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How One Company Successfully Manages Over 600,000 Rental Units

Remen Okoruwa
5 min read
How One Company Successfully Manages Over 600,000 Rental Units

To be successful in any venture, you need to learn from the best. If you are an aspiring landlord, you can do no better than taking lessons from a company like Greystar. Within a few years, the company became the type of rental business that all landlords aspire to become.

You might only manage a few properties, and it’s challenging to do it big in a competitive rental market. But the lessons you’ll learn in this article from Greystar will help you build your property business.

Many of the basics that made Greystar a multinational leader in rental housing apply to small property management companies.

Company History

Bob Faith founded Greystar in 1993 when he envisioned the need for high-quality rental housing that tenants can call home. The first job in real estate that he got was with developer Trammell Crow. He quickly gained experience in turning around challenging projects and managing teams.

In 1991, Faith teamed up with an acquaintance from Harvard Business School to start a rental housing agency. Within two years, Greystar went from nothing to managing 9,000 rental units in Houston, Texas.

One of the problems that Faith quickly identified in the rental business was the need to professionalize it. Too many people viewed rental companies as a mom-and-pop business. He also implemented lessons that he learned while at Trammell Crow.

What was the most important lesson? The need to recruit talented, energetic people who have a vision. But Faith didn’t just hire the right people for the job. He entrusted his teams with responsibility and autonomy while keeping capital allocation centralized.

The result is that Greystar now manages over $200 billion of real estate in 42 cities and 13 countries. In total, the company looks after over 660,000 rental units in more than 2,400 complexes worldwide.

Even amid the global pandemic in 2020, Greystar continued to expand, despite downturns in the rental sector.

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Factors in Success

What are the key factors that have driven Greystar’s success? What lessons can you learn that will help you build a successful rental business in your area?

Greystar’s rise to become the leader in property management didn’t happen by chance. From the outset, the company developed a clear set of values. It is those same values that drive the company today.

Let’s look in detail at five property management lessons you can learn from Greystar.

  1. Focus on people

The primary strategy that drives the company’s success is a focus on people—employees and tenants. Greystar strives to deliver the type of properties that people want and give them a place to call home.

Bob Faith says, “Our core values and our people are at the heart of everything we do. Though times and technology may change, it’s our people who have made Greystar the global leader in rental housing.”

When developing new residences, Greystar focuses on providing comfortable and beautiful living spaces. Due to its focus on people, the company ensures that all units are inviting places for tenants.

How you can do this today: Develop a set of core values for your rental business. Write them down and discuss them with all the members of your team. Make sure that tenants are at the heart of these values to ensure that you provide the type of residences that people want.

  1. Hire and train the right people

Right from the start, Greystar looked to hire energetic, talented people for its team. One of the factors that has driven its success is that managers are quick to give team members responsibility. They also allow employees to come up with initiatives and implement them.

How can you know which employees to entrust with more responsibility? Nellcine Ford, Managing Director of Talent Management for Greystar, says, “Look for employees who have proven experience in turning around a troubled property, effective communication with all levels of management, and time management.”

The six core values that all Greystar staff aim for are:

  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Professionalism
  • Accountability
  • Service
  • Teamwork

If you aspire to develop a team that will drive your company forward, teach them these six values.

How you can do this today: Give trusted employees greater responsibility and help them to be accountable for their actions.

Related: How to Hire Amazing Team Members for Every Real Estate Process—From Finding Deals to Renting Them Out

  1. Live in the same area as your rental property

One of the lessons that Bob Faith learned early on was to live in the locality where your properties are. Faith says, “People that live in these markets know them better than someone who’s flying in from the outside.”

There is no substitute for local knowledge. When buying rental properties, make sure that you live near the property and know the area well. Some of the advantages of investing locally include:

  • You can reduce your costs
  • It’s easier to focus on customer service
  • You can build up a local professional network
  • You have local knowledge of the neighborhood

How you can do this today: Check out potential rental properties in neighborhoods you’re familiar with. You’ll be in a better position to manage these properties and concentrate on providing excellent service.

  1. Maintain a strong social media presence

Greystar is a firm believer in using the latest technology to strengthen its brand and online presence; just look at their YouTube channel to see how they leverage the power of social media.

Greystar uses social media to create introductory videos to each of their properties. Property managers can share these with potential tenants or anyone thinking of renting a Greystar property. Also, you can watch high-quality video tours of their residential buildings.

Even a modest presence on social media will strengthen your brand. You can shoot videos of rental apartments with any smartphone. You can then use these to advertise vacant properties, build relationships with tenants, and share relevant information.

How you can do this today: Set up a business Facebook page and post twice a week. It’s also a great idea to share high-quality images of your rental units

Related: 3 Impactful Ways to Use Social Media as a Real Estate Investor

  1. Provide exceptional customer service

One of the fundamental lessons to learn from Greystar is a focus on outstanding customer service. How does Greystar do this? Managers train staff to think like the owner of the rental unit and take pride in tenant satisfaction.

The company also incorporates a customer experience strategy called “Beyond Expectations” into its interactions. This ensures that property owners, clients, tenants, and prospects always receive the best service.

Greystar also has an online portal where clients can pay rent, request maintenance, renew leases, and more.

Providing excellent customer service results in fewer vacancies, on-time rent payments, satisfied tenants, and an excellent reputation in the industry.

How you can do this today: Start using a property management app to collect rent online, manage leases, communicate with tenants, and manage vacancies.

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Two years ago, Greystar started out managing over 9,000 rental units. Now, that number has grown to over 600,000. The core values that drove the company’s success are the same ones that make Greystar a leader in the property management market.

What can you learn from Greystar to make it big in property management? First, focus on delivering tenants what they need. Then educate staff in your core values. And lastly, provide exceptional customer service in every step of the landlord-tenant relationship. This way, you can also build a successful property management company.

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.