DGS 147: The Cycle of Suck in Property Management Business

cycle of suck podcast artworkProperty management growth expert and founder/CEO of DoorGrow, Jason Hull explains the cycle of suck in property management. It’s incredibly costly, stressful, and competitive.

The “cycle of suck” is a phrase and concept inspired by one of Jason’s clients that noticed as he got rid of bad doors and bad properties, he actually became more profitable. The cycle of suck concept is true, powerful, and effective. What are the four steps of the cycle of suck in property management, and how can you avoid, escape, and reverse it?

You’ll Learn…

[02:32] Step 1: You take on any client/owner or you take on a crappy client/owner.

[03:05] Step 2: You take on crappy properties, which means you have difficult tenants.

[03:37] Step 3: You have crappy tenants to manage if you have pushy property owners.

[04:44] Step 4: You have crappy reviews and a bad reputation in the marketplace.

[06:26] Don’t get with everybody. Attract people you want because you are the prize.

[07:25] Protect Yourself/Team: Set standards, boundaries, limits when selecting clients.

[08:24] Sense of Scarcity: When competing based on price, it creates artificial industry.

[09:21] Reverse Cycle of Suck: Qualify clients, properties, tenants/owners, and reviews.


“The reality is, you don’t want every client or you shouldn’t want every client.”

“The owner is causing you to have more problems, more drama, more stress, and more challenges that are unnecessary simply because they’re making things difficult.”

“You’re going to have crappy tenants that are difficult, frustrated, and unhappy.”

“The best way to ensure that you’re going to have really great tenants is to take on really great properties and really great owners.”


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The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz


All right, we are live. Welcome, DoorGrow hackers, to the DoorGrowShow. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others, impact lives, you are interested in growing your business and life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow hacker.

DoorGrow hackers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges, and freedom that property management brings. Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it. You think they’re crazy for not because you realize that property management is the ultimate high trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships, and residual income.

At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management businesses and business owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, change perception, expand the market, and help the best property management entrepreneurs win. I’m your host, property management growth expert, Jason Hull, the founder and CEO of DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.

All right. It was tough for me to read that intro this time for some silly reasons. I have a bunch of things going on in the background on my computer and it distracted me. All right, so let’s get into this. I was trying to think about what to talk about today. I want to go back to a concept that I’ve talked about for a long time now. I’ve mentioned it in several episodes, but I don’t have an episode dedicated to it that I can push people towards, and that is the cycle of suck.

This is a phrase and the concept that I put together after talking to some clients. It was inspired by one of my clients who had mentioned that he noticed that as he got rid of bad doors and bad properties that he actually became more profitable. I had clients tell me about when I started to relate this idea of the cycle of suck. People would tell me about this book called The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz, which is a good book, and an author that’s been on the podcast before.

This concept is true. It’s powerful. It’s really effective. Let me explain to everyone the cycle of suck in property management. If you google cycle of suck, it tends to be that my old DoorGrow article about it comes up. Let’s talk about this. The cycle of suck is pretty simple. It’s four steps.

The first step is you take on any client or you take on a crappy client. That’s one of the big challenges. If you take on any client, the challenge then is that you’re going to end up with a door. You’re going to end up with bad clients. The reality is you don’t want every client or you shouldn’t want every client. If you’re taking on every client, your operational costs are going to be a lot higher. So the very first step in the cycle of suck is crappy owners. You take on crappy owners.

The second step is that you take on crappy properties. If you take on crappy properties, you’re going to have a much more difficult time. That means you’re going to have much more difficult tenants. You’re going to have a difficult situation. If the owner’s pushing back on things, even if the property is a nice looking property or a nice property, that property becomes a crappy property in your portfolio.

If you have crappy owners and crappy properties, which is the second step, third step in the cycle of suck is you’re going to have crappy tenants. It doesn’t matter how much tenant screening you do if the tenants have A-grade credit. If those owners that you are representing are pushing back on things, delaying things, and making things difficult for maintenance, coordination, and getting things taken care of in the property, these tenants are going to become bad tenants for you to be managing.

These residents will be super frustrated at you. You then end up becoming basically a […] show for a slumlord, which means now you are in between the tenant and the owner. But the owner is causing you to have more problems, more drama, more stress, and more challenges that are unnecessary simply because they’re making things difficult.

At this stage, you’re in the cycle of suck. You’re going to have upset and frustrated owners and difficult and challenging owners. You’re going to have difficult properties, challenging properties, and sometimes just actually crappy looking and crappy maintained properties. You’re going to have crappy tenants that are difficult, frustrated, and unhappy.

The fourth step is you’re going to have crappy reviews. You’re going to have a bad reputation in the marketplace. This kind of sums up the entire property management industry in aggregate, as a whole. There’s a lot of property managers that are just taking on any client. They’re trying to get on any property they can. Most people know that most property managers suck. Most come to me and they say, I’m going to start a property management business and all the other management companies in my market suck, which is why I’m going to start a property management business.

The challenge is this is the default for the industry. A lot of people fall prey or fall into this cycle of suck. The temptation is, they feel a sense of scarcity, and they feel like they need to take on every client. How do you escape this? How do you escape the cycle of suck?

To consider, the cycle suck is incredibly costly. Your operational costs on a bad property and a bad owner could take how much more time? Ten times the amount of time. Can one of your bad owners and one of your bad properties easily take 10? Maybe even it’s 100 times more stressful, or 100 times more effort.

I don’t know if it gets that extreme, but it can be significant. It adds up if you have multiple doors, multiple properties, and multiple owners that are part of the cycle of suck, that are not really what you deserve, what you should be managing, and what you should be dealing with. If you had the business that you wanted and the business of your dreams and types of clients you really wanted to be with and work with.

You have to recognize that you are the prize. I want all of my clients to recognize that they are the sexy girl at the bar or the sexy guy at the bar, meaning they don’t get with everybody.

Here’s the reality. Let’s compare this to dating. If you get with everybody, you’re low value. You’re not going to attract the type of people that you want or the type of clients that you want in business. So don’t get with everybody. Don’t be that type of person. You know what they call somebody that gets with everybody, right? You don’t want to be that. That’s not interesting to the really great people that you want to be working with.

The cycle of suck is stressful. It’s really stressful. It means you are forcing and subjecting your team—if you have a team—to really difficult people and really difficult situations. It’s a display or it’s you showcasing to your team that you don’t care about your team. If you really cared about your team and you protected your team, you would have standards. You would have boundaries. You would have limits. You would not take on every client.

If your team members aren’t protected, if your team members don’t feel supported, they’re not going to stay. You will keep some team members, but they will not be the kind of team members that really can help you grow and scale your business. The type of team members that you really want to be around, these are going to be people that are willing to be walked all over or willing to take garbage and deal with difficult situations constantly.

I get that property management can be difficult, and I get that there are going to be difficult situations. But if you are artificially inflating that by taking on situations that you know deep down you shouldn’t be, you’re not going to be able to keep and retain team members as well.

The next thing I want to point out is how the cycle of suck is competitive. If you have a reputation online, then you compete with all the other such property management companies rather than being the standout. Because the good ones are all taking all the best clients and you’re stuck getting everything at the bottom of the barrel. Then at that stage, you compete based on price. If you’re competing based on price, that’s not really a great place to be.

This is what drives the entire industry to feel artificial like there’s a sense of scarcity. You don’t want to be in a situation in which it feels like there is scarcity. Scarcity is what causes the entire industry to have pretty not great pricing, and property managers are not getting compensated well enough. It causes the entire industry to have a bad reputation. Most of the property management businesses in your market, it’s why they suck.

How do you escape? If we reverse the cycle of suck, if we take this in reverse, and add each of the four stages, that means that you’re going to qualify your clients. In the sales process, you’re going to determine what are you willing to take on and what you’re not willing to take on. What do you really want? How do I build the business that I want to have instead of the business that I can build? Those are two very different businesses.

The second thing, the next step is you need to qualify the properties. What type of properties am I willing to take on? What situations are we willing to take on? What do I want our portfolio to look like? You need to be the sexy guy or girl at the bar that does not get with every property.

The next is qualifying tenants, so step three. Everybody tends to screen tenants. You know that even if you do all the tenant screening in the world, you’re going to run into some issues, but you need to qualify tenants.

The best way to ensure that you’re going to have really great tenants is to take on really great properties and really great owners. Even if the property is amazing, if you put a tenant into it that has A-grade credit, you’ve done all the screening in the world, and they are not able to get taken care of the way that they want.

The owner’s pushing back on things. They’re dragging their heels, things are difficult, it takes two weeks to get a water heater replaced. It takes over a week for the heater in the winter to get fixed. They’re going to be upset and you’re going to deal with a lot more stress and a lot more phone calls. Your team is going to be battered by this. It’s going to be frustrating.

Then the fourth thing is you need to figure out how to play the game of reputation or reviews. You need a strategy in place for filtering. Each of these is filtering—filtering clients, filtering properties, and filtering tenants. You need a strategy for filtering out the negative reviews and getting more good reviews, which means capturing feedback proactively and preemptively before they get to the heightened state where they go nuclear and want to destroy your business online.

Also, by taking on really good clients, really good properties, and really good tenants, you’re going to end up with a lot better reviews, by having a process in place to consistently get good positive reviews, which we talked about in our reputation secrets training that we have in DoorGrow Academy for our clients. We talk about how to implement a strategy of warm outreach to facilitate that and make sure that you’re getting good reviews. Good reviews can be more effective than having the top spot on Google because it’s going to feed you warm leads that have a really high close rate.

Then guess what happens. If you’re getting really great reviews, and you have a good reputation in the marketplace because clients are happy with you and telling people about you, tenants are happy and telling people about you, and you have great properties, then you have a good reputation. You’re going to attract more quality clients. You’re going to attract more quality tenants. You’re going to attract more quality properties to deal with in your portfolio.

I remember when I was living in Santa Clarita, there were two major property management companies that seemed to have all the doors there. It was very clear in talking with people in the community, they knew one company. They were talking about being really bad, and another company they were talking about being really great.

They had very different experiences. I talked to people that had dealt with one company for maintenance versus the other when they moved into a new property and how dramatically different it was for them as a resident. These kinds of things get around to owners and show up on their reputation as well.

Moving forward, if you want to get free from the cycle of suck, which means you need to come into your business and your sales process with a lot more confidence with recognizing that you have value, with recognizing that you are the prize that solves their problem, and you want to be more effective at sales, reach out to us at DoorGrow.

This is one of the foundational mindset things that I like to push into clients’ heads to get them to recognize that you can have the business that you want. But you have to become the person with the right mindset, with the right thoughts, and with the right sales process that can have the business of your dreams. If you don’t yet have the business of your dreams, as one of my mentors would say, then you’re not the person that can run it yet.

My goal as a coach in this industry, in property management, is to help you become the entrepreneur that can have the business of your dreams. If we can support you in any way, if you would like some help with your business, reach out. You can check us out at doorgrow.com. Bye, everyone. Until next time, to our mutual growth.

Enjoyed this episode on the cycle of suck in property management? Get equipped with more content like it by exploring past episodes of the #DoorGrowShow.

Jason Hull

Jason's mission is "to inspire others to love true principles." This means he enjoys digging up gold nuggets of wisdom & sharing them with property managers to help them improve their business. He founded OpenPotion, DoorGrow, & GatherKudos.

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