Last modified on February 28th, 2023
By Brittany Benz
Because single-family rental (SFR) owners are so varied, your potential customers may range from brand new to the SFR space to incredibly seasoned. Regardless of ownership and rental experience, building strong relationships is essential when it comes to adding SFR owner customers to your business.
To accomplish this, we must evaluate every step of the SFR owner customer journey and how our efforts connect along the way. In other words, successful relationship building requires efforts beyond the traditional marketing funnel — we need to understand not only quantitative end results, but also the qualitative interactions that affect those results.
Below are four key steps that can help your business attain SFR owners more effectively, as well as a few of our top recommendations to incorporate along the customer acquisition journey.
Step 1: Attract
In order to get more customers, you need to have a clear picture of exactly who you are trying to attract. No two SFR owners are the same and not every owner will be your ideal customer, either.
To better define criteria for your desired prospects, Matthew Kaddatz, Sr. Director of Product at AppFolio, recommends creating an ideal customer profile (ICP). An ICP is a short overview that articulates the specific type of customer you want to add to your roster.
By answering a few insightful questions, you can create your ICP and better understand how to reach and communicate with potential new clients:
- Who is your ideal target customer?
- What qualities or criteria make this customer your ideal one?
- Why are you the right choice for them?
- What are their major business pain points?
- From your ICP’s perspective, what differentiates you from competitors?
- How can you best communicate those differentiators to them?
During the “attract” phase, marketing plays a big part in the customer journey by generating audience awareness. Although your actual marketing plan should be shaped by previous performance analysis, a completed ICP can help inform how to more accurately apply your budget toward a mix of marketing efforts.
Examples of the most popular and widely used marketing efforts to reach audiences include:
- A professional, usable, and mobile-friendly website
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Direct mail
- Email drip campaigns
- Phone campaigns
- Targeted digital marketing ads
- Asking customers to leave reviews on review sites
- Responding to both positive and negative reviews
- Social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook
- Community events
- Participating in local community councils
Review both your ICP and marketing mix regularly to ensure they’re actively helping you attract more ideal SFR owners, and adjust efforts as needed.
Step 2: Acquire
Once you have a prospect’s attention, you need to move quickly and respond to inbound inquiries as soon as possible. Otherwise, they may lose interest, or jump to a competitor if you take too long to reply.
In addition to showing a prospective customer that you care about their business and their time, responding promptly also helps you initiate better, more meaningful conversations. During your initial response, be sure to:
- Ask open-ended questions and practice active-listening, so you can tailor your recommendations to their needs
- Learn what their goals and pain points are
- Explain how you can help them achieve their specific goals and solve their unique pain points
If it feels like a prospect isn’t the right fit for your business, it’s okay to respectfully say so. Furthermore, it’s okay to negotiate customer expectations, if they seem unrealistic. The more honest and upfront you are during the acquisition stage, the healthier your relationship with your SFR owners will be in the long run.
Even if a prospect doesn’t sign up right away to work with you, continue to follow up periodically in meaningful, relevant, and personalized ways. Some ideas include sending a monthly newsletter, forwarding resources or articles that are relevant to their business, or staying connected on LinkedIn. After all, you never know when a lapsed lead may require future assistance, so it’s always good to maintain consistent, professional relationships.
Step 3: Onboard
Now comes the fun part: Your SFR owner is fully invested and ready to hand over the keys to their property. To get them fully ready as a customer, set them up for success with a thorough and customized onboarding process:
- Extend a warm welcome: Send a personalized appreciation gift, along with an owner packet with key details and resources they will need as a new customer.
- Reinforce your role: Establish yourself as the expert, reassure them you care about their property, and confirm that they’re in great hands.
- Introduce the tech: Take time to walk through any technology they may need to use as a customer and provide access to your software and communication channels on Day One. If you have an online owner portal, show new owners how to access reports, ask questions, and review financials.
Step 4: Nurture and grow
The best property management businesses actively work on strengthening and growing relationships with their customers on a consistent basis by:
- Establishing a standard set of operating procedures: Standard operating procedures help ensure you’re providing great service to owners and are managing your customers the same way.
- Creating automated nurture workflows: With property management technology, some of your relationship-building processes may be automated with nurture-specific workflows that can elevate the entire customer experience. Automation also relieves your team of manual work and minimizes the risk of follow-ups falling through the cracks.
- Scheduling in-person facetime: You can also strengthen owner relationships and show your appreciation by hosting in-person events such as owner BBQs and regular happy hours. Meeting face-to-face encourages both work and personal interactions that keep the human element in a successful partnership.
Ongoing reputation- and relationship-building with both customers and your industry peers is also key during the nurture and growth stage since referrals can be one of the strongest — and most effective — marketing tools. Consider reaching out to current satisfied customers and asking them to leave reviews and refer your business to others. Work to keep your organization top-of-mind and learn from others in the industry by attending investor clubs and real estate conferences.
In the end, acquiring new single-family rental owners can take time. But when done correctly, your efforts can lead to satisfied, lifelong customers as well as the sustained growth of your property management business. Want more SFR strategies and actionable insights? Download our guide below.