Many of the calls I receive start by asking, “How much do you charge?” It’s an odd question as it assumes that the caller knows what services I offer. This is worse in online sites like Thumbtack – one can only answer with three options, an hourly price, a fixed price, or “need more information.” Responses have to be the lowest price available in order to continue the interest until it’s clear as to what is wanted. People who buy this way are missing out.
The problem is when a “price” buyer opens asking about fees it tells the seller this is the priority. A conversation focused on fees often misses addressing the reason the buyer wants the service in the first place. A sale made based on price never establishes the relationship required of a company that is going to manage one of the largest assets in their customer’s portfolio.
Last week I attended a mastermind meeting with other owners of property management companies. We stayed at a Country Inn using Priceline. I wasn’t concerned about having a relationship with a hotel in Williamsburg, VA as I hadn’t been there in over 15 years; I purchased on price alone. Next to the Country Inn was a pancake house (note: what is it with pancake houses in Williamsburg?).
$3.95 for pancakes and waffles sounds like a great deal, but the place looks run down from the outside.
Less than a quarter mile away is a new looking well-kept pancake house.
How would this interaction feel over the phone when the caller asks how much? I’m sure the pricing is more favorable at Sammy’s than National; the Yelp reviews seem to indicate that. How much doubt would you have when you pulled into the lot at Sammy’s? National? And this is just about choosing a place for breakfast.
It’s important to note that once I looked more closely at Sammy’s I got a better feel for the rich history of the place (over 100 years) including the comment that the owner greets you at the door. Maybe I’m hungry while I’m writing this; I’d certainly think about trying it out.
In choosing a property manager, think first about what you want in terms of service. Responsiveness? Integrity? Stability? How are those related to price? How are you reflecting your priorities in the questions you ask your next potential property manager?