What is the difference between a BDM and a Property Manager?

Guest post – Tara Bradbury, BDM Academy 

We assume that one person who is good at one of these roles will be good at the other. Both positions are just property management, right? But in reality, the people who are capable of doing these two roles correctly are very different and putting a great person from one side into the other position will give you and them a very disappointing outcome.

BDMs, otherwise called ‘Hunters’ are people who are capable of working alone, initiating new activity which involves consistent prospecting, improvising and being flexible when they’re dealing with new and unpredictable situations which often occur when you’re out talking to people that you don’t know very well.

So how do Hunters think?

The Hunter is usually money-motivated and motivated to work on their own. The Hunter or BDM will expect to be paid differently than a Farmer or property manager. BDMs will often get paid higher bonuses. This is due to their capabilities and also their skills to generate business from nothing and deliver a result usually with a higher value on profit and margin.

Property Managers, or ‘Farmers’, are people who deal with clients they (or at least their company) know well and have had a long and established relationship. There is a history between a Farmer and the client with clear expectation and process that both parties need to continue to fit in with.

A Farmer is a different sort of person than the flexible, and adaptive Hunter. Instead, a Farmer needs to be capable of thinking and planning and performing at a highly detailed level to meet the client’s expectations.

Agencies often try to encourage a Property Manage to become a BDM (or Farmer to Hunter) around as a way of promoting Farmer and increasing the growth path. This can be both remarkably ineffectual for the client and unsatisfying for the Property Manager if they are not comfortable with the role.

If a Farmer has done a great job with nurturing and growing your investor client base, and you need more customers, you may be tempted to think; “Well, Tara is a fabulous Property Manager, we’ll send her out to get some new clients as all of our current clients love her.”

Indeed, Tara is a fabulous Property Manager and her patience, care, attention to detail and thoroughness help her in that environment. But, if she goes out and needs to improvise, deal with the unknown and (heaven forbid) shoot from the hip and be flexible and creative all without her preferred time to think and plan and prepare herself, her results may not be outstanding.

The alternative is also not preferable for long-term rent roll growth; i.e. leaving the new clients with Hunters, who have had been doing a great job bringing them in, to grow them over a more extended period. As your Hunters has established the relationship with these clients initially, you may want to keep them with those investors. Given the hunter has developed a good relationship, you fear that if you pull the Hunter out too quickly and replace them with a Farmer type, your investors will get upset.

In the short term, this may be a good strategy.

But with time your effective Hunter has too many clients to do more hunting, and so, ends up becoming a Property Manager instead of a BDM. To further the problem, they will not be as effective in growing the rent roll as they were in getting them in to start with. This means there is no one efficiently bringing in new investors while the existing clients are also not growing at the optimal rate.

You need a strategy that effectively transitions your new clients from their original BDM – the Hunter – to their long-term Property manager: the Farmer. An approach that will keep clients feeling important and wanting to deal with your company over an extended period as well as keeping your Property Management staff working in their optimal manner.

One strategy is to ensure you have a transparent handover process from the BDM to the Property Manager. This way the customer knows their Property Manager from the earliest days possible in listing presentation process. If this is practical, there will be two people involved (in varying degrees) from early in the process, and so when one of them is unavailable, it’s not perceived by the customers as poor communication. Instead, they see it as a process of natural transition.

When is the right time to introduce the Property Manager? The Property Manager will come in as soon as the client is at listing presentation stage, where you see the opportunity to bring up in conversation, or they are invited to meet at the property, in the office or over the phone as a closing part of the process. The property manager should not be just mentioned to the client as only the person who manages the property but as having a specific role they perform. The client should be reminded “they will be the main set of eyes on your investment property”. Then after the client is secured, it will appear natural that the property manager is the primary point of contact for the investor and the BDM is needed only 10% of the time now and eventually might not be present at all.

Why go to this extra effort to handover your clients from the Hunter style BDM and the long-term Farmer style Property Manager? Ultimately, to provide both the maximum communication, so they continue to do business with us and recommend us to others.

Some BDM’s might insist they keep their new clients because they have a genuine need for offering personal care and living up to their original promises. But good intentions are not enough and attention to detail is what makes a great property manager which most BDM personality types lack. So despite the fabulous relationship to start, the customer will soon be unhappy and best to introduce your investor to the Property Manager right at the very beginning.

Whether you are a Hunter or a Farmer, you can be extraordinary and make lots of money for yourself and your agency if you stick to the path and the style that is yours naturally. But if you try to be the other style, you will run the risk of becoming discouraged and disheartened. If you decide to be something that is not natural for you, you are just doing yourself a disservice.

Interested in learning more? Refresh, renew and refocus your skills so you’re known and seen as the industry expert in Property Management and Business Development. The Real Estate Training Group’s Refresh.Renew.Refocus Tour is coming to a city near you soon. Click here to find out more.

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Tara Bradbury

Tara Bradbury is the Director of the highly recognised consultancy and coaching business BDM Academy, specialising in business development and rent roll growth training services throughout Australasia.