Finding and keeping responsible and respectful tenants is the main goal of a successful property management team. Since this is one of the most valuable services a property management company provides, it is important to do your homework to understand their recruitment and retention strategies.
In any property management interview, make sure you ask questions to learn more about the following topics:
The best property management companies will use many methods to list your rental property. You should expect your listing to be on numerous free and paid websites. Some companies even use Multiple Listing Services (MLS) that allow them to post to sites such as Trulia and Zillow at once. Here are a few online and offline channels to expect for your property advertisements:
- Property team’s website
According to TransUnion’s SmartMove rental statistics, 87% of renters place rent price and other costs as the top influencer when choosing a rental property. Lease terms follow closely behind at 76%, with unit size and details about the area and neighborhood at 73%.
If you want to go above and beyond, seek out the property team’s previous marketing and advertising efforts to see how they align with what renters care about. Anyone can list basic information on a website – you need a company that knows how to make an impact with their marketing efforts. The ads should not only include all the information required for prospective tenants, but it should also be engaging and fun to draw attention in the first place.
A property team’s current vacancy rate is a clear indicator of their ability to get and keep tenants. If their current vacancy rate is high, it is safe to say your experience will not be different.
It is also important to ask how long, on average, it takes them to fill vacancies. If they tell you anything over one month, consider that a clue to keep looking.
Prospective Tenant Leads
A property management company who closely tracks their marketing and advertising campaigns will be able to quickly provide an answer on the average cost per prospective tenant. This cost could include advertising channels, time spent fielding communications, property showings, and more.
Make sure you also find out how and who fields inbound leads from rental ads. An amazing ad is great, but it will not be successful if it directs a prospective tenant to someone unqualified to answer their questions in a timely manner.
Speaking of fielding inbound leads, how quickly does the property team return prospective tenant calls and emails? The shorter the turnaround, the better. A property management team should be aggressive in responding to leads, so tenants feel nurtured at every point in their tenant-landlord relationship. If a company is less sales-oriented, expect tenant follow-up to be an area of weakness. The longer it takes them to respond to prospective leads, the longer you will pay advertising dollars and the longer your property will sit vacant.
Want to really test their sales and communication timeliness? Find one of their ads and request more info. See how long it takes them to return your message!
Prospective Tenant Showings
Showing a unit while it is occupied is fine as long as the current tenant is informed, and the unit is presentable. It is best practice to release ads for the property before move out to reduce the vacancy period.
It is also important to understand who plans to host the property showings. Whoever shows the property should be professional, knowledgeable, and ready to sell the value of your unit. Prospective tenants will come with a lot of questions – about the unit, the leasing agreement, the neighbors, and more – your property team should have a strong manager in place to answer their questions and sell them on the benefits of the property.
Although there is no standard on how many times a property should be shown per week, make sure the team knows how to find a balance between showing respect for the current tenant (if applicable) without neglecting prospective tenants who want to see the property.
Tenant Retention Program
Last but not least, property management teams with strong tenant marketing and retention skills will likely have a strategy in place to meet their tenant retention goals. With 54% of rental properties experiencing turnover each year, property teams have their work cut out for them.
Happy, long-term tenants boost your reviews and the brand of your property in the community. It ensures steady rental property income and leads to better upkeep of your unit. Pay attention to how a property team answers this question, because tenant retention should never be an afterthought.
A solid retention program will focus on strong advertising and marketing campaigns, quick and helpful communication, feedback, financial incentives, and regular touchpoints with tenants. Today’s economy is a playground for rental property owners, so getting applicants is the easy part (as long as the price is reasonable!). The struggle comes in finding quality tenants and giving them a quality property management experience.