by Lucinda Dean
22nd June, 2020
Why communication is key to protecting your most valuable asset
Your letting pool is where you scoop the real profit from your management rights business, so it pays to protect, defend and grow it.
Keeping your owner-investors on-side and happy should always be your number one priority because without their units in your letting pool, your business risks going under. That is why it is essential to always communicate your commitment to their investment, because their investment is your profit.
Quarterly newsletters and bi-annual phone calls will not cut it unless you understand this simple marketing principle: ‘know who you’re talking to’. Understanding what is important to your owner-investor clients, and how to talk to them, is the key to effective business communication.
Being someone who understands the power of words, I thought it prudent to talk to Jenni Hansen, director of JJH Management Solutions, about how effective client communication can not only safeguard, but even increase, your business profitability.
Here are some questions and answers to steer you towards business success:
Q: What are your six steps to protect, defend and grow your letting pool?
A: The key point is to know your client. This is crucial to your business. Investor owners have grown with the industry and you need to be able to meet their needs and demands as the industry evolves. Your committee is key to your business and you must be able to demonstrate your ability to adapt and adjust with the demands of the complex and the needs of the committee.
Communication is also key. It is such a simple concept but difficult to achieve. If you know your clients, then you know how to communicate with them. However you choose to communicate, whether via phone, email or newsletters, always make it informative and relevant to your client’s investment. Use relevant statistics, be knowledgeable in what is happening in your suburb, and above all, be honest. You can ask your investors if they need anything from you, be prepared they may require something from you that may take some input. However, your investor will appreciate your efforts.
Always follow the rules. Make sure you are signed up for e-newsletters from industry bodies. Take the time to read those newsletters and pass on relevant information to your investors. You will be required by your committee and investors to assist in disseminating information to them from different legislative bodies. Talk to your local service providers – fire, lifts, etc. They are very welcome to help you understand what is required. One useful document I have developed is an Owners Handbook. This is so helpful to new investors and it also sets you apart from your competitor.
Understanding your complex is key to having a collaborative and cohesive relationship with your committee. You are the ‘one-stop-shop’ option for all owners in your complex. You can disseminate information to your investors, and residents who live in the complex.
Your point-of-difference will make you stand out from another agent. You are not just another agent; you are the onsite expert of your complex, so shout about it. Always look for ways to have a sustainable competitive advantage, whether it be digital technology, be approachable to all clients, host a morning tea. Prioritise your clients.
Not everyone knows everything about everything, so you should seek assistance from industry bodies and consultants. Sometimes we get caught being ‘in’ the business and lose sight of the business. So, step back, take a breath, and pick up the phone and ask for assistance.
Q: What are the key ingredients to effective client communication?
A: I find the best approach to any communication with any stakeholder in my business is to be honest, informative, and meaningful. I like to benchmark myself so that I can see if there are any shortfalls that I need to address. I communicate that to my stakeholders; it demonstrates that I have their interests in my sight.
Q: How do I determine my point-of-difference and why is it important?
A: This is your investment too, you have invested significant dollars, so you need to understand the business that you have purchased. You need to relate to your clients and make them feel confident that you prioritise their investment. ‘Value-adding’ does not need to cost the earth, it may be a simple as FaceTiming with your clients during your next inspection. It costs nothing but adds great value to your relationship.
You always want your clients to contact you before making any decisions on their investment. Sounds simple, however, this is all about managing the relationship and setting realistic expectations to everyone.
Q: How frequently should I be communicating with my clients, and by what means?
A: This is never an easy answer. It is not a one-size-fits all scenario. Once you determine who your client is, you should be able to determine how they want you to communicate with them. I like the personal touch; I like to call my clients quarterly. I make sure that I have relevant information to discuss with them. I then follow up with a quarterly newsletter. I also ask clients what they would like information on. I may pick 5-to-10 clients to email and ask what they would like to know about in the next newsletter. You will normally get a reply from one or two clients. This is great, and you can incorporate that into your next newsletter. Clients like to see their queries answered.
Q: What’s the importance of having a full real estate license – and the benefit of communicating that to my clients?
A: You want to maintain a full license to have the flexibility of letting and getting involved in sales. You do not necessarily have to be involved, but if you are going to get involved, then you will have more control over the ebb and flow of your letting pool. You will have a greater connection with investor-owners, particularly those who are thinking of selling, and hopefully they will come to you with their sales listing.
Q: Why do I need to keep abreast of industry rules and legislation?
A: If you receive a visit from the Office of Fair Trading, and in all likelihood you will at some time, your paperwork needs to be in order so as you do not receive a Breach Notice or worse, a fine. You always need to be compliant with legislation, this is the lifeblood of your business. Recently there have been changes to the Residential Tenancy legislation, something we have never experienced before. It has never been more crucial to keep abreast of this information.
Q: What tips or resources do you suggest for creating newsletter content?
A: There are some great websites that follow trends and statistics, you can gain data from these sites. I like to remind clients often of the importance of landlord’s insurance. There are organisations that you can engage to write your newsletter for you for a fee. If you are not fantastic at writing, and let’s be honest, some newsletters you’ve seen are cringeworthy, it may be well worth engaging a good editor to put your newsletter together. If you are great at creating engaging content, then go with it.
Always remember to be:
What content should my newsletter include?
- What proactive work the building managers have been doing in the building/grounds.
- Unit sales in the building, what price (other unit owners will always want to know how their investment is going).
- Property reports for sales, how their property is going compared to the rest of the suburb or town or region.
Property reports for rentals, how their property is going compared to the rest of the suburb or town or region.
If it is a holiday building, occupancy percentage and rates comparison for the suburb/region – you can get this from your local tourist bureau.
Upcoming events in the building such as barbeques for unit owners and other relationship-building get togethers.
Upcoming events in the town or region.
Promoting the closed Facebook group, you have created for stakeholders as a digital means to communicate.
Positive things other unit owners have done to increase the value of their unit such as refurbishments or installing air conditioning.
Industry updates with links to relevant articles.
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