This article is authored by Chris Peel, MD of CDP Property Solutions and Property Mentor at Property Abundance. It reveals 3 of the 10 steps taught within the Complete Property Millionaire System for sourcing tenants for your HMO rooms to ensure you maximise your occupancy and minimise your voids to ensure your HMO investment is operating to it’s full potential.
So you’ve got yourself an HMO? Great work! But before you break out the champagne, it’s the time to get the rooms filled and start earning money. The problem is I see people time and time again advertising their rooms with unappealing, uninteresting adverts then questioning why their rooms stay empty. But most don’t even know they’re doing it, and why would they? If you face this problem you can do one of two things. You can blame the market and how tough the property game is, and continue experiencing voids and losing your hard earned money, OR you can take responsibility for your situation, and work on the sales, marketing and distribution channels of your business using our proven system to improve your occupancy and rates that you achieve for each unit you rent.
In our training programme, The Complete Property Millionaire System, we teach 10 different systems for marketing HMO rooms that we have personally implemented into our various HMO businesses and use to maintain market beating levels of occupancy in all of our properties.
Now, before I explain a few of these methods to you, I want to talk more broadly about marketing principles because these make all the difference. Get them right and you will see your demand for rooms soar, and your income level from property jump with just a simple change, but get them wrong, and it won’t matter how many systems you use, each will be as disappointing as the last. And you’ll be left with empty houses and big bills to pay.
We live in a time when people make decisions with the swipe of a finger or the click of a mouse. We are surrounded and bombarded by marketing messages more now than in any time in history. According to Yankelovich inc. we as consumers see on average 5000 adverts each day. Probably a bit less if you live in the Highlands, and probably a bit more if you live or work in central London, but the point is, with all that noise we have become hardened to marketing messages. It’s not just about sticking your property on Spareroom and hoping someone’s going to see it, notice it, click it, like it and engage with it. You’ve got to do better. So how do you sand out?
Now if you want to perfect this then you can take a degree in digital and conventional marketing and learn the newest research on which works the absolute best and market your room in 3 years times once you’ve learnt it, by which time the market will have changed again anyway which is just a false economy that many fall into. Or, you can follow some simple and basic principles to ensure you stand out and have tenants flocking to you. Second one sounds better, right? I agree! So what I’m talking about is making sure you use the AIDA model in all the marketing you do. Now what is the AIDA model and why is it one of the most important lessons you’ll learn? AIDA is actually just an acronym:
A – Attention: This is the use of large, bold, colourful pictures and text used to grab the eye and the “attention” of the person you’re targeting. It has to be relevant to that person or they will quickly eliminate it from their thoughts. As we’re talking about filling rooms in your HMO the target is likely to be a prospective tenant. So think about a quick concise message that would grab the attention of someone looking for a room.
I – Interest: Once you’ve got their eye, don’t waste it! You need to build interest to read or watch on. A great way to do this is to pose questions that relate to the person you’re aiming your advert at. Your aim is to show that you understand their situation and have the solution they need.
D – Desire: Once they’re interested you need to build the desire for whatever it is that you’re selling by talking to them about the benefits of your product or service and how it will improve their life or situation. Without desire your hard work is worthless. Try to paint a picture in their mind of how great living in your HMO is going to be, all of it aimed at building a desire to move into your HMO instead of matey down the street’s HMO.
A – Action: If you’ve done the above correctly they will want to know more. This could mean that they want to book a viewing or they could even be so sick of trawling through the repetitive boring adverts out there that one look at yours and they are ready to slap down a deposit! The key is to prompt them to do it and to act on the urge. A simple statement such as “call Nat to book your viewing on 07XXXXXXXXX will be perfectly fine!
Can you see how just adding these simple principles in place can dramatically change your advert and your chances of filling a room?
So! Now I know you’re going to be following the AIDA model with all the various distribution channels you use, let’s move on to talk about some of the ones you can use from today to start getting over-subscribed with your rooms. Of course the wider you can market the larger your audience which is why we teach our students of Property Abundance 10 different methods, 7 of which 99% of HMO landlords out there aren’t making use of (and don’t even know about) but all of which are a hugely powerful source of tenants.
Spare Room / Open Rent and all the Other Room Let Websites
Yes I do only count tenant sites as one of the 10 sources of tenants, because they’re basically all the same and all do the same thing, despite what others say. That’s not to say that they aren’t a powerful tools for attracting tenants and probably the single biggest thing you can do to improve your occupancy and rates is to get these ones right. Some of them are free, some of them are paid, some have higher numbers of user so for arguments sake here are some of the top ones you can use:
Spare Room – the single biggest room let website in the UK. Free or paid ads available
Openrent – interesting because they offer referencing services and deposit protection etc and they advertise your property on rightmove, zoopla and Gumtree as well as their own site.
Easy Room Mate – very large global room let service
Room Buddies – Free and paid advertising available
When you have set up your account on here the important things to get right are your Headline and your lead photo. These the first two things the tenant sees so make them stand out. I’ve even seen some adverts with the Hulk’s face as the first photo because it grabs your attention and makes you click through even out of sheer curiosity.
Once they’re on your listing a strong description that builds interest and desire is essential, with lots of photos. Some sites will have a max number of photos but if you can get around 10 to show the room at different angles, any communal spaces, the exterior and the street view this will be perfect. Don’t forget to apply AIDA in writing your description but skip the first A as you’ve already got their attention or they wouldn’t be on your ad.
This can be done in a couple of places and for certain areas it can be one of the powerful strategies. The first is in local shops where people looking for a room in the area are likely to go. This will also be marketing to people already living in rooms in the area and you could end up poaching a tenant from another house with this.
With shop windows and notice boards being pretty busy crowded spaces, you NEED to get the Attention building step right. Big and bright is the way to do this. Black text on yellow backgrounds has the highest contrast for the human eye so it’s a great way to go. Keep it punchy and keep it AIDA. People don’t want to stand and read chapters about why your accommodation is the best. They want bullet point when they’re in a shop so they can get on with their day.
The second place to run window ads is in the windows of your property itself. This can fairly often have a knock on effect of attracting management contracts from other people with HMOs in the area too as they see your advertising and want to have the same on their property so can open up unintended opportunities. One time when I was setting up a house in Bedford, we had an entire house taken while we were still getting it ready by hanging an banner ad out of the upstairs window which caught the eye of some local contractors. The rooms were let before we even finished the preparation.
Local Community Facebook Groups
This is one of the lesser used places that people advertise their rooms and by not doing so you’re missing a big trick! Facebook has become a strong source of tenants for my JV partners Chris and Natalia, based in Luton! Natalia is Polish, and managed to track down a facebook group called Polish in Luton where she can place adverts in their native language. This improves the response rate several fold and is a great advantage. Don’t let not knowing a foreign language put you off though! There are loads of Facebook community groups for each city that allow landlords to advertise their rooms to prospective local tenants. Just be clear about the type of tenants you do and don’t accept here though because there are a lot of housing benefit tenants applying through this channel which is a sector we don’t personally provide accommodation for.
So there you have it! 3 powerful distribution channels for your HMO rooms and a principle you can follow to maximise the interest and response rate and almost guarantee you will have all your rooms filled… as long as you do it right! To make the most of the opportunity you need to make sure you have the right systems in place to deal with the enquiries and make the most of every opportunity.
If you’d like to learn about the other 7 distribution channels that only the most successful HMO operators use to ensure a constant flow of tenants and build a tenant database that they can draw on as soon as a room notice is served, as well as how to build an automated enquiry handling system into your business to deal with all the enquiries they result in, you’re going to love the Complete Property Millionaire System that I teach. At the time of writing this article we are still accepting Pre-launch registrations of interest for this meaning you’ll get exclusive access to launch discounts available. Full disclosure though, this is a first come first served offer. We have a limited number available and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Simply follow this link to register your interest and to receive an invitation to one of our free webinars when they are ready to go: http://bit.ly/propertyabundance
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson and keep an eye out for the next one that will delve into things you should outsource in your business to build freedom into your life to focus on whatever you want to spend your time doing. For now, the top actions you can take are:
- Remember to use AIDA in all your marketing work
- Leverage the specialist websites out there and use their paid for service to get to the top of the page
- Design some window ads for your property and for the local shops to target the local passing audience.
- Join your local Facebook community group and start marketing your rooms there too
- Join the Property Abundance Community on Facebook to get access to exclusive tips, tricks and actionable content designed to help you succeed. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/723150368032766/?r…
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That’s all for now! Good luck on your journeys and don’t forget to check back for regular content packed posts!