John Babiarz is the owner of Suffolk Property Management, which manages residential and commercial properties in the Greater Boston area. They started out as a small family-owned business with about 40 units. When Babiarz took over from his father, he managed to grow the company by another 30 doors, but then growth slowed.
Since he signed on with All Property Management (APM), a Buildium company, however, his company has seen incredible growth. In the first two months, they grew revenue by almost $50,000.
“It’s been a great start with Buildium and All Property Management, says Babiarz. “I mean, they’ve really changed my business and almost changed my life.”
He shared his growth story with Buildium as a part of our First 90 Days series, where we talk to property managers about the onboarding process and the first three months with APM and Buildium.
First, tell me a little bit about Suffolk Property Management.
John Babiarz: Suffolk Property Management started about 12 years ago. My family had gotten out of the retail business, and we ended up with a lot of commercial property that we couldn’t sell.
And over the years, we grew to about 40 units, then to 60, then 70 units, then kind of leveled off there. My father had managed it for years. But unfortunately, he got sick with dementia, and I had to step in.
The only way to really save the company was to start a pretty big scaling project.
What were your goals when you started using Buildium and APM?
John Babiarz: So, my original plan was to buy a franchise, and I researched all the different franchises out there, and they’re all great. I mean, they are great. The people really know what they’re doing.
I went through the SBA process to get financed, and we got approved. But then COVID hit.
At this point, Babiarz had to go with plan B, which was to scale the company on his own. He turned All Property Management to help him do that.
What was the initial onboarding experience like for you?
John Babiarz: At first, it’s so completely overwhelming. But the staff at APM and the staff at Buildium really helped me out. I must have watched every single video on Buildium Academy 2, 3, 4 times.
Their videos, their training, their staff is what got me through, and they made a really smooth process for me. I couldn’t have done it without them.
What were some of the areas where you felt like you needed the most support?
John Babiarz: I think it’s just a lot of the logistics of the data entry; what forms to use, for example. The whole onboarding process in itself can be such a challenge.
You have to transfer so much data. So, it’s just that transfer of data into the new platform. But Buildium and APM are such organized platforms.
How was your customer service experience overall?
John Babiarz: They’re great over at All Property Management. They helped me with my niche market. We worked on developing a radius of where I really wanted to target with the marketing resources that I had available.
We were able to establish exactly where I was looking to target, right down to the neighborhoods; what kind of properties I was looking to target and, more importantly, what properties I was looking to stay away from.
We were already focused on single-family properties. But in Boston, in the surrounding neighborhoods like Roxbury and Roslindale and Dorchester there are so many multi-families—as we say in Boston, the “triple deckahs”—and that was just an area we felt was a great opportunity.
That’s why teaming up with All Property Management was just a great partnership from the beginning. I couldn’t have gotten to this point so quickly without leveraging their technology, research, and resources.
What types of actions do you take to make sure you’re able to convert a lead into actual business?
John Babiarz: All Property Management has a great notification system. So, if a lead comes in, you’ll get a text message right away with all the information. And it pops up on the Buildium software, as well. The trick is to call that number right away.
So, somebody goes to Google and types in property management, [finds us] and then submits [a contact request], that’s going to pop up [in my email]. Next thing you know, I’m calling them a minute later. And they’re thinking, “Oh my God! This guy is way up on Google!”
It’s just leverage, because it makes the company look like the real deal. So, striking while the iron is hot is so important in converting a lead. Picking up that phone right away and getting in touch with someone as soon as you can is important, because they’re ready to convert. They’re ready to start a relationship.
So, the digital marketing tools from APM have changed the business so much. I know it’s all about relationships, but at the point of sale, it really comes down to people doing their research online. They’re googling property management. They’re googling the area they want to be in, and it’s just very powerful when they submit a request, and you call them within the next five minutes.
And that’s one of the challenges that companies have is trying to get their company information listed and popping up in the search results. There’s a lot of competition and a lot of different options for folks.
What is the benefit of having APM and Buildium integrated?
John Babiarz: It’s really incredible, because it’s very powerful. I’m going to give you an example.
So, I got a really good lead yesterday. And I was talking to a guy with a two-family. One of the units is vacant, so he’s going to need to have it advertised. So, he calls me today. And he asks, “How do we get it listed?”
And I said, “I already have all your information because we went through APM, and APM already has all your information. If you send over pictures now of the unit, we can almost technically get it listed right now.”
And sure enough, five minutes later, I got about 20 pictures of the unit. I went right onto Buildium and got the unit listed within the hour.
I mean, I could really move that fast. And it’s just very powerful because it’s the customer submitting his information through APM and it gets plugged right into the Buildium. And that tie-in has been very powerful.
One click, and he syndicated out. And then, of course, it goes to a whole variety of different places for renters to find.
And the best part is that they’re the ones putting it in. I didn’t even have to ask him for that information. You’re putting 90% of that in through APM.
So, it’s a really great feature.
How did Buildium help you scale your business?
John Babiarz: Buildium just gave me the resources. I mean, the platform really took my business to the next level.
I had gotten my whole company to completely restructure. When I signed on with Buildium, I converted my father’s old spreadsheets, and I literally had to just send it over to Buildium, who converted into this system.
I’m not the most tech-savvy person, and definitely not a great typist. But Buildium took all that information for the first 40 to 80 doors and just got it right into the system. I didn’t have to do anything.
Are there any ROI metrics you could share to illustrate your experience with APM?
John Babiarz: APM, like I said, has been a huge part of my business.
You can set a goal to bring on 100 or 200 doors, and it sounds great until it’s time to execute.
But when we kicked off with APM, within the first, I think it was 45 days, 35 days, going on 60 days, we took on 40 new doors and close to, I think, $50,000 in new revenue.
So, that was a huge stepping stone for myself. I hired a new marketing consultant and I was able to invest in a new website.
I was able to continue to work on our niche market and focus the marketing as I continue to work with APM, as well. We wanted to focus on the single-family residential houses and the majority of the triple-deckers in Boston. And the success has continued.
Through the first week of January, we’re adding almost 60 doors with the help of All Property Management. We’re closing in almost $75,000 in new fee income, and that’s recurring income.
So, we’ve had a lot of success with the help of APM.
Where do you want to go from here?
John Babiarz: I’m really looking forward to rolling out our new website. I think in this economy, especially with COVID, I’m very fortunate to have success with a new business.
The first thing I had to do was invest in the new website, which is going to be rolled out this year.
My marketing plan is to continue with APM and continue to focus on developing our niche in the Boston market and the surrounding areas.
We’re on pace to add 200 doors this year, and our goal is to get to $300,000 in fee income. At the 200-door level.
Then, we’ll see where to go from there. Our ultimate goal is to add 500 to 1000 doors. I think with the right team, the right resources and with the support of APM and Buildium, we’ll get there in the next 18 to 24 months.
Check out the First 90 Days Interview with Grant Property Management to see how they were able to scale their community association and HOA business operations.Read more on Property Manager Stories