Do you own single-family properties, but rent them out? Are you tired of dealing with tenants? Incompetent contractors? Why do-it-yourself (DIY)? Why waste your time? About 70% of owners self-manage their properties. You can’t and shouldn’t do it all. Help is available.
Today, I am talking to Dana Dunford of Hemlane, an all-in-one rental property management solution. After being encouraged by family and friends, Dana decided to do real estate investing on the side while working at Apple. She tried self-managing her properties, only to discover how difficult that can be – even tougher than calf dressing!
[02:50] Moving from self-management to hybrid solution involving experts in real estate/property management to streamline and mitigate risks.
[04:15] Property Management and Technology: Taking a different approach to build communities of agents, owners, and managers to work together.
[07:50] Potential for property management industry: Buying real estate is easy; property management is much more difficult, but determines the success of your investment.
[10:27] Property managers have to do everything and need to be Jack-or-Jill of all trades (maintenance, lawyer, therapist, sales, marketing, etc.).
[10:56] Dana’s driven toward challenge; something new happens every day in property management and risk needs to be mitigated.
[11:27] Subject matter experts should provide best practice, place, and process; there’s only so much technology and robots can do.
[13:05] Entrepreneurs/Gluttons for Punishment: Highly adaptable and enjoy challenges.
[14:56] Turnkey: When something goes wrong, property manager gets blamed.
[15:47] Hemlane: Flexible and transparent property management platform that helps property managers solve problems.
[19:55] Hemlane’s Ideal Prospect: Under 200 units and wants to grow portfolio/clientele.
[22:36] Hemlane offers automation of administrative tasks and competitive advantage by building relationships and services over time.
[27:10] Real estate investors find out about Hemlane on social media and blogs.
[31:57] Are you trained and qualified, or just pretending to be a property manager?
[35:15] FAQs from Property Managers: How can I communicate with owners? Will Hemlane take my clients? How do I know if I need help?
[41:07] People aren’t buying property management; but safety, certainty, and trust.
[48:40] What is a hemlane? House Differentiation: Hem is house in Swedish; lane is a path that divides you from others.
TweetablesProperty management is challenging; something new happens every day. Click To Tweet Whether you love or hate them, industry isn’t ready for robots to show properties. Click To Tweet Turnkey is a terrible word; if something goes wrong, the property manager is blamed. Click To Tweet People aren’t buying property management. They want safety, certainty, and trust. Click To Tweet
Jason: Welcome, DoorGrow hackers to the DoorGrow Show. 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 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 their 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.
Today’s guest, I’m hanging out here with Dana Dunford of Hemlane. Dana, welcome to the show.
Dana: Great. Thanks so much, Jason, for having me.
Jason: I’m really excited to have you here. You have such a bright personality. I was really, I guess, curious with people. I was really biting my tongue, resisting just getting into figuring you out, and asking you questions. It was always a challenge for me. Now, I can do it. Let’s get into this.
Dana, why don’t you share with everybody a little bit of background on you and who you are. Then, let’s transition into getting into how Hemlane came to be.
Dana: My background, by accident, I actually ended up at Silicon Valley. I’m just through studying here for university. My background was actually always been on technology and I’ve always been fascinated with that. I actually got into real estate and looking at real estate investing coming through two different people. One was my brother-in-law, who was investing in real estate and saying, “Dana, you need to get into investing as well. Do that on the side.” I was working at Apple at that time doing new product introductions. Then, the second was actually who my co-founder is today, Frank, who has rental properties across the US.
I haven’t been on the property manager’s side until we started self-managing. We ended up self-managing our properties remotely and trying to figure out how to make that work. Essentially, starting with self-management and then actually moved to a more hybrid model that worked out really well, where we were working with local managers and local real estate agents to help us with the management while we were still controlling the financials, the rent, and still be involved in it.
So, a little bit of a hybrid solution which today I don’t see actually in the market. It’s either full service or do-it-yourself. I think do-it-yourself is really a horrible one to take because then every single person, all 43 million renter households, with 20 million people are looking for ways to essentially streamline and mitigate risks and all of that. Having property managers and experts in the industry really makes a ton of sense. That’s what brought me to a more of a hybrid model.
I left Apple then and went to business school at Harvard. After that, came back to Silicon Valley, was working at a company called Nest which is home technology, got me more excited about real estate technology. They were actually acquired by Google and I realized I want to actually start my own thing. Property management is one of those incredible industries where technology to date, there’s a lot of players out there, a ton in the property management software space—quite frankly too many of them—but taking that model and saying how do we do it in a different approach, think about it differently, and really build communities of managers, communities of agents, communities of owners to work together because 70% of the owners, as you know, Jason—I think actually you were the first person I learned that from—self-manage, so how do you connect those 70% to get some sort of help?
Right at the beginning, they’re going to say, “I don’t need help,” but sure enough they call and they’re like, “I had a nightmare of a tenant. I hate this. They’re selling my portfolio,” or, “I need some help.” Really helping them and being there at the right time—a lot of times that right time for them—is getting involved with them even when they’re self-managing.
Jason: Yeah. I got the 70% stat from the Iceberg report which says, “On a single family residential, about 30% are professionally managed.” I need to point out in your bio because this is the only bio I’ve ever seen. It says that you’re an avid equestrian, paraglider, and skier. She is the first woman to win a calf-dressing championship belt buckle at the California rodeo. Are you kind of a cowgirl, then?
Dana: Yeah, I did. I grew up in a farm in Salinas, California. We had horses, some cows and stuff in the backyard that really did teach me a lot of hard work. I did enter and I was the only woman. I don’t why women don’t enter these events. Salinas has the largest rodeo, the largest across the entire nation, largest prize pool of money, […] and stuff they give you. I entered something called calf dressing.
Actually, the huge advantage being a woman because you have to dress a cow in these Wrangler jeans. What’s fantastic about it is you actually have to be able to get under the cow so you have to be small. These big burly farmer guys trying to do it and I came in with a team of two other guys. It’s three people on a team and then me. I think there’s a huge advantage to being small and just being able to dress it really quickly while they’re holding down the cow. Anyway, we got a huge massive belt buckle, the same one that the pro bull riders win at the rodeo, which is pretty cool.
Jason: This is so unrelated. This just fascinates me. You’re actually putting pants on a calf, that’s what’s this is?
Dana: Yes, that’s the event. It has the same credibility as the pro bull riders that win the top belt buckle. You get the same belt buckle. It’s like the best hack to getting a professional rodeo belt buckle.
Jason: This is funny but it reminds me of listening to some of Tim Ferriss’ stories where he just figured out how he could win some sort of a competition that was just random so that he could be a world champion. Very cool.
You mentioned the property management industry and something about it got you excited which either says you’re crazy or you see something maybe similar to me. What potential do you see the industry is having? In the US, I feel like it’s underperforming in its potential. People just don’t see it, awareness is low, perception is low. What’s your perception of what the potential is for the property management industry as a whole?
Dana: I think it’s two things. It falls into two buckets of the potential. The first one really has to do with real estate investing in general. This happened to me when I was at Apple. Most people when you ask them, “How did you get into real estate investing?” it’s usually, “Oh, someone told me. I have friend who is doing it and doing it successfully.” All of these companies out there where they have these employees who have great savings and could be allocating money into real estate, they’re literally going into stocks, bonds, and other things. It’s sad.
The biggest thing with property management was that’s a biggest pain point. When I look at buying properties here in San Francisco, it didn’t make sense. The numbers just didn’t make sense for investment at that time. Maybe things changed. Some people want the appreciation gain that they’ll invest in San Francisco, but it’s really investing out of state. That’s the biggest thing is property management. I quite frankly think buying the property is the easy part of it. You put the numbers on spreadsheets, you’re not emotional, you go and you purchase a property. There’s not too much rocket science to that part.
Where it really comes down to the success of your investment is in the property management. It’s the most difficult part to be in and it’s the one that you’re stuck with for 20-25 years. Buying the property, it takes you maybe a year, depending on how long you’re looking. Some people buy within their first month. The property management in actually being able to make sure you have that stable, steady, cash flow, is the most difficult part of it. There’s no focus on it, I think, because it’s the most difficult that people push it off. One of my biggest frustrations with property management is people thinking like, “Oh, maintenance is going to be so easy.” That kind of stuff is really difficult to do.
I always think of property managers as Jacks of all trades. They have to be good sales people. They have to be good at marketing. They have to be a lawyer because they have to know these lease contracts. They have to be a maintenance person because they have to know how to troubleshoot, push back on service professionals, and understand, “Am I getting screwed over or not?” They have to be a therapist because tenants get emotional because it’s their home.
One of the things I’ve always been driven towards this challenge, if something’s not challenging and they get easy, I usually just leave the job. It’s just boring. Then it’s just a nine-to-five. I think in property management it’s not that. Something new happens every single day and you’re constantly saying, “How do I take that and mitigate that risk?” That’s really where I do think that there’s just so much value to it. There’s, quite frankly, not a lot of focus on it. That’s where, Jason, this show’s incredible because you actually bringing those people to talk about how do you mitigate that risk, how do you set it up for success, et cetera. I believe it has to be a subject matter expert that do it. There are certain things that technology can do to just say here’s the best practice in place and process.
Then, you also have to have the people component because you still have to talk to people. You still need someone physically there. The worst thing, I think, is when they talk about these robots showing the properties and stuff. Some people love it. I don’t think the industry is there yet, go and show some of these properties. I don’t think the industry is quite there for some of these stuff. That’s just my own personal opinion from dealing with them, being hands on, showing properties, and doing all of these stuff. Inspections, move ins, move outs, maintenance coordination. It still needs that human component and it’s much better to say, “Here are the subject matter experts that do it,” versus every single person trying to do it. As you know, that happens with single family homes but still the majority doing the self-management themselves.
Jason: Yes. I love what you said. Buying is easy, managing the property, hard. It’s really simple. That’s so true. When you get into real estate investing, they’re hoping that they’ve got some turnkey magical easy thing, money is just going to be flowing in, and then they have to manage the property. That reality sets in. I think that’s good pointing it out.
Property management is the most difficult part. The other thing you pointed out is that property managers, these entrepreneurs are highly adaptable creatures. You call them Jacks of all trades or Jills of all trades. They’re highly adaptable creatures as entrepreneurs. I think that’s why I get excited about them because they’re my type of people.
What’s interesting is some people maybe call entrepreneurs gluttons for punishment, but I think we love challenges. Just like I’ve said in the intro, we love unique challenges. I think that really we would be bored without challenges. We would […] entrepreneurs. We want to be tested. We want to have some challenges to work on. I think the trick is finding the challenges we enjoy working on versus the ones that are kind of thrown into us that we don’t want to be dealing with. There’s a difference but I love that as well.
I think the industry as a whole has a massive potential. You mentioned, the first one is real estate investing, that they need property management. What was the second thing?
Dana: The second one, the challenges associated with it is just property management in general is such an afterthought of it. The first is real estate investing and thinking of it as stocks and bonds where you can purchase a property anywhere. But I tell people you shouldn’t purchase in your backyard just so you can self manage it. You should be looking elsewhere. It’s not like I say, “Okay, my neighbor rent this small little company and that’s the only one I can do best in.” When I’m looking at stocks, I’m like, “What stocks out there across the world should I invest in that’s going to give me what I think is best return, diversification, and things like that?” It’s the same with property management. The first is just that investing outside the area, but then the second is property management like you said.
I think turnkey is actually a horrible word for that because when people say turnkey, it makes you think you don’t have to do anything at all. It’s going to be easy. The problem is that when something goes wrong, the property manager is first to get blamed. The first to get blamed. They actually don’t even get credit because the word turnkey makes you think, “Oh, I’m going to get this casual.” The turnkey companies put it like, “Hey, you’re going to get this straight number, this is what you’re going to get, and there aren’t going to be any problems.” What happens is you think you’re going to be at the top of that and everything is going to go right. When something goes wrong, it’s the property manager who gets blamed which we know there are women, tenants, out there, a bunch of different things. Those challenges and mitigating those are really that second component of it.
Jason: Okay. Now, let’s get into Hemlane a little bit here. Property management business owners have a lot of different pain points, challenges, and problems. There’s a lot of pain points and challenges that owners, tenants, and everybody are dealing with. Businesses only exists, technically, to solve a problem. If a business exists that is not solving a problem, then it’s just stealing money. Let’s get into the problem that Hemlane helps solve. Tell us about the problem. I think this will help people transition into helping them understand Hemlane and what you guys do.
Dana: Hemlane is a flexible and transparent property management platform. What I mean by platform is that we have software. Software, if you think of Buildium or AppFolio but for the smaller guy, not for 500+ units. It’s got the software built into it where it automates things and sends reminders on what you need to do next, and it walks you through a risk-mitigated process. For example, people say, “Why don’t you integrate PayPal? Why can’t I pay with PayPal on Hemlane?” That’s not a good process because tenants can dispute that. We’re not going to flip that in there.
Building the best practices in place, it’s got the software. The second component of it is really saying that, “Hey, most of our clients are people who own rental properties and they don’t locally.” What do they want help with? A lot of them are trying to self-manage or they’re illegally using handymen to show the property and trying to haphazardly put together a process which we see a lot of the market doing especially the tail end of it. They usually do it with these B-class properties where it’s not that they’re having to deal with the Section 8 or much lower income, but they’re saying, “Oh, I can probably manage this remotely myself.”
We actually come in and say, “No, if you want someone to show your property, they have to be licensed here, or managers we worked within that area, or real estate agents. They can show your property for you.” That’s why we call it a platform because we’re not a brokerage. We’re not trying to take clients from anyone. We’re just looking to connect to them.
There’s basically two packages. Property managers and real estate agents use our software-only package because they don’t really need us help connect them or do maintenance coordination. Owners will use the upgraded package, so owners of rental properties, and they’ll say, “Hey, I still want to control my rent, have rent go to me but I want to pay someone a full leasing fee for them to do the leasing.” Whatever it is, we don’t get involved in that price negotiation. We just set them up with someone local who can provide those services for them.
We have partnered with property managers and real estate agents across the nation based on where portfolios are or where the needs are. We’re in all 50 states but our actual agents and managers are only in some of the major cities. We focus on certain cities. Then, what happens is when we have a real estate investor come to us, whether they purchased, they’re in some group, whether they just come to us and find us online, we say, “Great. Here are the managers in the area, get on a call with them, and see what you want them to do. Whatever you want them to do, they’ll just charge you for their services in the system.”
It is in full service. Sometimes it does get to full service. Sometimes they just ask the manager to take over their account in our systems. It downgrades to the software-only package and then managers charges them a whole management fee. A lot of our owners are more in that category of, “Hey, we used to do it ourselves and we’re looking for something else.” They really fall into that do-it-yourself, that 70% category, and we’re trying to push them into saying, “Hey, there are other things out there that are much more efficient than you trying to spend your time on doing your own property management.”
Jason: Let’s make this super clear. For those that are listening, that have property management businesses, they’re property management entrepreneurs, who’s your ideal prospect when it comes to them? Help them self-identify if somebody that should be reaching out to Hemlane.
Dana: Yeah. Great question. From that perspective, it’s typically someone who has under 200 units, they’re looking to grow their portfolio, and they’re also open to doing a combination of multiple things for clients to expand their clientele. What I mean by expand their clientele is saying, “Hey, I’m going to offer a full service is one option and I’m going to offer some unbundled service as well, say, listing only, maintenance only, whatever it is.” When a customer comes to you, it’s not saying, “I charged 10% on this. You don’t want that, don’t work with me.” It’s saying, “Hey, what do you want? What do you want me to do? Here’s what I’ll do. Here’s what our contract says.” Then, you can do everything yourself.
They can jump on our platform. They don’t even have to be using our software to actually get access to owners. They can create an agent manager profile for free. If we do connect them with people, we do have requirements and property management questions that we ask them to make sure that they’re qualified, reference checks, things like that. Usually, it’s for the smaller manager that doesn’t have enough referrals yet, who’s just starting out, saying, “How do I get an advantage in my market? I’m new, I’m a hustler, kind of crazy, in that sense of doing property management. I’m working around the clock, I know myself, but I’m just right now starting to grow my portfolio.”
In property management, there’s only two ways to grow your portfolio. Starve yourself, do it slowly, and go door by door, or acquire brokerage. I have a tons of friends who just acquire property management brokerages. They just run on them, but they have capital. A lot of people don’t have that capital. So, if you don’t and you’re going door-to-door because your parents didn’t hand down their property management business to you—doesn’t happen a lot of the time—if you only have 10 doors and you’re saying, “How do I get to 20?” working and partnering with companies like Hemlane makes a ton of sense to get you out there, your name out there, more referrals, et cetera.
Jason: Love it. I know that we have quite a few that are under 200 doors who are listening. The fact that this could help them generate some more leads creates some more relationships and drum up some more businesses, I think is enticing.
Let’s focus just on the growth aspect. How does Hemlane help somebody, say they’re stuck in that first sand trap, they’ve got 50 or 60 units under management, they’re solopreneur, or maybe they just finally broken past and they wanted to get into that next level, which is that 200–400 door range I called the second sandtrap. How is Hemlane going to help them build up their book of business?
Dana: There’s two things. One is automation and stuff like that. Anything technology can do better that is administrative, we take off of you. Everything from a tenant just said that I’m interested in a showing and just reached out to you on Zillow, you shouldn’t be manually responding to that. You should already have your calendar. You should already have your qualifications of what minimums they have, criteria to qualify. That showing calendar needs to be sent right out to them at that second. They can respond. If they don’t, you can give them a personalized call. Everything from automation, so you’re not focused on that and you’re focused on sales and marketing of your property management business, which is the most important thing to grow at. That’s number one.
Number two is saying, why don’t you give yourself a competitive advantage against everyone else by saying, “Hey, you know what? Everyone else has this 10% model.” A lot of times these people who’ve been self-managing and they are saying, “Hey, I want a property manager,” taking them from going to 0%–10% takes a while over time for them to do that, because they have to build trust in you, they’ve never worked with you. Starting them and saying, “Hey, let me just do your leasing for you. Let me just do your leasing. You can manage everything else on Hemlane.” The next year, coming back and saying, “Hey, do you want me to take over this from you as well?” Letting them ease into it, it’s like when you give a price. A lot of companies do 30 days free or you get those […] and open door things. They’re like, two-for-one. You try things at a low barrier to entry. Then, you’re liking it, you’re hooked, and you’re connected to this person. Then you’re like, “Hey, I trust this person. Now they can have more of my business.”
I think a lot of it is like, that doesn’t happen today in the industry. The industry is just saying, “It’s all or none.” You’re getting the same price quote from every property manager and you don’t want to cut your prices. You don’t want to say, “I’ll give you everything at a lower price.” You don’t want a discount because then, there’s quality problems there. Or when you say, “Hey, maybe I’ll just takeover this little part from you.” […] with that and then, that’s your biggest pain point. “Let me solve that. Now, let me solve your other ones.”
From that perspective, Hemlane can really help you set that up to provide your clients, new clients, and clients across the nation who may just be even looking in your area. With some sort of competitive advantage that you have, when you’re trying to get new doors until you get more of them quickly, and then build those relationships and build that deal value on customer size, over time.
Jason: Hemlane would also help expose this small business to investors in other markets and other areas?
Dana: Yeah. They usually come to us. The investor will come to us and say, “Hey, I’m interested in this plus this.” Usually, investors will come just across the nation and say, “Hey, I’m in Kansas City and I want to put my properties on Hemlane.” We go, “Great! Sign-up and try us for free.” Then we say, “What do you need?” They’re like, “Oh, I need some advertising tools.” “Great! We can provide that to you. Do you need someone to show your properties?” “No, I don’t think I do.” “Okay, when’s your next turnover?” “In two months.” “Great. We’ll follow up then. Do you need someone to show you your property?” “Yeah. Actually my husband and I are going to Europe, things changed.” “Great. Here’s someone who can help with your leasing.”
From that perspective, it’s capturing people at the right time because timing is everything. If you can just get your foot in the door, it makes a lot of sense. For us, because we’re nationwide, we’re a platform, people come in. Where our managers and agents are is where we focus on upselling them, connecting them with local professionals.
Jason: Property management listings that maybe haven’t heard of Hemlane, they were probably naturally inquiring or wondering how are these investors find out about Hemlane?
Dana: There’s a ton of places that they find out about us. The biggest ones that we actually find are actually in social media. Most of these real estate investors, I think, we have one of the best algorithms in place from this person we use from marketing. It is really social because a lot of them aren’t searching for property management software. They just don’t search for that. They don’t search for […] software. A lot of it is on social. Whatever algorithms is being used is working for that. That’s been huge for us.
For example in the US, the top rated on Software Advice, if you look at their top products, you’ll see us at the top for software solutions. They’ll find us on Software Advice. They’ll find us on Capterra. They’ll find us on GetApp. The other thing is blogs and content. I write a ton of content on like, “Why is Venmo the worst way to collect rent?” “What do you need that’s concrete in your lease?”
A lot of times, when they’re searching for something, they’re not searching for a software or a manager. They’re saying, “I have a problem and I need it fixed.” They’re searching that term. You can give them the solution in a blog post and say, “Here’s some ways to get connected locally with folks in your area who do property management.” A lot of times, I just set them up for a coffee. I just say, “Hey, so and so meet so and so for a coffee. I know you’re self-managing, but it would be a great way for you guys just to connect locally in your city in case things change, in case your mind changes.” That’s a great way to start building those relationships without being too salesy. Those people come back to you and they do remember you, especially if you made that impression and you meet them for a quick coffee.
Jason: You guys are pulling in traffic from Capterra, GetApp software sites, blogging all these. You got traffic coming in. For the property manager, what is the buy-in or what’s the requirement for them to start working with you? Financially, what does this typically cost for them to get onboard? How much work does this take? What’s your vetting process? How can those listing self-qualify to become part of the Hemlane network?
Dana: Great question. In every area, we actually personally get on a call with you to understand you because if we’re going to refer you out, we actually think of you more as a partner versus you created a profile. If we are going to refer you out, you actually do need to do some interviews with our team knowing who you are, asking questions, prequalifying. The minimum we’ve taken is someone who’s done 10 doors. As long as you have 10 doors, even if they’re your own doors or something like that and you’re just starting your own property management, we need, as a prerequisite, that you have some experience […] seen in property management because we’re not […] to that. Then, we ask you questions of what would you do in this situation, understanding how well do you really know property management in leasing and complex situations. We’ll walk through those situations with you. The third and final thing is reference checks. We do some reference checks on you.
There’s two things in each area. The first is if you’re using our software already, we obviously would refer people to you first before we refer it to someone who’s not using our software because we don’t take a cut. We don’t believe in taking cuts of however how much you make so when you charge an owner for something, we don’t take a cut of that. You get 100% of it. That’s really important to us because we never want anyone to think, “Hey, we’re working with this person because they give us 20% of their income.” We don’t care. That’s yours. We make our money off of our software and our platform. The connections help make our software much more differentiated than others. We don’t take a cut of anything that you made. That’s really important to note. You build your own business, we build ours, we have the tools to help you with that. If you are using our software, we’ll put you higher range assuming you fit our qualifications. Then, someone who’s not using our software but just free on our program that just says, “Hey, I’m in this region.” In a lot of cities, we don’t have anyone, any partner in that city. There’s no one using our software that’s good enough, that’s qualified. Even if you’re not using our software, we’ll still refer you out just because we want to make sure those people are happy. That’s the first things with it.
What’s even more important to ask to keep the business and keep traction going is asking reviews. When we refer owners out to you, we actually ask them for their opinions on you after working with you the first time. You might have done something really small for them by just saying, “Hey, let me do an annual inspection and drop by your property, you haven’t been there,” or we ask the owner, “How was it? What reports did they give you? This and that,” because we want to make sure that you are trained and qualified.
There’s a ton of people out there pretending to be property managers who’s like, “Gosh, if I have my property in their hands, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.” We found it’s quality not quantity. It’s the quality of the individuals we work with. In each city, we don’t need 500 managers on our platform. “We have everyone on here.” All we need is the top. The people who say they pick up their calls, they respond to emails, you don’t need three weeks to respond to an owner, and they’re fair with the owners. They set these owners up or the owners like, “Thank goodness I have this person on my team.” They went in and did an annual inspection and saw leashes hanging and dog holes, but they’re not supposed to have pets in the place. That takes us […].
That’s really where I do think the value comes in. It’s really asking for reviews on that as well. You can even set it up if you use our maintenance coordination where you get reviews on how you did on maintenance coordination, how well your service professionals did. “I think, Dana’s really big there,” to understand how are people doing and performing because you can’t do everything yourself. For us, it’s the same thing of how are our local agents performing. Sometimes we have to kick people off and say, “You know what? They’re not exactly who we want our reputation to be surrounded with.” That’s why it’s just important if you don’t have any leasing or management experience, you do need to go out and get some. We won’t take someone who’s a newbie and try to train them via meetings.
Jason: This sounds like something ideal for probably most of our clients to get onboard with. If nothing else, you have that listing and be one of the boots-on-the-ground partners that you guys have in your database.
Dana: Yeah. We would love for our team to interview you, have a call with you, and stuff like that. Like I said, it doesn’t take too much time and adds free value. We don’t ask you for marketing dollars. We have those inbound coming in already for our marketing. From that perspective, we’ll just work directly with you and we won’t take a cut. From our perspective, we’re not trying to make money off of you, we’re just trying to create a much more valuable community.
Jason: We probably should have started the show saying, “If you’re a good property manager, Dana’s going to send you leads. She’s just going to send you some free business and you don’t have to pay for it,” and we probably could have just ended it right there and give in a link, and you probably would have gotten a few phone calls.
Dana: That sounds good, yup.
Jason: Okay, cool. What else should those listening know about Hemlane that we haven’t covered already? What are some of the most common questions that you’re feeling may be from the property management side?
Dana: On the property management side, it’s really interesting. One of the things that we get most often image is with owners. When people come to us with owners of, “Hey, I’ve got too much going on, I can’t do it all, I’m stressed, I’m working around the clock, I can’t grow my doors, these owners are upset, blah, blah, blah…” One of the biggest things that I see is communication. When things go wrong, it’s usually because the owner wants to have communication and we see it on our side. When owners come to us, we say, “Why are you signing up for Hemlane?”
Because I want some transparency in communication and for property managers to know that we have it in the solution wherein you can add your owners and decide what they get an access to. But you can also decide they get access to all of it but they don’t get notifications. Once the request is opened, they don’t get notifications on that but they just get a summary email once a week, once a month, depending on what you have set up.
I think from the perspective of Hemlane, one of the things that we see as really valuable and the solution is having that communication. You’re not having to field 500 calls from owners everyday saying, “How many leads did I get today? How many showings did you do for my property this week?” All of that is in the system for your owner to just view and look at, and having that data and having that transparency to them it’s like, “Wow, you’re on top of what you’re doing,” and that makes them feel good.
When they see an email it’s like, “We got 20 leads and 10 of them showed up for showings, and three of them completed an application,” and they go, “Okay, things are moving along.” So even if your day is back-to-back, you’re running around and you got some fire drill with plumbers, some tenants who wants to move out tomorrow, and all these other stuff going on, at least that technology is working for you. It’s one of the biggest things that we see that is really valuable on the software side.
Other questions that we get from property managers is, “Well, what about if you’re going to take clients, and clients are just going to use you and not use me, and this and that?” We’ve never seen that happen. If you’re a good property manager which are the ones on our platform, that doesn’t happen.
There are two types of owners. There is that 30% in the single family homes than Jason is talking about, who say, “I’m handing you the keys, I don’t want to hear about the property, take it and go with it,” and it changes based on different life events, especially when people have kids for some reason, that’s when they’re like, “Please take my properties now. I’ve got something worse than properties, I’ve got children. I’ve got something worse than properties, I can’t deal with them.” There’s these life events that happen that can signal, “Maybe I should check in with them and see if they want more full service.”
For us, what we find is people really fall into different categories and they spiral into that. There are people who would say, “Take everything, I’m willing to pay for it, do everything for me, and send me my owner distribution.” There are other people in the system who want to be so hands on that quite frankly trying to do full service management with them is a nightmare.
Jason, I love that you tell people to say “no” to clients. I think more property managers just need to do that, to fire clients, because they’re so hands on, they want to do everything. It’s double the work for you, then they get involved in things they shouldn’t, they mess up things, and it’s just way more for you.
That’s another thing from Hemlane and what we offer and what people come to us for, what property managers ask us about is, “Hey, would you ever take our client?” we say, “No, we’re a platform.” People can use us but they sought just physically do the work and there’s still physical stuff to be done.
The big question is, “Do they want you to do it, or do they want to do it themselves?” It’s based on life events and based on their personal preferences of whether they are going to do full service, whether they are going to do some hybrid, or whether they’re going to do everything themselves. I think that’s also another question that sometimes we get from managers and we just never seen that, we’ve never seen someone coming to us and say, “My property manager uses your software. Now we’d like to use it.” It’s not that, because that person doesn’t want to do it, right?
Jason: Yeah. There’s a reason. Nobody generally wants to go from somebody’s taking care of something to I think I’d just be fun to start doing this on my own, when it comes to property management.
Dana: Yeah, that’s true. The reverse definitely happens, and it happens in increments because they’re like, “I want someone to help me but I’m not quite sure, I don’t know if I trust this person, I’ve never worked with them.” So, it goes in increment. The only time they see someone who doesn’t work with their property manager, who isn’t someone on Hemlane but elsewhere is when something goes wrong or when they haven’t been communicated to, which honestly, if you have a really good process in place, you’re communicating with your owners everyday, you’re writing them mail, and they don’t have surprises, they shouldn’t have that.
On our system, we have it set up wherein the property managers can just tell the owners on day two, “Here are your tenants who haven’t paid rent, we’re following up with them, but just as heads up, they haven’t paid rent, so we want to give you a forewarning,” so that when you call them on day six and tell them, “We’re serving a three-day notice,” they’re not saying, “Oh wait, now this is a surprise. I thought I was getting the money.” I think communication is really, really important there.
Jason: Yes, you’re talking about this. A lot of times, property managers are just hoping for somebody to just get married to them like, “Let’s just get married, without the dating,” and I think people aren’t really buying property management. They don’t want just property management. What they really want is safety and certainty. That’s what they’re hoping to buy. People don’t buy property management, they’re buying trust in you as a property manager and asking somebody to turnover the keys and give you everything, for some, is just too big of a risk.
I love the idea of they’re being some sort of stepping stone in leading into this safety and certainty. How much safety and certainty do they have initially? It’s pretty low and if they can just hand you a little bit or a piece of this, then it would be very easy to transition them.
A major component of business is retention and upsell. If you can retain them and you can upsell to them, then you’re significantly increasing lifetime value and you have this funnel of people coming into this pipeline that you can build a relationship with over time and you can get them into something bigger.
Russell Brunson, this crazy marketer that some are saying, got this concept that I’m sure he got from somewhere else called the Value Ladder. The idea of the Value Ladder is that you need these different price points that get marginally larger that you start people with, You don’t really want to start people with a really big, high-ticket item. You usually need to start with something small initially, which usually the very beginning is something free, like offering something of free value, or free content, or free information and then it incrementally builds. This gives property managers a little bit more of a Value Ladder to step people and seduce people or convince people into full management.
Dana: Yeah exactly. I think you’re spot on there, Jason, in the sense of life events change where people upsells do happen. But you rarely see people say, “I’m going for full service with someone I trust” to “Now, I’m managing myself.” Once they have already committed, they’re done. The only time that happens is if you dropped the ball and what’s important for you is to have the software, have the communication, have the processes, have the team in place, build your team in order to do that.
You’re right. A lot of times, I see it with property managers and I see they have a call and the owner says, “Hey, I’m looking for a property manager,” and they go, “Okay great. Well here’s all the services that we offer, we’re end-to-end, we charge one month’s rent for leasing, we charge 10% of [00:43].46] for monthly rent to do everything, and we’ll take the keys. When is the good time for me to meet you at the property to see at?” and the owner’s like, “Woah, woah, woah.”
Instead, you should […] the conversation about, “Great, thanks so much for reaching out to me. What can I help you with? What’s the one thing that you hate with your property management? Is it maintenance? Is it doing your showings? What’s the one thing that just drives you insane that you want to do?” That will change your game and differentiate you because they’re giving that same exact price quote, that same exact spiel from everyone, and it doesn’t differentiate you from that perspective.
Jason: Going back to that analogy of marriage and dating, a lot of property managers are like, “Hey, you might need some help with your property?” is the equivalent of saying, “Yeah, I might be interested in, maybe, connecting with you.” “Great, I’ll be moving in tomorrow, like, we’re together.”
Dana: Yup. All the way like, “Here’s my contract, sign it. It’s annual, there’s no free trial, and there’s a huge termination clause.” For an owner, it’s like, “I haven’t actually, physically worked with you.” It’s like hiring an employee. If you worked with someone in the past, you’re like, “Okay, I’m ready to go,” but if you haven’t worked with them, you’re like, “I need to do these interviews, I need to do these background checks, I need to do these,” and you’re like, “I’m not even quite sure if they’re going to work out.” There’s this much larger barrier. As much as you can, avoid and take down that barrier really will help your business.
Also, it goes the other way. You’re dating now but sometimes you want to tell the client after doing just the leasing for them, “I’m so glad you’re taking over the management,” and then they reach back out to you to do the leasing next time and you’re like, “I would love to do the leasing for you but I’m completely booked,” because they were a freaking nightmare to deal with. I never want to deal with them again.
Jason: “Please call our competitors down the street. They would love to help you, we’re a bit overwhelmed right now.”
Dana: All of the competitors think. I think the dating goes both ways because one of the things, Jason, I love about your show what you’ve said time and time again is, a lot of these people who are really stressed in property management, it’s because they have 10% of their clients or 150% of the time they’ve spent of overworked, overwhelmed on these properties and you probably shouldn’t be doing those ones. So. I think the dating goes both ways.
Jason: Yeah. I tell clients all the time that sales and deals and contracts happen at the speed of trust and it’s that simple. I love that with using Hemlane, based on what you’re saying, what this allows you to do is to start that relationship with trust. Once you build that, it becomes very easy to upsell or to get them into a more committed relationship with you of doing more stuff with you once you earned that. Once you earned that, if there’s anything that they’ll need, they’ll be happy to use you to do that and you then have more opportunities. That’s all property management entrepreneurs need is more opportunities to build trust and the more opportunities they have, the better. It sounds like Hemlane is another channel or possibility for them to do that, that they may not have considered before.
Dana: Absolutely. Great way to market from that perspective.
Jason: Dana, it’s been awesome having you here on the show. How can people get in touch with Hemlane? How can these property managers that are listening get started with you guys? How do they sign up?
Dana: If you’re interested in our partnership program, we don’t do just regular sign ups through our partnership page. Instead of going there, you can just email me, email@example.com. I’ll send that out to our partnership team. Brad will give you a call, schedule, and find some time to go through things with you. That’s for the partnership.
You can also go to http://www.hemlane.com and from there you can click the try us for free. You can watch our videos and see what we offer as well, features everything in there, so you can see that as well if you’re interested in using our services. If you just have some questions on property management in general and you’re in this rut or whatever and you think there is some way that potentially we can get you out of that, we’re really happy to hear about that, too, but the fastest thing to do is email me firstname.lastname@example.org because I’m always on my email.
Jason: Cool. Maybe this is the last question so, what is a hemlane? Where does the name Hemlane come from?
Dana: Great question. We wanted something that had an international feel to it. We wanted something that was easy to say, easy to pronounce. DoorGrow, really easy to say, really easy to pronounce, two syllables. We wanted something that didn’t have any branding behind it. When we looked international, we basically took multiple languages for the word ‘home,’ and we went through and looked at ‘home’ in multiple different languages.
Hem is house in Swedish, and then Lane is a path that divides others from other people. When you think of a path, you’re always looking to get ahead of others and differentiate. So, we put how it’s differentiation from that perspective together. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t have rental in it, or something that didn’t really have its own branding around it.
What was funny is when we started Hemlane, it sounded like a horrible pair of cut-off pants like hemline, and everyone I would go to is like, “Do you have a clothing company?” and I was like, “No, it’s not a clothing company. It’s like the opposite.” Now, when you look up, Hemlane it’s all Hemlane, it’s all property management, but before that, it was a lot of just really bad pictures of people’s cut-off pants, hemlines, and stuff like that beforehand.
Jason: Good. I love branding, so I love hearing about how people come up with the name and I love that there’s this meaning behind this, so it’s interesting. Well Dana, it’s been a delight having you here on the show, always fun to hangout with like-minded business people and entrepreneurs. I love that you’re helping the industry, you’re helping growth. I think this is a great fit to have you here on the show and I’m excited to see what success you guys create.
Dana: Great. Thank you so much, Jason, for having me on the show. I love your show and I love the content that you have.
Jason: I appreciate that. Cool. We’ll let you go. It’s really great having Dana on, so if you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to have doors, then maybe check out Hemlane, sounds like interesting channel for growth. If you’re struggling, you want to optimize your business, optimize your warm lead funnel, you’re tired of playing the game of SEO, pay-per-click, content marketing, social media marketing, paper lead services, it’s not working, you’re spending a lot of money, and you’re not getting the return on all that money, then you’re probably worse off than if you just not done the marketing in the first place. Those are the people that we would love to help. Reach out to us at DoorGrow and we might just blow your mind, and help you figure out how to target that 70% and grow your business.
I had a really cool morning call this morning with Regis […] one of our clients. I haven’t really connected much with him over the last year, but he dialed in our program, did what we said, and he had it over a hundred doors in just the last year, just by doing the stuff that I told him to do. All these success story were keep popping up and I probably should stay better connected but if you’re looking to add 100, 200 doors in the next year and you feel like growth, you’re losing more doors than you’re getting on right now due to the sell-off in the market, and you’re focused on cold lead advertising just trying to grow your business and it’s just not working, have a conversation with us at DoorGrow. We would love to help you out and our mission really is to transform this industry and help grow it. I believe this industry have massive potential to be as big as probably the entire real estate industry here in the US.
There are a lot of rental properties and we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of growth. I’m excited to see what happens here in the future, so reach out. If you are watching us on Youtube, or you’re watching this, make sure to like and subscribe. I want to build up our Youtube channel and get our first 1000 subscribers. We’ve got, I think a few hundred there right now but I’d love to get to that thousand-dollar market subscribers and you will see these episodes first. You’ll be the first to be notified when we put these episodes out. We release them to Youtube as videos before they show up on iTunes. If you’re hearing this on iTunes, make sure to go to Youtube and subscribe to our Youtube channel to youtube.com/doorgrow. You load it from your phone right now. Do it and click subscribe. You’ll even start getting some notifications from Youtube in your browser occasionally when we pop up a new video and you’ll be excited and able to hear some of the latest and greatest material connected to property management industry and the growth. That is all for today, until next time everybody to our mutual growth. Bye, everyone.
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