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Giving Your Tenant A Project Is A Good Thing | By: Multiple Speaker(s)

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Giving Your Tenant A Project Is A Good Thing by Mike Butler
“Project”: is it a good word or a bad word in our world of real estate investing?
Your mental knee jerk reaction is probably BAD. Settle down for a moment and you will learn how you can benefit with BOTH your time and MONEY by creating projects.
How many times has this happened to you?
One of your great long term tenants contacts you with a request for new carpet for their living room. (not the whole house, but just one room).
Do you have thoughts like:
Think about how good they have been by not being a pain?
Son of a #$#@, why now, I don’t have time for this problem and spending more money.
Perhaps a fear of not “giving in” to new carpet may cause them to move creating another vacancy?
How can I play ostrich, buy some time, post pone this expense for another year?
The carpet was new when they moved in, they don’t need new carpet if they would take care of it properly.
Thoughts switch to greed or “business”…hmm, upgrade with new carpet = higher rent?
Well, sit down and get ready to knock yourself in the noggin with a big stick.
Good Tenants are a rare breed today. They are on the endangered species list. I think I saw it on the Discovery Channel.

YOUR LIFE: Do you have a busy schedule EVERY DAY. Putting out fires, “riding the bull”, doing deals, paperwork, insurance, taxes, phone calls, messages, bills, payments, evictions, late charges, late notices, work orders, Family, plus a job?… sound familiar? I found myself in this rat race above for many years. If this is not you, you are a rare exception. Stick to it.
TENANT LIFE: (perhaps as we view it), let’s switch gears and step into their shoes. Watch late night TV. Sleep late. Coffee in the morning, Jerry Springer, soap operas, gossip tv, gossip phone calls, pizza delivery is a meal, getting ready to wait for the mailman to arrive, 2 hours spent preparing a grocery list,… WAY TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS.
Now let’s go back to the carpet story.
Your knee jerk reaction is another problem. WRONG,
You should view this as an OPPORTUNITY.
Especially with a good tenant, YOUR HOUSE is THEIR HOME. Do NOT forget this. It is a powerful tool for you.
When your good tenant contacts you with the carpet story, the absolute most dangerous act on your part is to go “check it out”. This “good business” practice on your part simply puts a bullet right between your eyes on the part of your tenant. Your “good business” behavior is actually calling your tenant a liar. Your actions are saying I am not sure I believe you, let me come over and check it out. Even with good intentions on your part, you just went 2 steps forward and 7 steps BACKWARD.
Hold On – there is more… So, you go “check it out” and you agree with your tenant. YUP, it is worn and could be replaced. Mentally, your tenant has their arms folded across their chest saying “I TOLD YOU THAT EARLIER STUPID.”
With good intentions on your part and a concern of SAVING MONEY…. You might tell your tenant something like…. “yes, I see you could use some new carpet. I will call my carpet guy and he will contact you to schedule putting in the new carpet.”
Remember, you try to run an efficient rental business by using the same CHEAP carpet with all of your rentals, the same installer, etc. This really is a good business thing by putting systems into place.
Your KIND act and pride of showing your tenant you have a system in place to take care of their problem is a total disregard to the concerns of the tenant and you just SMACKED them square in the face with a 2x4 by reminding them they are a TENANT who is RENTING MY HOUSE. All of their thoughts about their HOME just evaporated with you bumping your gums about your system.
But wait a minute. You are trying to be a nice guy, a good landlord, etc. Yes, this is true BY YOUR STANDARDS. You are taking time out of your busy day, spending your money, to do something for your tenant in YOUR HOUSE. So when you get viewed as a greedy landlord, you remind your self of your good intentions, good actions, spending money, etc. all for not even one simple thank you. You are guilty of promoting the US and THEM attitude as much as anyone else.
SWITCH GEARS and try this next time. When your good tenant contacts you with a request for new carpet in one room, turn it into a WIN – WIN situation for both the Tenant and yourself.
If on the phone, let the tenant bump their gums for a while. Use their NAME when talking to them. It makes them feel good. After they make some noise for a while, here is how to make them want to stay forever. Refer to your rental house as “THEIR HOME”.
Give them a project. Tell your tenant you can help them out if they want the new carpet. Tell them you will buy the carpet if they get it installed.
Instruct your tenant to go “carpet shopping”. Give them some places to go. There are carpet remnant stores and outlets in almost every town. Tell the tenant to be reasonable and give them good instructions… no gold laced carpet allowed. The tenant goes carpet shopping and gets a bill from the carpet store. Have the tenant mail or fax the bill to you. You create a check payable to the carpet store.
Even though you are a tightwad, you should not have to replace the pad. Your tenant is going to round up their own installer. Do not worry about the installer. Odds are, your tenant will choose better quality carpet than what you normally install. By the time they move out, it really doesn’t matter how it was installed because you will probably remove it and replace it again.
Now think about this in the big picture. Tenant contacted you with a request. You are a good landlord. You acknowledge their concern, and you give your tenant a PROJECT. In their mind, they are going shopping on your dollar to buy carpet they choose for THEIR HOME. No more phone calls on your part and I bet the purchase of the carpet is CHEAPER than your system in the long run. I doubt if the cost of the carpet in this manner will be more than the expense of your installer and the carpet.
Using YOUR system, your tenant is reminded they are a tenant living in your house. They will be sitting at home waiting for your system to do their thing. Your tenant has time to waste on projects to make them feel good. Give them TIME EATING PROJECTS. Your Tenant will win and you will win.
This is a great program. Think about it from the Tenant’s perspective.
You did not challenge their request.
Carpet Shopping Time has just become a priority and will be placed at the top of their list of things to do.
Maybe they need transportation to go carpet shopping. Call family, friends, church people, to take them carpet shopping because their landlord is going to buy them new carpet… Wow, good free advertising as well.
Spend hours at the carpet store listening to all of the BS stories from the salesperson. We hate it. They love it along with all of the attention.
Maybe they need to think about it and return for a 2nd trip or opinion or maybe go to 3,4, or 5 carpet stores to help find the best deal. Yes, it sounds stupid, but this is a major project to them and they may really truly try to find the best of both price and quality. (Haven’t you seen co-workers who spend 60 hours of their time comparison shopping researching prices on car tires only to discover their best deal is $12.25 a tire cheaper at XYZ tire store? Sound like they worked 60 hours to save $49.00. They worked for about $0.81 an hour)
You are instilling pride in their HOME by allowing your tenant to choose the carpet for their home. You will also become a hero and the best landlord in the world.
Now they must consider a lot of stuff. Color, texture, quality, fiber, cost… wow, a lot of stuff they never dreamed of… is all an important part of the project to install carpet in their living room. They had no idea how much stuff their landlord had to go through for carpet.
Moving on, they finally make a decision on a piece of carpet. Now they make the salesperson write up some kind of bill and I recommend to have your tenant hand deliver the bill to your office. (this is another mini-project). If you do not have an office, have them fax it or mail it.
Once received, if you have an office, make the tenant return to your office to “pick up the check” made payable to the carpet store. (again, another mini-project).
· With no office, simply mail the check to the tenant or drop it off at their home if your office is on wheels. Nothing better than giving them a check in person for their carpet purchase. Wow, what a landlord!
Now the Tenant needs to make arrangements to get back out to the carpet store to purchase the carpet….another project.
Don’t forget about the installer…another project and a cost for the tenant. Now they have another project to research and will spend their time shopping for the best deal for a carpet installer.
Still yet another mini project involves making arrangements to schedule the installation, moving furniture, and on and on.
They do not mind all of these projects and time eaters that benefit them. We despise time eating projects. They love it and will probably seek an atta-boy from you for the results of their efforts while thanking you for ALL OF YOUR HELP.
You have really turned your house into THEIR HOME. They will be proud of their new carpet they picked out and all of the experiences of their project.
QUESTION – if you delegate this project to them, how long will this carpet be labeled or referred to as “NEW”?. I’ll bet it will be called “NEW” for a lot longer than your carpet would be called new. If you used your system and installed your generic run of the mill cheap carpet, it will not last a year as being called NEW. Next year it will be called “OLD CARPET” because it is over a year old.
Now your tenant loves their home with THEIR NEW CARPET and their landlord is the best.
Yes, I drug this out and made it painful. We do not have patience for s-l-o-w m-o-v-I-n-g stuff. This is my point. We are in so much of a hurry and have no patience, we assume we are normal and everyone should be like us. WRONG. We are the 1%ers. We are the weird ones and proud of it. It is what makes us successful.
Use the same methods described above on almost any improvement request by a tenant. Do NOT use it on skilled or licensed trades such as furnaces, plumbing or electric.
It works great for requests for such things as painting, landscaping, or window air conditioners.
So slow down, be patient, and the next time you receive a request for something, use your creative abilities and TURN IT INTO A TIME EATING FUN AND CHALLENGING PROJECT to benefit you. It reminds me of the Tom Sawyer story of whitewashing the fence and he was getting helpers to PAY HIM for the privilege of using his brush to have fun slopping the whitewash on the fence. Try it, you might surprise yourself and they will THANK YOU.
To really nail it down good, drop them a note about how good a job they did or simply stop by with a positive attitude to see the results of their efforts… NOT TO INSPECT. Let them bump their gums again and tell them they did great on colors and all. They are decorating their HOME. Help them feel proud and they will take care of it better and stay forever.

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