Breaking 100k in Monthly Gross Revenue: An Interview with Simon Heart
In July All County® Franchisee, Simon Heart broke 100k in gross revenue with his Property Management Franchise, All County Boulder. Simon is a dual franchise owner for All County with locations in Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado. Beth Davis corresponded with Simon via Zoom to congratulate him on his accomplishment and get some insight into his success.
What is your Background and what Franchises do you run?
My background is as an engineer and management consultant. I worked for a large consulting company for 20 years prior to joining the All County world. Even though my degree was in engineering, I never really thought of myself as an engineer. I was much more on the marketing and business development side of that business. I first became an All County Franchisee in 2012, at that time I started the Boulder Colorado location. Then, in 2017 I acquired the Fort Collins location from another franchisee who had health issues.
What’s it like running two franchises?
It’s Great! Actually, my life is better! Initially, I had to divert energy from Boulder and dive into Fort Collins to try to get it going. It was extremely small when I took it on and it essentially had one real employee there. Now that it is off the ground my current existence is really nice. I get to bounce back and forth between the two locations. I typically alternate like Monday and Thursday in Fort Collins, Tuesday and Friday in Boulder. It keeps my life interesting and different. And I like the people in both locations so it’s fun for me to get to mix it up and spend the days with different people. It also makes it easier to carve out time for myself too because people don’t really know where I am. [Laughs]
It sounds like you have assembled two really strong teams at both of your locations. What’s your strategy when picking new team members?
It’s been a lot of trial and error to get where we are. And it was certainly a little easier getting it going in Fort Collins after having the experience in Boulder. There was a lot of trial and error in Boulder. By the time I had to build a team in Fort Collins I felt I knew what I was asking of people and could better pick who would be a good fit. One thing I learned is that it’s really all about people’s attitudes and potential more than their experience or credentials. I look for people that are hungry, have grit, want to be part of a team, and want to grow and succeed. They can come from any background – there are many people on my staff that don’t have college educations. But, if they have been working since 16 and know how to bust their butt, work hard, and care about delivering great customer service – that’s huge! That’s all we need! Then we can train them to do their job.
So we are here celebrating that you made over 100k in gross revenue in July! During a pandemic! What does that entail?
In the Boulder location, our summers are super busy. Over the years we have steered over the leases so they all tend to turn over in the June/July time frame. We have just tons of leasing and renewals going on during those months. So it really spikes our revenue. I think our average revenue in Boulder this year will be on the order of 75-80 thousand a month. But, in June it was 96, and July it was 106. It’s really our sales and leasing team that is just going bonkers! We are signing 20-25 leases and 30-40 renewals each month during the summer. So it is super busy on the leasing front and that is what spikes the revenue.
Also, I was on vacation for 2-weeks in July. And it is typically our busiest month and our highest revenue month of the year. My team doesn’t mind me going away. They kind of rise to the challenge – they like to show that they can crush it when I am gone. I am very proud of the aspect that the business can basically run itself whether I am there or not.
What challenges have you faced during the pandemic and how have you overcome them?
We have been pretty lucky. I don’t know how much credit to take for this whether we are just in a good location with decent jobs so a lot of people haven’t been laid off during this time. Or whether we have an effective screening process. A lot of it is probably luck that we haven’t been impacted as much as we could have. I think it is part of being in a good location with more tech jobs.
Any advice for other owners trying to grow their business?
I have a few themes that come to mind when I think about what made a big difference in growing the businesses.
The book, “Good to Great” has several key themes in it that I think are huge for franchisee success. One theme is to get the right people on the bus. Once you have the right people on the bus then the next theme is The Hedgehog principle which is about focus and consistency. We have always had a narrow focus on just doing property management and not buying and selling. Also, following what Sandy, Scott, and Patrick have been telling us from the beginning: be super consistent with marketing and very focused. For us, we focus very hard on real estate agents and marketing to them. And I think that did help us during COVID because we couldn’t do any marketing for the last 6-months but we still have our phones ringing off the hook from real estate agents referring business to us.
I have always believed in incentivizing the right behavior. I’ll bonus people for doing a certain amount of marketing each month, bringing in a certain amount of new owners, or signing so many leases. Whatever I am trying to accomplish I’ll try to think of some incentives for that. Also, metrics are a big deal! I had a boss that used to say “If it matters it gets measured. And if it gets measured it gets done.” It took us a lot of years to figure out what parts of our business we should be measuring. Now, we measure tons of stuff and I think it really helps align the business and keep everyone focused.
Aside from those things, lots of communication. We have weekly team meetings in both locations – we’ve always had weekly team meetings. We have the exact same agenda for each weekly meeting and it tends to last anywhere from one to two hours a week. Boulder is big enough that we have three teams: a sales team, a maintenance team, and an admin team, so we have monthly meetings for each of those teams where we go over the metrics from the last month to see how they are doing. I am kind of a geek about planning, goal setting, and budgeting so I work hard to prepare a good budget for each location each year, and I also do an annual planning meeting at each location. The annual planning meetings take about 4 or 5 hours each, and we set aside the day to look at last year’s performance, brainstorm improvement ideas, and set goals and metrics for the next year.
Lastly, I think a lot of it is loving your team. Treat people with kindness and respect, try to grow their careers, and have each of them individually set goals and try to coach them to success. Fellow franchisee Socrate Exantus shared a quote with me that I’ve tried to embrace which goes something like, “if you want to be wildly successful then you have to bring people along with you and work to make other people successful too.” If I can help make the staff members on my teams more successful, then I know I will be that much more successful in turn. Always strive for a win-win culture.
Are there any final points you would like to make?
The only other thing is that I realize that I’m lucky with our location in terms of our higher rents and good business climate that makes it easier for us to get a higher revenue compared to some locations. We do not have the most units in the franchise network. So, in a way, it is almost not fair that there are franchisees with 100+ more units than us and we might be making more money. However, one thing I think has made a difference for us is we have always been very strict about our contract terms and we don’t undersell ourselves. Every single one of our management agreements so far has the exact same management fee terms. We were much more tempted to compromise on business terms in the beginning. But, I listened to what Sandy, Scott, and Patrick were telling me at the time, and I stuck to our guns. Now we have great contract terms throughout our portfolio. That has helped our revenue a lot – the fact that we didn’t buckle early on when we were more desperate for business. We kept our confidence, stuck to our guns, and negotiated good contract terms. Now we are benefiting from that.
Contact Simon Heart:
Phone: (720) 428-2100
Fax: (720) 428-2105
With a staff that offers thirty years of experience in the property management arena, the All County® Property Management Franchise opportunity is one that allows franchisees to work under the umbrella of a well-established firm – one that is licensed, insured, and an established leader in the property management industry. Our systems, training, and ongoing support will help you build a property management business fueled by long-term residual income.
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