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Winning companies embrace the science of rent roll growth
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Ben White
06 January 2021

As an adolescent, I was obsessed with cricket. Unfortunately, it was my first unrequited love. I would practice as much as anyone, but I never had the skill or talent to really succeed or make my mark. It wasn’t for want of trying; it just wasn’t for me.

I remember a specific conversation that helped me come to terms with that basic reality. I was at a training camp and Allan Border, the Australian cricket immortal, was there as part of the coaching squad. I remember introducing myself and asking him “Mr. Border, how do you do a cover drive?” He responded by miming his stroke and saying, “I don’t really know, I just do it”.
I knew then and there I would never play for Australia.
It turns out that Allan Border was one of the great cricketers of the era, yet was an ineffective coach to someone with my skills. He was too good and therefore unable to teach someone more ‘mainstream’. For him, everything was instinctive and beyond the scope of us mortals!
This story comes back to me every time I have a discussion about growing a rent roll. There are plenty of conferences with inspiring speakers who’ll say how easy it all is and how they just get out there and grow the rent roll. Business owners usually walk away motivated and energized, but ultimately without anything concrete to get started on. In this case, they’ve just listened to the Allan Border of real estate.

If we are to properly address the issue of rent roll growth, we have to condense what happens into a science.

It’s not good enough to leave growth as art and therefore undefined. More importantly, it’s not helpful.
Rent roll growth is a function of marketing and sales. I don’t use the term ‘marketing’ as a synonym for ‘advertising’, but rather in its broader sense to mean understanding the market and its needs, connecting to it and offering solutions to those needs in a way that delivers value. I also argue, as do many, that winning new business for the rent roll is a sales function, not a property management function.
It’s my strong belief that marketing and sales is just as much about good process as anything. Sure, good process alone will not make a business development manager a pin-up for our industry, just as no amount of time in the nets would make me the next Allan Border. But good process will make a good business development manager effective and, when properly resourced, able to exploit the company’s opportunities fully.

My experience is that the best property management businesses embrace the science of rent roll growth.

These businesses not only have a clear framework for thinking about their growth potential, they’ve also resourced their team to go after that potential.
The business development team is structured to support that desired growth and the compensation packages are aligned to those goals. The business tracks all its leads, and the reports that are generated give insight into what’s working and what is not. And the business reacts accordingly.
Along with science, there’s no doubt art is also necessary in successfully building a rent roll. I argue, though, that the balance should rightly be found far in favor of science.
For anyone who’s not the Allan Border of our industry, I strongly believe that improving their understanding of the frameworks of growth opportunity and lead nurturing is the most important thing any business owner can do to change the trajectory of their business.
This blog is an excerpt from Chapter 1 in the book Numbers Game: The Science of Growing a Rent Roll by Ben White.