Application with push-button capability
We’re about to see some things change dramatically in the way we market our rentals. Our normal procedure has been to go take pictures and videos of a property, upload them to Zillow’s Rent Manager and then use that link to post the property all over Facebook. We still put signs in the yards, but most of our calls come from online sources these days.
This week we got an email from Zillow letting us know that as of March 2, it will cost $9.99 per listing per week to list a house for rent in Georgia. It also says the first listing is free and that the charge will begin with the second listing. I’m still not sure if they’re referring to the first listing for a week or a month or just the first listing ever.
Let me say this: I’m not opposed to paying for services. Zillow has placed themselves in a great position. They are the industry leader on property listings for people who don’t have access to the MLS. But I think Zillow may be overreaching here. Time and the open market will tell if I’m right.
But we are already looking into changing not only our marketing process but our tenant screening process as well. You see, we take our time picking the right tenants. Every time we’ve gotten in a hurry to fill a house, we’ve regretted it. And putting the listing price as a weekly cost, as opposed to say a monthly subscription, will not work with for us.
So, we’re going to have to figure out a different way.
My first thought is to reengineer our website to include a place to put listings and then to share that on social media. But that means Facebook is going to be our main advertising platform. And while Facebook is great place to reach people, it allows viewers to comment on your posts. And it’s amazing how often people will lend you their negative opinions while sitting behind a computer screen at home.
This option also brings with it more of a workload. Not only do you have to deal with the constant call volume but now you have to respond to all the Facebook Messenger messages you get while paying attention to all your posts to make sure you are getting back with people in a timely manner. And if you don’t, they are going to zing you on your business page
I know this because I woke up to this very scenario this morning. After I read the post, my initial response was that this negative comment was unfounded, and truthfully it made me mad. But as I was doing my run, it dawned on me that we have to change something.
You see, we have a push-button, instant-gratification society, and our current application screening process is not push-button. It requires applicants to follow a very specific set of instructions and to conform to us. Consequently, it takes time. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we don’t charge an application fee.
The reason we have never charged for applications is that we figured that fee could add up quickly for a potential tenant and hurt their chances of getting into a place. I mean, at $40 a pop, if they apply for 5 houses, that is $200 out of pocket for them.
But because we have not charged for applications, we’ve done all the screening in-house. And when you have multiple properties on market, it’s hard to keep up. And instead of potential tenants being grateful for us not charging, they started smearing us on Facebook.
So, if we are going to move away from Zillow and start using Facebook as our main marketing platform, we will need to give part of our application screening process push-button capabilities, which, in turn, means we will have to start charging for the applications.
I was talking to buddy about this who helped me to see that this is going to be a good thing. Charging will do away with the tire kickers who aren’t serious about renting, thus cutting down on the volume of calls and applications we have to vet. It will also produce higher quality applicants, and that will allow us to offer a better service.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.