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by Drew DeMasters

threeYour friends havent done anything new lately.

Have you seen this phrase before? Front and center when I logged into Hotmail, it made me laugh and think really?! If only you knew what my friends are up to. And if Hotmail thinks you arent doing anything new, theres a good chance you probably are! Then I thought of how this relates to the way some manage their rental properties.

Its easy to think no news is good news or leave well enough alone when it comes to our residents. If theyre paying rent and not complaining, thats all we want right?

Well if so, aim higher. You could be leaving all kinds of money on the table.

But first, lets talk about the risks of leaving well enough alone. Is your property falling into disrepair? Is the yard mowed? Gutters cleaned? Trash picked up? Any safety hazards you should know about? Are you meeting your obligations as a landlord? And are your residents meeting theirs? Any pets, roommates or vehicles you dont know about? Weve all heard of the owner who stops by his property only to find it vacant with litter in the yard and abandoned furniture on the porch. Theres a bunch of reasons why that should never happy to you or me and somewhere near the top of that list is ” we do NOT leave well enough alone!

But whats the upside of breaking the ice and communicating more with your residents? Lets look at 3 big ones.

1. You can keep them longer in your property. (more money)

Communicate with your residents throughout the month (not just when rent is due) and throughout the year (not just at lease renewal). Not to harass them but to build a relationship.

Not to breathe down their necks but to open their eyes. Show them why yours is the last place theyll ever need. And how you can meet changing needs like when they have a new baby, buy a new car, start a new job or prepare to buy a home. Be accessible and helpful. In short, become the kind of landlord theyve never even heard of before!

2. You can keep up your property values by fixing the little repairs before they become big expensive repairs. (more money)

A house doesnt improve over time by itself. It never gets better, only worse. It requires regular upkeep, maintenance, repairs and cleaning even to just maintain its current condition. So pace yourself, plan and budget for small upgrades, improvements and repairs throughout the year.

And gradually build a rainy-day cash reserve for those unexpected emergencies that pop up at the worst times.

3. You can increase your rental income each month by offering creative solutions or service to the evolving and changing needs of your residents. (more money)

Would any of these work with your residents?

On-site weekly car wash and detailing service

Weekly housekeeping service

Gardener, landscaper

Pet sitting / dog walking / on-site grooming service

Plant watering/feeding service

Furnished apartment and/or furnished appliances

Paycheck-cashing service (for rental payments)

There are two ways to think of this list.

First, can these be additional services/conveniences you can arrange and offer to your residents for an additional fee each month? If so, try these ideas to increase your rental income.

Second, can you afford to offer one of these services at no charge to your residents? If so, it can give you an advantage over other landlords and really set you apart in a big way from every other apartment owner in the market. And showing how you are different is key to grabbing the attention of new prospects and keeping your properties rented.

See a theme here? Its all about generating more money for you with 3 little words:

Meet. Customer. Needs.

Drew DeMasters is a landlord, author and marketing coach with 17 years in the rental business. His new book is available at www.landlordmarketingsecrets.com

Winner of an Echo Award from the Direct Marketing Association, DeMasters holds an MBA in Marketing from the University of Missouri ” Kansas City. He is available for coaching or to speak to your landlord or business group and can be reached at [email protected]

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