Building value is imperative for any service offering. A fascinating book about dealing with the challenges of business and life by Mark Sanborn entitled Up, Down, or Sideways is one that I would highly recommend you read, study and think about. The book is broken into three sections: See, Think, and Do and is a short treatise on the importance of taking action and doing what needs to be done to overcome any moments that are unexpected. At the end of the book, Sanborn talks about the importance of creating a value of preference where you add something extra to what your customers receive from you. Sanborn says:
“If you think of value as an equation, it would look like this: V=E+E+SE, or Value equals Expectations plus Education plus Something Extra. The question facing all of us—is, What’s our something extra? What’s our distinctive?”
“I was in a mall in Oak Brook, Illinois, during the Christmas shopping season when something grabbed my attention and created a preference. In the center of Nordstrom, the high-end department store, a man sat on a bench and played holiday music on a baby grand piano. His tunes floated through the air, mixing among the racks of clothes and the displays of jewelry and providing warmth to the shopping atmosphere.”
“As I made my ways through the rest of the mall, the other stores were decked out in reds and greens. I spent time in four other stores, all decorated pretty much the same and all with one other thing in common: no piano player. Nordstrom had successfully created what I now call the Piano Effect—that thing so different and valued about your work or business that when customers go elsewhere, they notice its absence and return to you.” –pp. 116-117.
What is your piano effect? What are you doing to add value to property owners coming into contact with your property management business? Property managers may complain about losing sales to new applications or other aggressive competitors, yet there is little to no effort to stack more and more value on top of the offer of what the tenants and owners actually get for doing business with you. If you are feeling upside downs or sideways on this issue, this book has some great suggestions for how you can increase your value. Here are six of Mark’s ideas (followed by my ideas in italics):
“At least six distinctives add value to anything and thereby create a Piano Effect: more, better, faster, different, less, or ‘funner.’
“Your more might be more hours of operation, more of your product for the same price, more flavors of ice cream, more locations, more solutions, more legroom in the airplane, or more convenience.”
You could offer more value to tenants with a resident benefits program with more savings and incentives that allow them to build their credit and not have to pay a security deposit (with a zero security deposit program), more offers to local real estate professionals, more helpful information as tenants prepare to move into your property, more fun for their family as they prepare to move into a new neighborhood or city, more selection services that would benefit them in the future, etc.
“Your better involves quality. The restrooms in your gas station are cleaner. Stanley Marcus, the late president and chairman of the board of Neiman Marcus, liked to say, ‘Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.’ Your quality shines through in your product, your services, your commitment, your presentation, the appearance of your work area—everything you do, say, or sell.”
Your better could include better stratification of price, better offerings to specific niches, better construction of offers to tenants and owners (with eviction protection insurance), better experience with personalized greetings and gifts, better surprises throughout the experience of being approved to move into the property they’ve applied for, etc.
“Your faster demonstrates how you value the time of the people you are serving. Do you meet deadlines? Do you return phone calls and e-mail in a timely manner? Do you get the package there overnight, the oil changed in ten minutes or less, and the pizza there in less than thirty minutes? Do you add value by getting things done faster than your competition?
Your faster could include responding quicker to owners need help solving a problem with their home or tenant, having a better follow up sequence so you reach owners faster when they are ready to make a decision to use your property management services than your competitors, making sure that owners and tenants get answers and solutions to their email questions quicker than 24 hours, etc.
“Your different takes you beyond the ordinary response to any situation to create something of value that gets noticed because it stands out from the others.”
What is different about your property management business? Is your offer different? Do you offer fun gifts and bonuses that make people feel differently than they do with other property managers? Do you create an experience that is different that when owners and tenants go to other properties that makes them instantly wish they were renting from you or having you manage their property? These are important questions to ask and consider. Once you know your difference, are you promoting it as widely as possible across as many mediums as possible?
Your less isn’t necessarily the opposite of your more; it’s just different. Can you provide management services for a lower fee to them (and a higher fee to tenants? Can you save someone time and money? Can you provide fewer hassles, less stress, or less of whatever it is the people you value don’t want in an experience or product? If you can, you create a distinctive that lasts.
What do owners and tenants want less of? How can you deliver that to them? Property owners and tenants are busy today so if there is any way that you can create less hassle and less confusion, you will stand out to those who are trying to do too much. Simplicity is what has caused Chipotle to skyrocket in growth. Their menu isn’t complicated. There are only four to five things you can order there in several combinations. But, the fast food restaurant delivers a gourmet Mexican dining experience that is unique than most Mexican restaurants.
Your “funner” is all about the experiences you create. I know, funner isn’t a word. But it should be, because it represents a really important ideal in creating value and it rolls off the lips with more, well, fun than “more fun.”
What can you do to jazz up the experience property owners and tenants have in their interactions with you? Can you deliver a funner experience through every interaction with you from the application process to the acceptance and signing of a new contract? Think carefully about what you can do to make the experience of interacting with you and your property management business even more fun.
I would highly recommend that you get and read Mark’s book Up, Down or Sideways. It has a lot of great practical advice in it and is truly an inspirational book. If you would like to learn more about how PMI adds value for our network, schedule a time to speak with one of our franchise developers here.