While growth is the goal for many property management agencies, the costs of onboarding owners, advertising their properties, and attracting new tenants means keeping hold of existing listings is just as important when it comes to staying in business.
But in an era of increased competition, growing owner expectations, and challenges from market disruptors such as Airbnb, this is proving harder than ever.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to agencies who want to lock in landlord loyalty with top-quality service and cut-above offerings. Here are our tips to make sure changing property managers isn’t on your hard-won owners’ agendas.
One common issue that prompts property owners to look at changing property managers is poor communication practices. Although every owner will have their own preferences when it comes to how much they want to hear from their property manager, it’s a safe bet they’ll want at least some updates on their investment property, even if everything is running smoothly.
Of course, with a large property portfolio, it can be challenging to keep all of your owners in the loop. This is where property management software can come into play. Most modern systems, including Console Cloud, offer a range of features to make staying in touch simple and efficient. These include customisable templates for routine events such as lease renewals, and the option to send emails and SMS from within the software.
You can also take advantage of self-serve systems, such our Owner Portal, which allows your customers to instantly access up-to-date information about their properties without ever having to pick up the phone. This provides an additional layer of service with no extra effort on your part, so it’s the perfect solution to keeping owners informed for an already time-poor property manager.
Effectively managing maintenance issues is one of the easiest ways to make owners less likely to consider changing property managers. An investment property is generally the largest purchase your owners will ever make outside of their own home, and as a property manager, you play a key role in keeping that investment secure.
Being on the ball with property maintenance has several important benefits when it comes to owner retention. While general wear and tear is inevitable, solving minor issues before they become major problems can save on extra spending further down the line, as well as helping to identify serious issues that might otherwise remain hidden.
Equally, a well-maintained property will be more attractive to tenants, both current and prospective, ensuring your owners can rely on consistent, and likely higher, income.
Effective maintenance management hinges on two things: regular property inspections and communicative tenants. Luckily for property managers, there are tools to help with both. The Console App, for example, allows you to take and upload detailed notes and pictures on your smartphone, which are then immediately available in Console Cloud for you, or another property manager in your office, to review. Similarly, the Console Tenant app makes it quick, easy, and convenient for tenants to report maintenance issues, so you can take appropriate action with all the information in hand.
Downward pressure on commissions can make it tempting for property managers to make up the difference in regular and one-off fees and charges. But unless the reasons for these fees are clearly articulated and your owners feel that they’re justified, they’re more likely to start looking at changing property managers instead.
Make sure your owners are clear about what your agency does and doesn’t charge for, so there are no unpleasant surprises. And if a property owner does require clarification on fees, take the time to run through their statement with them, so you can frame things more positively and account for the extra value you’re providing.
Owners have higher expectations than ever before and are more than willing to change property managers if they don’t get the level of service they require. That means alongside the usual tenancy management—leasing, rent collection, and property inspections—anything extra you can provide is well worth the effort.
For example, as a property manager, you have incredible insight into the local market, both in terms of the properties available and the rental rates they can attract. Use this knowledge to your owners’ advantage by recommending realistic rent increases to boost their income reliably over time.
Another crucial way to demonstrate your expertise and competence to your owners is reducing their risk by ensuring all of your properties are up to date on compliance items, such as pool fencing and smoke alarms. Proving that you can be relied on to effectively manage these issues will limit liability for your owners, keep tenants safe and happy, and show that you’re proactive.
We’ve talked about the importance of customer experience (CX) before, but it bears repeating: we now live in a CX economy, and the successful property management agencies of the future will be the ones who embrace that change.
How does this translate to the everyday duties of a property manager?
It means making it as simple as possible for owners to become your customers, being extra-responsive to their needs, providing a customisable property management offering, and delivering greater value than ever.
While this is no small ask, making the transition towards a more CX-oriented property management agency certainly isn’t out of reach, either. First, perform a CX audit and examine how effective your current processes and systems are when it comes to keeping your owners happy. Then, use your findings to develop a strategy that allows you to enhance your CX with the goal of improving customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.
No matter how experienced, attentive, and talented you are, it’s inevitable that sometimes your owners will consider changing managing agencies. And while it’s not always possible to prevent it, there are tools at your disposal to help you make the attempt.
Tracking NPS, or net promoter score, is one of these. Essentially, NPS measures your customers’ level of satisfaction and loyalty. High scores mean happy owners, while low scores indicate you may soon be losing customers.
Importantly, because the buying cycle in property management is much slower than in other industries, low NPS scores don't necessarily spell out immediate doom and gloom for your agency. While they’re not ideal, if you act quickly enough, you may be able to reverse the trend.
Equally, NPS tracking also allows you to identify your most satisfied customers, so you can reach out to them for testimonials.
While there is a range of NPS tracking options available on the market, Console Cloud comes with its own in-built tool, Yardstick, which you can read more about here.
Want to read more? Discover what we’ve added to Console Cloud in the last year or check out our freshly overhauled owner statements.