Choice and decisions: businessman thinking with question marks written on adhesive notes stuck to a brick wall

This is the question every property manager is attempting to answer . . . when a potential client is calling and asking about their services. What makes you different from other managers? Why would I choose you over the 3 or 4 other managers I’m talking to?

We absolutely love it when this question gets asked! Very few other managers have put specific thought and some intentionality behind this question and it is something we have spent a LOT of time thinking about. Why WOULD you want to be a client of ours? Or, better yet, why would you NOT want to be a client of ours?

Wouldn’t it be important for you to know our “flavor” of management before you choose to do business with us?

If that is something you are interested in, I implore you to read on!

We sat down about two years ago now and thought about this question. This is not one we wanted to take lightly, because we felt that our management strategy was something we would build our business around for quite some time.

What came out of that meeting was what we call the “Three gk Uniques”.

Unique #1 – Communication. When clients come over from other property managers, this is the biggest reason they come over . . . lack of communication.

It is interesting to see the dynamic of a new landlord who is calling and asking about services for the first time. They generally want to know the answers to what I call “The big three” . . . How long will it take you to rent my home? How do you keep from renting it to the wrong person? AND How much does it cost to do that?

However, once we’ve rented your home, the questions all shift around communication. How do you communicate? How often do you communicate? What forms do you communicate with?

At gk we use 3 forms of communication with our Owners . . . phone, email and reports. Let’s take a look at each one.

Phone. We currently have an “Owner’s Only” line that was created about three years ago when as our leasing call volume went up, Owners began having a hard time getting in touch with us. We realized how important it was to continue to answer our Owner calls, but had to solve the dilemma of sorting through the 95% of calls who were not Owners. That is how we came up with the Owner’s only extension.

And that is exactly what it is . . for Owners only. Occasionally, a sneaky tenant will get through on the line, but we do our best to deflect those to the appropriate place.

We, additionally, have engaged the services of a call answering service called “Call Ruby“. Many of you have been very excited about the attitude on the phone and I tend to agree, they have an awesome attitude. Call Ruby has really become part of the team. They are so much a part of the team, that sometimes our Owners will get confused that they aren’t in our office and don’t know certain information. Either way, we’ve seen them as a tremendous asset to our business and getting you to the right person in our company when you call.

Email. We love to have everything in writing. And, despite what people are saying, email isn’t going anywhere. When you send an email to us, it goes into our ticketing system and that ticket is assigned to the appropriate person to handle the ticket.

The reason we came up with this fix is two-fold. First, Owners wanted a single point of contact. The only challenge with that for us was that we managed departmentally and we have specialist working in each department. The same person wouldn’t answer a leasing question who would answer a question about your repair bill. Thus, the support email was born. Secondly, when it goes into the ticketing system, we can run all types of metrics on how quickly our team is getting back with you AND ensure that emails don’t get overlooked and never answered.

So what happens to an email when it comes in? First, it is tagged and connected to your profile in our system. Next, it is read and assigned to one of our team members – the person they deem the best to answer that question. Then it is answered by one of our team members. The cool thing is that once it gets answered by one of our team members and sent to you via email, any email back to us from you on that matter will go directly to the person handling the ticket. So the process of assigning only happens once. Lastly, we close the ticket when we feel like the matter is closed. BUT, if you email us back, then the ticket is reopened.

Reports. One of the best ways we’ve found to communicate with our Owners is by delivering to them reports – whether that be Owner Statements or Inspection Reports – that are accurate and occur on a regular basis.

Our Owner Statement Day in Birmingham is currently the last Wednesday of the month. That means we deliver the statement into your inbox on that day. And we work VERY hard on maintaining that day.

Many of you remember Snowpocalypse 2015 . . . that occurred the day before Owner Statement Day and we STILL got the statements out! Whew! That is how important us delivering what we promise on time to you is.

Unique #2 – Uncomfortable Transparency. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, especially when you have someone managing most people’s single biggest asset.

It always surprises me that Owners will turn over their home to someone based on price alone. While we have some of the most aggressive prices in the business, I beg you not to choose us just because of that.

Would you turn your keys to your Ferrari over to someone to professionally drive it based on price? No way! You would want some credentials. Why would you treat your home any differently?

This unique allows us to build trust with our Owners. They don’t expect us to be perfect . . . well most of them don’t. But what they do expect is us to tell them the truth. Even when it is hard and ESPECIALLY when we mess something up.

I tell our team that a screw up is the best thing to tell an Owner because it helps build that trust. Now we don’t want to screw up all the time . . . but that falls more under incompetence.

Uncomfortable transparency is a byproduct of our core value, Integrity. It is something that we hire team members on and something we fire team members if they ever violate.

It is very important to us.

Unique #3 – Celebrate the Tenant. Your home isn’t, by itself an asset. It is the combination of your home and the RIGHT tenant that is the real asset.

This unique came from my good friend and industry veteran Robert Locke in Atlanta, Georgia. Robert used to own Crown Real Estate and Property Management and was explaining to us last summer how he had kept a tenant for 10 years.

We got so excited about the idea of our Owners having long term, paying tenants who take care of the home, we decided to go “both feet in” on his philosophy of celebrating the tenant.

What does that mean tangibly? We recently invested $1,000 in gift cards in different denominations to tenants we noticed being exceptional tenants. Perhaps they are like clockwork paying rent. Maybe we drove by their house and their yard looks like a fairway. For some, we noticed that it was their birthday.

We were very excited about how well this was received by our tenants. While nobody held us on their shoulders and threw us up into the air, we consider it an investment that we will continue to do on a quarterly basis that will hopefully pay huge dividends in keeping tenants for a really long time.

Another way we tangibly celebrate the tenant is by making it up to them when we screw up. There are times when work orders take too long or we forget something on their move in and it causes a real disruption in their lives. We see those as opportunities to let them know that we recognized that we messed up and not only rectifying the situation, but going above and beyond by sending them a card and typically a gift card.

Lastly, celebrating the tenant is also an attitude that we carry. Many managers tend to look down on their tenants. We seem them as the reason we have a job.

At gkhouses, we believe that you must standout and be passionate about certain things and not attempt to be all things to all people. We are passionate about these “Three gk Uniques” and talk about them almost daily.

What we hope is that like minded Owners will find us and be willing to partner in a relationship by letting us manage their home.

If you have questions or would like to find out more about our services, please reach out to us . . . we’d love to hear from you.