There is nothing inherently new about property management – fill the apartments, collect the rent, repair whatever gets broken.
But Brent Brown and Amanda Hall still saw opportunity in property management.
“I was in the grocery business for a lot of years selling the same can of green beans that someone else was selling. The question is, how do you do it differently?” Brown says.
When the two launched Entrust Property Solutions LLC in 2016, Hall says, “There weren’t a lot of fresh companies on the market with new perspectives.”
Their goal was to offer Springfield another solution for property management that helped property owners find ways to maximize revenue.
“Making improvements, you can drive rents, and that revenue turns into a better future for the ownership group as well as occupants,” Brown says.
Seeking to provide clients with better insights into their investments, Brown and Hall hired a certified public accountant to analyze numbers beyond basic bookkeeping.
Paul Winterowd, co-owner of Venture Multifamily Investments in Salt Lake City, says Entrust’s services allowed his company to remotely operate a 60-unit property in Ozark with ease for the three years that Venture owned it.
“They were a great partner for us, not being in the market,” Winterowd says.
“Amanda did a great job of keeping it full. I think our vacancy rates were in the 1% to 2% range,” he says.
Entrust takes on the full spectrum of properties, from affordable housing to high-end living. Its model is applied to existing properties to make improvements or for investors building from the ground up.
“With renovations or ground up, we work with the contractor very, very closely to provide insight and feedback. It might be on unit layouts or finishes. We’re working with (property owners) very closely and telling them, ‘If we do A, B and C, this is where we can be on rent,’” Brown says.
Brown cites the $4.5 million Boomer Town Studios and $7.7 million Galloway Creek mixed-use developments as examples of Entrust’s ground-up work.
But such projects are not necessarily Entrust’s norm.
“We’ve found a niche for us to take on a property that may be distressed or older and eligible for upgrades and improving that value of the ownership and for the residents as well,” Brown says.
Hall cites two projects Entrust tackled as examples of how rebranding and renovation can help owners boost profit margins.
“Silver Springs Apartments when we took it over was almost 50% vacancy, almost uninhabitable,” Hall says. “We took over, created a plan and saw it through. It’s now in the high 90s of occupancy and we’ve been able to maintain that. We turned the demographic around and increased rent for that property.”
Woodgate Apartments, meanwhile, had a different problem.
“The property’s occupancy showed great when we took it over, but a lot of rents were stagnant, and there were units that wouldn’t pass our standard of what we wanted to move people into,” Hall says.
So, the team created a renovation plan that continues to move forward.
Hall says even small, cosmetic touches can make a big difference. Simply updating flooring, installing modern light fixtures or resurfacing bathrooms can help lift rents.
Brown says the fact some apartments get a bit run down and well-worn isn’t necessarily the fault of the owners, who generally view apartment ownership as a passive investment. They depend on those managing the property to help guide those decisions.
“That’s where we come in,” Brown says.
With roughly 3,000 living units now managed by Entrust, Brown says growing the portfolio has been organic. But the company is positioning itself for greater growth.
Part of that effort includes the recent hiring of Chelsey Bunch as director of marketing and business development.
Hall says she had previous experience working with Bunch and knew she would be a good fit for the job.
“It takes really good people to grow and to maintain the growth moving forward,” Brown adds of the 36-employee team.
Bunch says she was drawn to the job by its scope.
“I get to be a part of everything,” she says. “I’m heavily involved in marketing for all of the companies, not just Entrust.”
While the company seeks to increase market share within the 417 area code, Brown and Hall have their sights set on broader targets.
“We’ve been very successful in that in the Montana market and are rapidly growing there,” Hall says.
But, Brown says, that doesn’t mean Entrust is overlooking the goals of existing clients.
“We never want to be in a position that we’re so interested in new business that we’re not taking care of existing business,” he says. “We want to take care of the people who have gotten us here today.”
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