It goes without saying that every landlord and property owner dreams of a quick and seamless listing and leasing process that results in a happy tenant and ongoing rental income. But what can we do to make the leasing process run more smoothly? How can we reduce the number of days on market and fulfill our owner’s expectations—without taking on tenants who are not a good fit?
Todd Breen is the experienced real estate broker, investor and property manager behind VirtuallyinCredible, a company offering video training, marketing and outsourcing specific to the property management industry. On this episode, Todd joins Bob to discusses the two major benefits of posting video property tours on your website and the value in leveraging VirtuallyinCredible’s leasing call center to boost your live answer ratio.
Todd also describes the process he uses to pre-lease an impressive 80% of his inventory prior to vacancy, the biggest mistake property managers make in the tenant screening process, and the statistics around how many prospective tenants tell lies of omission or co-mission on rental applications. Listen in for Todd’s argument against the idea that all money is good money and learn his tips for working less and earning more as a property manager!
A time-stamped transcript of the episode is below.
[4:05] The two major benefits of posting virtual video property tours on your website
[12:21] Why it’s crucial to train and monitor your call center staff around Fair Housing Laws
[13:27] Todd’s take on coming soon listings and the process he uses to pre-lease 80% of his inventory prior to vacancy
[20:36] The biggest mistake property managers make in the tenant screening process
[23:13] The statistics around how many rental applicants tell lies of omission and/or co-mission
[35:38] Todd’s tips for earning more by focusing on dollars per door
Connect with Todd
Connect with Bob
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Todd’s How to Pre-Lease Training Series
The new eBook, Best Practices for Renting Your Home, has been recently published by Bob Preston and is offered as a free download on the North County Property Group website. Find it at this weblink and download for free! https://www.ncpropertygroup.com/ebook
Explore the offerings at VirtuallyinCredible. Use the codeword “brainstorm” to let them know we’ve sent you and receive your first 3 days free if you sign up for one of their services.
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Bob Preston: 01:09 What's going on Brainstormers? Before we get started today, I'd like to offer you a copy of my new eBook called Best Practices for Renting Your Home. It's a quick read and offers all of my tips from being in the property management business for over 20 years. Navigating the pitfalls and safety nets that come with being a landlord. This eBook has recently been published and is offered as a free download on the North County Property Group website. Find it at this web link and download it for free.
Bob Preston: 01:52 Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Property Management Brainstorm show. I'm Bob Preston, your host, broadcasting from our studio at North County Property Group in Del Mar, California. If you're new here, please click on subscribe so you have ongoing access to all of our great episodes and if you like what you hear, please pay it forward with a positive review for the show goes. Without saying that it's the desire of every landlord and property owner to have a quick and seamless listing and leasing process from start to finish, which results in a happy tenant placement with ongoing rental income. Today we're going to talk about aspects of making sure that leasing process goes from good to great. My guest is an experienced realtor broker, landlord, investor and property management company owner. This guy does it all and knows a lot. Todd Breen from VirtuallyinCredible. Todd, welcome to the show.
Todd Breen: 02:45 Thanks Bob. Great to be here.
Bob Preston: 02:46 Hey, I read your bio that you started working in your family real estate business at the age of six. Now come on. Is that true?
Todd Breen: 02:53 Absolutely true man. If you knew my dad and you knew that's true, we, uh, I was building the signs in the basement of his real estate office on weekends when I was six years old. And believe it or not, I was reconciling his trust account by the age of 12 and we worked every Saturday morning at the family real estate business doing something.
Bob Preston: 03:15 Oh man. Okay. I'm going to ask you to tell us a story later on the episode, so maybe there'll be some fun stories about when you were six, but I'm sure you've got a lot to tell us about your background. You know, how you're doing at VirtuallyinCredible. So why don't you start and just tell us about yourself and your company VirtuallyinCredible.
Todd Breen: 03:32 So VirtuallyinCredible is really a division of home property management, which is my management company for 35 years in South Florida. And what the theme behind VirtuallyinCredible is I got tired of doing certain things at my management company. So I figured out how to outsource it and then I figured out how to scale it and offer it as a service to other property managers. And we now have hundreds of other management companies around the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Britain that are relying on us to help them with some of their processes.
Bob Preston: 04:06 Yeah. And we're a client full disclosure and we've been real happy with what you guys are doing for us. And one of the areas where you help us with some of our video production, and I know this is one of your hot buttons. So why is video so important when it comes to, you know, publishing these types of things on, on your website as a property manager or landlord?
Todd Breen: 04:24 So there are two really valuable things that a property manager can do with the, the video walk through tours and video in general. First, and if you've ever shown property, this is going to resonate with you. Imagine driving across town trying to navigate rush hour traffic to get to your showing and the person's not there or the person steps in the front door and doesn't even look at the property and says, eh, not for me. What else you got and you're pulling your hair out saying, man, I have so many other things I could have done then drive across town to show you this house. Right.
Bob Preston: 05:01 I've been there, man. Let me tell you. And so and still to this day, so when my leasing agents come back shaking their head, right?
Todd Breen: 05:07 No, it's, it's, it's gut wrenching. So I tell you what I did. I know this is an audio cast so you can't see what I'm holding up. Back in the day I took my, my iPhone four and I super glued a washer from home Depot over the lens and bought magnetic wide angle lens. And I stuck a lens to my iPhone because our smart phones are great video cameras. And I was literally went back to that same house where I got stood up on the showing and then the next showing said, eh, what else you got? And I pushed record out at the curb and I said, hi, this is Todd. I'm going to give you a walk through of this entire property and by the end of this video you'll know if you want to rent the house and live here. And then I did a, unedited, narrated to, or just like I was showing it to them if they were beside me and I started putting those, my listing page beside all my photos and I'll be darned if two really cool things didn't happen. I got fewer phone calls because people were watching the video and saying, eh, what else you got instead of calling me on that house. But the calls that I got were like, okay, I've seen the video and I'm going to be there. When's the soonest I can see the property? And they had that urgency in their voice and they were there 15 minutes early and they said, if it looks like the video, I'll take it. So my showings fell in half and I didn't have to spend as much time driving across town to show properties
Bob Preston: 06:36 Much more efficient in your process. Right. And I suppose it could go the other way. I mean, if somebody looks at a photo, a flat photo, and they don't like the curb appeal in that photo, but then they watch your video, they might go, huh, that that house is actually pretty cool inside. Maybe I should go check it out. You know? So it could work the other way.
Todd Breen: 06:51 You know, I know you'd like to give your listening audience some value. I created a how to shoot a video walk through tour training series. Cool. And I sold it to property managers for years for 300 bucks and I've since made it free and it's available to view on the virtuallyincredible.com website. If you want to learn how to show your own video walk through tours, go take the training. God bless. Now remember there's two reasons to shoot video. The second is if you have our company edit and optimize your videos for you, we can take your pin in the map for property management in San Jose or wherever you are and we can help you get up to the top of Google over time and we can give you a reasonable estimate on what's involved to make that happen for you.
Bob Preston: 07:39 And that's all about on time, people watching videos on your website to be there longer, right? I mean that's part of it.
Todd Breen: 07:44 Yeah, huge. It's, it's time on site. It's audience retention. It's the keyword optimization and the geo-tagging that we do, I mean, I'm not going to bore you with the details, but Google loves videos that people watch and when you publish videos and people watch them like they will a video tour, you know, it's funny, we have people send the video to, to their mom, to their daughter, to their best friends. What do you think? Should I live here? You know, I mean these videos get a lot of views.
Bob Preston: 08:14 Got to get a lot of play time. So we'll get into towards the end of the episode, we'll get into, okay, how do people contact you? You know, your company, right? Where do they go? And then we have a little special code word brainstorm for those people who want to go cause they'll get a special deal from you too. So we'll touch on that all when we get to the end of the episode and give our listeners all that great contact information. Awesome. Okay. So when a prospective tenant calls a landlord, this is another one of my hot buttons, right? There's kind of a window of opportunity that that prospect, you know, has, it starts to close the minute they leave a message without talking to somebody. Right? So you know, somebody calls leaves a message, I don't care if it's after hours over the weekend, whatever that time is ticking. But the fact of the matter is, you know, my staff or you know, your client's staff can't always be available because we're out in the field showing. Or maybe it's tougher during times where with our families and after all, you know, we all have home lives. So we're one of your leasing call center clients and I'm hoping you can share kind of how that works for our listeners, what the benefits are and you know what it can do for people who might be interested in that type of thing.
Todd Breen: 09:18 So here's some interesting statistics, Bob, that everyone should be paying attention to. Okay. And these are our own statistics. These aren't quotes. When we mystery shop property management companies, the average score is in the mid thirties like 36% the last time we summed it all up. That means one in three calls gets connected to a live person who's ready, willing and able to help us with information about the property and to book a showing. So most management companies have a lot of room for improvement, is a nice way to put it at answering a high percentage of the lead calls they get. Now another interesting statistic, and this is true from my management company, I've tracked this for years. We have to take a hundred phone calls to write one lease. Now if that number is 90 or if it's 110 let's just use a hundred good number. Sure. It means 99 calls I am wasting time on. Personally as a real estate professional. It means I'm talking to people I'm never going to monetize my time from. So that one person you got to talk to all hundred to get your house rented, right? But 99 of them you're not going to make any money from. And meanwhile a property owner's calling you to try and list with you and they're not getting the, you know, prompt service they need. So the reality is one of the best favors any property management company can give themselves is the gift of forwarding their leasing calls to a leasing call center and letting someone else answer those calls. Who's trained and always happy to answer. And the other thing is if you look at the graph of how many calls you get, Bob Mondays are slammed days for rental calls all weekend long.
Bob Preston: 11:09 We live it, man. Yeah, Mondays is one of our busiest days for sure. Cause all the backlog. Yeah.
Todd Breen: 11:14 So if you were going to staff properly, trust me on this, we have a workflow analyst with a masters in statistics that looks at our call volumes. If you wanted to staff properly, you would have three times as many people answering, leasing calls on Monday as you do on Friday or Thursday. None of us are really staffed up that way, but at our call center we are. So that's how we can answer 97% of calls live. And so when you answer 97% of your calls live instead of 35% you rent houses three times faster and your days on market goes down, your sanity goes up. It's a wonderful thing.
Bob Preston: 11:52 Well, and guys are capturing all those tire kicker calls too that you know you flush out and pre-screen and you know, can pretty much decide right away on our behalf whether or not they're going to qualify or they could be a good candidate. And then yeah, we get the hot ones, right? I mean that's kind of how it works.
Todd Breen: 11:54 Yeah. We set the appointments and you show up to a qualified screen pre-screen showing and then you don't have to deal with that person who says, I was wondering if you could work with me on my special situation. You know, we've actually trained our staff how to answer and how not to answer those calls.
Bob Preston: 12:22 Well that's another good point. I mean they're well trained and all the fair housing, proper ways to phrase things so you don't get, you know, yourselves or us in trouble. That's another good, good point about other people do that consistently.
Todd Breen: 12:34 It goes deeper than that. And I'm, you know, I, I'm always concerned when I hear people hiring their own virtual staff to answer their leasing lines, right? Because we give people a fair housing test, you know, training. Then they test, they have to pass, they have to get retested twice a year. And then we have QA people who call our own people posing as, or we listened to our call recordings and we have testers to make sure that none of our people are going to make anybody fail a fair housing question when they, when there's a call. And you know with so much at risk, giving that to untrained, unsupervised and unmonitored staff members is really a high risk thing to do. So if you are doing that at least up your game and train them or consider just putting them on other tasks and outsourcing your leasing calls to a trained professional.
Bob Preston: 13:28 This is great stuff. So you know you have a wealth of knowledge, you've been in this business a long time so we're kind of bouncing around on topics but they all fit within sort of this leasing process from listing to getting it rented. So I hope you're cool with that one of the practice. Yeah, that's right. You're here today. So some property managers will list a property as kind of coming soon. We have owners ask us, well God can you put this up as coming soon? And then, and then you'll start to get all these leads and then eventually you'll start to show it. We kind of know in our business we know that as pre-leasing. I think that's maybe the proper term to use and it amounts to going in and starting to show a home either after you've listed it maybe two weeks later or maybe going in while the owner is still living there with a tenant still there. So what are your thoughts on that in terms of, you know, being a property management professional, knowing kind of what works, what's the best process, what are your thoughts of this notion of pre-leasing?
Todd Breen: 14:21 Well, so Bob, I'm a landlord as well and the reason we got into our businesses, my dad owned 55 single family homes. When you think like the owner and you treat your customers, uh, and put their needs first, you'll always have customers. And that is a quote from Jim Breen, my dad. All right. And thinking like an owner, what would you want your property manager to do? Would you want them to wait until it's vacant to put it on the market or would you want them to try and advertise and show it while it's occupied?
Bob Preston: 14:53 Well, not all of our owners know the business. So they usually want it to be pre-shown or get a listed, get it, get it, you know, get as many people aware of it right away. That's what they want, right? Typically.
Todd Breen: 15:02 You know, my, my dad had this, uh, innate ability to divide any number by 30 and tell you how much it costs for that house to sit empty that day. And so, you know, he'd say that 1500 a month, what's it cost to sit empty today? And you'd be like $50. Well then, you know, go, let's get it rented. You know? So the point is that we at our company at Home Property Management in South Florida, here's an interesting statistic, 2018 and year to date, 2019 pre-leased 80% of our inventory before it went vacant. No kidding. Now if you are one of our clients and you get a phone call from us 30-45 days before the property is due to turn over and say, Hey, good news, we got it rented a week after the tenant moves out and we're able to do that. And this is a brief podcast. We've got a training series where I interviewed my entire office staff on every step we take to pre-lease 80% of our inventory. It's 14-minute video series. At the end of this, uh, we'll give out instructions on how to see that. But it's so easy to do if you focus on it and make it your intent. And if you have a call center and the right scheduling software, it makes it super easy.
Bob Preston: 16:17 I think that's probably a good point is if your team's good at pre-leasing, go for it. But sometimes I find that it also miss sets, owner's expectations because if the house isn't clean, if it isn't fully rent ready, there's a bunch of boxes around the house, the people are moving out, you know, it's not properly prepped, I guess, and rent ready. Then. Does that mislead expectations in, well, a house is on the market. To your point, does it become kind of stale? I mean, I know you, you have a chance to get at least without any vacancy period. But is it kind of a mistake because it could go stale and then you might end up not getting as many leads down the road when the property is finally vacant.
Todd Breen: 16:56 So all of those are valid points. And yet we pre-leased 80% of our inventory before it's vacant. And so to your point, we put the property on the market, 60 days, we make our tenant give us 60 days notice to vacate and we have it on the market 59 days before it's vacant. And we have a open house schedule pre agreed to by the existing tenant that they'll have the house in showroom already condition on Wednesday at 5:00 PM and on Saturday at 10:00 AM, you know, whatever. There are two times a week are that they agree to showing and we get the place shown and they haven't started packing and boxes everywhere during that 60 to 30-day period. They usually do that in the last two or three weeks. So I started a little bit later and there's a bunch of tricks in this series that'll help you, but it's, you know what, we don't lose as many doors that turn over now because we've got them released. Okay. That's huge cause man, I don't know if you've been losing doors for sales and whatnot, but we've been losing doors and so anything we can do to keep a door from going away is a good thing.
Bob Preston: 18:09 Yeah, no, for sure. Now days on market is a factor though, right? I've heard you, I think talk about this before where, why is days on market a big deal. Like if your house sits on the market for long besides, okay. I guess besides losing money for your owner and your property management company, what happens as a house sits on the market.
Todd Breen: 18:26 Well, when you got an empty house, you got a problem. When you've got rent coming in, you, you've done your job and our job as perceived by the owners is to rent the house as quickly as possible. If you're answering 35% of the leasing inquiries, are you, are you meeting the expectation of the owner? Probably not. It's an impossible task. I tried to do, in fact, I always used a dedicated leasing line and I would forward it to my cell phone after work on evenings and weekends and, and I would end up leasing. But I can't expect my staff to do that. They actually think they have a life, you know?
Bob Preston: 19:03 Imagine that.
Todd Breen: 19:06 And so long story short is yeah, if you're not answering the phone and setting appointments, you're not going to rent properties as quickly. And days on market is where owner's expectations aren't being met. Owners are unhappy. You think about your own life when you're paying your mortgage or your rent where you're staying, and now you've got to pay another one on an empty house. Well, that real estate bum, you know, hired, hasn't rented yet. It's not where you want to be. Right.
Bob Preston: 19:34 And I'm sure we've all been there. And I, I guess I call that opportunity cost, right? So there's this period of time when everybody's not only not making money, but you're actually costing your owner money because they have to keep paying all those out of pocket expenses on the house.
Todd Breen: 19:48 Exactly. Remember, keep your clients' needs first and you'll always have clients.
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Bob Preston: 20:39 Okay, let's skip to a different topic here. So every landlord wants to have great tenants, right? So they all have to have some sort of a screening process which is super critical because if your tenant submits an application, whatever form that application takes, and I know that your company offers tenant screening. So can you tell us about that, maybe some of your tricks and tips from your trade and how do you screen someone diligently yet, you know, keep it within fair housing guidelines.
Todd Breen: 21:05 So remember I said everything we do at my company, I just scale it for others and yeah, and it's important to note when we say we do tenant screening, the only thing we do is the moving parts and the heavy lifting. We use your property where application, you know it's our staff using your software to do the tenant screening. All right.
Bob Preston: 21:25 Yea, so we're at Appfolio. We happened to be on Appfolio so that could work. Yeah.
Todd Breen: 21:29 Exactly. It means you're not like, you know, having to use a different application otherwise that's kind of inconvenient sometimes. But whatever application software you have, we use it. And when that email notification comes in that you have an application or sometimes you get five in a day because it's a hot listing or whatever, somebody in your office has to do triage on apps and start, you know, running through and processing them. Right. And so I had a brilliant checklist on how I wanted it done. And you know what? That checklist was derived from? Every time a tenant defaulted on one of my dad's 55 houses, I had to re-screen the people. That was a tough old guy. He, he really loved to, to get.
Bob Preston: 22:12 Right, keep it, keep it conservative, make sure you don't have problems in your home. I mean, that's what we try to do. I know that. Yeah.
Todd Breen: 22:18 The attendant skips or it has to be evicted and he says, go back and re-screen them. See if you missed something that would have saved us this pain. Right. You know what I learned from that process, doing that for years and no one I've ever talked to has ever done that. The single greatest thing that will lead to a bad tendency was we didn't properly talk to their landlord references. Yeah, and that takes time and effort, but it's a, we catch 42% of our applicants in lies. We call them errors of omission and errors of commission where they're changing history on their application and when we dig through and really cross-reference and find out where they have been living and then talk to real landlords instead of their cousin who's pretending to be their landlord can don't trust me. Four out of 10 applications are full of lies.
Bob Preston: 23:17 We call those red flags. I like your term, you know, omissions or commissions. What, do you have any stats on that? Like what percentage of applications do you think have some sort of fib or you know, stretching of the truth. And I would never accuse anybody of outright lie, but I'm sure there are applications where that happens. Right?
Todd Breen: 23:34 I've been a property manager 35 years, Bob. I accused them of outright lying, but it's 42% last time I checked. It's, it's, it's over 44 out of 10 apps. You look at and if you do the research the way we do it, it takes us two hours to process each app. And most you think about it, you get five apps in a day, that's 10 hours of work. So most management companies are doing shortcuts. And when you have a fair housing complaint or a HUD auditor in your office and they see shortcuts, that's the first problem you have. So the cool thing, Bob, is every couple of months we get one of our clients saying, Oh, I got a fair housing issue. And we had a one guy tell us, yeah they were in our office for a year auditing everything. And the guy looked at a year's worth of our applications that VirtuallyinCredible had processed for him. And he seemed upset. The auditors seemed upset
Bob Preston: 24:37 Cause he couldn't find anything. I said, why? He was upset.
Todd Breen: 24:40 Here's like, this is the easy part, but there's nothing wrong here. And so, you know, it's so important to do the same thing on every application or be prepared to fail the audits or the investigations or the complaints.
Bob Preston: 24:54 Yeah, sure. You know, one of the things we notice when we get in that when we get applications that come in, well, you know, and sometimes we have multiple applications for a single property, right? And I've had this happen before. One application is tidy, it's complete, they provided everything you've asked for in your application, right? Their pay stubs, bank accounts. Um, I've even had people say, Hey, you know, call me or email me, Hey, here's what you're going to find. We had this one slip up three years ago, but they're being forthcoming and honest about it, right? They're telling you in advance what you're going to find and then we get these applications that aren't complete. You know, there's no proof of income and it just, you know, always makes me feel like, okay, these guys are hiding something. Then when you ask for them to fill in the blanks, well there's all this arm waving and kind of smoke and mirrors. Well, you know, there's some explanation about, you know, how they can't get that or that, you know, there's this and there's that and that just right away, you know, kind of the red flags start popping up. Right? So that's kind of what you would call co. Would you call that commission or omission or how would you.
Todd Breen: 25:57 Well, yeah, those are errors of omission if it's an incomplete application, right? Commission is when you write down a wrong information about you recreate your residence history or you say, here's my landlord's name and number and it's your cousin. Right? And when we catch this stuff all the time, and you know, going back to your illustration, Bob, you're getting that perfect app and then you get in the incomplete one. And if you don't follow the same process each time with each one, who do you think is going to make the complaint the perfect one or the imperfect?
Bob Preston: 26:33 Yeah, right. It's always the imperfect one, the one who gets declined.
Todd Breen: 26:36 And so, you know, you'd better follow the same processes and procedures and give everyone the same reasonable service and evaluation. Because if you say, well, these guys are blowing me off without giving me good stuff, so I'm going to take this other guy, and if you don't follow the right process of immediately doing triage, so we have a goal within one hour of an application being received, we've evaluated it, communicated to the applicant what we need from them, because the majority of them don't get it all to us in the first pass, but by instantly throwing that hot potato back on their lap, now it's them. Right. We asked you for this, we asked you originally, then we followed up and asked you and you didn't give it to us, so we gave the house to somebody else. But if you're not doing that and doing it consistently and can prove and documenting that you're doing it consistently, then you're leaving yourself wide open for all sorts of allegations that you can't prove you didn't do. We didn't discriminate, I swear, but how can you prove it? Yeah, sure. So it's so important to dot your eyes.
Bob Preston: 27:47 Do you give a deadline on when you need that information back? Because I've seen some of our people do this before where maybe they dangle a carrot out, well this house might be yours, but we need this, we need this. And then this kind of goes on for multiple days. And you know, to me it's almost like misleading somebody and allowing someone to have hope when the odds are we're going to decline them. And I think that's kind of a bad practice. Do you at some point in time just kind of cut it off and say, okay, look, we can't go on like this. Let's just give it a client.
Todd Breen: 28:16 So it depends on what your policy is, Bob. Some managers policy is first and first served. We would complete that app before we do the second. I personally don't feel like that serves the best interest of the, the guy with the vacant house, the landlord. So I have a multiple offer policy on my application. When you apply to rent one of my houses, you realize that we're going to take best offer, not first qualified offer.
Bob Preston: 28:45 Yeah, we do that too. It's like the, you know, the best qualified candidate gets the home.
Todd Breen: 28:49 Yeah. And so when you're doing that, it's just really important that you juggle all of the different apps. And so we have a software system that we, custom wrote, I'm not going to tell you how long it took and what we spent on it, but.
Bob Preston: 29:03 Yeah. All right.
Todd Breen: 29:03 It juggles this and we get pop up reminders that say, you know, and it, our system will automatically email and say it's been, you know, X period of time since we requested this and we don't have it yet. You know? Uh, so this is notifying you that we're processing, you know, X number of additional applications. You'd probably want to hustle this into us to be considered.
Bob Preston: 29:26 I think sometimes too property managers will get caught up into a, wow, this property has been difficult to rent. It's been on the market now for 30 days. And they kind of have this motto, well at least you know, you know, it's money and all money is good money. But that's not necessarily always the case because if you put a, a tenant who's not the right fit for a property in, it could end up costing a lot more than, you know, maybe waiting a few more days for a better applicant.
Todd Breen: 29:50 My goodness, you just got to the heart of property management right there and broke owners and broke property managers or impatient property managers that just stick somebody in and see, we find this, one of the reasons why I started my tenant screening, I had four property managers at my company and one day I said to everybody, all right, bring in the last 60 days of your applications that you screen. And I realized some of my people were doing exactly what you just said. They were putting lipstick on the pig to fill a vacancy and they didn't really screen the applicant all that well. And so I asked them why they did that and they said, well, you know, we got to meet at her numbers and that owner has a vacancy. And I was like, this is exactly what we're trying not to give owners is this type of service. So that's when I said, okay guys, um, within 60 days I'm going to have a tenant screening department and it'll be taking over all tenant screening and you'll wait for our answers. I had to do that at my own company and every manager I've talked to says, yeah, you know what, that probably is the best idea.
Bob Preston: 30:58 That's interesting. And now you offer that service to other property management companies. You know, virtually it's, it's a great concept. So we live in this kind of, I need it now, consumer society. So you know, Uber, I'm, you can do anything. You can, you know, you can book a hotel, almost everything. You can do it online. So it's just, you know, instantaneous response and everything is now kind of paperless and done online. Some of the things that landlords used to do on paper with spreadsheets or sticky notes now don't fly anymore. Now you've been in the business for a long time, so I'm just curious to get your perspective on this. What are some of the changes you've seen in the industry over the years and what trends might you have your eyes on that or that might be coming soon?
Todd Breen: 31:36 Well, I remember in the 1980's the big trend was a fax machines. My God.
Bob Preston: 31:44 That last one about 10 years or whatever.
Todd Breen: 31:48 Then in the 90’s we got emails, you know, so like yeah, I've seen a lot of trends and you're right, it is an instant gratification society compared to when you and I were a little younger. And so, you know, what I'm seeing right now is a tendency for busy property managers to over rely on technology and under provide customer service.
Bob Preston: 32:07 Yeah. It's hard to find that balance, right? Because you want to improve your efficiencies, but at the same time you can't make it so robotic that you know, a prospective tenant doesn't get to talk with a person.
Todd Breen: 32:18 Yeah. And so one of the things that I did at my management company, and this is off topic, but it's so important for managers, is I took away all tenant related calls from the property managers and put a tenant coordinator who, who is a remote staff member, right? A virtual staff member. And they do triage on tenant stuff. And I did that. Why? Because when a property owner calls to speak to the manager, I want that manager to be able and excited and have time to talk to the owner because tenants, you know, their needs are usually something that anybody can solve. But that relationship with the property owner is so important. When we did that, two things happen. Our positive reviews went up while negatives went down. So our score went way up. And secondly, we had a higher customer retention rate with our, our owners and we survey them. So man, just getting your, I call it tyranny of the urgent, you know, and tenants create a lot of urgent and applicants and phone home shoppers. They create all this busy work that keeps you from the important work. So outsource that and focus on what's important to you is the best advice I have.
Bob Preston: 33:34 Yeah, no, that's really good. That's really good input. So we're kind of winding down in time here. So I always like towards the end of the an episode to ask my guests to tell some kind of a story. It can be related to your business or it could be something personal that had an impact on your life, your career, your, your family, whatever. You know, just something interesting about You Todd that happened once before. Can you tell us a quick story about yourself or maybe, you know, whatever you want to make that make that story.
Todd Breen: 33:59 So, uh, my mom was visiting and she, she's been following VirtuallyinCredible and she loves the video tours. And she, she brought up a story to me. She said, you know, my dad used to have the office phone number wired also to our home so that he could run out and do a nighttime showing if he needed to in order to sell a house. And, uh, one day he gets back and the next morning I said, dad, you know, we missed you last night. And I, and I went to the closet and I got his super eight movie projector, you know the camera, right.
Bob Preston: 34:30 We used to have one of those when I was a kid.
Todd Breen: 34:33 Yeah, right. The eight-millimeter. And, and I, and I said, dad, why don't you just take a video like a movie rather, uh, you know, like you do when we're on our family trips and then you can show that to people and you don't have to run around so much at night. And he laughed and he said, yeah, I wish it was that easy son. And my mom said, I think that's why you do videos. And I said, wow, you know what mom, I think you're right. And then my son heard the call Logan and he, he said, dad, I remember driving around in a high-top conversion van with the TV VCR with you when we were little kids. And we all knew that when your cell phone rang, it was, daddy had a work call. So we'd be quiet. And he said, I think that's why you started a leasing call center was because you spent a lot of your time. I remember you answering calls, days, evenings and weekends. And you don't want anyone else to have to do that.
Bob Preston: 35:27 Yeah, you interrupted the VHS tape of blues clues or whatever was playing on the VHS in your car. Right. I mean, I remember those days where you plug in the, you know, the big rectangular tape, but you know.
Todd Breen: 35:38 It's funny what your family can help you to remember about why you do the things you do. Right.
Bob Preston: 35:43 Oh yeah. You know, my family has stories about me and I won't go there, but it's all, it's all in good fun and you know, teasing me about stuff in the, in the old days. So those are really good stories. Hey, what else? I mean, are there any kind of closing thoughts or tips you'd like to share with our listeners as we wrap up today?
Todd Breen: 35:58 Well, so one of our favorite things that VirtuallyinCredible is to, is to come up with ideas that help you work less and earn more. And so, we've talked about ways you can work less when it comes to earning more. One of the best things I ever did at my management company was focused on my dollars per door and I added up how many dollars per door I make on each property and I evaluated which properties were profitable for me and which ones were, and I ended up getting out of the bottom third of my income producing properties and man did my life get better and did my profit per door and my everything got better when I started looking at my dollars per door. And if you ever want to talk about that, I'm always happy to kick the ball around with another manager about that stuff.
Bob Preston: 36:46 Yeah. You know there are companies that do that kind of thing. I think Cisco has this practice where every year they do employee evaluations and the bottom 10% of those evaluated kind of get exited out of the company. Right. And so maybe as property managers we should take a look at that kind of thing too, because there is this 80/20 rule in our business where the bottom 20 properties typically take up 80% of your time. Right. Maybe that's something we should all, it's a good tip.
Todd Breen: 37:12 Yeah. Yeah. Well it's helped you to work less and earn more.
Bob Preston: 37:16 Hey, so let's get back to how could somebody get in touch with your company if someone wanted to learn more about VirtuallyinCredible. I know you gave us your website earlier. What's the best way to contact VirtuallyinCredible?
Todd Breen: 37:28 So yeah, visit VirtuallyinCredible.com and then to reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org is our way that you'll get your answers. And I think we're ready to talk with people and expand all three of our, uh, service offerings. And we also have some private virtual assistant placement coming online now. Happy to help you make your life easier.
Bob Preston: 37:50 For listeners who are individual landlords, not necessarily property managers, would your services apply to them or is it mainly for people who need the scale?
Todd Breen: 37:59 We've kind of focused our services exclusively to professional property managers, not to the individual landlords. It's harder to scale on those one-off deals.
Bob Preston: 38:10 Okay, cool. All right, and if somebody does go to Virtually Incredible either by phone or online to their website. Hey, here's a tip, another tip, use the code word brainstorm as in property management brainstorm. It gets you three days for free of services offered by Todd's company and we would all like that. It also lets them know that we sent ya and it helps Todd kind of see, you know the outcome of how effective coming on kinds of shows are. So we would appreciate you doing that. All right, well Todd, this has been great information and we jumped around a lot, talked about a lot of cool stuff, really appreciate you being on the show. As we wrap up today, I'd like to make another quick plug to our listeners to click on subscribe. Also pay it forward with a positive review to help encourage great guests like Todd come on our show. And that concludes today's episode. Thank you for joining and the property management brainstorm show. Until next time, we will be in the field working hard for our clients to maximize their property value and rental income and maintain top tenant relations. And we'll see you next time.