Just like creating a beautiful garden takes water, maintenance, and attention to get the desired results, so too, with your business. The following tips will help you to create relationships that will flower, grow, and stay green (and bring you green) for the long run.
1. Communicate (water)
You can’t have a relationship without communication. Whether you have a monthly newsletter or reach out to your clients quarterly by phone it is vital to communicate on a consistent and regular basis with your clients. Property owners often assume “no news is good news” but you don’t want them to think of you as always asking for money or relaying a problem. Create a positive relationship where you are looking out for them and their property. Communicate regularly. If you are out and about drive by the rental and take a few outside pics and send to the owner. Set up an annual meeting where you review their property and their goals for it. This will allow you to put a plan in place for maintenance, lease renewal, or eventual sale of the property. Without communication your relationships will wilt and die.
2. Own It (maintenance)
No matter how many processes and procedures are in place we are human, and mistakes do happen. It is imperative to own the mistake and not cover it up. I have learned over the decades that people are very forgiving if you are upfront about what went wrong, take responsibility, and explain how you fixed it, and what you have put in place, so the mistake won’t repeat itself.
3. Weed/Prune Your Portfolio (maintenance)
It is important to know who your ideal clients are and who you want to serve. It is ok and advisable to prune and weed out certain clients that don’t fit with your current business model. If you are no longer the best fit for them it is your fiduciary responsibility to close them out and ideally refer them to someone who is a better fit. This is sound business practice and what you need to do to cultivate a healthy garden and business.
4. Follow Through (attention)
Property management is all about attention to detail and follow up. To build trust with your clients, you must do what you say you will do, and let owners know when tasks are completed. Always close the loop on a project. This takes focus and attention much like growing a garden. Before you move on to new tasks it is necessary to close the prior task. Checklists are great for ensuring things don’t fall through the cracks.
5. Get to Know the Person Behind the Property (attention)
Property management is a relationship driven business. Try viewing your clients not as the property owner but as a friend that you are helping. When we shift how we view the relationship to a place where we are an advisor, we begin to see our client in a different light. How can you help them get the best return on their investment? How can you protect them from liability? How can you help them secure their estate? Become that trusted friend that can recommend other professionals such as estate planning attorneys, tax advisors, or real estate professionals who are knowledgeable in 1031 exchanges.
People like to do business with people they like, know and trust. Part of nurturing a relationship is being able to show you took the time to do something special just for them. Acknowledge life events by sending flowers, cards, or offering to be of service outside of work.
I had a client who lost his wife of 52 years and when his rental became vacant, I met him at the property with a selection of curtains to try out. This is something he and his wife would have done together. It only took me an hour on a Saturday. It is the time, effort and attention that makes relationships special. Find ways to get to know your clients beyond the rental. Make your clients part of your community and property management family.
Water your relationships through constant communication, own mistakes, and close out clients that aren’t the right fit by performing annual maintenance with your portfolio. Pay attention to your relationships by following through on what you say you will do and getting to know your clients on a personal level. Nurture your relationships and your business will blossom.