options. He shares an example of a referral program he promoted. “It was a March Madness referral program,” Roman says. “For the month of March, if you refer us any clients, you get a choice of one of three things: $250 credit towards coaching in the future, $100 gift card to your favorite restaurant, or $100 to your favorite retail store.” The power in that is it’s giving you options, which helps ensure you’ve hit on something that each person might want. Note: Again, remember to follow your local laws. A marketing strategy to promote your referral program According to Roman, the key to any marketing strategy is to bring awareness to the fact you are looking for referrals. “This is important,” Roman says. “Some people think you’re doing so well you don’t need it. But who doesn’t want new business?” Romans says that he sends a survey at the 90-day mark of getting a new client and asks, “How are we doing?” Then, they add the question: “What could we do to make it easier for our clients to refer us?” “One woman said, ‘I just need a flier,’” Romans says. “That was so easy!” Optimize the referral process Next, Roman walked us through the steps to optimize the referral process. He advises his clients to use the RISEE process: build Relationships, Identify opportunities, Strategize, Execute, and Evaluate. Step 1: Build Relationships (R) At this point, it should come as no surprise that the “r” is for “relationships” – the most important part of any referral plan. Roman says, “One of the questions I love to ask people is how they got into their industry and what they enjoy most about their business. You're going to find a connection and build that relationship.” He also warns that how you approach is key. “You don’t say, ‘Let’s get together to see how we can help each other out.’ You should be trying to identify what is a good referral for them. So you should say, ‘I would love to learn about how we would be able to refer you and see if it’s something we can partner on.’ It’s about them, not you.” Step 2: Identify opportunities to refer (I) That leads us to the next step: Identify opportunities to refer – both for them and for you. Roman says it’s important to get very specific here. For example, if you’re working with a realtor, don’t just go with “they’ll take anybody looking to buy a house.” For your own referrals, be clear on what property management services you’re offering. Roman says, “That's not specific enough. Is someone upsizing? Downsizing? Is it a half-million-dollar house? A million-dollar house? Another way I go about this is I'll ask them to give an example of some of the types of clients they’re working with now.” “This identifying step takes some time,” Roman adds. “The whole process should not happen in one sitting.” Step 3: Strategize on how to do it (S) Roman says the key here is to identify what has worked before. “So when I ask how I should refer someone, they always give a sales answer. They'll give you the words that they would say if they were in front of the prospect. But you're not a salesperson for them, so you can't do it that way.” Instead, says Roman, “I might say, ‘What are different ways people have referred you in the past?’ Rarely does anybody ever ask that question, but it makes the strategy part so much easier.” Step 4: Execute that action (E) This is all about holding up your side of the bargain. Once you’ve identified opportunities and built a strategy for both of you to refer to each other, you need to actually execute. “Tell them, ‘I want to commit to giving you at least one referral by this month,’” Roman says. “And that's important because usually if I really want a referral relationship, I have to give first. A lot of times, people say, ‘Okay, this was great. I'll figure out how I can help you.’ Yeah. You're not gonna help me, you're gonna forget about me.” Instead, commit yourself to a goal and timeline so your partner knows you’re serious. Roman suggests a script like: “Okay, I’m looking to refer you in the month of April, and I'm going to work on getting you one referral. Is that okay with you?’” They’re going to say yes. Step 5: Evaluate how it went (E) “A lot of times there is no evaluation,” Roman says. “But the second E is the power in this whole process – debriefing, training me to know what worked. I need to learn.” “Ask ‘What would be better,’ rather than just asking, ‘Is this going okay?’” Roman recommends. Without following up, you can easily lose that referral to another relationship. Roman says he’s seen it happen time and again. Follow-up and evaluation are critical to generating more referrals. We’ll share more on evaluating your program below. How to promote a property management referral program Remember that when it comes to referrals, your state’s laws may have strict requirements on what is allowed. Keep those legal restrictions in mind. However, in terms of building referral partnerships and strategies, you can follow several paths to promoting your plan. Create a dedicated referral program landing page Again, people don’t know you need referrals unless you tell them. Create a landing page for your website that’s simple, clear, and lets people know exactly how to refer you. Use social media Reviews, likes, comments, and more on social media are one of the best ways to get word of mouth out there. (You can join Second Nature’s Facebook group of active, supportive property managers.) Send email marketing campaigns Once you’ve identified your target audience of current clients, former clients, and strategic partners, you can build email campaigns targeted specifically to each. Sign strategic partners for cross-promotion Strategic partners are any businesses that have a database that could add value to your company. As Roman outlined above, the best partners for property managers are real estate agents, CPAs, investment advisors, and estate planning attorneys. Remember: To get referrals, let people know you want referrals! Use hyperlocal advertising campaigns This is so simple but so effective. Roman says, “I always recommend going out to real estate offices on a frequent basis. Bring donuts or bagels or offer to do a real estate sales meeting and buy breakfast. Make it frequent, not just one and done.” It’s about relationships and being the first PMC that comes to mind the next time they’re asked for a property manager referral. How to track the success of a referral program This brings us back to the second “E” in RISEE – evaluation. According to Roman, this is the most overlooked but important part of the process. Here are his tips to track and build upon your referral success. Track best-converting referral sources The key here is talking to your referral partners about your definition of a good referral, a better referral, and the best referral. “In referral relationships, we don’t always talk about that,” Roman says. “What’s a good referral? What’s a bad referral?” In property management, he says, a bad referral would be someone who is not flexible with their property management team and management agreement, won’t let you make any changes, etc. By contrast, Roman says, “A great referral will be an investor who says, I don't care, just get it done. I trust you. You're the expert.’ A middling referral might be the landlord who has a personal attachment to the investment property and wants to know what's going on on a regular basis. It's profitable, but it's not like the investor is ready to say, ‘I trust you, you're the expert.’” So the key here is to track which types of referrals you get that most quickly convert into profitable clients. Then let your referral partners know exactly what that client looks like. Optimize the referral program based on your partnerships Set your success metrics for your referral program and optimize your program based on reasonable goals. “First is setting your referral goals,” Roman says. “How many referrals are you hoping to get on a monthly basis?” Decide how many referrals per month you want from each of your strategic partners. “An average door, let’s say, could be worth $2,000 of revenue a year for a property manager,” Roman says. “So if I get three realtors giving me all three referrals, that's $6,000 of revenue to the company. Plus the first month's rent if you charge something like that. So I would wanna have a referral goal and then monitor how many I'm getting from all my partners.” The goal, too, is to be sure you’re getting as many referrals as you’re getting. How to maintain and nurture referral relationships All of this is pointless, Roman says, if you aren’t nurturing those relationships. “It's important that you stay in touch with the person you’re referring and the person you’re referring to,” Roman says. “This is a team effort, not an individual effort.” Similarly, when you receive a referral, let the referring partner know how it’s going. Let them know if it was successful and how you’re nurturing that referral. They’re more likely to continue referring people to you if they know you’ll really follow through and take care of that person. Tiered reward system for best performers If you’ve built a reward system (within legal boundaries), consider creating tiers for the highest-converting referrals. Companies do this all the time with employee referrals. Set up rewards that correspond with the stages of growth or future sales with that referral. Do they convert into clients? Do they last over six months or a year or multiple years? Thank your referral partners by gifting them rewards for these milestones. This practice also helps to highlight for them what a good vs. better vs. best referral looks like for you. Understand what’s working by talking to your top-performing referral program partners Roman shares an example of how to really invest in those referral relationships. “I was working with a staffing firm where the boss was one of my top three referral partners. She told me, ‘If you can help Tracy, you'd be helping me.’ I said, ‘Consider it done.’ So I would get together with Tracy at least once a month for a cup of coffee to give her resumes. And she’d go, ‘Oh, thanks, Jim.’ And that was it. Six months into it, something told me to ask her, ‘Are these good referrals?’ She says yes, yet again. So instead, I asked, ‘Tracy, what would be a better referral for you?’ She had an answer: ‘Oh, a better referral would be orders. Resumes are great, but when companies give me an order, and they want me to place the person, that’s the best thing you could do for me.’ Within weeks, I came across a company that was looking to fill an order. I hooked them up with Tracy and followed up afterward. She told me it was the biggest deal of her career.” Roman says it’s critical to ask not just “Is this going okay?” but “How could it be better?” Again, that helps you nurture and understand their needs, and it’s likely they’ll return the favor. Property management referral program best practices Okay, let’s review all we’ve learned from Jim Roman and make one last list of best practices. Here are some best practices for property management referral programs: Offer a valuable incentive: A strong incentive can motivate your existing clients to refer new business. Roman says, “A strong incentive from my experience is doing a great job for the referrals received. If you are going to give them monetary incentive, give them options.”‍ Keep it simple: Make it easy for clients to refer others by providing them with a simple and streamlined process. This could include a referral form or a unique referral link that they can share with others. Ask for this from your partners, as well.‍ Communicate regularly: Keep your clients informed about your referral program by communicating regularly via email or newsletters. This will keep your program top of mind and increase the likelihood that clients will refer others.‍ Leverage social media: Use social media to promote your referral program and encourage clients to share it with their followers. This can help you reach a wider audience and generate more referrals.‍ Follow up quickly: When a new referral comes in, follow up with them quickly to show that you appreciate the referral and are excited to work with them. Follow up with both sides.‍ Track results: Keep track of the referrals you receive and the incentives you offer. This will help you assess the success of your program and make adjustments as needed. In the end, it’s all about building meaningful, effective partnerships that benefit everyone in the long run. Get more property management tips, insights, and expert advice in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon April 10, 2023

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Marketing Ideas for Property Management Companies

When it comes to marketing ideas for property management business, the landscape has changed so much in the past few years. Digital marketing has phased out old practices and brought dynamic, exciting tools along with unique challenges. Effective Property management marketing will leverage those digital tools, while not losing the human touch that makes resident experience and engagement so effective. A property management marketing plan should include digital strategies, multiple channels, and goals for increasing your number of doors. Here we dive into the process of constructing a good marketing strategy for your property management company with 10 of the top marketing ideas for property management. We’re joined by Rodney Hays of Geekly Media (formerly RentBridge), who has spent a lot of time conducting marketing specifically for property managers, as well as Second Nature marketing professionals Carol Housel and Brandy Hammond. 10 Property Management Marketing Ideas To Grow Your Company We have 10 property management marketing ideas that leaders in the industry recommend for growing your PMC. They're cost-effective and shown to have high return on investment. 1. Create and Follow a Content Marketing Plan A big part of digital marketing for property management is content marketing, which is defined as media creation (videos, articles, social media) designed to inform rather than to persuade. A good content marketing strategy gives you access to potential clients in the places they are asking questions. This includes places like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google, where investors and potential investors consume real estate investment content that you can provide. The goal of content marketing is to grow your target audience and give them useful information that both adds value to their business and establishes your company as a subject-matter expert. So, what kind of content is useful in property management marketing? Here’s what Rodney Hays has to say: “[Real estate investors] are going to ask questions about lease agreements and tenant screening. They’re going to ask questions about evictions, emotional support animals, those types of questions are always going to come up.” 2. Invest in SEO to build Organic Traffic Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a website to send signals to search engines and their users to gain organic visibility. It helps extend your online presence. Search engines, mainly Google, are the number one place where people begin their search for information. Content hosted on your website that addresses the most common questions your target audience is asking can position you well on the search engine results page (SERP), leading to increased website traffic. So how do you find out what topics to build content around? SEO programs, such as Semrush and Ahrefs, have an incredible database of keywords and common search terms, along with insights for those terms such as how much competition exists in the rankings, how much search volume there is, and how often searches result in a click. You can also use the “people also ask” tab in the actual SERP to see what common questions are being asked. Then it’s just a matter of addressing the questions in a useful way to start increasing traffic to your website. A big part of SEO is identifying what your potential new clients are interested in. A good content marketing plan follows that up with useful content that addresses the questions and leverages the specific keywords associated with them. Useful is the keyword here. Google is smart, and the analysis it conducts on webpages is extensive, so it will know if you’re just writing some slop and jamming keywords into it. 3. Build a Content Distribution Strategy Okay, so now you’ve developed content that meets SEO requirements and hits on topics that bring value to your potential customer. What’s next? Now you need to build a high-quality content distribution strategy. In others words, figure out how to get your messaging in front of your target audience. A distribution strategy involves assessing where your primary audience is on a daily basis. You can likely reach them on social media platforms, email, direct mail, podcasts, regional conferences, local listings, and more. Identify what pieces of content best match each platform. For example, a longer form piece should be linked via social media with a catchy blurb or infographics to hook your readers. You can plan regular newsletters or other email campaigns or FAQs to leverage content, as well. A few of the best ideas for distributing your content: Share on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok Link to and reach out to real estate professionals and bloggers Ask to share gust posts on sites related to property management or real estate 4. Build an Email List Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience, drive new leads, and nurture existing ones. You can use email marketing tactics to increase sales and your bottom line. But it’s not always easy to nail email marketing on the target. According to MailChimp, the average open rate for property management emails is just under 20% and the click-through rate is less than 2%. Not great, we know. That’s why building the right email list can make all the difference. Creating a targeted email list requires a good amount of research, knowledge of your target market, and email marketing tools to help you get there. Digital marketing products like Hubspot, ZoomInfo, and Klaviyo can help you get there. 5. Host Networking Events For Brand Awareness Of course, digital isn’t everything – in-person events and community-building strategies work, especially in something as hands-on as property management. If you have the resources, hosting events can boost your brand awareness and company reputation in your area. Because property management is so regional – and creating a niche in the market is key to success – these highly targeted events work exceptionally well in the property management industry. A referral program is a great way to go about this, as long as its within legal regulations. 6. Invest in Online Advertisement Paid marketing efforts for property managers are more about visibility and awareness. They’re high-funnel and useful if you have a budget for them. Hays notes that Geekly clients opt for Facebook, LinkedIn, and sometimes Twitter as targeted social channels. Facebook and LinkedIn have far and away the most active property management discussions and, in addition to paid search, are where you can see the most value for your investment. When it comes to old- school paid marketing efforts, Facebook ads are among the best ways to advertise property management services. Ads on Facebook are pretty easy to run and include useful features for property managers such as geotargeting. “Facebook ads are a great gateway into paid ads, since Google ads typically require a much higher budget to get similar performance. Facebook in the past has had a lower cost per click, so you’re getting higher performance from it for less lift and less spend, which is why I recommend it as a really good starting point,” says Brandy Hammond, B2B Marketing Specialist at Second Nature. Certain ad platforms, including Facebook, also offer geotargeting and audience mirroring, which are useful to property managers who need to target specific audiences in specific regional areas. “One thing I do love about Facebook ads, like with any other kind of paid ads, is that you can geotarget. Especially with property management and real estate, it makes sense that you’re going to target a specific area because, depending on the scale of your PMC, you probably don’t have national properties,” continued Hammond. 7. Build and Execute a Social Media Marketing Strategy Your social media strategy should include connecting with and tagging important accounts in your area and industry, and building cross-links and cross-posts with other accounts that might have an audience with your target market. For every piece of content or event you plan, you need to map out how you will share it on social media. Rodney Hays of Geekly has opened a lot of industry news pages for clients and recommends sharing them across social channels whenever they’re updated. “Our customers will put their industry news page out there; they'll pull in like 15 or 16 new articles every month. And then, out of those 15 or 16, we will take eight of those and put a third-party link in it and send those out on social media as well. And I think that's done pretty well in bringing in some different traffic that you know, it's just another resource for the people that might be visiting your page,” says Hays. 8. Manage Your Online Reputation Your online reputation is made up of all the touchpoints anyone could have with your brand online. This includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Google Reviews, Yelp, and more. One of the biggest threats to online reputation is reviews. Your marketing plan should include regular maintenance and attention to your online reviews. How are people talking about you online in your comments section, Google Reviews, and Yelp Reviews? If you see any negative comments that have constructive feedback, make sure you reach out to the person and find out how you can improve or make it right. Respond to the review or comment publicly with a polite and professional tone. You can’t make everyone happy, but the way you deal with negative feedback goes a long way to protecting your online reputation. 9. Invest in Thought Leadership Content (Podcasts, Videos, Blogs) Many property managers maintain a constant stream of content through a website blog. Real-Time Leasing’s website has extensive content written by their CEO, Deb Newell, who is also a property management consultant. Others communicate useful content with podcasts, such as AHI Properties and Evernest (link to Andrew’s episode), both of which appeared on the Triple Win Property Management podcast. “Good content seizes opportunities you’ve identified through SEO or other forms of communications and delivers actual value to the readers. A holistic strategy covers both of those parts, and you’ll fail to realize the potential of your marketing efforts if you skip one of them,” says Second Nature Marketing Services Manager Carol Housel. A popular content curation strategy used by Geekly Media is the industry news page, an example of which can be found here. This is curated content. It’s not written by the property management company, but rather compiled from sources and shared all in one place, which still creates a lot of value and a reason for real estate investors to be on your website. 10. Build and Maintain Your Presence in Local Business Listings A point will come where a large portion of your new doors will come from referrals. People don’t usually get into real estate without talking to people, so word gets around. Welch-Randall, a property management firm based out of Ogden, Utah, attributes 92% of its new doors to referrals. This is the mark of a business with established authority reaping the benefits of the work it put in to create that trust. A big part of ensuring that you get those referrals is keeping a presence in local business listings. Make sure that people can easily find you, even if they hear of you through word-of-mouth. Stay top-of-mind with partners you’ve worked with, and keep your listings up to date. This is particularly useful in property management, where most of our work stays within specific local and regional areas. Final Thoughts Becoming an industry-leading property management company is about more than just the number of doors you manage. There is a saying in marketing that perception equals reality. If you want potential clients to perceive your company as an industry leader, you have to give them a reason to believe that you are. That’s the point of a marketing strategy that seeks to establish the company as an authority in the space. This is the end state of everything discussed above. This is the fruits of your labor. Real estate investors, especially new ones, above all else, are looking for expertise in the real estate field to guide them through the ownership of their assets. By achieving visibility and brand awareness via paid channels and SEO, and following that up with useful content that answers the questions most important to investors, you’re establishing your company as a trustworthy and knowledgeable option for investors. By answering the questions they have, you’re also driving them closer to a decision. And when you’ve provided them the answers, guess which PMC they’re most likely to want to work with.

Calendar icon March 29, 2023

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