Last modified on September 26th, 2023
By Matthew Kaddatz
In the first article of this series, I talked about how you can acquire new rental owners and scale sustainably. After you attract and acquire new owners, it’s critical to set them up for success with a thorough, customized onboarding process. In this article, I’ll share some strategies you can implement to efficiently and effectively onboard new owners. Keep reading to see how you can provide a great experience.
This article was originally published in 2023 September edition of the NARPM Residential Resources Magazine. It is part two of a three-part series.
Benefits of onboarding owners successfully
Having onboarded owners at my own property management company in the past and now hundreds of customers onto AppFolio Property Manager, I know firsthand how important onboarding is and the impact it can have on your customers and business. When you onboard new owners effectively from day one, they can clearly see the value of working with you, which sets the tone for the entire relationship and prevents churn in the long run. A good onboarding experience also confirms they made the right choice and proves it will be a mutually beneficial partnership.
Onboarding best practices
Below are a few best practices to keep in mind as you onboard new owners.
1.) Build a standardized program: Make your onboarding program consistent to provide a standard of service customized to the needs of your ideal customer profile (see last month’s article for more details).
2.) Leverage technology to streamline the process: Consider implementing technology that allows video messages, pre-scheduled communications, and information intake. Also, leverage technology to codify your process, and assign owners to each step.
3.) Create and share an owner packet: To enhance and personalize the experience for owners, create and share an owner packet with them. Your owner packet should include a marketing overview that walks them through what your property management company offers, the technology it uses, and key details about how your business will handle their properties and communicate with them. Be sure to take time to review it with them so you can answer any questions.
4.) Set clear expectations and timelines: Align on timelines of what needs to be done, when, and by whom so everyone is on the same page and understands what will happen if things shift.
5.) Embrace a customer-first mindset: Check in with owners throughout the process to understand what’s going well and where they might be stuck so you can help when needed.
6.) Gather data and make improvements: Compile notes from your team to find out how the onboarding process is going and what areas require improvement.
7.) Continue to onboard as needed: Onboarding is not a one-time thing. Keep onboarding your owners throughout the customer lifecycle as your offerings change or your customers purchase additional services.
Determine team roles and responsibilities
Depending on how you decide to organize your team — by department or by portfolio — you’ll have a different set of team members that will be part of the onboarding process. It’s important to assemble this team with clear lines of responsibility. If you don’t have a plan for who is in charge of what, teams may duplicate work or miss important steps, which minimizes efficiency and confuses owners.
Once you have your plan set, make sure to clearly (and regularly) communicate to your owners who is responsible and how they can get in contact with that person. If owners are not communicating with the right person after multiple reminders, ask yourself how to make it easier. As mentioned previously, implementing built-in digital communication tools like text and email can ensure clear lines of communication.
Manage expectations and communicate regularly
In addition to determining roles and responsibilities with your team, it’s critical to manage expectations and set outlined timelines when onboarding owners.
To start, you need to give time and space during the sales process. You might have some owners who want to sign right after talking with you, while others may need more time to evaluate. Once the conversation moves along, set target dates for when a contract needs to be signed and how quickly you can begin managing the property.
Once they’re officially on board, you must get them up and running with your processes and technology. The more effort and preparation you put into the start of the onboarding process, the less likely you are to be answering basic questions repeatedly.
Finally, you’ll want to communicate with your owners regularly. I recommend you check in with them once a quarter at a minimum regarding the performance of their properties; this will allow you to get a temperature check on how they’re feeling and make any adjustments. Be sure to carve out some time at least twice a year to have more strategic conversations where you use your expertise to recommend opportunities for growth. In these conversations, talk about updates they could make to their property and investment opportunities you think might be a good fit.
You can also communicate on a more frequent, one-to-many basis by emailing all of your owners every month to let them know about upcoming events you’re hosting, key dates they should be aware of, and trends you’re seeing in the market that may affect their performance. Property management software with bulk emailing capabilities can allow you to do this at scale.
Onboarding owners effectively can help you foster strong relationships and set them up for success. Put the tips I shared into action so you can improve your owner onboarding process, and be sure to stay tuned for the final article in this series where I’ll offer insights and personal advice on how you can strengthen owner relationships. If you want to learn more about growing your business, download the free guide below.