Marketing is creating a sales opportunity. You can’t start making money as a community manager until you have communities to manage. To do that, you need to let the world know you exist as a management company. Here are some tips to help you get there:
- Establish a Web Site.
People don’t use the yellow pages anymore to find a business, they use search engines. You need to have a web presence for your company so you can be found in searches. To that end, it's not enough to just create a website, you also need to optimize it to be found by those searches. To do that, think about the keywords someone might use to search out a management company with the services you are offering. Focus on these words when creating content for your website. You can also use a free tool like this one from Google to brainstorm keywords.
There are a number of companies that offer pre-packaged management company web sites. This is a cost-effective way to get started since these products pre configure all of the bells and whistles associated with community management. Even so, an empty site is not an effective sales tool, so make sure you put some time into creating content that is appealing to prospective clients.
- Start a Blog
One of the best ways to establish your authority in community management AND keep your management company coming up in search results is to continually add fresh content. A blog on your new website is a perfect way to accomplish just that. Post regularly about what you know. For maximum effect, write in a personable tone of voice, and focus your topics on the same keywords you came up with in step 6.
Don't worry if your blog doesn't get a lot of traffic at first - one of the great things about the Internet is that content doesn't disappear over time, so if your posts are relevant and interesting, they will be 'evergreen' and serve as a marketing tool for your company for the foreseeable future.
- Engage on Social Media
56% of Americans report actively engaging in social media. Get your new management company involved in that conversation by actively communicating with both potential customers and peers. You'll be busy getting your management company off the ground, so focus your attention on the social media sites that will most effectively help you grow your business, such as Linkedin groups.
- Join your local CAI chapter.
Get active in your local CAI chapter. Start going to monthly meetings. Volunteer to join a committee. You want to start making contacts with people who are involved in the community management industry. This could lead to a referral for management.
Most chapters offer a membership directory. This can be a good resource to find condominium and homeowner association contact info. Every community in the area you want to serve is a sales prospect for your management company. Contact community officers to see if they are interested in having a management presentation and proposal from you.
- Practice Drive-By Marketing.
This simply means driving into a community in the area you want to provide services, stopping a resident and asking for the name of the community president. Many times they will give you a newsletter or some other communication from the community that will have the contact info.
The advantage to reaching out this way is you can control the geographic area in which you start providing management services rather than have your first contract be miles away across town. I got my first management contract through “drive-by marketing”.
- Ask Contractors for Referrals.
You want to cultivate relationships with the service providers in your area, such as lawn & landscaping companies, pool management, handymen, CPA’s, electricians, plumbers, etc. You can meet some of them through the local CAI chapter. Others you can meet when you see them onsite in a local community.
Frequently, contractors know when a community is looking for new management. The promise of prompt payment of their invoices can be a motivator for a contractor to refer you on, but you can also consider some kind of referral fee.
- Contact Local Government.
Frequently, the local city, county or state keeps track of the condominiums and homeowner associations with contact names and numbers within their borders. This is public information, so you should be able to get the list for free or for a small fee. You can use such a list to identify communities in the area you want to service, then contact the community officers to see if they have an interest in getting a management presentation and proposal from you.
- Offer Lowered Pricing.
As a new management company you are probably going to need to “buy into” this business. That means offering management fees that are slightly below the established management companies. Communities are not going to take a chance on a new management company unless there is some type of incentive—which normally translates into saving them money. Consider pricing your services 15 – 25% below the established management companies in your area.
Once you are established as a management company (rule of thumb – this means around 10 communities), you can start increasing your prices gradually to get them to the levels that assure profitability and the funds to expand your business.
- Develop a Management Presentation.
A community board of directors will want to meet you and have you discuss your services. You need to create an impressive written and verbal presentation where you discuss the services and benefits of your management services. You can use PowerPoint to create an impressive looking and professional presentation.
Practice the verbal part so you know what you will say when discussing your approach to community management. You want to be rehearsed, but not sound like you are giving a memorized speech. Your verbal presentation needs to sound sincere and spontaneous, not canned.
In any sales situation you always want to find out what is causing them to consider a change in management. In sales speak, this is finding out their 'pain points'. Your management presentation needs to address how you would cure their 'pain' with your management services. If you can do this, you'll increase your chances of a successful management proposal.
- Create a Management Proposal.
After the face-to-face Management Presentation, you will need to prepare a written proposal. The proposal will itemize your services preferably broken out by the 3 main areas of your management services:
- Property Management
- Office Meetings