If you came into the business of management and letting rights (MLR) because you saw an attractive balance sheet but have solely focused on the maintenance of gardens and not on the importance of marketing, then you have not set down the road for success.
Our business is referred to as ‘Management and Letting Rights’ for a reason. That is the resident manager has a dual role as both a caretaking service provider and an onsite letting agent. This dual role provides an opportunity to market services to a number of different target markets.
To define, a target market ‘is a group of existing or potential customers that you identify to provide products or services to. Each group can be divided into smaller segments’. In relation to the business of management and letting rights these segments are typically grouped by: unit owner occupier, unit owner investor, the body corporate committee, tenants and in the case of short term letting, holiday guests or corporate guests However, they may also include lot owners who self-manage or use the services of outside agencies. Also included are lot owners who “lock up” their lot, prospective investor owners looking to buy a lot within the scheme and prospective tenants or short term guests looking to rent either on a long term or a short term basis.
Once you have defined your target audience, you will find it easier to determine where and how to market your business.
When we talk about marketing in MLR there are two broad target markets to focus on. The first is the internal client and the second is the external customer. One target market for example If you’re in a short-term letting complex would be a holiday guest, which is an external market easily identified. You may use various marketing methods such as OTA`s, EDM’s (Electronic Direct Mail) or social media channels to entice them to stay in your building. In the old days an ‘A- Frame sign’ usually did the trick.
Not so easy to identify in a residential tenancy market, is that there are going to be tenants (external market) wanting to stay in your building. You should have a presence, whether it be a website or social media where prospective long-term tenants can contact or view the property. You want to ensure that as an onsite resident manager you are enticing potential residential tenants to seek accommodation in your building as a form of external marketing.
If we look at the broader term of what marketing is, it is ‘the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including marketing research and advertising’.Currently, the marketing of long-term buildings, for residential tenants, is largely limited to using online platforms such as realestate.com for example. In the current climate there are still an unacceptably high number of resident managers who operate long term rental accommodation and still do not even have a website, let alone even consider enticing prospective tenants to rent in their scheme. The one thing that all resident managers have in common, whether you’re thinking about your role as an onsite letting agent, or as a caretaking service provider is that we all have clients and customers.
The client in this case is called a lot owner and may be an investor owner who trusts you as their on-site letting agent with their unit, apartment or townhouse and would be expecting you to market to those external customers. Too often resident managers do not market their own services and abilities to their clients. They don’t contact their clients frequently enough and there is nothing worse than contacting a lot owner (client) to tell them something needs fixing and that’s the only time they hear from them.
These are missed marketing opportunities.
It imperative to be communicating to your lot owner clients about the initiatives carried out by you as an on-site letting agent and how your efforts have contributed to increased revenue for them. Remember they are trusting you with their investment, so you owe it to your client to explain what is happening and why their return on investment is up – or down and what you are doing about it. You also have lot owner clients who might live on site or who might lock their apartment up, and not let it out, or they might use an external agent to manage their letting services. This is an opportunity for the resident manager, whether they’re in a short stay or long stay letting building, to promote themselves to their client base and their lot owners. It is recommended to convey all the wonderful things carried out around the scheme, in the role as a caretaking service provider, or on-site letting agent. This forms part of your duty to market your business to your clients.
You have a captive market and an advantage over your competitors so you should make full use of this competitive advantage. Strive to make your existing clients proud to receive your services and your potential clients envious.
Every person who operates a MLR business, should consider their clients as a potential target for internal marketing. Each of the clients and lot owners might have a particular perception or perspective, so it is important to tailor the message to suit the lot owner investor, lot owner occupier, or lot owner with an outside agent.
This is an opportunity that is sometimes missed by resident managers. A report might be produced for the committee, but are they actually doing more than reporting to their lot owners? What could be produced is an EDM (electronic direct email) that describes what’s happening around the area or what is happening in the market or local neighborhood. Most importantly they could be advising what they’re doing to add value to the scheme or their return on investment.
There should be a consistent flow of information, whether it be monthly or at some other regular interval from the resident manager to their lot owner clients. The information will naturally carry a number of different messages as they will need to be segmented for the audience i.e. investor owners, owner occupiers, or existing tenants which all forms part of your internal marketing mix.
The one thing that is clear from our members at ARAMA is that our high performing operators all have the same thing in common, which is they all market the hell out of their own services. They realise that even a person who lives within the scheme and who doesn’t give them any real direct income, is a worthwhile marketing target and you may need their vote one day ! You still need to convince them that they can’t get the same standard of living without you being there. You are marketing your USP (unique selling proposition) as indispensable to the scheme and its occupiers.
If you want your business booming and there are many that are right now, don’t leave it to chance. You should be thinking about sustaining that boom, and making improvements in the way in which you communicate and market your business to have that good business continue. If your business is struggling, then you really do need to find a way to get your positive marketing message out to your clients. If you’re losing units out of the letting pool and you’re pointing the finger at the economy, COVID and everything else, perhaps if you marketed your ability to sell their property through you, you might just have some control over who buys it, especially if you have already pre-marketed to prospective investor owners.
If you think marketing is too difficult, then there are plenty of clever marketing organisations out there that can help you and would be an invaluable investment in the future of your business.
The amount of time and effort that you put into marketing will ultimately drive the success of your business.
ARAMA is going on the road later this year and will be discussing with members the different ways that you can sustain the success of your business via direct marketing in further detail alongside Nuvho, who are one of our valuable ARAMA supporters. Stay tuned or contact them now.