Fill Your Rooms, and Reduce your Voids Forever

Are you struggling to fill your rooms after the Christmas and New Year lull? Have your tenants moved out, leaving your HMO rooms suddenly empty? Or maybe the New Year has brought your tenants new job opportunities in other parts of the country, and now you’ve got a whole series of rooms that need to be filled. Maybe you’ve been in the HMO game for a while now, but are finding that your voids are getting longer, and therefore your profit is slowly dropping?

If that’s you, don’t start panicking. This is the time to take action, re-educate yourself and get a grip by being creative and clever. It’s easy to blame the competition, the economy, Brexit, or other reasons for not filling our rooms. I’ve learnt though that getting out of BED is the best way to avoid that trap. What do I mean?

Getting out of

Blame

Excuses

Denial

Facing the facts, dealing with reality and tackling your voids head on. I can assure you that if you do this, you will be ahead of the competition, and you’ll be learning to flex that business muscle that needs tension from time to time to make it stronger!

I’ve got some tips to give you some quick wins and some longer-term strategies that will help you fill your rooms immediately and keep them filled for longer (thus avoiding voids).

  1. Review the room. This may sound basic, but a lot of people just think they can re-rent the same room again and again without actually checking the standards of paintwork or overall décor and furnishings. Is the house starting to look a little bit worn? Do some items need replacing? Could it do with a bit of an uplift?

A lot of rooms suffer from a bit of faded glory once they’ve had a tenant living there for a couple of years. Upgrading a wall to a feature wall, adding some new pictures or a large mirror, and re-dressing the room with coordinating soft furnishings (cushions and accessories) could do the trick. Take some brand new photos and get some feedback from others. Why not do a video while you have the chance? Getting a 360̊ view of the room not only helps to sell the room, but also captures the standard that you have achieved.

  • Analyse your advertising. Have you ever asked anyone to be a secret shopper on your website or on your SpareRoom ads? Ask a few friends to pretend to be a tenant looking for a room (they need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of an HMO tenant)!  After a few days, go back and ask them what was their experience of trying to book a viewing? What was their experience interacting with your website? Did the advert give them the information they needed? What did they like / not like? What could you change as a result?

Does your advertising follow the four-step AIDA principles?

  1. Attention – getting your potential market to take notice of your advert through pictures, a great headline and maybe a special offer
  2. Interest – raising your audience’s interest through the logical information you provide, and the response you give to their enquiry
  3. Desire – using emotive words and phrases to create desire for living in  your accommodation
  4. Action  – giving your tenant clarity about how to take action to book a viewing or reserve a room.

If your advert is missing one of those steps, you’ll find that people might be interested, they might look at the rooms, they might think your photos are beautiful, but they won’t do what you want them to do: Which is to pick up the phone and text or call you to make a booking.

  • Maximise your organic reach on social media before paying for ads. If you’re on Facebook Marketplace, or Instagram and have a website listed on Google, you can use the power of pixels and organic keywords before you have to pay for advertising. On SpareRoom it can be worthwhile from time to time to boost your advert. But the problem is that it can be very expensive, and it is unpredictable. What tenants are mostly looking for when they come on to any organic post or advert (including SpareRoom) is a fast response time. If you’re responding quickly, and you’re booking in viewings, you will fill your rooms. Good advertising copy is one part of that, but it’s not the only factor. If you’re responding quickly, and you’re booking in viewings, you will fill your rooms.
  • Referrals. Having a referral system for your current tenants is invaluable. By incentivizing your current tenants to find other tenants equally as good as them, you will save time and money and fill your house easily. The problem is the incentive needs to be really good!  You know yourself, if you bought something that you thought was really great, such as an amazing product or service, you’ll tell everybody else about it. If your tenants are having a great experience living in one of your houses what could you do to encourage them to share this with their friends too?
  • Partnerships in the community. There will be organisations in your local community who will offer services to your tenant group, with whom you could create a mutually beneficial arrangement. You’re offering accommodation, but are they offering something that tenants might also be interested in? By sharing each other’s services you each benefit from free advertising and additional reach. 
  •  Sales technique. Whether or not you personally sell your rooms, whoever is actually carrying out the viewing needs to be great at sales. Are people making appointments to come and view but then you’re failing to close the deal? Do people book viewings and turn up, but you never hear from them again? Your ability to close the deal – that is, to get commitment from them there and then is vital to reduce voids.

Don’t be scared to ask people for a down payment in situ to hold the room. It could be that you ask for them to complete an application for plus a payment of £50 which then comes off their deposit. It’s a completely legal way to get somebody to sign and seal the deal there and then, filling one of your rooms, and making their decision much easier. Send a receipt for the amount you have collected, along with any terms and conditions.

I’d love to hear how you get on implementing these tips to help you reduce those voids and fill your rooms – not just for now but forever. There are lots of people looking for rooms so let’s get that message out there to the marketplace!

If you’d like to follow my hints and tips for successful HMO investing please join my Facebook group – The Ultimate HMO Success System – https://facebook.com/groups/TheUltimateHMOSuccessSystem/

My training company HMO Success offers courses starting from just £47  (+ vat). If you’d like to receive my regular newsletter with offers, special deals and competitions, please email hello@wendywl.uk and we’d be delighted to add you to the list! 

www.hmosuccess.co.uk

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Tenanting without Tears – How to fill your HMO rooms!

For many property investors, the excitement of investing in a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) consists of finding the right property, buying it and then refurbishing it to just the right standard – just enough to attract tenants but not too much so that you blow the budget.

Many property courses focus on sourcing and refurbishment of a property, but if you can’t fill your rooms the investment falls apart.

Often you might use a lettings agent to rent out your property, saving you the time and hassle of finding the right tenants. Many agents are not familiar with the unique configuration of HMOs and if this is your first HMO you will need to start to look for an agent quite early on to ensure you choose one who is experienced at letting HMO rooms.Finding tenets for HMO rooms

Alternatively, you might choose to let and manage the property yourself. Which route you choose will depend on a number of factors such as:

a) How close you live to the property
b) How large the property is
c) Whether it is licensed or not
d) Whether you plan to grow the lettings side of your business
e) How much time you have
f) Whether you want to do it!

 

It’s important to have a process which will help you FIND the right tenants, SCREEN the right tenants, KEEP the right tenants and enable you to turn your rooms round quickly at the end of the tenancy for the process to begin all over again! I’ve named the process ‘‘Tenanting without Tears’, a process refined over my many years of managing my own property portfolio. There isn’t many situations I’ve not experienced over the years!

 

FINDING TENANTS
There are five steps to finding tenants:

1. PREPARING

Present the house and rooms in an appealing way by dressing and staging them beforehand
Price the rooms according to value, size and amenities
Photograph and video all the rooms in the property for all advertising portals you’ll use
Prepare all the information you’ll need for the viewings

If you prepare thoroughly for letting a room this will save you lots of time and effort later trying to recapture the same information and will form the basis of future room rentals which will allow you to leverage your time from the get-go.

2. ADVERTISING

Create your advert. Use the acronym AIDA to formulate your advert –
 Attention
 Interest
 Desire
 Action
You will spark the interest of a potential tenant by using a great strapline or unusual feature in your advert. Keep their interest with an appealing and well-written advert. Increase their desire by describing how they will benefit from living in this property and then create a call
to action to encourage them to respond.

3. VIEWING

In order to rent a room quickly, you have to reply to requests for viewings fast and promptly. As soon as you have interest from a prospective tenant, call them to arrange a time to view. Take their name, mobile phone number and email if possible. On this call ascertain the timeframe
for their move, their budget and their occupation. Once you have a time and date agreed, note this in your diary and include the telephone number of the person. When you carry out viewings you are ascertaining whether the tenant is right for you as well as if they want to rent a room from you.

4. SECURING

If the tenant decides to take the room you need to take some form of payment to secure the room and remove it from any further advertising. You may wish to email them a receipt as confirmation and also confirmation of the tenancy. At this point take their personal details
such as name, current address, telephone number and email; their job and salary details; the details of referees and in what capacity are they known by the referee; and information about identification being provided.

5. MOVING IN

After all paperwork has been completed, spend some time explaining to the tenant what is required from them and what the rules and regulations are. Explain what they should do in the event of an emergency and your office opening hours.
Courtesy Call – A week after your new tenant has moved in call them, email them or text them to ask how everything has gone and check that they are settling in well. Any problems can be ironed out faster and any teething problems dealt with. You can reiterate your commitment to the standards they can expect (and outline your office hours too)!

6. MOVING OUT

When a tenant gives you their notice to leave, there are some simple steps to follow to ensure the move-out happens swiftly and smoothly and to ensure you have no hiccups and don’t face major maintenance issues.

 

To see the full version of ‘Tenanting without Tears’  and more of my easy to use suggestions for creating a high cash-flowing HMO business in my best selling book ‘101 Essential Tips for Running a Professional HMO – Giving you time, money and freedom’.
Currently available for Free (Just pay P&P). Visit http://www.101essentialtips.co.uk/ to claim your copy!