Winning in the Last Three Feet – Property Management Business Marketing

If you want to succeed in marketing your property management business, you’ve got to win the battle in the last three feet. Big property management companies in your area may win some advertising and marketing battles, but all battles are really decided in the last few feet. Are you winning there? winning

Stephen Denny says in his book Killing Giants:
“In every transaction, there’s a moment just after the giant thinks he’s got the sale and just before the customer hands over their money. This gap is an opportunity for a smart, agile competitor to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Winning in the Last Three Feet is an old retail expression, but it speaks universally to the idea of understanding that it’s never over until it’s over. You can have a brilliant campaign—or a brilliant product—but you can’t assume the rest will take care of itself. It never does.” –p. 65.

If you are going to compete and win against bigger competitors that currently manage more properties than you and that may dominate your market area, you have to fight to win in the last three feet. You have to fight to win by having a better sales approach and incentive that will tip property owners over the edge to have you manage their properties instead of continuing to do it on their own or hiring a different property management company. You also want prospective owners to have a point of comparison if they do talk with other property managers so they can see why you are clearly the best choice.

The challenge with taking on a giant in any industry is that they may have more resources (money and people, specifically) than you do. This is true in the property management industry as well.

Denny makes this observation about giants (which I think is a great point). He says:
“[Giants] may have more money and people than you do, but they also have the bureaucracy that you don’t. They have mandatory meetings, layers of management, and, most important, deeply instilled corporate cultures. In fairness, the giant’s culture may be its greatest strength—but it may also be your greatest blessing…This is a perfect situation for the giant-killer, because you don’t want to have to spend the kind of money needed to drive all this demand. You just want to spend enough to switch the customer when they’re ready to spend.” –pp. 67-68.

Do you stay on top of advertising promotions of your biggest competitors?
Giants are very good at starting lots of things. They spend a lot of money to build awareness.

Do you know what they are starting and aren’t following through with?
When you see gaps, are you pouncing on these opportunities or are you so caught up in day-to-day drama that you forget to look for opportunities?

I think Denny says it best:
“You don’t have to win everywhere. Concentrate on winning at the point of influence. Concentrate on finishing well. Close and strike. Time to win in the last three feet.” –p. 69.

Get better at developing sales and persuasion skills so you can close sales in the last three feet. I think studying how to be more persuasive when you sell is a critically important characteristic that can help you be much more successful. Here are five other ways you can win in the last three feet.

1) Win where the giants don’t think to compete.

Ask: Where doesn’t my biggest competitor think to compete?

I think this is a great question that would give you some great insights if you would think about it. Most property managers only focus on one category of property management. If they do take on other categories, they end up focusing on so many different specialties that they really aren’t great at any of them. They begin things well, but don’t continue with them well.

The real opportunity to beat other property managers is to focus on areas where they don’t think to compete and specialize in those areas better than they can or will.

One of the reasons why PMI is growing so rapidly is because it gives existing property managers the opportunity to get into other categories of property management and then have the backing of solid systems and support to do well in those categories as they build and expand their business. As a property manager, look for the weaknesses of your competitors in these other categories and then strike.

Your competitors are usually so busy putting periods after each market segment and moving on to a new category that they won’t really notice if you are putting question marks behind those statements and point out why you are different and why what they are promoting really isn’t what the property owner really wants or needs.

2) Leverage your expertise and build trust around the experience of dealing with you.

As a property manager in your market, you have the strength of dealing directly with owners. Bigger property management firms may never give owners the opportunity to interact with them on a personal one-on-one level. This is a weakness that you can exploit by promoting how owners get to work personally with you and promoting why your experience is so meaningful and different.

3) Don’t treat someone’s asset as a check in the box format.

Some property managers have a little bit of a check in the box feel to it of what needs to be done next. Very little emphasis is put on the overall experience the owner will have. Instead, focus on how interacting with you will help ensure long-term appreciation and value of their asset. If you can help owners see that their property is not about a standardized check in the box, but about a customized personalized experience where you don’t just check boxes, but anticipate needs that will arise in the future, you’ll have a big advantage over competitors who ignore this.

4) Be simple, be memorable.

If you are going to successfully compete and win against the other property managers, you must show how you are simple AND memorable (especially when they discover that the experience of having you manage their property is even better than what you said). Most property owners who decide to utilize the cheapest property management company quickly realize that what has been advertised is not exactly what it appears to be. This disappointment can turn into frustration and anger quickly.

5) Know thy customers.

When you know at least three things more about a property owner and their assets (and the long-term goal they have with them), you’ll be more successful than your competitors.

Knowing more details means the owner trusts you more which also means that you are on track to make the sale. Never get so far away from your customers that you aren’t aware of what is going on. A quick glance at a lot of reviews for property managers indicates that they aren’t really in touch with what owners or tenants want and need.

There is a lot of anger and frustration voiced online. Knowing how you can solve these concerns helps you stand out. There is a point in every sale when owners are open to persuasive suggestions. Are you in front of your owners when they are open to suggestions? If not, what can you do to be there (and win)?

Make sure you are developing the tools and resources in your property management business that you need to win the battles of marketing that you fight in the last three feet. PMI has built these tools and they are ready for you to use as you grow your property management business.

If you want to utilize these proven systems and processes to help grow your business, please contact one of our developers who can help you see how you can close the gap in the last three feet by scheduling an appointment here:


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.