How Property Management Referrals Build Your Business

Realtors: How Property Management Referrals Build Your Business

Realtors, are you wondering how property management referrals build your business? Get great advice on how property management referrals build your business from Top-Producing Agent Beth Kenney.


Recently, in an effort to thank the Northern Virginia Realtor community, WJD Management sponsored its first-ever contest drawing for agents. The prize was reimbursement of a full year’s MRIS dues—a $660 award. Real estate agents are the lifeblood of a firm like WJD—especially since we operate without any affiliation to a sales brokerage. We figured the start of a new year was the perfect time to offer a gift that would give a boost to one hardworking Northern Virginia agent.

The contest was administered by an independent contractor (and the name randomly drawn by a software application)—but, as luck and coincidence would have it, the agent whose name was drawn is one we’ve worked with many times over the years: Beth Kenney, of Berkshire Hathaway Homes Services (BHHS) PenFed Realty in Reston.

In conversations we had with Beth after she received her prize check, we learned a lot about what’s motivated a top-producing Realtor to refer well over 40 clients to WJD over the span of her two decades in real estate. For agents who wonder how a property management firm can benefit their business (i.e., help their clients), read Beth’s story:

From In-House Property Managers to Outside Referrals

NVAR Lifetime Top Producer Beth Kenney

NVAR Lifetime Top Producer Beth Kenney

When I started out selling real estate, there was a property management firm housed in the same Vienna office I worked from. You’d think it’d make all the sense in the world for an agent to use the in-house property management arm of their brokerage, and it made sense to me at the beginning too. But honestly, I had such negative experiences with that property management company that it led me to be open to other avenues.

And when I stopped and thought about it, why wouldn’t I want to look beyond the brokerage I worked at? I believe you have to be super-independent—and I’m never a blind follower of anything. Just because some service is located conveniently within my own company doesn’t mean I should use it. In fact, that might be the biggest reason not to use it. When you look for outside vendors, you’re guaranteeing a measure of accountability. Even more than that, you’re avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest between your clients’ needs and your (or your brokerage’s) financial interest.

I like showing my clients that what they need is important enough to look outside my own company. And they’ve always appreciated that.

Plus, it’s pretty awkward when you make an in-house referral and your own company lets you down. When you refer to independents like WJD, you can hold them accountable, since they know you owe them nothing, and they have to earn your referral every time.

Build Trust First. The Listings Will Follow.

build trust with real estate clients

The key to success in real estate is building trust–over time–with your clients.

It’s been as much about trust for me, though, as it has been about accountability. My goal is always to build trust—first and foremost with my clients. And from the beginning, David Norod at WJD built trust with me. Actually, just as a side note, David was the person who convinced me to get involved in real estate in the first place. I was in the same building as him—a college grad, magna cum laude, answering phones.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked. “You’d be awesome in real estate!”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I feel lucky that I found David, a property manager I could trust with my clients—not to mention someone I genuinely liked. And property management is what he does. It’s all he does. I know David’s motivation will always be there to make my clients happy as their property manager, because this is his bread and butter. Unlike the property management arm of that first brokerage I mentioned, he doesn’t have a sales business to fall back on if he lets his rental clients down. He has to please them.

How Does the Property Management Referral Process Work?

So, a typical referral would play out something like this:

I have clients who need to get a certain price on their home or it’s just not worth it to sell. Or they have a tight timeframe to sell before leaving the area. And, whether because of price or timing (or both), they decide not to sell.

That’s the point at which I say to them, “This just may not be the right time—and that’s okay. Let’s hand it over to WJD and let them take care of everything for you until it is the right time. They’re specialists. And by the way, their rates are in line with everyone else’s.”

My job is easy after that, since WJD handles everything. And it’s always worked out well. Every client that I’ve referred who’s ended up hiring WJD has been pleased. So I benefitted. I provided a valuable resource to my clients. And that’s a huge part of my business. I provide great resources.

 “Who Will Take Care of My Home When I Leave?”

property management client referrals

Your clients love their home. They want reassurance that it will be cared for as they would care for it.

People go to their Realtor all the time and say, “Who can manage this place for me when I leave? Who’s going to make sure it gets taken care of the same way I’d take care of it if I were here?”

Will an arm of a sales brokerage take the best care of your client’s property? I really don’t think so.

WJD’s a pure value-add in my business, because I can honestly tell someone who asks those questions, “Don’t worry. They’ll take great care of your home. Whether you decide to sell it after renting it out or to come back and live in it, you’ll be happy. You won’t have to constantly worry.”

The “Zoe’s Kitchen Effect” (and Letting Realtors Know They Matter)

Like the favorite Vienna eatery, Zoe's Kitchen, WJD is "making it fun"--offering contests, giveaways, and chances to enjoy community at the local level.

Like the favorite Vienna eatery, Zoe’s Kitchen, WJD is “making it fun”–offering contests, giveaways, and chances to enjoy community at the local level.


And by the way, I really like the way WJD is now reaching out to Realtors now by offering prizes and making it all fun. It kind of reminds me of Zoe’s Kitchen in Vienna, giving people a free entrée just for stopping by. The free entrée gets folks into Zoe’s Kitchen—and once they’re there, they see how great a place it is and become regular customers. I think contests and giveaways are a nice way to let Realtors know they matter. And they can only benefit by learning more and sharing a great local resource with their clients.

(Note: If you missed WJD’s last contest, no worries. You can get an advance entry into the next one–an all-expenses-paid NVAR dues award–by signing up here.)

My advice to other agents is this:

It’s not really about the money you might earn today—making a referral to a professional property manager involves long-term thinking. Sure, it’s nice that you’ll end up with a client referral fee from sending your clients to a firm like WJD. But that’s nothing compared to what you’re really building—which is a relationship.

A strong, stable relationship with clients who will eventually list with you when the time is right. Because their home was well taken care of when they needed the help the most.

For more advice on how property management referrals build your business and information from WJD Management follow our blog and find us on Facebook @wjdmanagement, Twitter @WJDManagement, and Instagram @wjdpm.