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Welcome to Property Management Brainstorm, the ultimate podcast for property managers, PropTech ventures, and real estate investors! Join industry expert Bob Preston as he brings you the latest trends, best practices, and invaluable guidance in the world of property management. Whether you're just starting or thriving in the business, Property Management Brainstorm is your go-to destination for all things property management. Please click the "more" button in our episodes below to view the episode notes, listen through the website audio player or the video link, and follow along with the whole episode transcript.

Episode 76: Building an Online Presence Ft Stephen Fox

Stephen Fox is the co-founder and Vice President of Operations at Upkeep Media, the agency that helps property management companies grow by implementing effective marketing strategies. He joins the show to unpack the importance of having a strong online presence in the competitive property management industry.

From the initial interaction with potential clients to attracting investors, Stephen will share valuable insights and strategies for building an effective online presence. Tune in to discover how you can enhance your property management business through digital marketing and online branding.

Topics covered:
(03:23) Stephen Fox’s background
(04:46) Why the property management industry is Stephen’s focus
(08:55) How critical is an online presence in our industry?
(13:19) The lemonade stand principle
(15:36) Having a marketing mix
(21:45) Developing websites and leveraging SEO
(23:36) Featured Sponsor, VPM Solutions
(24:32) Upkeep Media’s growth marketing sessions with new clients
(27:49) Identifying goals for your website
(33:08) What has produced the best results for Upkeep Media’s clients?
(36:30) How to capture leads through your website
(39:24) Be responsive to your leads
(41:00) Stephen’s closing thoughts

Connect with Stephen Fox:

Episode 76 Featured Sponsor: VPM Solutions
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We're also giving a huge shout-out to all of our fabulous Industry Icon Sponsors for supporting our show:

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Connect with Bob Preston

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Transcript of This Episode

Bob Preston  01:39
Hello, Brainstormers. This is Bob Preston, your host broadcasting from our Del Mar, California studio. If you're new here, please subscribe for ongoing access to our great episodes. And if you like what you hear, we would appreciate a positive review. I want to give a massive shout-out to our fabulous Industry Icon Sponsors for supporting our show:

VPM Solutions
APM Help
Upkeep Media
Second Nature

You'll also hear a bit more about today's featured sponsor, VPM Solutions, during a midroll break during this episode, and I will put links to all of their great websites in my episode notes. 

So, what is the first interaction that a new potential client has with your property management company? Well, most of the time, it will be through online representation from your business's online presence, as it's known. It can be explained as the online representation of a company, including not just the website but internet-based campaigns, marketplaces, directories, social networks, property listings, chat rooms, and emails. As a guest on the show today, I'm fortunate to have Steven Fox, co-founder and Vice President of Operations at Upkeep Media, a company dedicated to growing property management companies with advanced online marketing strategies. Stephen and I will explore why an online presence is essential in today's competitive Property Management landscape. So have a listen. 

Hey, Steven, welcome to the Brainstorm. I am so excited to have you here today.

Stephen Fox  03:20
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Bob Preston  03:22
You bet. Hey, I always start the show by learning more about my guests. So, if that's cool with you, let's go with that. Introduce yourself briefly; we will learn more about your background and company. But if you can introduce yourself a little bit about you and your company, upkeep media.

Stephen Fox  03:38
So, I'm one of the co-founders at Upkeep Media. Right now. I'm Director of Operations. At Upkeep Media, we work exclusively with property management companies to help them grow their business via online marketing. So, we've been doing this since 2015. We currently work with around 250 property management companies nationwide, in Canada and the US. And we cover everything regarding online marketing for property management companies. We have specific approaches we've figured out over the years that worked best when generating leads for property managers. But usually, how it will work is we'll take an in-depth dive at the company that has reached out to us and figure out the best strategic method to help that business grow.

Bob Preston  04:30
That's fantastic. You know, full disclosure here. I'm a former client; you work with us at North County Property Group; you guys did a bang-up job. So, I know the answer to some of the questions I will ask today. But for our listeners, I'm going to ask them anyway. So you can explain how you're positioned and things like that. So when you set out to start up keep media, I'm sure you had a choice of markets or verticals, whatever you want to call it. How did you set the property management industry as your focus? How did that happen?

Stephen Fox  04:57
When we first started, we were looking for underserved industries online. So, we looked into a few different industries. And to be honest, when we first started, we were just cold-calling companies and trying to see which industry would be the most receptive to what we had to offer. And in our first year of business, we worked with several initiatives. But, at the end of the year, we saw we had a handful of residential property management companies. We also noticed that it was a unique industry compared to most local businesses needing the proper marketing attention. And much of that has to do with the fact that it's different from most local businesses from a marketing perspective. So, after our first year in business, we said, You know what, let's go all in on property management. That way, we can learn as much as possible about this industry and help serve clients better than anyone else because we have so much knowledge about property management. So, it was a little bit by accident and a little bit calculated; you could say it like that.

Bob Preston  06:09
So, you mentioned the uniqueness of the property management industry and the market. What makes this so unique and different from other markets you looked at?

Stephen Fox  06:17
Yep, well, two things make it unique. So, the first thing is that from an owner standpoint, if you look at where your owners are physically located, they're not all necessarily in your local market or the market where their property is located. So, for most marketing agencies, when they think of marketing a local business, they think, Okay, I only want to sell to people in that geographic area. Whereas for property management, that's not the case; you'll have many owners outside of your state outside of that city, but you still need to reach them. So, the traditional marketing strategies you would use to run a local marketing campaign will take longer for those people. So that's one thing that makes it challenging. And then the second part is you have two sets of clients. You have your tenants, and you have your owners, most marketing agencies, let's say they're running an ad campaign, they're going to set it up. So, if someone reaches out, that counts as a lead; that's a conversion, right? As I'm sure you know from running North County Property Group, you have many more tenants out there than there are rental owners. And what ends up happening is, you'll run, let's say, it’s advertised, you're running ads, you'll run ads, you'll have tons of tenants that fill out a form, but barely any owners, most marketing agencies don't know how to target one or the other. Let's say they're running ads on Google; they're just going to run general terms like property management, San Diego, for example, or whatever city that might be. But you're going to have a lot of tenants that end up reaching out for, like, if you're doing that. So because of that, you need to get creative with targeting owners if that's your goal. So that makes it challenging as well, from a marketing perspective, compared to most traditional businesses; for example, if you're a plumber, you're just trying to target people who need a plumber in your local area. Right.

Bob Preston  08:12
Right. Yeah, that's interesting, especially if you're doing some pay-per-click or some pay per, you know, per visit. Because most visitors typically go to the website to your point or tenants, right? They're looking for a place to live. And they're they're looking at your rental page. That's interesting.

Stephen Fox  08:31
Yep, exactly. I mean, it's still tough to eliminate it. But there are a fair amount of things you can do to, let's say, dial it back so that not all of your ad spend is going to be wasted on tenants who are looking for a property to rent. Because, as you know, you'll find your tenants through significant listing websites, right? You don't need to advertise as heavily when finding tenants. Very true.

Bob Preston  08:54
So, about two years ago, I did a presentation at the NARPM broker conference, and it was about what I called relationship management, right? And I covered many topics about how you manage relationships with clients. But in that presentation, I made the suggestion. I put a stake in the ground that, you know, the introduction point for most new client relationships with a property management company typically starts through the company's online presence, right, whatever that might be. They might see the web, the web ad, they might see the website, they might get an email, something like that. Do you agree with the statement? And what does it say about how critical an online presence is for companies in our industry?

Stephen Fox  09:36
Yeah, aside from referrals, yet, generally, it's going to be some online avenue that they find out about your company. And even if it is a referral, let's say they have somebody that says, you know, we've been using XYZ property management company, they're great. That doesn't mean the person is just automatically going to sign up. They're still going to go online and do their research.

Bob Preston  10:00
I typically do that if someone tells me about a cool do, company, shop, or place I might want to visit. I wouldn't just have a booth call them without checking; I would first go online. So even a referral might first go to your website and say, okay, these people look like someone I could work with.

Stephen Fox  10:18
Yes. 100%. So, your website is the only thing they must distinguish, right? What is your online presence? I should say not just your website because, of course, as you know, reviews are critical. How you appear on other avenues online is essential for me. It just solidifies your brand as a whole. But yeah, definitely, like, even if somebody is a referral, they're still going to go online if they go online and see crummy reviews. And your website looks like it was built in the early 2000s. You know, all you have on there as maybe a tenant and owner portal or something like that, it's not going to instill a lot of trust with them. Right. So even if, regardless of where they find you, your online presence is crucial. But aside from referrals, that's how the majority of people are going to find your business. I don't know how about you when you were running NC Property Group, where many people, aside from referrals, like, what was your second largest lead source, it was all online?

Bob Preston  11:17
Unless we were running pay-per-click or something like that, organic leads were typically coming in. Now we're talking about your point, you differentiate between tenant leads and new owner leads, right? No charges, again, to your end typically came in through Zillow or the listing ads we were running. But the leads were coming in for the North County Property Group; most of the best came through our website. Yeah. Because they were there, they got to see and feel touch us; we had a lot of videos on the site. And so you know, these are things that by the time sometimes the lead came in, and we got back to them sometimes. Incredibly, they were already closed, you know, precisely. Like, hey, I'm ready to go. It was like, Well, okay, so that that often, that happened, actually,

Stephen Fox  12:09
That's the beauty of the organic side of things. Aside from referrals, that's the best source of leads you'll get because you can't beat a referral. But when it comes to marketing to attract leads long term, that will be your best source of information because they've almost been pre-sold before they even reached out. They've already interacted with your website; if you have videos on there, they already know where they will be dealing with. If you have pricing information on there, they already know what the costs are. So, by the time they reached out in their mind, they'd already decided, okay, I'm interested in working with this company. 

Bob Preston  12:50
That’s assuming that your online messaging is tight. And the person looking at your site, or your online marketing, is convinced that you're the company you want to work with. So this is where it gets really, really critic critical. I see and talk to many property management companies; I'll go to their website, and you know, when you see spelling errors, wrong sentence formation, things that don't make sense, or broken links. To me, that's always a bad sign. Do you agree with that?

Stephen Fox  13:18
Yeah, for sure. So there's something called the lemonade stand principle there that? No. Okay, so let's imagine it's a scorching day in July; it's 100 degrees outside, you walk out your front door, and you're going down the street, and you see lemonade stands everywhere you go. I just wanted to let you know that you're trying to decide which 1 I will buy from. They're all selling lemonade at the end of the day. Naturally, the one that will attract you to purchase from them will usually be the one that stands out, right? So it will be the one that has the nicest banner, the most excellent booth, the, you know, somebody standing outside the booth and welcoming you in the type of thing. So, if you compare that with property management from the eyes of an owner, they need to learn the difference between one property management company and the next. So we still got a lot of companies, and like, why would they choose you? Because we're the best. But how is somebody supposed to know you're the best? They will only know that if they just had a quick call with you. From a service standpoint, most property management companies offer more or less the same service when you speak with them. So, for someone to have that extra push and decide they want to go with your company over a competitor, you need to stand out versus that competitor. And you are considering that the only place they have to go to compare you guys is the internet. You'll need to be able to face the website; your online presence stands out from competitors. So you must have the most excellent lemonade stand in your market.

Bob Preston  14:55
That's funny. That's a great analogy. And yeah, you have to talk to them. You know, one thing I see many property management companies doing is, " Oh, choose us, here's why. Here's pick us, right? Here are our fees, here's this, here's that. And to your point, that's kind of the same thing that everybody else is doing, and then it's sort of like, please, please pick us, it seems pathetic in some ways, versus, hey, here's who we are, here's how we're different. Here's why you're going to love us. This makes sense to be partners, right? It's a bit other than attitude, even on the website.

Stephen Fox  15:27
100%. That's, that's really what it comes down to. You must find a way to differentiate yourself and show that you're as professional as you say.

Bob Preston  15:35
Yeah, so we're talking about, you know, some of the messaging, and we talked about the website a lot. But really, an effective online presence is what I like to call a marketing mix. Various digital media types help our listeners understand what that mix might be and what services Upkeep Media offers to maximize the client's online presence. 

Stephen Fox  15:55
If you want to be omnipresent, you want at least to have a presence on all major avenues online. And what that encompasses is your website, that's super important to ensure you have a good quality site; you need a solid online reputation. Actually, regarding online reputation, I'd recommend that you focus on Google first. And if you're not dominating your market's Google reviews, start to look at Yelp. But could you zero in on Google? To begin with, you want to have a presence on social media. Attracting owners using social media is generally not the first point of attack. For tenants, it can work well, as you probably know, but for owners generally, it's a little bit tougher, and a lot of that comes down to the fact that if you're going to run ads on social media, you have to choose a geographic location, we're going to run those ads. And it takes a lot of work to target investors, specifically with most social media platforms. And B, you will miss out on any owner not physically located in your market. So social media is somewhere that I still say at least have a decent-looking profile that you don't need to be on every social media channel. But I would focus on Facebook and LinkedIn to start with. And the reason is to think of the demographic of your target audience. Generally, most rental property owners are older. It's not your 20-year-old looking to hire a property management company; it might be a professional in their 40s, 50s, or 60s who wants that peace of mind and the work off their plate. And those people will usually hang out on something like Facebook or LinkedIn; it's just an older demographic that hangs out there. Those are the main places to start with your online presence. And then, once you have those in the area, you want to start building up your website so that it becomes an excellent resource for anyone looking to hire you guys. And so you can do things like having lead magnets on your site, which is basically in one form or another some downloadable guide that you offer for free. And in exchange, you want to get their contact information. So you will ask them for their email and first name; you can even ask them for their phone number if you'd like and then have somebody follow up with them via call. But you want to expand on your website over time and turn it into a resource that will get people to convert and reach out to the business. 

Bob Preston  18:39
So when we came to you at North County Property Group, we were a few years into it, right? We had a decent website and some things going for us. But we wanted to take it to another level. And the ultimate thing we wanted to achieve is a greater lead flow. So we came to you asking for help at a certain point. And we turn that over to you. When most property management companies arrive at your upkeep media, what's the end? Is it like us? Or is it more in the early stages of their company development?

Stephen Fox  19:17
It’s a mixed bag, to be honest. That being said, I would say generally, most companies have a minimum of 100 doors under management. And the reason for that comes down to budget, and when you're able to allocate a budget towards marketing, usually will recommend, like, it depends, right? Some people will start their own companies, and they have money to invest. But if you're trying to bootstrap your business, you need to go with more like pounding the pavement right, getting out there, getting your name out there, trying to build referral networks with realtors or CPA firms or wherever it might be. Usually, companies have at least 100 doors, but we work with companies that do Something like 5000 Plus stores. So we can work with all different sizes. It's just a matter of what market you're in and your goals. Is it in line with what we can help you achieve?

Bob Preston  20:13
That's an interesting comment because 100 doors for many companies seem like the Promised Land, right? Once you hit 100 entries, you've reached a size of being able to scale, you've got consistent revenue, you know, you want to continue to grow, but you're going to be around for a while, once you hit 100 doors, that's my opinion. That's how I saw it, you know, when I was building my business, so that is an exciting benchmark: that, hey, we're at 100 doors. Now, to get to the next level, we need to look for outside help. 

Stephen Fox  20:43
We work with a fair amount of companies under 100 doors, but that's more so to set them up from a foundational standpoint. So that, you know, when they do reach that point where they can reinvest in their business, they're already in an excellent position to do. So. If, for example, you had a fundamental site when you started, there's a good chance that place won't even index in Google for anything, or if it does, for very little. And then, when you are ready to start investing in your marketing, it's almost as if you're starting from scratch. We recommend getting a good quality site up and indexing in Google so that when you are ready to start investing in your marketing later down the road, once you're big enough, you're in an excellent position to do so. And it will take you less time to start gaining some traction than it would if you're starting from nothing.

Bob Preston  21:41
For sure. 100%. And you and I have a lot of conversations about this back in the day; a lot of the people that are developing websites will mention any names, but they're developing these beautiful looking websites, but they know nothing really or don't help anything with the SEO, right, which is, to your point, you know, you want to rank, you don't want to have a website, you want to rank. So, if people are googling property management in or outside your area, you pop up. So that's where you guys come in as you combine both. Now you're doing website development as well, correct?

Stephen Fox  22:13
That's right. Yeah, exactly. And not just when people are starting it, but what we see all the time is when someone is switching to a new website. So they've had an existing website out there. And now they're changing to a new website; we see it constantly when they hire a web dev company. And if you need help understanding how to transition a website properly, you'll lose a ton of traffic. And we'll see that happen all the time, where it's like, three years ago, we were bringing in 3000 visitors a month, we switched our site, and now we're down to 200 visitors a month. And that's just because the place wasn't appropriately transitioned. So that's something to be aware of as well. If you're considering switching websites, please ensure that it will be transferred over properly from an SEO perspective. Otherwise, you can lose all of the work that has benefited you up to that point.

Bob Preston  23:08
Well, that right there is worth, you know, consulting with upkeep media so that if you're making a transition, or maybe you're tired of your current website, you want to move to another one to engage you guys right up front with that, either website development or that transition.

Stephen Fox  23:22
Yes, exactly. We can help with either one. We don't work solely with websites that we've built. We do that, but we can work with almost any website. It doesn't. As long as you have a good quality website in place, we can help you.

Bob Preston  24:32
Cool, so when you take on a new client, you mentioned in your introduction that you do an initial assessment; what is involved in that process? And what are you looking at? And how do you determine the recommendations that you take back to the client?

Stephen Fox  24:47
We offer a growth marketing session for any interested company. So that is a 30-minute call where we're going to do some preliminary research on your market, we're going to take a look at what your competitors are doing to help bring on new doors, we're going to take a look at where your company is positioned from an online standpoint. And then, from there, we'll give you some general recommendations, just what we can see from that quick analysis on things that would help you grow your business over time. If, at that point, we know that it's a good fit, and we can help you, and you're interested in getting help, then from there, we'll do more research. At that point, we will be looking at the best strategies in your market based on what the competition is doing based on, you know, how mature your business is. So, at that point, we're going to look at, basically, what is it that's going to move the needle? Is it a paid ads campaign? Is it email marketing? Do you already? You already rank in Google well and want to squeeze more juice out of it. We can do so by running remarketing ads, launching an email marketing campaign, or just anything we can do to reengage people who have been on your site but have yet to reach out and become a lead the first time they interacted with your business. So usually, from there, we'll present you with the overall strategy. And then, when we start working with the client, we will go in and do an in-depth analysis, open up the toolbox, look behind your website, and see exactly what's going on. 

Bob Preston  26:32
What's the most significant weakness you see out there? I know that it's probably hard to generalize. But when you look at property management companies that come your way, what do you think is the biggest weakness that's out there in their online presence? What are they what are they missing?

Stephen Fox  26:46
So, the most straightforward answer is that many people aren't doing much regarding their site, and honestly, many people aren't informed. And it makes sense because your job is property management. It's not website development or marketing for property management, right? So what we'll generally see is most companies will have a decent-quality site. But they're not doing anything with that site. And that site could be optimized better for search engines. It's almost like a business card, more than a marketing tool. 

Bob Preston  27:24
Right, some websites are not suitable for generating leads.

Stephen Fox  27:27
Yes, exactly. So it's not it's not necessarily generating them leads, but it's acting as a business card. So if somebody finds out about your business, they can go on and see, okay, this company at least has a professional website. But that's what we see the most common, like, someone will come to us, I had a decent quality website built, but it's just not generating any traffic for them or bringing in much business for them.

Bob Preston  27:49
Yeah, it depends on what the goals are for the company. If some companies get enough referrals or have enough people walking in through the front door, they don't need a lead generation campaign. But for most property management companies, the sign of success is that they want an excellent digital marketing effort to generate leads and, ultimately, door growth to the right degree.

Stephen Fox  28:15
Another on that part, like the biggest mistake we see often, is accompanying running ads and thinking like, Okay, I turned on these ads. And now I should have a ton of leads coming in in the next month. Sure. You probably know this from when you ran ads at the NC property. Right, right. But in a lot of markets, Google ads could be more effective. And that's changed a lot since COVID. So, in the last three to four years, we see that many venture-backed companies have entered the space and have massive budgets. They have a lot more money than your traditional local property management company. So they are okay with spending two, even $3,000, to acquire a door to manage. Different from most local property management companies spending that money, you will run into a cash flow issue. So, it makes the paid ads landscape for Google Ads much more difficult in many markets because those venture-backed companies are OK with spending much money per click. You know, as long as I get the return on investment, they know, for example, what a property will be worth. I'm just using a random number here. But let's say $6,000 for my business over time. I have the cash; I'll spend that two $3,000 to acquire that. It's still an I'm going to double my money over time. But for most local property management companies, that doesn't make sense. So we'll get a lot of companies that come to us, and we're like we've been running ads for the last year, and we've picked up like two properties, And we've spent 20 grand. And like, that's, it's unfortunate to see, but it's like a lot of people when it comes to online marketing, they think, okay, Google ads. But that's not effective for most markets regarding property management.

Bob Preston  30:17
In my experience, they're less intense than solid leads, right? They can be tenants clicking on it or people thinking about investing; you need to know what will click versus the targeted organic search, where they're clicking on your website. And then, they decide to run a lead through whatever lead capture mechanism you have on your site. 

Stephen Fox  30:42
100% of the people coming through organic are usually doing research, reading through your website, and trying to find out more info. So, as you had said before, by the time they reach out to you, they've already got a pretty good understanding of your business, with paid ads a little bit colder. Usually, they're going to click on the ad, and they're going to be directed to your website or a landing page. But they're in a quicker mindset; they clicked on the first thing they saw because their philosophy is, I'm going to reach out to many companies. And I'll speak with them and see which one I like. So yeah, to that point, usually the wheat, the leads end up a little bit weaker. You know, it still does work well in some markets. I'm not saying it can't work. But in the long run, we've seen that organic will probably bring you four to five times the amount of leads of paid ad campaigns with the same dollar.

Bob Preston  31:37
So what you're saying is, what's the better investment? Spending $3,000 on Pay Per Click is investing the same $3,000 in the website or your other online vehicles that will bring in more targeted leads. 

Stephen Fox  31:51
The downside of organic is that it takes time to occur. So that's why people like paid ads, right? They're like, well, I can start running ads today. And by next month, I can be generating leads. Organic takes time. I don't know for you, but it probably wasn't in your first year that organic started to kick in for Francie Property Group.

Bob Preston  32:12
Well, we had some challenges with our ranking in the early days. And, you know, you and I spent a lot of time talking about that. But, as that improved, that's why organic is so important because, over time, we started ranking the first page. And that was all because we were constantly tweaking our content, doing new things, trying to drive traffic, and keeping people on the site. All these things will help that will help your organic ranking over time.

Stephen Fox  32:40
100%. The reason why people are dissuaded from focusing on organic is that it takes a lot of work. And it takes time to kick in. It's not instantaneous.

Bob Preston  32:52
So, you have several case studies on your website. I researched before the podcast today; most of it pertained to door growth. You've put these campaigns in place for many of your clients and helped with their door growth. What has produced the best results in adding doors? And what does that look like? And again, I'm asking you to generalize; maybe that's an unfair question. But what are you doing like for some of these case studies? What's been the most effective thing you've implemented for your clients?

Stephen Fox  33:24
Well, it comes down, it's, it comes down to having a well-rounded strategy. So, we break it down into three phases. So, in phase one, you must focus on having a professional quality site and a solid online reputation. Once you have that in place, you want to focus on getting eyes on your business people finding you online. And we recommend going after search engines versus, let's say, social media, which are your two primary sources of advertising online. And the reason is what I was talking about before, where with social media if you run ads, you have to choose a specific geographic area. So generally, where we see the best results is they'll have a good phase one and play strong on reputation, an excellent quality site that's built to convert owners to become a lead. And then, we'll drive a lot of traffic to their website or via the organic section of Google. And then squeeze as much juice out of it as possible. Once you have a lot of traffic visiting you online, that's when you want to focus on what we call phase three, nurturing your audience, and that consists of running remarketing ads to anyone who's visited your website. And that's where social media can kick in by running those remarketing ads and social media. You know, you're only targeting people that have visited your website. You can also target people who have visited pages specific to owner information on your website to target only some tenants who might have visited your website. And you are then Running email marketing campaigns off the back of that as well. So you have a downloadable guide on your website. And then you're also running ads to that downloadable guide to get people to subscribe to email lists and then nurturing them via email. So, in the long term, we see people get the best results because you have a marketing funnel in place. It's not just relying on one avenue; it depends on basically all different sets of marketing channels to ultimately fill your pipeline with leads. 

Bob Preston  35:30
That's fantastic advice and intelligence. And I like what you said about as more and more people visit your site, you can do, you know, you can track them and get, you know, engage with them further down the road as well. Now, this seems obvious, but the website should be able to capture leads, right? I see a lot of websites for my particular clients, and you'll go, and it'll be, like you said, a postcard or a piece of collateral, or, you know, a business card. And oh, here's our phone number, here's our email. But there's only a natural way if somebody picks up the phone or sends an email to reach out and contact them. So it's an obvious thing. But the leads should also be gathered and built up over time. Right. Could you let me know what your recommendation is there?

Stephen Fox  36:18
In terms of getting a website to capture leads?

Bob Preston  36:21
Yes, to make it easy. If I come to your site and am interested in your company, it should be easy for me to reach you. Right? 

Stephen Fox  36:29
So you want, at the most basic level, to make sure your website is prominently displayed; we'll see it a lot where, like, on mobile, you can't even find the phone number for the company. Or the phone number is hidden in the footer of the website. So it should be up top in the header right away. If someone wants to call, they know how to contact them. Your email as well should also be prominently displayed. But then you also want a call to action throughout your website. So, stuff that's as they're reading through your site is telling them to reach out to your company. So, many companies will do this by offering up something of free value in exchange for them providing their contact information. Many property management companies offer a free rental property analysis in exchange for that person reaching out to their business or something like that; you know that? Yeah, you can go with a free rental owner consultation as well. We've done that in a lot of markets. And it works well because they're signing up to speak with you. And to get your professional opinion on their situation and giving them feedback will help you ultimately close the deal. Once they've talked to you and seen how much knowledge you have when managing rental properties, they are more likely to trust you. But yeah, ultimately, you want to make sure, as I said, that your phone number and email should be prominently displayed and have a call to action throughout your website that makes it very clear why they should reach out to you and offer something of value.

Bob Preston  38:06
My biggest takeaway from today has been that there needs to be a silver bullet here: people and building your online presence, lead generation, or growing doors. So, I can imagine some people come to you looking to yield quick hits. And specific techniques might do that initially. But in general, property management companies must be in it for the long haul to achieve those results.

Stephen Fox  38:29
100%. It's not a get-rich, quick scheme. It's building a business from the ground up. And yet, ultimately, if you want to build a company that's sustainable and going to be able to generate leads for you without you having to go out there and, you know, talk to people, then you need to start investing in it for the long haul. It's not something that next month, and that is going to pay off necessarily. But over time, if you look at almost any major property management companies in any market, they have a solid online presence and rely on that to help them grow their business.

Bob Preston  39:07
This was a super enlightening conversation. We've barely scratched the surface here. And there are all kinds of different avenues we could take this conversation. So we'll do another episode someday where we'll dive into, you know, one specific area. I guess the other comment I'd like to make before we start to wrap up today for our listeners is that you can have a fabulous online presence, generating a lot of leads and getting a lot of people interested in your company, thanks to companies like Steven that upkeep. But you got to respond. You have to be responsive. It's the other thing. The other end is that I talked to many companies generating all these leads, but they need to act on them. And that is also a bad thing, right? Because if somebody tried to identify you to reach out to you, you better be on it quickly, right?

Stephen Fox  40:00
Oh, yeah, that's probably one of the most significant pains in the butt is where you start generating leads. And it's like, did you call them? They're like, we call them a week later. Yeah. Especially when it comes to online leads, like you should be reaching out within 20 minutes, it doesn't mean you have to have a sit-down call with them. But at least let them know that you've, you know, seen that they've reached out and scheduled a time to speak with them. But yeah, if you're going to wait a day to reach out to a lead, there's a good chance that that lead is already gone elsewhere. So, it is one that.

Bob Preston  40:32
I also heard, "We sent them an email but have yet to hear back." Which, of course, indicates a need for consistent follow-through.

Stephen Fox  40:36
So, following up around six times before, even thinking that beat is someone that is not hot,

Bob Preston  40:43
Fantastic advice. We could go on like this; I love talking about this kind of stuff. You and I have done it frequently, where we have to dive in and go deep. But in the interest of time, we need to wrap up today. So, what are some of your closing thoughts that you can share with our listeners?

Stephen Fox  40:57
As we said before, if you're looking to grow your business, have a long-term mindset. Take your time; invest in an avenue to bring you sustainable leads. One thing to think of also is if you're ever looking to go and sell your business, it's going to be that much more valuable to a buyer if you're generating leads organically through your website or online, even if it's from paid ads, compared to if your business is growing solely off referrals. Because now the new buyer knows they will have leads that continue to come in. Rather than I got this business, it has, you know, this many doors, and now I have to go and figure out how I will grow that. So, could you keep that in mind as well? It's adding to the value of your business.

Bob Preston  41:51
And if someone wants to contact you or upkeep media to learn more about the company and your services, what would be the best way to do that?

Stephen Fox  41:51
They can visit our website at, or if they go to our website, they'll see a start button; fill out the form on that page that signs you up for a growth marketing session. Could you choose a time that works for you? A calendar link will show up, and then a team member will reach out and walk you through that growth marketing session at the time you select. Please feel free to also send us an email at info at upkeep. And you know, we'd be happy to speak with you.

Bob Preston  42:30
Thanks so much to you and for being on the show today. I hope to see you in Atlanta for next week's NARPM national conference. I am so looking forward to seeing you there. And again, thanks for being on the show.

Stephen Fox  42:41
Same here. Thanks so much for having me.