When property managers need a helping hand, where can they go to find the right handyman/maintenance contractor?
Today, I am talking to Liz Koser of Keepe, an on-demand marketplace that fills the supply-and-demand gap between contractors and property managers. Liz is a real estate investor and landlord with 10 properties, 15 doors.
[01:40] Early Exposure to Property Management: Liz is following in her parents’ footsteps of real estate investing.
[01:54] Own vs. Rent: Liz’s first condo was her own home that turned into her first rental. Since then, she typically purchases 1–2 properties a year.
[02:07] Diversify Property Portfolio: First year for Liz to explore out-of-state investing.
[03:32] A lot like Uber: Based on location and availability, contractors go through a background check before picking up jobs via Keepe’s mobile app.
[04:00] Keepe Connecting through Techstars: Fast track program for startups to get feedback on product/market fit; network with others to quickly bring things to market.
[04:39] Future Growth Goals: Keepe’s on the West Coast and making its way to Denver and beyond.
[06:25] Why choose to use Keepe? Allows property managers to feel safe expanding, growing their business, and extend the reach or capability to get jobs done.
[08:55] Keepe Options as Seasons Change: When things heats up, it’s time to grow.
[10:07] Keepe’s Process: No monthly subscription fee, paid on-demand.
[11:08] Common Concerns and Questions: Keepe constantly collects data and feedback from customers and others to improve its network of contractors.
[12:25] Building Relationships and Referrals: Bring over or block contractors to join the network.
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.
And today, I’m hanging out with the fantastic Liz Koser of Keepe. Liz, welcome to the show.
Liz: Thanks for having me.
Jason: Liz, give us a little bit of a background. Who is Liz? The bio that I have says you’re a Seattle real estate investor, landlord, you have 10 of your own properties, 15 doors, alongside with your husband, your parents actively invest in rental property, and you were exposed to this early on. Tell us a little more about you and how you got into property management or into the space.
Liz: As you said, my parents were already investing in real estate and I have bought my first condo in 2009, which was my own home, and that eventually became my first rental. Then from 2012 to now, I steadily bought 1–2 properties a year. Last year, we didn’t get any, but this year we already have two and I think we’ll probably going to continue to add this year and continue to be aggressive about it.
That’s where I’m at on the investing side. Also, I think I mentioned this in my bio, but this is the first year where I’ve explored investing out-of-state. I picked up my first out-of-state property and have every intention of continuing down that path. With the Seattle market, it’s high and it just makes sense also to diversify. I know people diversify within the stock market. I actually think it’s somewhat important to diversify within the real estate investing realm as well.
Jason: Now, lead us towards Keepe. How did Keepe get started, what’s your role there, and give us a little background there.
Liz: Keepe got started because there is a supply and demand gap between having handymen available and property managers’ need for finding handymen, especially in the markets that we’re in today. Keepe got started as a way to address that gap. We are an on-demand marketplace, matching contractors and property managers.
It works a lot like Uber in that contractors pick up jobs on mobile app, based on location and availability. They go through a background check and so on. One of the Keepe founders does also own rental properties. I had known him previously and that is how I made the initial connection. Keepe went through Techstars in 2016.
Jason: What is Techstars?
Liz: Techstars is a startup incubator, which is a fast track program for startup companies to get feedback on product and market, the whole fit, top-end networking with lots of other entrepreneurs and investors to bring things to market more quickly.
Jason: Okay, So, that means it rapidly was getting ready faster. Where’s Keepe at now in terms of growth and penetration? How new is Keepe for those that are listening?
Liz: We’ve been in Seattle the longest, but actually Keepe is in the greater Seattle area, Portland, San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Phoenix, Arizona, and then most recently Los Angeles and Orange County.
Jason: You’ve hit a lot of the major markets here on the West Coast, right?
Jason: What’s next, Denver?
Liz: Yeah. I think Denver is a very good candidate and I’m actually from Colorado, so Denver would be a good fit for me personally in terms of running the sales side of Keepe. Also, I think Austin, Texas or the Dallas Fort Worth area, but definitely we’re here to grow nationally. With that, the first step is getting off the West Coast, right?
Jason: Right. When you start shifting towards the east, it’s going to be Atlanta and Jacksonville. Those are big markets for us. They seem to attract a lot of businesses there. Certainly those.
Liz: It’s interesting. We’ve actually received a few phone calls from the Atlanta area, property managers asking if we’re there yet. That’s a good sign we’re getting preemptive calls.
Jason: All right. So the goal is expansion, you guys are growing, and eventually people will be listening to this because this episode will have been out for a while and you might already be in some of these new markets, right?
Jason: Explain to everybody why they should choose to use Keepe. I know a lot of property managers are like, “Well, we find our own people,” or, “I don’t trust this.” What are some of the typical things that you tell people to sell this to them?
Liz: One, starting now, a lot of property managers who use Keepe kind of slow go. Let’s say they start to send us a handful of jobs and then over time, we end up gaining a larger portion of maintenance from our customers. I know people have their trusty handyman, but I would say a big need comes up when people say, “Oh, no. My handyman retired or moved away,” and this happens all the time.
That is one area where if you’re counting on one or even two people, there’s a company in Arizona that said, “Oh, both our people retired at the same time.” It just doesn’t work in the long run. The other thing is when property managers are depending on those one or two handymen and they’re also a little bit geographically limited.
Some of our customers maybe were in a certain Bay Area city, let’s say San Jose, and they’re weren’t willing to pick up clients in San Mateo because they didn’t have a contractor in San Mateo. Using Keepe now opens the door to look at branching out into other geographies as well. We’ve had customers that have been able to expand their footprint because they have Keepe in their back pocket and they know they can handle maintenance in other areas.
Jason: So, having Keepe allows these property managers to feel safe expanding, growing their business, and allows them to extend the reach or capability as far as their challenges with getting jobs taken care of that they have.
If the handyman retires, moves, all these kinds of stuff, then they’re typically in pain. This is one when they typically would reach out to Keepe? Is this what you’re finding?
Liz: That is where they are like, “Oh, great. Now I get it.” We have a lot of property managers try us out before that point and we’ve had property managers that have said, “Oh, great. This helps me grow because I maybe had one on-staff handyman or two and I wasn’t sure about adding a third.”
Sometimes, they realize that there’s busy seasons and so seasons, so, “How do I keep our team busy throughout the year?” Well, you might be able to keep one person busy throughout the year and utilize Keepe instead of adding a second person. There’s a lot of options here.
Jason: That’s a little bit of flexibility to what they’ve got going on, which makes a lot of sense. Property management is a very seasonal sort of business. It really heats up in the summer and even if you look at Google Trends and look at search volume, you can see the year just spike through summer every single year in search volume for property management.
That’s when everything heats up and that’s the time to grow if they’re needing to expand during those seasonal times without bringing on staff because bringing on somebody long-term is a commitment. Nobody wants to lay somebody off if things gets a little lame. It allows them a little safer adjusting.
How does the process work with Keepe? How do they work with you?
Liz: We have a pretty easy sign-up process and we actually don’t have a monthly subscription fee. We are paid on-demand. Keepe is both a platform and in the […] contractors. All the payments flow through us. Invoicing comes from Keepe and we pay out the contractors.
The sign-up process is pretty much getting set-up for billing terms. When property managers use us for a job, that’s when we make money. We actually don’t have a monthly subscription.
Jason: Interesting. So, it’s only when you need it.
Liz: Yeah, but our job is to earn a greater percentage of our customer’s business, which is good for our customers because that means that we are working to build a relationship in the long run.
Jason: Fantastic. What are some of the common questions or concerns that people will bring up when they call you? We got people listening right now. They probably have these questions. What are the typical concerns that they have in handing something over to Keepe?
Liz: We get questions about how do we find the contractors and what’s our process for getting contractors on board. Sometimes, people think that there’s somebody in the background dialing a list to find them a contractor. It’s just shifting the burden. We actually have a team that interviews contractors. We do criminal background checks and then from there, we are collecting ratings on the contractors, so tenants today are the ones that respond once a job is complete unless it’s a vacant unit and it’s a rental turn, then it would be the property manager.
We’re constantly collecting this feedback and we have contractors that have been in our network for multiple years. We do remove contractors at times. So, it’s all about the feedback loop and continuously improving the network.
Jason: Got it. Fantastic. Any other questions or concerns that they might have or that they bring up during the sales process?
Liz: One question we get is if they don’t like a contractor, can they block them? Yes, we do allow property managers to block certain contractors. It’s come up more recently is, “If we end up going with Keepe, can our handyman join Keepe’s network?” Yes, we are happy to take those referrals from property managers. They are probably some of the best referrals we can get because if one property manager likes the contractor, then that’s a good sign going forward.
Jason: It kind of like a timeshare.
Liz: Yeah, a little bit.
Jason: They’re like, “Can I share my contractor with some of the other people in your network, so I can keep them on?”
Liz: Yeah, definitely. Once question we get is can they request their contractor. When you think about how Uber and Lyft operate, where they’re matching you with the driver near that location when they’re available, that is essentially how our network works. Although you could have a preference for someone, if that person is not available at that scheduled time, then it’s not going to be an exact matching. That’s one thing to keep in mind with a fluid marketplace is that it doesn’t work with the on-demand model to request a specific person necessarily.
Jason: It’s optimized for efficiency. The trade-off in not getting to pick Steve is that you get the job done for faster and probably get a better review.
Jason: This is very interesting, super helpful. I’m excited to see you guys expand into some more markets and grow. Anything else anybody should know about Keepe that we didn’t cover?
Liz: I am always interested in hearing from people in other markets, too. Like I mentioned, we had a few calls from the Atlanta area. I do make note when people come to us and I’m like, “Oh, there’s already a lot of demand there.” So, even if we’re not in your city today, I would recommend reaching out because I do track that. It’s very telling of demand and helps us in the decision-making as we move forward into new markets.
Jason: Liz, how can people get in touch with you to let you know they want you and your market or if they’re in one of the markets that you cover, how can they get in touch?
Liz: They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason: And they can check Keepe out at keepe.com, right?
Jason: Perfect. All right. Liz, it’s great having you on the show. Excited to see Keepe grow and expand. It sounds like the service that helps feel that in-between gap between people’s in-house maintenance, people’s seasonal maintenance, some of these challenges that they’re dealing with. I look forward to seeing which markets you get into next.
Liz: All right. Thank you for having me on the show, Jason.
Jason: Yeah. Thanks for being here. So, check them out at keepe.com and see if it might fit. As always, I love getting feedback from you guys, so let me know what you think of these guys. And I appreciate Liz being here on the show.
If you are a property management entrepreneur that is wanting to add doors, you’re trying to figure things out, you’re struggling, and things just don’t seem to be working, I would love to have a conversation with you. Reach out to our team. Go to doorgrow.com, give us a call, connect with us, schedule an appointment, and check us out.
If you are a property management business that can handle adding 50 new doors at least, you want to add maybe 100 doors over the next year at least, then you can go to doorgrow.com/optin. Plug in your email address and that will get you access to some case studies. See if you can see other people that have done it. And they’ve done it without SEO, pay-per-click and content marketing, without social media marketing, without pay-per-lead.
They were able to grow their businesses organically, healthily, with warm leads to take away last time, have a much higher close rate. You’ll also see that they’re all really happy, which is not super normal sometimes in this industry. It’s a tough industry. I want you to notice that. So, check out those case studies.
On that case studies page, I have a link to free training called DoorGrow Secrets that really is the beginning of our training material that I give out for free. I’m going to share with you and add some concepts like The Cycle of Suck, The Four Ds to Revenue, Cold Leads Versus Warm Leads, The Myth of SEO, and some other cool stuff that’s going to help you see why growth has been challenging and what makes the most sense to help you grow your business.
Hopefully, everybody checks that out, doorgrow.com/optin is where you go to that; one word. So, until next time, everybody, to our mutual growth. Bye everyone.
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