Finding a steady stream of new clients is the key to positive financial growth for any business, but association management companies face unique challenges when trying to make connections with potential clients.
Finding Potential HOA or Condo Clients Isn’t Easy
Before you can sell your services to potential clients, you have to find them first. Driving through a community asking pedestrians the name of the board president is not a viable tactic. And unless you are lucky enough to live in a state that tracks all new board members’ contact info, you probably cannot find viable list of potential clients. Even then, many board members protect their privacy by using HOA email addresses and phone numbers or using a registered agent for all official communication.
Once you find a good group of potential board clients, you run into new problems because your sales window is extremely limited. As volunteers, board members often have limited availability. They have day jobs, meaning they’re often not available during regular business hours, and family commitments and other responsibilities limit their after-work free time. Plus, they are transitory, since a board member can get voted off at any point, so even if you do manage to connect, they may not even be on the board a few months down the road. All this can make it difficult to follow a typical sales process with these prospective clients.
All of these reasons are why Frontage Marketing recommends an Inbound Marketing strategy for those hard to reach HOA and Condo Boards. After all, why should you jump through all those hoops to find potential clients, when you can make them come to you?
However, there are many other ways for you to reach new clients and grow your association management business. Here are a few proven solutions to help market your company more effectively, and connect with those hard-to-reach board members.
Tip 1: Narrow your focus.
Believe it or not, limiting your services or target region can help to increase your bottom line. When you specialize in a particular community or niche, you’re letting your target audience know you understand their needs better than your competitors who don’t specialize.
- Focus on a specific type of community. – By focusing exclusively on a specific type of community, like high-rise condos, gated communities, or 55+ communities (depending on the volume in your service area), you signal to other communities that you have a deeper understanding of the unique needs of these types of associations.
The reputation you build for providing top-tier service within your niche will attract your target communities. Then, other communities looking for a higher level of service will also seek you out. It may sound strange to limit your services in order to grow your business, but it really does work!
- Focus on your local area. – If you don’t focus your marketing on a specific geographical area, you might find yourself competing with national management companies and bigger management companies with offices in multiple locations. This can set you in a bad light since you don’t have the same budget and resources those big companies do, but it can also be a drain on your own resources when you try to stretch yourself too thin.
Narrowing your focus to a specific local area allows you to build and leverage deep connections that will create loyal and vocal customers. Then you can leverage those happy clients to gradually expand your territory, building deep roots along the way.
This strategy can be especially important when you’re marketing online, as hyper localized content is much easier to rank for than national content where you are competing with the whole world for a keyword. Be sure to claim your online listings on platforms like Google My Business and Facebook Places. It’s also important to add keywords that include your location to your website to help drive local traffic.
Tip 2: Build a strong online presence.
In a 2015 survey by Forrester Research, 74% of business buyers said that they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. This means HOA boards looking for an association management company are researching online, reading reviews, and comparing prices before anyone ever reaches out to you.
- Make sure your website features helpful content. – Think of your website as a digital storefront where potential clients can learn more about you and see what you have to offer. You want a website that’s user-friendly, informative, visually appealing, and targeted to your client’s needs.
You should focus on topics that will be helpful to a potential board member client, such as Association Industry legislation updates, tips and templates for annual budgeting, and advice on how to shop for a new association management company.
- Provide downloadable resources for boards. – Offer valuable resources like templates for budgets, meeting agendas, and meeting minutes. You can also create a checklist for boards to follow when shopping for a new management company.
When you ask the potential client to provide their name, contact information, and basic information about their association, these free resources are lead magnets that help you connect with boards that are already interested in what you have to offer.
We’d love to help you polish your online presence! Schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help your association management company get noticed by the right audience.
Tip 3: Leverage the power of referrals.
Happy customers are the best salespeople. When they’re satisfied with the service you provide, they’re more than willing to sing your praises. So, don’t overlook the relationships you’ve already built with clients and contractors.
- Implement a referral program. – Board members talk…and they love to save money! Start a referral program that rewards your current board members for sending new clients your way. You can offer a discount on your management fee or free services for a month.
Of course, it’s extremely important to focus on providing consistent and exceptional customer service. But once that’s in place, you can leverage your clients’ positive experiences to bring in valuable leads and help expand your portfolio.
- Build your network. – Maintaining relationships with real estate agents, builders, and developers can put you on the radar of HOA board members for communities in your niche. These professionals often work with HOAs and can help you get in touch with board members.
Don’t overlook the independent contractors (like landscapers and plumbers) you use to provide services for the communities you manage. Many of these contractors work for multiple associations and may be able to help you make a connection with HOA boards.
Tip 4: Manage your online reputation.
Make no mistake, when a board member is searching for an HOA management company, they’re paying attention to your online reviews. Pay attention to what is being said about you online, and don’t be tempted to censor bad reviews. A business with a few less-than-stellar reviews is seen as more trustworthy.
- Encourage positive online reviews. – Encourage your community managers and client-facing staff to build good relationships with board members and homeowners. Then, set up a reward program to give your team an incentive to ask for positive reviews.
Don’t be afraid to make it fun! Not only do teams love the positive feedback for their work, but they’ll also appreciate the recognition they get from you and the rest of your team for participating in your reward program.
- Respond to both positive and negative reviews. – Reviews on platforms like Yelp and Google are a representation of your brand. Consumers read these reviews for more than just a recommendation. They’re also evaluating whether a business is responsive to clients. Reviews are a valuable opportunity to communicate with your clients and potential clients. Don’t let them go unanswered.
While a negative review can hurt your business, the way you respond can rescue a bad experience and win you new business. (If you need help with responding to reviews, contact us today to discuss our reputation management services.)
Tip 5: Always Be Selling to Your Clients. (Bonus – building value)
A wise management executive once told me, “The board that fires us is never the board that hired us.” This insight is so important in the world of community association management. You took the time to sell your value to the board to win the contract, but when there was turnover on the board, did you sell your value to the new board members? How about the homeowners, who are potential future board members, have you sold yourself to them? If you are not constantly showing your company’s value to your existing clients, you could lose them, and research shows that it costs as much as 5x to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one.
- Communicate the value of your brand, not just your manager. – Many management companies turn over the day to day administration of a community to the manager and they forget about it. But if all the value is built in to the manager, you are building loyalty to your managers, not to your brand. Consider a monthly newsletter or other regular communication that consistently reminds residents and boards about your brand and the value you bring to them.
- Show Your Value by Charging what You’re Worth. – If your pricing model is like many management companies, it probably includes a schedule of miscellaneous charges. This incorporates things like extra time spent on meetings, charges for mailings, etc. These activities are part of the value that you bring to your clients that goes above and beyond the base door charge. But many management companies bypass these charges and don’t charge for these additional services.
If your managers regularly sit through a 3 hour board meeting and don’t charge for it, your clients will expect that service, and they won’t assign any additional value to it. It may sound conter-productive to say that you can increase your company’s perceived value by charging more, but it really does work.
All of these tips are easy to talk about, but putting them into action while also running your business is no small feat. If you are ready to take your community association management company to the next level, but you need a helping hand to get there, Frontage Marketing Group can help. Schedule a free consultation today and let’s talk about how we can help your business grow.