Business success is measured in numbers—are we hitting our revenue targets, generating adequate profit margins, creating value for our clients and generating optimal social impact? While the goal of any business effort is to generate this measureable value, many fall into a dangerous preoccupation with the numbers to the detriment of the people at the heart of value creation. Strong quantitative performance is, however, more often than not the product of the strength of the relationships an entrepreneur and his or her business are able to form in support of an established vision for the future. When relationships are actively cultivated and well-aligned to the entrepreneur’s goals, traditional economic measures of success tend to follow suit. In the residential property management business we put a great deal of effort into building strong relationships and in this post I would like to focus on a few key steps in our process.
The ability to form powerful relationships starts with a shift in mindset away from a focus on the numbers and mechanics of revenue generation, to that of creating a compelling narrative and vision for the future. By focusing on the purpose of the business, entrepreneurs are forced to take an outward looking approach and thus position themselves to create meaningful value for a greater number of people. When done correctly- customers, employees, and other key stakeholders take notice of the entrepreneur and their work and begin to buy into what becomes a common vision for the future. It is this common vision that establishes the foundation for a strong relationship, as a widening network of individuals begin to self-identify with the success of the company.
Buttonwood Property Management was born out of the notion that in a global world, professionals are becoming more transient. Real estate investors want a one stop shop to address all their real estate needs starting from finding the right investment to closing the deal, preparing the property for rental, finding the right tenant and managing the day to day activities. Our vision of the future is thus based strongly on long-term relationships to build real estate wealth over time. As an entrepreneur focused on building relationships you must be able to construct a similar story about their company. To get started try brainstorming ideas around some key questions such as:
Defining your narrative is of course only the first step as once a relationship has been established it must be actively managed as the business and the needs of each stakeholder change over time.
As a result of increased connectivity, customers exercise more power and act with more knowledge in the market place than ever before. They are well aware of what they want and what options are out there and thus, while a compelling narrative and meaningful purpose may form the foundation for a long-lasting relationship, meeting continued expectations is what is required to build on that foundation and maintain the relationship. Understanding the client’s needs, timelines and comfort levels around various pieces of the decision making process is the key to tailoring a customer experience that delivers on your core purpose and strengthens customer relationships. Our clients entrust us with their personal homes and/or portfolio of real estate assets. Our success in assisting with this personal decision is primarily based on understanding our clients’ desired lifestyle and what they will require from their real estate as that lifestyle evolves over time. It is the evolutionary aspect of customer needs and desires that makes this an ongoing process. In keeping your client knowledge up to date be sure to:
Being open to receiving and incorporating feedback from our clients has also served us well with our efforts to create quality customer experiences time and time again. By remaining mindful of and engaging with our client’s perspective we leave our customers feeling that they are valued and position them to act as strong ambassadors for what we do. Feedback also allows us to understand the differences between client segments, allowing us to better serve areas where we are well represented as well as to distil strategies for breaking into segments where we would like a stronger presence.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly we have committed ourselves to the notion that our job is to advise our client, not sell to them. While it can be tempting to make every sale possible, it is equally important that your offering is the right one for the particular customer. This is particularly important for service based businesses that rely more on customer interaction and customer experience for the purposes of building brand integrity and trustworthiness. Build your integrity with customers by asking yourself if their need could be better served by another offering and don’t be shy to share this information with them. The reputational gain from this approach to business will provide greater payoff in the long run than will the opposite approach in short run transactional revenue.
Strong relationships drive modern business. If you are considering an entrepreneurial venture or are already in the midst of one, ask yourself how you would produce or if you are producing the kinds of relationships necessary to allow your service or product offering to generate the return you are looking for. Focus first on defining your purpose and constructing a compelling narrative. Actively manage your relationships with your purpose and your stakeholders in mind. Do this right and you have positioned your business for success.
Written By: Sabine Ghali, Director at Buttonwood Property Management and an entrepreneur at heart who endeavors to help investors create real estate wealth over time in the Greater Toronto Area. Visit her at www.buttonwood.ca