Are you under the impression that a Business Development Manager (BDM) and a Property Manager are interchangeable positions in property management? Think again.

While both roles involve property management, the skillsets required for each are vastly different. Assuming that a person who excels in one role can easily transition into the other will likely result in disappointment for you and them.

A BDM is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to attract and retain clients, grow the business, and generate revenue. They focus on sales, marketing, and building relationships with property owners and investors.

On the other hand, a Property Manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of properties, dealing with tenants, maintenance issues, and ensuring compliance with regulations and laws.

While some individuals may possess skills that overlap in both roles, finding someone capable of excelling in both positions is rare. It’s important to recognise the unique strengths and abilities required for each role and hire accordingly to ensure the success of your property management business.

BDMs, also known as “Hunters,” can work independently and proactively seek new business opportunities through constant prospecting. They must be adaptable and flexible when dealing with unpredictable situations when engaging with unfamiliar people.

So how do Hunters think?

Hunters are highly motivated and independent individuals who excel at initiating new business activities through consistent prospecting and adapting to unpredictable situations that arise when dealing with new people. They are often money-motivated and expect to be compensated differently from Property Managers. BDMs usually receive higher bonuses because they can generate business from scratch and deliver results with a higher profit margin.

On the other hand, Property Managers, or “Farmers”, work with established clients with whom they and their company have built long-term relationships. They are expected to meet the client’s clear expectations and follow a specific process established over time. Unlike BDMs, Farmers require highly detailed planning and execution skills to meet their clients’ needs.

Encouraging a Property Manager to become a BDM (or transition from a Farmer to a Hunter) to promote growth can be ineffective and unsatisfactory if the individual is uncomfortable with the role.

If a Farmer has successfully nurtured and expanded your investor client base, and you require more customers, it may be tempting to task your excellent Property Manager, Tara, with acquiring new clients since she is well-liked by current ones.

While Tara’s exceptional skills in patience, care, attention to detail, and thoroughness make her an excellent Property Manager, improvisation, dealing with the unknown, and being flexible and creative without her preferred time to think and plan may result in less-than-stellar outcomes.

Leaving new clients with Hunters for extended periods may not be ideal for long-term rent roll growth. Since Hunters have successfully established relationships with these clients, you may prefer to maintain these connections. However, if you remove the Hunter too quickly and replace them with a Farmer, you risk upsetting investors who have already developed a positive rapport with the Hunter.

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

Although it may seem like a viable strategy in the short term, over time, your effective Hunter may become overburdened with too many clients, resulting in a shift towards Property Management duties rather than business development. This creates a problem because no one is effectively bringing in new investors while the existing ones are not growing optimally. Consequently, they may not be as effective in increasing the rent roll as they were in attracting new clients.

To address this challenge, you require a strategy that smoothly transitions new clients from their original Business Development Manager (BDM), the Hunter, to their long-term Property Manager, the Farmer. This approach should ensure clients feel valued, remain loyal to your company, and enable Property Management staff to function optimally.

An effective strategy involves establishing a transparent handover process from the Business Development Manager (BDM) to the Property Manager to ensure that customers know their Property Manager from the earliest stages of the listing presentation process. Ideally, both the BDM and Property Manager should be involved to some extent from the beginning of the process. This way, when one of them is unavailable, it is perceived as a natural transition rather than poor communication.

Introducing the Property Manager at the right time is crucial. It is best to do this at the listing presentation stage, whether in conversation, a meeting at the property, or over the phone as part of the closing process. Instead of just mentioning the Property Manager as the person who manages the property, emphasise their specific role as the main point of contact for the investor and the primary set of eyes on their investment property. Once the client is secured, it will appear natural that the Property Manager is the main point of contact for the investor, with the BDM only needed 10% of the time and eventually not required at all.

Why go to this extra effort to hand over your clients?

The reason to put in the extra effort to transition clients from a Hunter-style BDM to a long-term Farmer-style Property Manager is to provide maximum communication and ensure that clients continue to do business with and recommend your agency to others.

While some BDMs may insist on keeping their new clients to offer personal care and live up to their original promises, good intentions are not enough. Attention to detail is what makes a great Property Manager, a trait that many BDM personality types lack. Therefore, it’s best to introduce investors to the Property Manager right from the beginning to avoid the customer becoming unhappy after the initial fabulous relationship.

Sticking to the path and style that comes naturally to you, whether you’re a Hunter or a Farmer, is essential to be extraordinary and make lots of money for yourself and your agency. Attempting to adopt the other style can lead to discouragement and disheartenment, ultimately doing yourself a disservice.

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.