Focus on the Little Things

Exceptional property managers focus on the details. The little things can make all of the difference in whether or not you continue to manage someone’s property and whether or not your business stays focused on the goals you’ve set for yourself.

One of my favorite stories about the little things comes from the first practice John Wooden would conduct with his freshmen basketball players. Don Yaeger tells the story in his book Greatness: The 16 Characteristics of True Champions. He says:

“Prior to the first on-court practice, Wooden would gather his new players and tell them to take off their shoes and socks. Each player in the room would look around, bewildered, but obliged. Wooden’s first lesson went down to the basics: how to put on socks and shoes properly. ‘I want you to make sure that there are no wrinkles or gaps,’ he’d tell them. ‘Make sure your heel is fully seated in the heel of the sock; run your hand over the toes and make sure to smooth out any bumpy areas.’

“Over the next half hour, he would show each player how to properly lace his shoes and tie them snugly so that there was no room for the shoe to rub or the sock to bunch up. ‘That’s your first lesson.’ Wooden would then start to walk away, but, after about a dozen steps, he’d turn around and explain the life lesson to the puzzled players.  ‘You see, if there are wrinkles in your socks or your shoes aren’t tied properly, you will develop blisters. With blisters, you’ll miss practice. If you miss practice, you don’t play. And if you don’t play, we cannot win,’ he’d tell them. ‘If you want to win championships, you must take care of the smallest of details.’” –p. 69.

What are some of the small details that you may need more focus on for your property management business?  Here are a few for you to consider:

        • How well you are interacting with every new prospective owner? 30% of buyers make a decision of whether they will buy from you within one minute of interacting with you. 60% of buyers make that decision within five minutes of interacting with you. Are you ensuring your success by making sure your approach builds trust and causes owners to want to have you manage their properties?
        • Is your image professional? Does an interaction with you give the impression that you are organized and ready to help them? Or, do they feel that you are disorganized or that the way you go about doing your initial assessment is cluttered in any way? What impression does your initial interaction give when an owner first talks with you and when you assess their property with them?
        • Where are most of your prospects coming from? Are there any clunky steps that could be removed or avoided so that the path to the sale is easier? What could you do to make the process easier for owners to say yes to you and your property management services?
        • Do new clients feel welcomed once they’ve signed your property management agreement?
        • Does your warm greeting cause an owner to feel that they have arrived and found the person who will manage their property? If not, what could you do to engage him or her more in the process of discovery within the first few moments after you meet?
        • Do property owners sense a genuine desire from to help them (regardless of what they have said their stated budget is)? Do they sense that you have solutions to the challenges and stresses they face and feel?
        • Are prospective clients greeted on the phone with answers to their questions? Have they learned something and been invited to take action to do something (schedule an appointment, etc.) before they hang up the phone?

Remember, the little things are the foundational things that help your property management business to grow quickly.  Author and retail business consultant, Richard Hammond, makes this point in his book Smart Retail:

“The best retailers do not stand still when successful. They strive to keep the momentum, to keep growing and to keep moving forward. That growth and movement is inspired by tiny little everyday improvements just as much as it is by sweeping change.”—p. 81.

He lists the following suggestions to focus on improving your business:

        • “Consider everything from the customer’s perspective
        • Encourage customers to tell you their complaints (the most cost-effective research you’ll ever do)
        • And listen to them sincerely when they do
        • Think about the type of people who come into your [business] – who are you missing?
        • What do customers prefer about your competitors (ask them)?
        • Know what your customers are talking about and what keeps them up at night
        • Aim to improve average transaction values
        • Use eye contact more
        • Walk your [business] like a customer would
        • If you can, get hold of former customers and ask them why they don’t love you any more
        • Use email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and similar to communicate with customers; it’s cheap, powerful and very direct.
        • Whenever you are resolving a customer complaint ask customers how they would improve your service
        • Remember names
        • List all the things in your [business] that regularly delight customers—then think about how to double the list
        • Write down a list of all the processes that touch customers directly—all of them
        • Then do a list of all those that don’t – can you strip any of these out?
        • Ask customers to tell you ‘what’s missing’” –Smart Retail, p. 81-82.”

When Apple began to open its own retail stores, “Apple executives didn’t just look at existing stores for inspiration. They asked themselves: What are the best consumer experiences people have? Hotels in general—and specifically concierges—came up in response again and again, and the concierge became the inspiration for the Genius Bar. They also talked about what turns people off in stores—clutter, bad design, unfriendly or pushy salespeople. The look of the stores shows Apple’s obsession with detail.” –Adam Lashinsky, Inside Apple, p. 152.

Be the kind of property manager that has focus on the little things that really matter. Break down the component parts of what you do as clearly as John Wooden did for his beginning basketball players. If and when you make a mistake, make it up to your clients as quickly as possible.  The little things have a way of becoming bigger things if they aren’t taken care of quickly and your ability to respond to these issues quickly will make a dramatic impact on the growth of your property management business. If you’d like help to implement better systems into your business, click here to schedule a free portfolio growth assessment to see where there may be areas for improvement in your property management business.


James Butler

James Butler is Director of Franchise Development at Property Management, Inc. He has built four companies from the start-up phase to over a million dollars in revenue. He is the author of the best-selling book The System is the Secret and helps entrepreneurs take action in their businesses. He and his wife Heather are the parents of five children.