While many agencies don’t have a business development manager, they can often be regarded as the hunter-gatherers of a property management business.
BDMs foster relationships with potential clients, give listing presentations and work closely with sales teams to help grow rent rolls and bring in new clients.
To gain a better understanding of the value they provide to property managers, RPM spoke with a couple business development managers and directors to see how they source leads and secure new business for agencies.
Relationships are vital to lead generation and retention
Pat O’Driscoll business development manager Elizabeth Hood says the key to generating new business is consistent and sincere effort built over time.
“Relationships are vital to the growth of any new business, especially real estate,” she says.
“We carry a high responsibility with the ongoing management of a property asset and therefore establishing initial trust and rapport plays an integral part.”
Rather than take a “hard-close” approach, Ms Hood focuses on building solid relationships and ensuring individual needs are being met.
“In 2014, 97 per cent of our new business was not closed in the listing appointment, but rather through providing ongoing, value-added information or service to benefit their position,” she says.
Ms Hood says building good relationships with local professionals helps generate business for both parties, so she sets aside time each week to tend to these connections.
“My personal motto with growing new business connections is: ‘Don’t email when you can call, and don’t call when you can meet face to face!’”
Ms Hood says becoming an expert in her marketplace helps ensure her clients’ returns are being optimised.
“Take time to research not only the history and current information within your area, but also become familiar with the expectations of prospective tenants,” she says.
Being a business development manager means having to regularly represent yourself and your agency in the best light, according to Ms Hood.
“Invest time into your presentation and ensure you never let the client know you are conscious of time,” she says.
“I personally tailor a listing presentation specifically to a client’s needs. Know your product and ensure your confidence within your own team is evident and believable.”
Ms Hood says BDMs must have a fail-proof follow-up system that provides new and valuable information or assistance for clients’ needs.
“The ongoing care and relationship with a client is just as vital as the initial service provided. It is remiss to focus on one and not the other as they work hand-in-hand,” she says.
“Implement a procedure to ensure follow up is established to maintain and grow healthy, long-term relationships.”
Ms Hood says creating close-knit working relationships can help property managers better service their clients and even create new business.
“A raving fan will also re-create the cycle and produce leads that bring new business growth,” she says.
BDMs blend personality and professionalism
Harcourts Integrity business development manager Sebastien How says communication between BDMs and potential clients should be relaxed but engaging.
“I like to come across to potential clients as if we have known each other for a long time or by creating some form of ice breaker to remove any anxiety in the client,” he explains.
“The content of the conversation is important but can sometimes be the same across different agents; however the manner or approach you take can often make the difference.”
Mr How noted the importance of understand and compassion, particularly since many BDMs use a presentations to brag and boast rather than uncover the potential client’s needs.
“Understanding where the client has been and what they want to achieve is very important,” he says.
“You should have some key questions to ask every time you meet a new client that help you guide the flow of the presentation.”
Existing business can generate new clients
Ray White Maroochydore director Dan Sowden says most property management businesses place too much emphasis on new leads rather than what the company already has.
“Our property management team is integrated with our sales team, where our BDM makes contact with every single inbound enquiry our total business receives each week, including both seller and buyer enquiry,” he explains.
“By taking a simple ‘numbers approach’, we find that 30 per cent of the enquiries received are from existing investors or future investors.”
Mr Sowden says his company ensures it has a clearly defined reason for making contact with potential clients; something valuable that can service a client’s needs.
“If your contact [with the client] is about asking for something, then the likely response is 'no'; our team likes to make contact with an offer of some form,” he says.
According to Mr Sowden, building rapport and understanding the needs of a potential client is vital to securing their business.
“Ultimately, the longer we are working with the customer before we need to pitch, the better our success rate of closing,” he says.
Be a trusted adviser and expert
Lucas Real Estate BDM Dylan Emmett says new leads can often come from making the most out of existing clients and opportunities.
“Examples of these would be current landlords, vendors, buyers, lost listings,” he says.
“The list really is a long one and, when you combine it with good old-fashioned canvassing of areas, we find it covers most lead generation avenues.”
Mr Emmett says it’s important to be seen as an authority on all relevant subjects, which means doing thorough research and being prepared to answer any inquiries.
“Demonstrating a superior brand and market knowledge is key to this, not to mention not being afraid to ask for the business,” he says.