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DGS 75: Bridging the Gap Between Inside and Outside Sales with Jennifer Stoops of Park Avenue Properties

How often do you get complaints from the inside sales team about the outside sales team, and vice versa? “I can’t…I didn’t know…” Every business experiences the challenge of what a salesperson says and actually happens. It’s a constant struggle to make sure the sales team correctly relays what’s going to be done and the team accurately fulfills what the salesperson sells. How can you bridge the gap between inside and outside sales teams?

Today, I am talking with Jennifer Stoops, senior vice president at Park Avenue Properties. She shares how external and internal sales teams can work together effectively. After all, they’re on the same team working toward the same goal. Work together, instead of separately!

You’ll Learn…

[04:55] Definition and difference between inside and outside sales. [06:22] Three Cs: Collaboration, contribution, and communication.
[08:49] Find a good personality fit for property management.
[14:09] Red flags to watch out for during hiring process.
[16:50] Align goals to facilitate and mitigate hatred, animosity, and frustration.
[22:06] Involve property manager for transparency and transition with sales process.
[24:45] Metrics to Measure: New doors and retention.
[27:40] Client and Customer Retention: Change how you sell to them to build a long-term relationship.
[28:20] Park Avenue Properties plans to move to one system, but now uses Knack, an internally produced business development tool.
[31:00] Gamify sources of motivation (recognition or money); make a grueling job fun.
[35:30] Seek buy in and feedback from clients; what problem can you solve for them?

Tweetables

Three Cs: Collaboration, contribution, and communication. Click To Tweet Metrics to Measure: New doors and retention. Click To Tweet A property manager is conflict resolution all the time. Click To Tweet Involve property manager for transparency and transition with sales process. Click To Tweet

Resources

Park Avenue Properties

Jennifer Stoops’ Email Address

Jennifer Stoops’ Phone Number: 704-334-2626

NARPM

Zoom

Zoho

Klipfolio

GatherKudos

DoorGrow Website Score Quiz

DoorGrowClub Facebook Group

DoorGrowLive

Transcript

Jennifer: There is an integration of the property manager pretty early on because otherwise, business development has established this great relationship in the beginning, promised the world, and in comes the property manager who’s like, “I’m sorry, your property has been on the market now for 30 days, but we’re going to have to lower the rate.”

Jason: Welcome, DoorGrow Hackers, to The DoorGrowShow. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors and expand your rent roll, and 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.

At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to grow property management businesses and their owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, expand the market, and help the best property managers win. If you enjoy this episode, do me a favor. Open up iTunes, find The DoorGrowShow, subscribe, and then give us a real review. Thank you for helping us with that vision. I’m your host, property management growth hacker Jason Hull, the founder of OpenPotion, GatherKudos, ThunderLocal and of course DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.

Today’s episode, I am hanging out with a bubbly, fantastic, wonderful lady named Jennifer Stoops. Jennifer, welcome to the show.

Jennifer: Hi Jason. Thank you for having me. I appreciate the invite.

Jason: It’s great to have you here. I’m sure we’re going to go off on some tangents here because that’s just how you and I talk. We’re going to be talking about bridging the gap between inside and outside sales. Jennifer is part of a company called Park Avenue Properties and those watching this instead of listening, can see this big sign behind her. Jennifer, tell everybody a bit about who Jennifer is and give us a little bit of back story on you.

Jennifer: Interestingly enough, when I moved to North Carolina in early 2007, I interviewed with John Bradford. I just got my real estate license here in North Carolina and interviewed with John in March of 2007. It is the only job I have had since I lived in North Carolina. I actually graduated with a four-year degree. I’m from Buffalo, New York. I graduated with a four-year degree and I went to work at a dental practice of all things. I had no idea that I even remotely wanted to get into the dental field but she was looking for a business manager.

My degree was in business and communications. I put myself through school so I couldn’t go for my MBA right away. It was just too costly at the time. After working in this pediatric dental office for about six months, the dentist sat me down and she said, “Would you consider going back to school?” and I was like, “Well sure, for what?” and she said, “We’d like for you to be a hygienist with us,” and she said, “Your personality is better with the patients than doing your insurance stuff,” and I said, “Sure.”

I am a retired dental hygienist turned property manager, long story short. I’ve always had an interest in real estate but coming from Buffalo, New York, it was not a terribly lucrative field there. Nobody was moving to Buffalo, they’re all moving out and I ended up doing the same. I started here as the first property manager. I’ve been here almost 12 years. I just worked my way up.

Jason: When you started there, how many doors did the company manage?

Jennifer: At that time, probably 30-ish. John and his aunt were working at the company at that time. She did the books. She was also licensed. John had actually gotten his real estate license on the side. He was a sales executive at IBM. The 30-ish properties we were managing were a combination of his and business colleagues. He came from IBM and ExxonMobil background. It was a combination of those folks and we’ve just grown from there.

Jason: Where are you guys at now? Give people a little bit of perspective.

Jennifer: We are currently at just about 1400 doors.

Jason: You guys are one of the rare ones that have broken that thousand door threshold. That’s a pretty large outfit that you guys have got going on. My understanding is, John basically lets you run this thing now.

Jennifer: Yes, that’s true. It’s probably been about four years actually since he’s been, as he said, at the wheel. It’s been about that long.

Jason: One of the challenges that you’ve seen over the years is this difference between outside and inside sales. Maybe you could explain to those listening that may not be clear on what your definition is of those two things, but what are those and what sort of challenge exist there?

Jennifer: In property management outside and inside sales, I think everybody at least has, —whether it’s your property manager or otherwise—in our organization, if we’re going to about ours, our outside sales would be business development folks. Those that are calling on owners, potentially visiting the properties. Inside sales are our property managers really. That’s the inside counterpart. Previously, before we had grown to where we are today, I would have been considered outside sales as a property manager and we had some support team that would help be sort of inside sales. But in our world today, it’s our business development folks and then our property managers internally.

Jason: Got it. What is the challenge that you’ve noticed? This is a challenge I think every business has experienced, the difference between what the salesperson is saying and what ends up actually happening. This is a constant struggle in any business, making sure that the sales team is correctly relaying what is actually going to be done and the team actually fulfilling accurately on what the salesperson is selling.

Jennifer: Absolutely. I look at it like there’s three Cs. There’s collaboration, contribution, and communication. Of course, communication being the key to everything. Honestly, we’ve recognized you have to have all three of those to make it work right. We had even fallen into the trap and it really hasn’t been that long that we’ve been in a mode where we’re weighing this in a little bit better.

Internal complaint is always the same. “I cannot get the rent rate that business development promised. I can’t honor the contract the way business development wrote it. I didn’t know they agreed to these terms and now it’s special circumstances. Now I have to try to go manage. I now have to relay to the owner that they have to do these things to make a property rent-ready.” That would frustrate the internal team. The external team was, go close the deal, get contracts signed, turn it over to the internal team, and move on. There was no further engagement between the two. There was not a lot of collaboration. There was not a lot of communication leading up to the execution of the contract, the terms, the rental rate.

We decided we had to change that. That has helped tremendously. We look at it like our complementary roles now. Business development outside has a counterpart inside which is really your property manager. When our business development team is signing on a new property, they are signing it to a property manager internally. You’re talking to that homeowner for the first time, so you know if somebody is a little bit more just very, very business. You can probably turn them over to somebody internally that has very similar personalities with multiple property managers here.

You may have somebody that’s a brand new investor and needs a little bit more hand-holding. You might want to put them in touch with one of the more deliberate, or hand-holding, or soft-spoken individuals internally. The big E person can read that, but you have to get to know your internal team and that doesn’t necessarily mean being in the office. There’s a lot of firms, including ours, a lot of firms today that have grown. You’ve got maybe one main office and business development people in various markets, but you have Zoom. We were doing that right now, so you can get to know somebody, learn about them, and really feel connected to them as a teammate utilizing things like technology and stuff like that as well.

Jason: What are things that you do as a company then to really make sure that the communication is there, that the collaboration is there, that contribution is focused on? I guess at the foundation, it would start with the right team members. What are some mechanisms that you put in place? How do you identify whether somebody’s going to really be a good fit on the property management side, or on the outside sales, or the BDM side?

Jennifer: A lot of it has to do with personality. Really, you can ask folks, too. There’s a lot of folks that’ll tell you upfront, “I have no business being a forefront in sales. I prefer to be in the background.” Salespeople are historically not ultra-organized. They tend to be very chatty, very social, and folks that are more on the organized side tend to not want to be in sales roles. They feel that it can be very disorganized and they don’t enjoy that. We learned that with folks around here.

When we have team members, oftentimes too when you’re trying to figure out their appropriate roles, you can determine good people when you interview them. We just said the other day, too, we should do this more at the interview process, but we do tend to do it afterwards. We’ve done some of the shortened versions like the personality profile testing, things like that. It just sort of get engaged. More often than not, people are usually asked about. They’ll tell you upfront. But you’re right, it is very important to have the right people on the right team.

Jason: Yeah. I use a lot of assessments because I’m a nerd when I’m hiring, because I don’t want to just go off of my gut. I want something that I can look at that helps me make things real clear.

Jennifer: It’s probably much smarter to do it that way. A lot less harder.

Jason: I love the idea of just simply asking people. One of my favorite things to ask when interviewing candidates to work at DoorGrow is to simply ask them what they most love doing and what really drains them. A lot of people listening are probably thinking, “Well, nobody’s going to be honest. They’re just going to say whatever the job is,” so the way that I usually phrase this is I’ll just say I’ll be honest and disclose first like what makes me uncomfortable, what I’m not good at, what drains me, the stuff that makes me feel alive, and that I love doing. I’ll just transparently share that and then I’ll say all these things that I dislike, that’s why all these different people on my team have a job. That’s why they’re there, because I need them for those roles to support me.

Then I’ll ask them, “What drains you?” I usually preface it by just saying, “There’s lots of different things that we do in this company,” which is always true. “There’s so many different things you could be doing and I know that if I have you do the things you love most, that you are naturally going to do a great job at it, because that is just what you’re inclined to do. I’ll never have to motivate you to do it. I won’t have to follow-up to make sure you’re doing it. You’re just going to do it because you love doing that. I want to make sure I get really clear on what you love because I want this job to be something you love. Tell me what you love and what drains you,” and I usually get a pretty honest answer. Most of the time, they’re really honest. I’m surprised how honest they are once I preface all of that, at the things they’ll tell me that drain them that they don’t like. Sometimes it’s stuff that’s in the job description. I go, “Okay, this is maybe not a good fit for that person.”

Jennifer: One of the things that I do, like you, you’re trying to get honest answers, is I’ll ask, “What do you like to do in your spare time?” That can tell you a lot about a person and it’s sort of an ending question to the interview because to your point, you’re usually told what you want hear as it pertains to the job description and whatnot. And exactly, we don’t want people to take a role that they will not enjoy at the end of the day.

It’s hard to describe every single thing in any of our roles. In property management, my gosh, there’s so many moving parts. But you learn very quickly when you ask somebody, “What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?” If somebody says, “I enjoy quiet time. I enjoy reading. I enjoy time by myself,” that’s probably not going to be your salesperson.

Jason: Probably inside.

Jennifer: Right. Those that are like, “I belong to a charity organization. I’m on a kickball league. I volunteer at this and I sing in a choir,” whatever, that’s probably more on your outside team.

Jason: Yeah, it makes sense. I like that. That’s clever, asking what they do in their spare time. I think also when you ask just about their daily life and what they do in their spare time, they also reveal some of their propensities towards either organization, or towards maybe things that are more driven activities, which might be more outside sales. They’re more driven towards activities. I think that’s clever. What are some big red flags to somebody that’s just a really bad fit for outside sales or might not be good at communication, contribution, or collaboration?

Jennifer: For outside sales, it is the folks that are, “I prefer to work by myself. I prefer to work independently. I don’t like to talk on the phone.” They get nervous with having to speak to customers. There are certain little things that’ll come out when you learn that because this is development. In any organization, there’s a lot of not only talking to the customer but branding whatever company it is. Maybe you and I were both at the same conference. You’re out there, I’m there branding Park Avenue as an attendee, but still representing the brand as you are for yours. When people are not necessarily wanting to be in a social situation or things like that, that’s going to be a problem. Those are red flags.

Jason: What about red flags on the inside side? You’re looking for a candidate for the inside that you want them to be a property manager, what are some things to say, “This person’s not going to be able to handle this. They’re not going to last in this role,” because that can be a challenging role, dealing with all the maintenance stuff, dealing with upset tenants. It takes a fairly resilient person, I would imagine, to deal with that.

Jennifer: Yeah, it’s that conflict resolution. If people tell you, “I don’t enjoy conflict. I struggle with conflict,” that’s a big one because a property manager is conflict resolution all the time. You don’t need for it to be, but you’re a middle man between an owner and a tenant, so you have to. Or if they give you the, “I know the hours are 9-6, but if I left a little early on these days a week…,” or I’ve had folks say, “Is this job always in the office? Because I don’t enjoy being in an office all day every day,” that’s like, “Yeah, it kind of is.” That may be a candidate for outside sales, but you still have conflict resolution even in outside sales because that goes back to the collaboration that we’ve learned.

I think business development in outside sales didn’t normally have to deal with that. Really, the conflict was coming from the disconnect between inside and outside. But business development folks or outside sales were kind of […] and the conflict resolution and all the other problem-solving things were coming from the inside team. That was creating the disconnect between the two teams. We’re all on the same side, so we had to figure out how to go fix that.

Jason: Yeah. Then in tech companies, where you had the sales team and what they would sell, and then you’d have the fulfillment side would hate the sales team. There is this animosity that was tangible inside the companies I would see, in which the billing department, or the fulfillment department, or whatever, were like, “The sales guys are always selling stuff. They said it wrong. They’re not doing it right,” and there’s this frustration. How do you facilitate this bridge between the two to mitigate that? Let’s say you got the right people in place. How do you ensure that there’s a really good understanding on both sides of what their capabilities are and what’s accurate?

Jennifer: We actually started to align the goals. Business development roles have a tendency to operate on bonus structure. Obviously, it’s sales. Its target, its bonuses, its goals. We’ve recognized that even though the folks internal are generally W2-based salary employees. There is a way to align that to where they win together, they lose together, a shoulder-to-shoulder approach. What we had done was we created transparency. We aligned the goals. The goal for the entire organization is new business and retaining business.

Previously, we would run into issues where business development would close the deal, turn it over, move on. Now, the way that we have it structured, they get a portion of their bonus structure at the execution of the agreement, but the balance of it doesn’t happen until the property is rented for the first time. It forces the two to stay engaged. We’ve created a clear path of collaboration between the two as far as, business development will make the call, they may negotiate some of the terms, but the contract which wasn’t done this way previously, will actually be sent out now by the property manager.

Not that we’re trying to put more work on the property manager’s […], document signed doesn’t take that long, but it forces the two of them to talk about the terms that were agreed to with the homeowner. Prior to the contract given going out, the collaboration on the rental rate happens. An inspection of the property happens, so the two of them are looking at the inspection to come to terms with what the owner may need to do to the property to make it rent-ready.

Previously, all of those things were done by BD in advance. Once everything was executed and a rent rate was given, the BD person was not normally telling an owner what needs to be done to prep the property. Now all a sudden, the property manager is in the picture. They receive a new contract, now they’re looking at the terms going, “This is not something I normally do, so now I have to go to […] for this owner,” or whatever the special circumstances are that they now have to go figure out how to manage. “Gosh, I don’t think we can get this rent rate.” So we made it to where they win together, they lose together. They’re all watching the same metrics now as it pertains to that. They both have a collaboration and a bonus structure tied to it.

Jason: Yeah, because one of the big challenge is if you get a closer on your team, they can close deals, and you put them in a position that it’s simply about getting a deal on and not the longevity of that relationship with the client or the customer, they’re going to delegate the deals. They’ll still close one and they’ll move on to the next one. Those might not be a good fit for the business. They might not be a good fit for the team. They’re less inclined to make sure that what the message that they’re sharing is accurate. They’re far less inclined to make sure that they have really good communication with the fulfillment side of the business, to know what can be done and that sort of thing, because their financial reward isn’t connected to that. I love that and I love basically what you’re saying. It sounds like you’ve created a much more gradual transition from one department to another. A lot of people view it as you’re sales, and then there’s this clear cut-off, and then boom, you’re with other people.

Jennifer: Owners don’t like that either. That’s right and the client didn’t like that. Yes, it is a more gradual approach now where there’s an integration of the property manager pretty early on because otherwise, business development has established this great relationship in the beginning, promised the world, and in comes the property manager who’s like, “I’m sorry, your property has been on the market now for 30 days, but we’re going to have to lower the rate,” and that then sets the tone. Now, business development’s getting a phone call from said owner to go, “Wait a minute, you told me I could get this and now this person that is managing my property is telling me we can’t get that,” and it makes everybody go backwards. It’s a much slower process for turning it over so that the homeowner doesn’t feel like it’s either a bait and switch, or that they’re just left at the altar when business development moves on.

Jason: I imagine other property managers that are listening or property management business owners listening to this, they could probably start to implement some of this even in their companies that are smaller, simply by getting the property manager involved earlier on with the person that’s doing the sales. A lot of times, that’s the business owner. But if they have managers, it might be wise for them to start transitioning as soon as possible to somebody else.

I think what that also does is it frees up the BDM. There’s a lot of work that the property manager can help facilitate in building that relationship and in onboarding the client. I think that helps the sales process. It helps transition them into just being a client and going into that delivery or fulfillment stage of business, which is going to free up time for the BDM to spend more time selling, I would imagine.

Jennifer: Yes and we’ve created transparency, too. We’ve used technology besides doing consistent touch points. Right now, I had gotten back engaged in doing a lot of the BD. I’m generally here with most of the team. We meet regularly to talk about the CRM because everybody can see our customer care team takes telephone calls, puts the lead into the CRM, everybody gets alerted. They know on the rotation which property manager it’s going to get assigned to.

The property manager knows there’s something coming down the pipeline. They can see whether it’s me or anybody else doing the business development side of it, where they are in the transaction, has contact been made, where are we in the process. Once it gets to a certain point where the owner is ready for a contract, we will go ahead and then collaborate. “Let’s look at the rental comps together. What else do you have available in the neighborhood currently that we’re managing? Are we competing against something else?” So there’s a collaboration.

We also have transparency not only in the CRM and to know where we are with the leads, but we got to make it fun. This is a very thankless job, it’s a very hard job, there’s a lot of moving parts that everybody has to deal with every day. We have actually used technology that talks to our CRM which is an internal one that we have and then our property management software. It’s a tool called Klipfolio. It’s awesome because it makes graphs and things like that. If we say, “The target for Team Liberty is 10 new doors this month,” then every time something new comes in, they close it out in the CRM, and they mark it a closed deal, their graph changes. Both internal and external can see where they are in their target to go get as it pertains to new doors and retention. Those are two metrics that internal and external teams are both responsible for. It’s helping with retention. Everybody in the organization needs to help with retention and new growth. Those two metrics in particular are a collaboration between the two teams.

Jason: Absolutely. It’s really important in business to focus on the entire life cycle and the lifetime value in extending that, rather than just on sales and closing deals. What ends up happening on companies that just focus on closing a deal on sales is that fulfillment on all of those companies tends to take a backseat, tends to start to suffer and struggle because their focus is just on getting revenue in. If the goal needs to be on revenue as a whole in aggregate, lifetime value, building up the longevity of these contracts, keeping clients on, the number one prospect that most businesses have is their existing customer.

Jennifer: That’s exactly right.

Jason: We’re always stoked on getting new ones which is exciting, but we want to make sure that we keep one. There’s no point in getting on a new deal if you lose one.

Jennifer: Right. I think every property management firm across the country for the most part, several that I’ve talked to over the last few months, I know for us last year was our biggest one but for the last couple years, have experienced attrition due to sales. The sales market has come back. To your point, the internal customers that you already have, if somebody says, “Hey, when my tenant move out, I’d like to go ahead and sell the property,” why not try to retain that business and now send something out to all of your homeowner’s letting them know, “Hey, we’ve got a property that another one of our clients is looking to sell. Is anybody interested in buying it?” I’m sort of talking about it at a 30,000 feet view.

That’s something that we went ahead and implemented where we’re periodically sending a letter out to all of our owners. It’s an email format but it’s not just an email. It looks like it’s a little letter that goes out and just letting them know, “Hey, if you want to buy more, the market is good for that. If you’re interested in selling, let us know because we have others that are interested in buying.” That’s still a door safe. It’s another sale all over again. That’s something that’s also very important. That’s why retention is something that had to not only be tracked internally.

Business development was a little bit surprised when we were saying, “Look, you have to help with retention too,” but you do because internally, they may need some help in trying to convince person X as to why this particular property is good. The messaging has to be the same too about the firm. What is it we are selling? What is our firm […]? What sets us apart? We need to have an aligned message on that.

Jason: Yeah. The way in which I found that for my own business and for the clients that I coach in sales, one of the number one things that impacts with client and customer retention is just how they’re sold in the beginning. It changes how you sell if you’re selling for the long term. It changes how you build and create that relationship and if that relationship is built well in the beginning, the lifetime value and the chances that they’re going to stay with you longer is far more likely than if you just get the win and close the deal, and move on. That changes how that happens.

I’ve a couple of questions. One, what CRM do you guys use? Do you have a sales CRM? And then you have your customer portal and back office that you’re keeping track of. Are those separate or are you trying to do everything in one system?

Jennifer: No. We’re probably going to move to one system. Today, have we actually use something that we actually created internally, it’s a software called KNACK. We developed that to be our business development tool but also attracts a bunch of our other metrics and things. We have multiple tabs in it. We actually changed the name to it. We call it Grand Central Station in our office here.

It tracks our retention. It tracks all of the metrics that our property management teams and our business development team, those that they have to watch together. Then of course internally with respect to maintenance and work orders. Even internally, they’re still doing sales. It’s a different kind of sales. Retention is sales. Keeping a homeowner happy is still sales. Tenant retention is sales. It’s just a different kind than the initial close of a deal. Even internally, the system is tracking lease renewals, it’s tracking tenant retention, it’s tracking how quickly we’re doing maintenance work orders because there is a direct correlation to how quickly even normal regular maintenance gets handled and tenants staying longer in the property.

Maintenance is the number one reason tenants leave. We have a system that we developed internally. Zoho actually is another tool that we use but it works more with our emails right now. Interestingly enough, they have a ton of tools that can be used. I think we may be moving in that direction . But today, we use KNACK and then we use this Klipfolio. Klipfolio is what actually creates the fun stuff. It creates the pie charts and the graphs, so everybody can see.

Jason: It’s more of a dashboard.

Jennifer: Yeah. That’s exactly what it is. It’s our dashboard. It shows everybody where we’re at.

Jason: You’ve got your own system for keeping track of some of your metrics and tracking data. You’ve got this thing that will take the data and print it in pretty charts so the team can see a scoreboard so they know whether they’re winning or losing. Then you also have your back office, I would imagine, for accounting, keeping track of properties, and all of that that you do. I want people to be clear that you weren’t just doing all of this in one magical unicorn system.

Jennifer: No. It takes a lot to put it all together.

Jason: The other thing I wanted to point out is, you talked about kind of gamifying this for your team. I think it’s important for people listening to recognize that these two personality types that we’re really describing here that both need each other and help each other, that can work together, have very different motivators. I think as entrepreneurs, one of the big mistakes that we make a lot of times—I was talking with clients this morning about this—we’re very money driven. We’re very money-motivated. That’s a reward that we’d like to get.

We mistakenly assume that everybody on our team are money-motivated, or economically- or financially-driven. It usually is not the case. Most people are the opposite but outside sales people, BDMs, they are usually the good ones, are money-motivated. They’re economically-driven. Financial rewards and bonuses could work for them but then you have this other side and they’re not. I find that when people are not economically- or financially-motivated, they are recognition-motivated.

They want to be recognized. They want to be seen winning. They want to feel like they’ve contributed. They want to feel like a winner. That’s a very different sort of situation. I think it’s important as business owners to understand that if you’re going to gamify this, to not just make it monetary rewards. I see it all the time. Somebody’s like, “We can start a reputation game in our company and we’ll just give everybody a financial bonus,” and then they’re like, “Why aren’t our maintenance coordinators getting so excited about getting more money?” But they do get excited about getting recognized, doing a good job, and being called out in front of everybody as being awesome. I think it’s important to recognize that you don’t always have to throw money at people to get them to do things. Sometimes, that doesn’t work.

Jennifer: It’s interesting, too. We do have some monetary bonus both for external and internal. Definitely, the sales folks, generally speaking, that is exactly what they’re looking for. Internally, we have a few different ways that we do it. Just this year, we started our hall of fame. It’s our wall of stars. Each month, somebody is selected. For example in February, the person that stood out from the crowd in January was selected. Their picture goes up on the wall. It stays there. We have January through December up on the wall. Once their picture gets put up there, the picture stays up there. That’s something that we implemented this year and that’s exciting for them.

We do PTO time. It’s amazing recognizing somebody and it doesn’t cost your organization anything to say, “You have a half a day. You’ve earned four hours PTO time as a bonus,” or, “If you meet these metrics, for each metric that you meet, it’s one hour of PTO time.” It’s unbelievable how far that goes.

Little things, when we’ve had business development come into the office for those that can physically come in, we do what we call training trivia. We might be training on what our lease agreement says, or mention an agreement, or what our pitch is supposed to be like to our owners. What is our message about our firm.

I’m telling you, I go to the dollar store and buy these boxes of candy. As people are getting it right, they’re taking from this big bag. You can get $20-$30 worth of candy. That’s like 30 boxes of candy and they’re so excited. It’s little stuff like that. Even from a training perspective, we try to make it fun because it can be a very grueling job. It’s mentally taxing. You’re a middle man between the tenant and the owner and their money. That’s not a really great place to be on any given day. You go home and a tenant or an owner is not mad at you, that’s a great day.

Jason: Yeah. Sometimes it’s hurting cats, it’s organized chaos, and lots of conflict resolution. Jennifer, this has been really fun, chatting about all of this. I think there’s lots of ideas that’s been thrown around that are helpful. Any last thoughts on making this work between your inside team and your outside sales department? Especially for the property management businesses that are not at 1400 units, they’re smaller, they’re just getting started, and they’ve got a really small team, what do you think are some of the first things they should just start to try to tackle to make this work well?

Jennifer: I would ask people specifically, “What do you think we should be saying to new clients?” Really, it’s all about communication. Just ask. Even your internal folks, while they may not volunteer the information because in their mind, they’re one that’s in sales, but if you ask them, any of your staff, they will tell you. They all hear the stuff. That goes from your maintenance coordinator, to the folks that are answering your phone, to the owner of the company, whoever’s doing business development. Just ask, they’ll give you feedback.

What we do is problem-solving. Property management is problem-solving. What problem do homeowners have or what are the concerns that they could have? Why are they hiring a property manager? All of the people on your team in some capacity are going to tell you what the most common things are that they hear are an issue from a tenant or from another homeowner, and that’s what you need to go to tackle as a team. That’s what you need to make sure you know how to go solve together, but they’ll tell you. It truly is just about asking them.

That’s something buy-in is huge. The buy-in on the message, the buy-in on how the process should look, the collaboration on there. Even we didn’t learn that right away either. We would say, “Okay, I think it should work this way,” and, “Well, you’ve only been here two months, so you probably don’t have an opinion on it yet,” but you know what? They do. It’s good to ask for those ideas and feedback on that. They won’t give it to you unless you ask for it.

Jason: Yeah, that’s true. Especially on the inside type of personality types. I find a lot of times, they see a lot. They’re almost like the guides for humanity. They’re so aware and they see so many things that we miss. Us highly driven, money-motivated people, and entrepreneurs that are crazy, and wild, and taking risks. They see so much.

I meet regularly with my fulfillment team just to ask them, “What challenges are you dealing with? what are you noticing that is coming up as an issue?” A lot of times, we can solve it just by changing how we sell and making sure that we qualify prospects better, that we change what type of clients we’re bringing on because I want them to have a good experience, too. What that does is when you align sales with your fulfillment side, your fulfillment side starts to feel like you care about them.

Jennifer: It’s important what they have to say.

Jason: Some of our biggest mistakes were when I wasn’t listening to the fulfillment side, or wasn’t listening to that team, and getting their feedback. They were frustrated because then they feel like they’re not supported, “Why are you throwing these stuff at me and these people?”

Jennifer: Exactly. We have to go manage the problems that you guys went and promised but nobody’s asking us what we have to deal with on the backend.

Jason: Yeah, absolutely. Our business is our best product.

Jennifer: Yes.

Jason: And when we look at our business as a product, we can see that there’s flaws in every one of our businesses. There’s always flaws in our product and we can approach it as a product and figure out how do we improve this? How do we make this better? How do we systemize this better? How do we reduce churn? How do we improve the communication? I love the idea of just asking what should we be saying or asking the fulfillment side of the team, like what things are coming up? And what are the big questions that we’re having?

Jennifer: It’s almost always the simplest things that are overlooked.

Jason: Yeah. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that give you the biggest bang for your buck or the biggest increase in revenue. Sometimes it’s really simple pivots that need to be made. Sometimes these really simple changes that they can see help improve the business. That’s why even with tools and systems that we use like GatherKudos and stuff like that, getting feedback coming in from the business, or feedback from any channel, I think a lot of times people perceive feedback as something negative, but I see feedback as this gateway to everything that you really want.

Jennifer: Absolutely. Even the stuff that comes in that’s good, you could still be looking at to do better. A feedback is critical because how do you fix what you don’t know? If you’re not asking for it, you’re not going to get it. All of a sudden, you’ve got somebody that wants to terminate with you or an employee that doesn’t want to be here anymore but nobody ever asked for feedback. Now all of a sudden it’s laying in your lap and you’re like, “Gosh, I could have fixed that had I known,” but now it’s too late.

Jason: The scariest place to be as an entrepreneur is to be completely blindsided with something you didn’t see because you are the emperor with no clothes.

Jennifer: That’s a great point.

Jason: Nobody should be building a team around them that everybody feels like they have to say yes to.

Jennifer: That’s right.

Jason: You are the emperor with no clothes.

Jennifer: That’s right. You want the ideas. You want the feedback for sure. Like it or not, you want it.

Jason: Great. Jennifer, this has been super fun. I really enjoyed having you on the show. It’s always fun to chat with you. How can people connect with you if they’re interested connecting with you or how should people get in touch with you if they want to be able to do that?

Jennifer: My email address is just jennifer@parkaveproperties.com or you can just go to Park Avenue’s website parkaveproperties.com and all my info’s on there. My cell number’s on there, my email, and I’m not afraid to get my cell number out so people are welcome to reach out to me. You can go to NARPM. I’m on there, too.

Jason: Awesome. Jennifer, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Jennifer: Thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed it. Thanks Jason.

Jason: You bet.

That was super fun, hanging out with Jennifer. For those of you listening, if you enjoy this episode, we’d really appreciate it if you are listening on iTunes, to make sure and subscribe to iTunes podcast and make sure that you leave us some feedback. We really appreciate your real feedback on iTunes. It helps us get awareness and makes it worth it doing these shows. Be sure to join our free community, the DoorGrowClub Facebook group. You can get to that by going to doorgrowclub.com.

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Thanks everybody for tuning in. until next time, to our mutual growth. Bye everyone.

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