Last modified on May 10th, 2021
By Brittany Benz
We often hear about the need for property managers to have strong relationships with their residents, however one of the most vital relationships is the owner/property manager relationship. Owners play a critical role in your property management business, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re constantly working to build upon and strengthen those relationships. Additionally, if your portfolio contains numerous single-family rental homes, you’re likely managing many owners with different personalities and needs, making investing in these relationships even more imperative.
As a property management business, your reputation is only as good as the services you provide, and in the end, it’s credibility that helps you to retain your current owners and attract new ones. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the single-family rental owner/property manager relationship and show you how you can build credibility and satisfaction.
The Disconnect Between Single-Family Owners and Property Managers
The relationship between single-family owners and property managers has long been a complicated one. Property managers who are managing many single-family rental homes might find it difficult to keep up with the needs of all of their owners, which generally results in things falling through the cracks, long response times, and frustration on both sides.
Due to this, owners often say the reason they don’t have a strong relationship with their property management company is because of a lack of clear communication and trust. These owners feel out of the loop when it comes to their properties, and are unable to truly understand the value their property management partner brings. Not to mention, if issues arise with residents, owners who feel out of the loop often believe that their property managers tend to always take the resident’s side, and fail to see things from their point of view.
All of this leads to an erosion of the owner/property manager relationship to the point that the owner begins to look elsewhere, or decides to forego using a property management business altogether.
What Single-Family Owners Want
To improve the owner/property manager relationship you first need to fully understand owners’ needs and to see the world from their perspective. Below are just a few of the things owners want from their property management company:
- Peace of mind that their properties are being managed professionally
- Transparency to what’s going on
- Access to data and information about performance
- Personalized customer service and attention to detail
- To make better-informed decisions that drive revenue
- The opportunity to grow their portfolio
Debbie Willis of P.B. Bell says when it comes to owners they usually fall into two categories, and if you can effectively appeal to both kinds of owners that’s how you’ll win.
“Some property owners are very hands on and want to be a part of creating the strategy, while others would rather their management company take the lead. It’s the ability to adapt to the wants and needs of both types of owners in which you’ll find success.” —Debbie Willis, P.B. Bell
Sometimes there can be a fine line between an owner being involved and an owner micromanaging. Establishing your credibility early in your owner relationship will set the tone and show the owner that you’re the expert and there’s no reason to hover over you. Read on to find out how you can build trust and credibility from the get-go.
8 Ways to Build Credibility & Satisfaction Among Single-Family Owners
Retain your current owners and attract new clients by following these key tips.
1.) Make a Stellar First Impression
The first place the majority of owners look when they’re searching for a property management company is online, which means your website is the very first interaction they will have with your company. If your site is outdated, hard to navigate, or is lacking in any area, then it could be deterring potential owners. Take time to invest in building a website that’s professional, modern, and polished.
Shea McGrath of Carefree Property Management says having a modern website has been a huge differentiator for their business and enabled them to sign on more owners.
“When I’m talking to potential clients, I’ll ask them to look at our website. They are more inclined to go with us because we don’t have an older website that looks outdated. The new look has even attracted a lot of owners.”—Shea McGrath, Carefree Property Management
In addition, make sure your business has a strong social presence on LinkedIn and Facebook — the more platforms your owners can engage with your business, the better. Along with a top-notch website and social presence, you should also have marketing campaigns with messaging that is tailored to owners in the form of ads.
2.) Streamline Communication
As mentioned previously, communication is a major pain point for owners when interacting with their property management company. You can boost communication and increase your response time by utilizing modern tools, such as an online owner portal with built-in texting and email.
This way your owners will be able to reach you without having to call the office or leave a message, which not only increases their satisfaction, but frees up your team to focus on delivering better service.
3.) Foster Trust & Transparency
Trust is the foundation of any good relationship, especially in property management. Show your current owners and prospective clients you are reliable and trustworthy by sharing professional, customizable reports that they can view from anywhere at any time through an online portal.
Along with sharing reports, you should also hold regular check-ins to go over key details and to provide them with any updates about their property. This way they can truly see the value your business is bringing the table. If owners have questions, be sure to follow-up in a timely manner to reassure them you’re putting their needs first and doing all you can to maintain transparency.
4.) Stay Neutral
Mitigating disputes is an inevitable part of property management, between residents, owners, and your team, it’s not always easy to make everyone happy. However, when a conflict does arise, it’s best to stay neutral and hear all parties involved.
For instance, if a resident complains about a maintenance issue, handle the matter professionally and calmly, and be sure to listen to both the resident and the owners to develop a fair resolution. The best way to avoid conflict is to be proactive. Try and defuse potential issues well in advance before they escalate by over communicating and being attentive.
5.) Let Your Customers Speak for You
Today almost everyone looks to online reviews to help make a decision. By sourcing and publishing client testimonials and reviews on your website and social platforms, you can instantly build credibility. The more reviews you feature, the more likely prospective owners will see you as a trusted and well-managed company, so be sure to ask your current owners to leave online reviews of their experience with your team.
If you ever receive a negative review, then respond to it promptly and offer your phone number or email address to take the conversation offline. Once you’ve had a chance to resolve the issue, return to the original review to leave an update, so others can see the matter was handled professionally.
6.) Highlight Your Strengths
What does your company do well? Have you recently won any awards? Does your team have unique certifications? Be your own advocate by displaying any certifications, memberships, or awards directly on your website. This will not only impress your current owners, but make you stand out from the crowd in the digital space.
To further build the relationships with your current owners and demonstrate your expertise, you can showcase any property updates, accolades, company news, or market trends in a monthly owner newsletter.
Additionally, if your company is involved in a local charity, then highlight your efforts and invite owners to get involved. Giving back is something everyone can participate in and will instantly show owners your business cares about the community. For more ideas on how to build a mission-driven property management company listen to this podcast episode.
7.) Provide Growth Opportunities
As a property manager, you’re in a unique position to help your owners find opportunities they may otherwise be unaware of. You can uncover these opportunities by leveraging software with built-in analytics to show owners how their properties are performing, so they can make better-informed decisions and grow their portfolio. When owners see you are prioritizing bigger picture initiatives and looking for ways to help them increase profitability, they will be excited about your partnership and want to stay with your company.
A system like AppFolio can provide you with the data you need to show owners exactly how their properties are performing and how your business is helping them succeed. Derek Shanks of Northwoods Property Management says the analytics features within AppFolio have ultimately enabled his team to bring more value to owners, “We can statistically prove to our owners that we occupy units faster.”
8.) Show Your Appreciation
A little appreciation goes a long way. Something as small as a handwritten thank you note or personalized gift can mean a lot to your owners and set you apart from the competition. You could also consider hosting owner appreciation events to allow all of your owners to meet and spend time getting to know your team.
When you take a moment to see the world from your owners’ shoes, it’s easier to understand their wants, needs, and pain points. By investing in your owner relationships and providing modern, mobile tools, like those available in AppFolio, you can gain their trust and build credibility for your business. When owners see the value your property management company brings and are satisfied, they will be more likely to refer you to others, which attracts more owners, and ultimately drives profitability and growth for your business.
Work on implementing the tips shared above to attract more clients, build stronger owner relationships, and create a stand-out customer experience. To learn more about how you can leverage technology to stay competitive in the single-family rental market space, take a look at this article: A Promising Future: How the Single-Family Rental Market Has Changed & Where It’s Going.