DGS 169: The Most Common Problems For Property Management Businesses at 200-400 Doors

most common problems for property management businesses podcast artworkA lot of property management entrepreneurs get stuck in this area between 200 and 400 doors. They’ve built the wrong team, and everything in the business feels like it’s out of alignment. These are the standard property management entrepreneurs.

Property management growth expert Jason Hull, the founder/CEO of DoorGrow, shares the next avatar in this series of episodes about the different types of entrepreneurs & the most common problems for property management businesses.

You’ll Learn…

[01:15] The Next Avatar: The Standard Property Management Entrepreneur 

[02:07] Have You Built the Wrong Team? How to Build the Right One

[05:10] Defining Your Role in the Business

[06:12] The Issues in the 200-400 Door Range

[09:50] Defining Your Company’s Culture and Hiring

[12:57] Inspiring vs. Controlling Your Team

[14:29] The Side Business Property Management Entrepreneur


“You can’t have a team that’s your dream team, that’s awesome, that makes you feel really well-supported if you are showing up incorrectly.”

“There is nothing in the business that you have to be doing in the long run. There’s nothing. You can offload any piece of the business.”

“The only reason every team member should exist is because they are taking something off your plate.”

“Tactical work just keeps businesses alive. Strategic is what really grows businesses.”


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[00:00:00] So they, at this stage, you probably also have all the same leaks in your business that the smaller companies do. You have leaks in your website, you have leaks in your branding, you have leaks in your reputation, you have leaks in your pricing, you have leaks and all these different areas of your business

[00:00:13] All right. 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, and you are interested in growing in business and in 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.

[00:00:52] At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management business owners and their businesses. 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. 

[00:01:15] So we are going to continue our series this week, talking about the different avatars that we target here at DoorGrow. And so we’re going to talk about a group that maybe listening to my intro were thinking, “you know, I don’t know about that. manifesto, Jason. I don’t know about having more freedom and that property management makes me feel good.” You might be feeling really stressed out and you might have a big team helping you do this. And by big, I mean maybe you have like five to 10 people even. So we’re going to talk about what I call the standard property management entrepreneur. And this is the property management entrepreneur that has built a team, but it’s the wrong team. And so this is usually in the 200 to 400 door category. This is where I see– I sometimes call this the second sand trap or the third sand trap– this is where a lot of property management business owners get stuck. And the reason they’re stuck is because they’ve built the wrong role for themselves, and they built the wrong team around the wrong role. So they’re showing up as the wrong person. And then they built a business and a team around that wrong person to support the business. And so everybody’s out of alignment. 

[00:02:25] You can’t have a team that’s your dream team, that’s awesome, that makes you feel really well-supported if you are showing up incorrectly. And so usually, that’s the problem is that the entrepreneur has these myths or these misconceptions or these beliefs that they’re the business owner, so they should be doing X, Y, and Z. “I’m the business owner, so I have to be the one doing the sales and selling to people. “I’m the business owner, so I have to be the one doing accounting” or “I’m the business owner. I have to be running the meetings and handling the operations.” Right. I just want to let you know, I’m letting you off the hook. I’m giving you permission, not that you need it from me, but you can give yourself permission. There is nothing in the business that you have to be doing in the long run. There’s nothing. You can offload any piece of the business, and the ultimate goal of the business is to get those four reasons of fulfillment, freedom, contribution, and support. This is why we build a team. But you’re probably, if you’re at this stage, you’re massively out of alignment with this. We talked about transitioning PM’s and if you can break that a hundred door barrier, usually you’re at this level within a year or two, you’re in this 200 to 400 door area, and then you get stuck and it gets uncomfortable.

[00:03:31] This is where a lot of people will fall prey to thinking they need to expand into a new market. Like we built it this big, maybe if we just pick another city nearby, we can start doing it there too. And that I call that premature expansion. It’s a bad idea. Usually what ends up happening is they go into this new market and then their current market is starting to suffer and struggle. And then both are not doing well because you know, it starting two businesses are running two businesses and starting one while you’re running another, usually means there’s less focus. And focus is the most important currency related to growth. It’s the most important. And so now, you’re diluting your focus even more as an entrepreneur.

[00:04:12] So, what we need to do is narrow your focus, even in your own business. The only reason every team member should exist is because they are taking something off your plate. But most business owners get to this point by building the team based on what the business needs. They’re like “the business, we need more maintenance stuff, or we need more of this.” instead of figuring out what does the business owner need? What do you need in order to move closer to the four reasons? Well, maybe you need an assistant, and you need to get rid of some of these things off your plate. Maybe you need a bookkeeping and accounting company because you don’t really love doing the accounting and bookkeeping and you want it done well, and you need to offload that, right? So maybe you hate doing sales or that’s uncomfortable, and lead-generation/ sales is really bad then probably in your business. And maybe you need to get a BDM or bring somebody in that’s really good at that. Right? And so, If you focus on what does the business need most? And what does the entrepreneurial most? Then, you’re going to bring in the right people.

[00:05:10] Now, in order to do that, though, you have to be in proper alignment. You have to be doing the right things in the business. You have to know what your ‘why’ is, what your purpose is, what you really want out of the business. Of those four reasons, what does fulfillment and freedom and contribution and support look like for me? If I had the ultimate dream team, the ultimate business, how would I be spending my day so that you can move closer and closer to that. And then each team member you add should be helping you get closer to that. So you take everything that you do. You start shaving off and slicing off pieces to give to other people, and it should be the pieces you don’t like doing. Not the pieces you don’t have time to do. It should be the pieces you don’t like to do and the pieces that are more tactical so that you can focus more on strategic leadership. Tactical work just keeps businesses alive. Strategic is what really grows businesses. There needs to be a general in the tent, leading the army. There needs to be a king, and the king needs to eat first, or their needs to be a queen and the queen needs to eat first. Otherwise, they’ll have a starving kingdom. So let’s talk about this standard property management entrepreneur at 200 to 400 doors. So this is the stage where they finally have a legit business they can live off of. It has the ability to spend money on marketing, so a lot of times they make the mistake of doing that. So they start trying out marketing channels and advertising channels and wasting a lot of money there. They’re also wasting, probably too much money on their team because they don’t really have team members that are giving three times the output that I’ll see in healthy businesses and healthy teams that are in healthy alignment around a healthy business owner usually they’ll have a third, right? They’ll have a fraction of the output. The team members are frustrated. And so they’re a business owner, they’re likely doing still most of the sales at this stage. They have a team, but they struggle to build the team they truly want. They have consistent staffing challenges and turnover because team members really that are B players are the only ones they can attract because nobody wants to follow a starving king or starving queen.

[00:07:10] They don’t want to follow– they’re not inspired to have any other motivation other than to get money to follow a leader if that leader isn’t really happy or enjoying their life, they’re not going to be able to either. Because they’re out of alignment with the four reasons. So they still feel like they’re driving all the outcomes in the business as a visionary or as an entrepreneur at this stage, and they wish they could just get ahead and they’re frustrated with their team. They have to answer every question, every approval. They don’t have team members that can think and make decisions for themselves because this is how they’ve set up their business and set up the team. In the beginning, it’s super tempting, right? You start bringing on people and they’re asking you questions and you’re like, “man, I’m so smart. It feels so good, but it wears thin pretty quick. And soon, you realize you have to drive every outcome. You have to hand out every task. You have to push everybody to do everything. And so it’s not as effective. 

[00:08:00] So at this stage, you probably also have all the same leaks in your business that the smaller companies do. You have leaks in your website, you have leaks in your branding, you have leaks in your reputation, you have leaks in your pricing, you have leaks and all these different areas of your business, but you’re great at selling. You’ve probably gotten to the point where you can close deals. You’re getting business on. You’re getting out there, making it happen, or you found some sort of unique prospecting method that’s working for you. And so you’ve achieved a certain level of success but, the delivery side feels frustrating because it’s heavily connected to you. They often have outdated and ineffective websites. They’ve wasted a bunch of money on various lead sources and advertising methods. And they’re usually ready to find something new that actually works, but they’re gun shy and they don’t believe it. Like they’re scared to sign up with DoorGrow ’cause they’re like, “I haven’t had good experiences with this marketing firm or with this firm or with this lead gen idea or whatever.” So they’re cautious and they’re tired of wasting money and they’re wasting way too much money on their team and on resources because they just don’t have the alignment they should.

[00:09:12] They don’t have team members that really have complete ownership of pieces of the business and are moving it forward and innovating in it. They’re the only person that innovates as a visionary, and they go to conferences, come back, and have a ton of ideas they throw at their team, and it’s like pulling the pin on a grenade and lobbing it into the middle of the room. And then they’re freaking out. They’re like, “I’ve already got all my day-to-day work. How are we gonna implement this cool thing you heard about at NARPM?” You know? How does that benefit me? “I’m already stressed out.” Right? So you don’t really have buy-in from your team. Your team are not sold on you. They don’t believe in you. They’re not sold on the vision of the company because you’ve never really made a clear and usually the big glaring problem they can’t see, the blind spot at this level is you don’t have culture defined. There’s no culture. Really, they don’t really know or care what your company core values are. They don’t know or care what your why is. And your purpose is and how this business fulfills you and gives you freedom and fulfillment. They don’t know or care what the customers really want. They just don’t want to deal with any more garbage or complaints. Right. And so, you have some systems in place, probably at this level, this is where you start thinking, “I need to document more processes and I need more systems and I need to micromanage my team more because I need to systematize this, so what you really need at this stage is you just need to be able to get clarity on yourself. Then build the right team around you so that you have the right culture.

[00:10:39] And in hiring, I talk about the three fits: you need a really good cultural fit. You need really personality fit for each role, make sure you have a good fit there. And then you need skill fit. You need to make sure that they can do the work and they have the right skill. So, usually at this stage, they have so many leaks in the business they can’t see. You built a whole business around a whole bunch of blind spots. You can’t see the problem with your branding or your website, your reputation, or your team members, or your own role in the business. And so I love working with these businesses because there’s so much we can do, and they have the team and the capacity to move the needle very quickly. We can move things quickly and make a lot of changes and get them a lot of results really fast, and they have the money to spend to do this stuff and to invest in the business. Usually at this stage, they tend to be a bit more experimental. They’re willing to try new ideas because they’ve dealt with a lot of frustrations and they already know what things are not working.

[00:11:35] So they’re open-minded to the message that I share at DoorGrow that: Hey, you could grow your business without all this other stuff. You don’t need SEO or pay-per-click or content marketing or social media marketing or pay-per-lead services. Like you can grow and scale your business really rapidly adding a hundred, 200, maybe even 300 doors in a year like one of our clients did in last year without spending a dime on advertising. And I know that sounds crazy to people listening, but reach out to us and we’ll share with you our seven frameworks training on how you can do that. So, anyway, this is a lot of businesses I see at NARPM in the NARPM organization. When I go to speak at local chapters, I see a lot of businesses in this 200 to 400 door range. They’re stuck. They have a team that’s sort of engaged that they kind of like, and they like some of their team members and some not so much and they’re lacking culture. And so if this is the stage you’re at, you may want to join our mastermind program and get into our scale program, which we were focused on first, so that we can figure out, assess you, assess your team, start to offload the right pieces and get the right support in place.

[00:12:40] And make sure we get clarity on the company core values and client-centric mission statement and your personal ‘why,’ and so that we can start to build the business around you and create the right culture. Once you have the culture clear, you’ll be able to see clearly whether or not your team members are buying into it or not. They’re either going to have to be controlled by you, or they’re going to be inspired by you. Inspired makes you a lot more money, and it’s a lot more profitable, right? So the phrase that I like to repeat and say that I heard a long time ago is whenever we fail to inspire, we always by default control. Whenever we fail to inspire we always control.

[00:13:18] And so make sure your team members are inspired. And if the only thing they’re really inspired by is getting paid and making money off you, then they are probably people that you have to control. And they probably are what I call hiders. You either have believers. They’re inspired. They believe in you, they believe in the business.

[00:13:36] They believe in the vision and treating clients the way that you want to treat them. And they’re excited, and they’re engaged and they give you their discretionary time. They’re thinking about how to be a better team member when they’re in the shower and when they’re at home, or you have hiders. Hiders complain about you. They live for the weekend. They really honestly would rather do as little as possible, hide, and get paid as much as possible. And that’s kind of the standard American employee or standard employee maybe anywhere. So I want to shift you away from having just hiders in your business to having believers. And you’ll get three times the output from believers than you will from hiders three times. Imagine how that would impact your profitability if you got three times the work ethic and output from really good team members. Right. It would be awesome. How would that affect your profitability? How would that lower your operational costs and increase your ability to have output?

[00:14:29] All right. So that’s all we’ll chat about today about that. There’s another category that tends to kind of be connected to this. It might be related to others. I’ll touch on that really brief… and that’s the side business property manager, and maybe that’ll be a future call, but these are the ones that are often brokers of a successful real estate office. Property management’s a side note. They’re almost like accidental property managers. Just like in this industry, a lot of you talk about accidental investors; they’re accidental property managers. They often have artificially broken past that hundred door barrier, not by fixing common problems they would have had to, but by leveraging their existing real estate revenue, and team to move past it without solving the problem. And so they’re leaving a lot of money on the table. They have a lot of inefficiencies everywhere. They likely secretly hate and avoid the ugly, neglected property management arm of their business. But eventually, they start to wake up and go, Hey, this could be profitable somehow. And maybe sometimes when the real estate market shifts, they’re like, “well, real estate is not doing so great. I want to hedge against this. I want my property management business finally healthy. So eventually, they wake up to the fact that it can be more profitable and they also usually need help to rebrand at least the property management side of that business, so it doesn’t harm the real estate side and they can be segregated and stand healthy on their own two feet.

[00:15:47] Often, these property management businesses just happen, like from natural growth from the real estate business. Like they just have investor clients. They’re like, “could you manage our property?” And they’re like, “okay, sure. And so they’re not really even charging what they should be. It’s really kind of just a service they’re adding, trying to add value to keep their existing investor clients happy. But unfortunately, this growth and all the doors that they have is not effective. I had one client come to me that had 500 or 600 doors and they were making $0. They had zero profit. And this is very common with these side business property management companies, the side biz PM’s. So they don’t know what they don’t know. They’re not really focused on that business. It’s kind of grown as this ugly weed and it’s kind of taking over and eating resources and it’s not really profitable. So it really is like a cancerous tumor on the side of a healthy real estate company. And they either should just cut that tumor off and kill it, or they need to get that thing separated, segregated, and healthy so it can stand on its own two feet, and not just be a leech of resources on your real estate company. 

[00:16:54] So in order to do this, you have to shift property management, at least for a while to being the primary focus if you are the visionary. And a lot of times they want to just hand it off to somebody or give it to some operator person or some property manager or some director of property management, and they’re not as big of a visionary, they’re not as, you know, adaptable as the entrepreneur. And they would be able to move the needle so much faster if they just, at least for a quarter, maybe two quarters, maybe a year focused on that business and getting it really healthy. It could feed them for life. So that’s all I’ll say about that. So we covered standard property management entrepreneurs and the side business property manager entrepreneur, which sometimes can get up to that 200 to 400 door range as well. But they did it through kind of a back door or through a side door that wasn’t as effective or efficient. And so they need to make all the changes that the early stages should have done or that others have done at earlier stages. So with that, we’ll go ahead and end today.

[00:17:54] Until next time to our mutual growth everybody. Check us out at doorgrow.com and I hope you have an awesome week. Bye, everyone.

[00:18:02] You just listened to the #DoorGrowShow. We are building a community of the savviest property management entrepreneurs on the planet in the DoorGrowClub. Join your fellow DoorGrow Hackers at doorgrowclub.com. Listen, everyone is doing the same stuff. SEO, PPC, pay-per-lead content, social direct mail, and they still struggle to grow! 

[00:18:29] At DoorGrow, we solve your biggest challenge: getting deals and growing your business. Find out more at doorgrow.com. Find any show notes or links from today’s episode on our blog doorgrow.com, and to get notified of future events and news subscribe to our newsletter at doorgrow.com/subscribe.

[00:18:50] Until next time, take what you learn and start DoorGrow Hacking your business and your life.

Enjoyed this episode on some of the most common problems for property management businesses at 200-400 doors? 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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