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A Tech Executive's Guide to Rapidly Scaling Your Property Management Business

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Zac Maurais is a seasoned entrepreneur and co-founder of Sunroom, a company that has established itself as a leading partner to local property management owners and brokers seeking rapid business growth.

With a proven track record of scaling startups from seed stage to multimillion-dollar enterprises, Zac brings unparalleled expertise. In a few short years, he has played a pivotal role in expanding Sunroom to manage thousands of homes and achieve impressive revenue growth.

If you want to establish a profitable and high-growth property management portfolio, Zac’s time-tested growth hacks will help you reach the next stage in your business. In this article, we'll share his most effective strategies to help you take your business to the next level.

Before we get into the list, I want to say this might seem overwhelming, especially if you’re on a small team or a solo entrepreneur. If you’re unsure where to start and want to discuss this with someone on our team – book a consultation. Without further ado, let’s dive in! 

Run your property management firm more efficiently

To achieve sustainable growth, it is essential to build a strong foundation. Without it, growth can be a double-edged sword, resulting in customer churn and, ultimately, a leaky bucket. That's why getting your company fundamentals right from the start is crucial. In this section, we'll explore some key suggestions for nailing down those basics so that you can build a solid platform for future expansion.

Define your company’s SLAs for each department for accountability 

Your service level agreement (SLA) is the set of key performance indicators (KPIs) you monitor and stand behind that tell your property owner investors that you deliver high-quality service and can prove it with data. 

KPI example: “Take photos and get properties live within 48 hours 95% of the time.” 

Improve your hiring practices to land the best employees 

We utilize a proven methodology called the "Who Interview" to streamline our hiring process and identify top talent. This framework, inspired by the book "Who: The A Method for Hiring," involves creating a detailed scorecard for the role, assembling a roundtable team to evaluate candidates, and implementing a systematic approach to get to know potential hires.

Improve your training resources to get the most out of your team 

Start by brain-dumping all of the tribal knowledge your property managers have into a wiki. That way, you don’t have to keep asking the same questions. A tool like Guru can be useful for posting a searchable product for all your company Q&As. 

Communicate with your team effectively, even online 

Have you set up Slack yet? It’s standard at tech companies because it enables you to problem-solve in real-time. It’s helpful for company collaboration and keeping everyone in the loop within each department. 

Host essential company meetings to keep folks on the same page 

I get it, meetings can be annoying, especially if they don’t have an agenda or proper cadence. We’ve tested tons of formats over the years but have found what works best is the following: 

  • Town halls: We host these meetings every two weeks. We’ll do a quick general management update on KPI’s financials or quarterly goals. Then we hand it over to a department manager to give a spotlight on their department. Lastly, we’ll share critical updates and allow the team to ask questions. We’ve found it super helpful to engage with the entire company. 
  • Employee 1-1’s: I like to hold this every 1-2 weeks with people who report to me. I’ll ask them what’s on their mind and how they can be more impactful in their goals. The meeting is the employee’s, not yours. Let them drive the meeting and ask questions. 
  • Daily standups: 15-30 minutes to start your day. What did you do yesterday, what are you doing today, and what’s holding you back? It’s something engineering teams nearly always do within Scrum, but it applies to any organization. 

Set company goals and OKRs to chart a path for growth 

Clear and concise goals are vital to any successful company, and property management is no exception. John Doerr’s “Measure of What Matters” is a must-read for any business owner to establish effective goal-setting practices. You can quickly implement the same quarterly goal-setting methodology Google uses. Start simply and set one goal per quarter for the company and one for the key members of your team. This approach will provide a clear roadmap for you and your team to follow and ensure everyone is aligned and working toward a common purpose.

Continued reading: Book on Amazon 

Dig into your profit and loss statements to focus on profitability 

The growth-at-all-cost mentality is flawed – you want sustainability and profitable growth. The only way to do this is by looking at the numbers. 

Monthly you should be reviewing your P&L to see the following: 

  • What’s your revenue growth rate? As you book more revenues, how does this impact your gross margins? Are they improving? Generally, they should be. 
  • What expenses are eating into your gross profits? The easiest way to do this is to break things down into “unit economics” – for example, total costs/number of transactions. You can then look at each line item as a percentage of the revenue to stack rank the most significant inputs. 
  • How has seasonality impacted your business? How are you growing annually compared to last year at the same time? 

Want to go further? Talk to the crew at Profit Coach. They specialize in consulting for Property Manager’s financials. More automated platforms like Proper.AI aim to make understanding these accounting and business aspects easier. 

Inspire your employees by standing for something

Setting a mission, vision, and values is essential for team alignment. It’s important that values come directly from the employees. At Favor, we accomplished this by forming a “Culture Committee” to make self-explanatory, fun values that are true to us. Favor has a strong culture today with +50,000 delivery drivers and 125 employees. 

Get focused: Do you want to be a cafe that does everything from pancakes to steaks? Probably not. Jim Collins highlights in Good to Great that the best companies have a focused beachhead – an area where they strive to be the best, known as their “Hedgehog.” Applying this principle to your property management business requires saying no to specific properties or investors, adjusting the price of properties, or limiting the class of homes you’ll accept.

Expand your brokerage by getting licensed in more states

Your total addressable market may limit your ability to reach customers. Opening in more geographies is a more complex process, but it can be done! Over the last 2 years alone, we’ve opened up 10 more states giving us a huge advantage in selling ability. 

You probably remember getting spun up when you started your business. 

The steps are: 

  1. Set up an LLC
    - Purchase an E&O insurance policy
    - Get an EIN business ID from the state 
  2. Attach a broker license to the entity. 
  3. Get licensed by taking local regulatory tests.
    - Here’s a directory
    that gives you an overview of the process by state.  

💡Pro tips: 

  • Consider going to the states that are the top places to purchase SFR homes. A comprehensive list breaks this down by home price appreciation, cash flow ability, and more. 
  • The Sunbelt is red hot for expansion opportunities. 
  • Some states have reciprocity, meaning you can get licensed fairly quickly across several states that work together. 
  • Georgia and Florida are faster states to complete, whereas Arizona can be more cumbersome. 

Embrace new technology and services

The world is moving increasingly fast. Companies are investing tens of millions of dollars to solve specific business areas. These tools can save you and your team hundreds of hours and make you much more productive, happy and profitable. I know most of the founders of these companies, so I’m happy to stand behind them and what they do. 

A few of my favorite new tools worth considering: 

  • Property Meld: Maintenance request management 
  • RentCheck: Property inspections
  • Latchel: Handling tenant calls 
  • Lessen: Managing large construction and renovation projects 
  • LeadSimple: CRM for your sales efforts 
  • Rhino: Security deposit replacements
  • Sunroom: Leasing (how could I resist sharing?)

Raise money capital to fund your growth 

SBA Business Loans: Have you considered applying for an SBA loan? The interest rate is super low, and the way it’s set up gives you a ton of time to pay back the loan. It’s essentially free money for those who qualify. 

Start an SFR fund
You can set up a special-purpose vehicle and start a fund in your local market. After all, you know your city best, and why should institutional investors be the only ones doing this? SFR REITs are incredibly popular right now. Instead of owning one asset, funds can give your investors a more diversified set of assets and thus risk. Even a portfolio of 20 homes could be done with Entera or Roofstock to take the heavy lifting and more complicated aspects of asset management off your plate. 

Friends and family round
Property management and SFR investing are popular categories for investors. You can raise capital if you aim to do something aggressive, like purchasing other property management companies similar to Pure and Mynd. Consolidation is happening – eat or be eaten. 

Sunroom’s growth program
We have a program that offers up to $10k to help property managers grow their businesses. Read about it here.

Nail your property management company’s marketing  

Before diving into specific tactics, I encourage you to give yourself time and space to tinker. It sounds silly, but sometimes I’ll block off an hour of my day once a week to explore, dream and be creative. Sometimes it’s a wasted hour, and nothing valuable comes from it. Other times I walk away with a powerful idea we can use immediately. To grow, you need to prioritize growth and just start doing it. 

Create a differentiated, better experience for your customers

What can you do that no one else can do? To be blunt, many property management companies are overly generic. What can you do to stand out or offer your clients something different? 

Offer guarantees

A few ideas: What happens if a renter needs to get evicted? Will you cover the replacement cost? 
Was this home supposed to cashflow, what happens if it turns out to be lemon? Will you help the investor find another investment property free of charge? 

Host a podcast or go onto a podcast with other hosts 

You don’t need to be Joe Rogan to host a podcast. What’s the unique angle or topic you know much about and are excited to discuss? 

Here’s a resource
with nearly all the property management podcasts on iTunes. This can help you think about topics listeners like to hear and who to reach to get started.  If you’re considering starting a podcast, Riverside is the recording and editing tool most groups use today. 

Build a more compelling website 

I suggest using Webflow because it’s essentially a drag-and-drop tool, so it’s easy to design beautiful pages without an engineer. There are tons of templates you can download and use from Themeforest. Lastly, they have “categories,” a feature to programmatically build hundreds of web pages with a few clicks for SEO purposes. 

Test performance marketing 

Google Adwords and Instagram have become popular (and expensive). If you’re going to run a campaign, keep an eye out for your spending. 

Your projected profit margin for the lifetime of having a customer should be 3 times what you spend on marketing and sales. For example, if you plan on making $3,000 on a property owner in profits, you should spend at most $1,000 to acquire them. Also, monitor your payback period and keep it under one year. 

Improve your online reputation

Ask for Google reviews from happy renters and owners. It’s one of the first places people check before working with you. Be careful you are not soliciting too many reviews at the same time, Google may notice and hide them.

Set up a customer referral program 

Growing with existing customers is far easier than finding new ones. Many groups have found success not just by tapping into existing customers. Another idea is a referral program by tapping into sales-focused brokerage, which doesn’t offer property management. You could have a symbiotic relationship with them, where you’re helping each other in unique ways. 

Hire a property management growth consultant

Companies like Doorgrow, FourandHalf, and RevUp offer some of the best programs tailored specifically for property managers and provide valuable insights to help you succeed at growth. By partnering with an expert in top-of-funnel activities, you can benefit from their knowledge and experience to optimize your marketing and sales strategies, drive more leads, and ultimately boost your bottom line.

Improve your sales efforts 

Win with speed – optimize your response times 

The average property investor calls 3-5 property managers. As they say, you must be quick over phone calls and texts because the early bird gets the worm. Data shows the companies that get back to customers immediately or within 15 minutes win substantially more deals. 

Track your conversion funnel 

List out each step a new owner needs to go through. For example: 

  • Phone call made (100 unique owners) 
  • Demo time booked (80 unique owners) 
  • Demo completed (60 unique owners) 
  • Contract sent (50 unique owners) 
  • Contract signed (10 unique owners) 
  • Property listed (9 unique owners) 

Look at where the most significant drops happen. In this fictional funnel, you’ve identified you’re losing most of your customers between contracts sent and signed. When you identify a problem, you can test ways to optimize that specific problem area. You could run a test to see if there’s less of a drop-off if you review the contract with the owner over a call instead of simply sending a DocuSign, for example. 

Create something valuable for your potential customers 

  • Prospect on Zillow to individual investors and explain the benefits of working with your firm. Provide them a free CMA report or something more involved, like a property condition report.  
  • Do you have a unique insight into investment properties? Write a letter to a prospect investor about what you are looking for in a property and how you avoid traps. I’m not talking about a generic article. How can you give your customer a specific example that’s personalized and hyper-relevant? 

Hire an additional sales BDR 

  • Consider hiring someone off Upwork, in Mexico, or VPM Solutions because it’s more cost-effective. 
    Deel is valuable for global HR and payments if you hire someone directly. 
  • A/B test several scripts to understand what value proposition works best when talking to attract investor clients. 
  • Use tax records to find the property owner’s contact information. 
  • Try using Hubspot, Dialpad, or Slybroadcast for outbound calls to track productivity. 
  • Test different quotas and compensation commission plans. 

Build a more compelling marketing presentation

You worked hard to get a prospective investor on the call. Now what? Drive them to a demo where you can explain your company’s mission, discuss what makes you unique and KPIs to support that, and sell them emotionally. Everyone loves a good story. 

Here are a few resources to go deeper into this topic: 

Network with your industry peers 

Get involved in Industry Facebook Groups

I’m amazed at how chatty some of the groups can be. These pages can be a wealth of knowledge, friendship, and camaraderie. 

Here are a few Facebook groups you can look into joining: 

Attend industry conferences

NARPM is most popular with local property management companies, and IMN is starting to make a splash within the larger-scale portfolios. This April, we’re also attending the PMM Con in Nashville. These conferences provide excellent resources, speaking engagements, industry knowledge, and vendor engagement. 

Here’s a panel from this fall to give you a flavor of the content you’ll hear at these events. 

Grow, grow, grow

I hope that list was helpful! Every day we wake up thinking about how to help companies like yours grow and succeed. We’d love to learn more about your company and take your growth to the next level. We’ve partnered with many companies like yours to double their door count by providing technology and operational efficiencies to the leasing process. 

Learn more about Sunroom or set up a meeting here.