If you have an established property preservation business, you may still be looking to get more clients or projects. Like any business, this lucrative and reliable business still requires marketing, especially in the first few years. My years of experience in property preservation can help you market your business and acquire more clients in a short period of time. Let’s take a look at the basics of property preservation business marketing, both in the beginning and on an ongoing basis to get you the clients and business you need to stay out of the red and into the green. (Don’t worry, marketing isn’t hard — it just takes a little effort on your part.) Get ready to take notes!
What is Marketing?
Marketing, in case you don’t know, is how you promote, or sell your property preservation business services and get more work from clients, banks, government agencies, or lenders that have REO properties and need your services. To market your services, you will want to do some market research online and in your service area in your city and state to make sure you start your basic marketing plan with the right information. You want to market to clients in your community, so you need to know what those clients are looking for in a business like yours. Marketing a business today usually means the following:
- Finding out who your clients are
- Advertising online
- Creating a website
- Using social media sites or services to get the word out about your business
- Publishing ads in printed publications
While marketing may not be your strong point, know that every business owner everywhere needs to know how to do it. Read on to learn the best and easiest ways to market your property preservation business, and get more business.
Here’s a great definition of marketing:
Teaching clients why they should choose your services over your competitors’ services.
Got it? Good.
How Should I Market My Business?
Starting with the short checklist in the “What is Marketing” section above, make sure you have the tools you need for a successful business. First, research.
How Should I Research My Business Market?
A good place to start, as I mentioned before, is a Google search. A good one may be “How Many Foreclosed Homes” in your city, state, or service area. Again, Entrepreneur has some great advice here. Ask yourself:
- Who are your clients?
- Why do they use property preservation services?
- Which property preservation businesses are most popular in my area, and why?
- What can you offer clients that other property preservation businesses can’t?
The answers to these questions should go something like this:
- Banks, lenders, and government organizations like HUD
- Because they need to prepare REO properties for sale
- You likely know which property preservation businesses in your area are most successful. If not, look them up by location and see how they market their businesses online and in your community or state
- Go above and beyond what other companies offer, be more detailed, provide better services, and make your clients happy all the time
How Should I Advertise My Business?
Once you have a website, keep it tidy and easy to get around on. No one likes a website that isn’t nice to look at or is hard to find information on. Using a free, predesigned website template from a business like Wix or Squarespace is the best place to start if you can’t afford an expensive website designer or company. These templates are pretty simple to use, even for newbies. Once your website is up and running, create social media accounts for your business on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Wix makes it easy to link your accounts to your new website.
If you can afford it right off the bat, you can advertise cheaply on Facebook through its marketing programs, and you can take out ads in real estate magazines or on websites in your area. Post on your social media accounts at least once a week to keep interest and search engine results high. You can also advertise in person, which means calling real estate organizations in your area, banks, and lenders, and preparing brochures to drop off at banks and lenders you want to work with. Last, always be friendly, helpful, and positive when you are out in your community, and make sure your property preservation business does the best work and goes the extra mile. Word will get around quickly and business will start rolling in.
What Should I Do to Keep Marketing My Business?
The key to good marketing is not to stop just because you have enough business. You need to keep publishing on social media accounts, and adding new information to your websites. Images of completed jobs you’ve done, or even before and after pictures are a great place to start. Clients want to know about your past work before they hire you, so write up a few descriptions of difficult projects you’ve worked on and the stellar results you had.
How Can I Get More Business?
Word-of-mouth is important in small and large communities, and every business interaction you have should be positive, with every client receiving great work from your business. Even when you’re having a bad day, try not to let it show. Clients want to know that your business is reliable and efficient, so show them that on your website and through your work. You can always up your advertising budget, go to a few foreclosure auctions, or talk to the banks and lenders in your area if you need more business. Most of all, keep trying! Successful businesses are built over years, not days or weeks — the longer your business is around, the more clients you’ll have and the more you’ll learn.
The best, and the cheapest, place to find clients is online. You can do this initial marketing from home or when you are out and about using libraries or internet cafes. Your focus needs to be realtors, specifically those who specialize in bulk foreclosure listings.
One website I use to find HUD (Housing and Urban Development) realtors is BidSelect, which lists tons of foreclosure properties for sale. BidSelect is an electronic marketplace offering a management portal for real estate assets held by banks, lending institutions, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.
From the BidSelect home page, simply click on Property Search to select your preferred city and state. From there, you can look through the listings on the website and obtain contact information for the realtors handling those listings, many of whom are HUD realtors. This is not a quick or easy task, but it is an essential process to enable you to build a database of potential
You want to target these realtors because they deal in primarily foreclosures, and often realtors who specialize in foreclosures have many properties, not just one or two. You need to constantly market yourself hard to these realtors and their brokers. You can start with a letter of introduction, then send reminder postcards and holiday cards. Follow up with phone calls and friendly emails. In this way, you will be the first company they think of when it comes to foreclosure cleanup.
None of this is difficult, but it takes time and you have to repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s no use contacting them once and expecting them to remember you. Remind them you are out there, constantly. Let them know you are the one-stop shop for foreclosure cleanup.
Many of the realtors you contact may own their own small maintenance-type companies, but don’t be deterred by this. Often, they can’t do everything themselves and may still need your services.
Investors and Landlords
Investors and landlords can form a large part of your client base, so search the internet for investment groups in your local area and target them with mailings and phone calls. You could also attend some of their networking meetings to get your face known. Both new and experienced landlords will need your services. Look for landlord networking groups and make contact with them often so that your company remains at the forefront of their minds.
Mortgage companies can be contacted directly for work in your local area. Many of these companies may not need you immediately, but as with realtors, you want them to remember you first. Flood your area and your target zip codes with your company’s information so you are known as the company to call for foreclosure cleanup in your area.
Don’t hesitate to contact real estate owned (REO) bank departments in your area directly (most banks have an REO department). Ask who their REO division contact is. Sometimes this information is hard to get, but it’s worth persevering. Once you have a contact, send him or her your literature so they have it on file. It is worth noting, however, that most banks already have a list of realtors that they use to handle their REO properties, and these realtors will find companies like yours to do the work for them.
Note: In this industry, many banks and mortgage companies prefer not to use the word “foreclosure” to describe their distressed assets. Instead, they will use words like “REO” or “bank owned.”
You can always get new customers by asking for them. When you sell goods to an existing customer, or finish offering a service, ask that existing customer to refer your service to someone else. You can do this in several ways. Here are some tips to get you thinking about ways to ask for referrals for your company:
- On your receipts, have a general message printed that says, “We value and appreciate your business. Thank you for referring family and friends.”
- As a customer is leaving your store or office, verbally thank them for their business and let them know you appreciate referrals.
- Offer your customers a discount on their next purchase for referrals received. Banks do this all the time. You’ve likely seen mailers similar to ones that say you’ll get a $50 bonus in your checking account for referring new customers.
- Offer a feedback card for customers to fill out. And the end of the form, ask satisfied customers for the names of people who they believe can benefit from your products and services.
Another way to get new buyers for your company is to network. Get out there and meet people, whether in a formal setting, like a Chamber of Commerce small business meeting, or in an informal gathering, like a barbecue in a colleague’s backyard.
There are some rules to follow for effective networking.
- Networking is about developing small business relationships. Interact genuinely and honestly and it will go a long way in building long-term relationships.
- Start out with a goal when you attend a networking event. Be clear about what you want to gain from the business outing.
- Participate, participate, participate. Interact in as many small business networking opportunities as you possibly can to make contact with potential future foreclosure cleaning clients.
- Volunteer at organizations you have an interest in helping. You will inevitably meet other entrepreneurs who share your similar interests.
- Ask questions that are open-ended when meeting new people when networking and working the room of a gathering. This tactic will allow for an even give and take and will open the door for the person you are speaking with to share plenty of information about them and their business. Also, this will go a long way in making your follow-up and follow-thru easier.
- Be a valuable resource to those you meet when moving around the room of an event. Listen to other entrepreneurs so you can really decipher what other small business owners may need from you and your business in the future. You’ll be better prepared to make the appropriate services available to them. The key is simply to listen.
- Follow up within a week or so with other small business owners you’ve met at the social/business event. You can give a quick call saying, “It was really nice to meet you, let’s stay in touch.”
What Other Marketing Advice Do You Have For Me?
I hope this information answers your questions on marketing your property preservation business, and how to do that. I want your business to succeed, and that’s why I publish these helpful articles with real industry information for you to follow, and tips on how to create more business. As always, I’ve tried to provide as many resources for information here as I can, but please contact me directly or ask a question on my website if you need more information. Sometimes the best information comes from people like me who have been in the industry for a long time. It’s a great time to be in property preservation, and make a great living in the United States. I hope your business will be as successful as mine now that you have the marketing tools to keep gaining business and clients for years.