There is no typical day in the life of a property manager. Every day is unpredictable!
As a property manager wearing multiple hats it’s not uncommon to have your day hi-jacked with an emergency repair work order, while you watch the rest of the tasks suffer as a result.
There is this never ending juggle between maintenance requests from occupants, getting approvals from owners and finding suppliers that always seem too busy to book. You still have an exit inspection scheduled for the day and monitor payments for existing properties. There is an occupant-owner dispute that needs to be settled right away and you have to prepare an ad for a new property you added this month! Not to forget, the list of potential tenants to screen has not even begun!
Being low on staff and high on portfolios and client expectations, sometimes you wonder how to grow your property management business. You might even ask yourself if being a property manager was really meant for you!
But is getting things back in control really that hard? We talked to some of the most seasoned and successful PMs we could reach out to and got them to share with us a few things they had set up right from the start to get where they are today!
1. Create a personal plan before a business plan
When starting a property management business, there are a few things to consider. Before you start setting financial goals for your new business you need to make financial goals for your life. Whether you want a life where you can call it a day by 2:OO pm or going on a vacation on your private yacht, ask yourself how much money you want to make to live the life of your dreams.
In other words, look at the big picture and set some long term goals for yourself.Otherwise, you’ll be caught in the unproductive day to day pattern and won’t be able to focus on business growth.
Now that you have created a personal plan, you can align it with your business plan. You can use a property management business plan template to get started.
2. Build your business with people
Finding and retaining new qualified staff is the leading challenge property managers face today. As many as 48% of property managers think that the lack of right staff poses a major hindrance towards growth as they scale up and add new properties to their portfolios! That’s huge!
To build the right team from the start, property managers need to hire not just for the right skills but also for the work culture they have to offer. A culture of support, growth, success, and balance fully nurtures your team and the rewards can be way beyond your expectations.
3. Streamline maintenance management with a software
Your business is a system, and running a system manually is a sure shot way to plague it with inefficiencies. What you need is property management software!
As many as 28% of property managers feel that maintenance management is a real challenge for their business. A CMMS, Computerised Maintenance Management System allows you to streamline your workflows, enhance communication and gain business insights for vital decision making.
4. Add an office and a website to the mix
Having an office puts so much more credibility for property management business firms. Clients actually take you seriously because they know you are legit. Furnish your office with all the equipment that you think you would need to work efficiently and in an organised manner.
Needless to say, putting your best foot forward when it comes to your online presence can be heaps more rewarding than trying to sell only offline. Clients can find you with a click of a button and you can reach thousands of potential clients which is just not possible or feasible with offline selling.
5. Build a solid communication strategy
Making communication your core competency goes a long way for property managers. It’s not merely about listening to the needs and delivering what the owners or tenants have asked for.
As a real estate agent, you need to build a communications framework and make it your holy grail. From daily communications to scheduled messages, feedback loop and crisis management, it must have it all. A few rules of thumb include:
- Setting clear expectations early on for new and existing clients by talking directly as well as with a detailed property management contract.
- Find out who is going to be your point of contact to communicate things like lease renewals, collecting payments and handling maintenance issues. This is especially important in commercial properties, where different people are managing different aspects of the business.
- Decide what channels would be best for communicating with the property owners as well as the tenants. Make these easily accessible. Also, having multiple channels ensures your message is making its way to the intended person.
- Build a structured occupant communication strategy and always be available to listen to their concerns.
- Finally, make sure your social media and email marketing is on point so most of the general information can be communicated without you having to directly reach out to the owners or occupants.
6. Never underestimate the power of property management contracts
A property management contract puts so much more trust in your relationship with owners as well as occupants. However, they must be designed very carefully to ensure you have covered every aspect of property management that you offer. It’s a legal binding and can be used to protect you or against you. Here are some of the things your property management business contract should include:
- What services would you be rendering
- What is the pricing structure for property management services
- Responsibilities of the owner and/or occupant
- Equal opportunity housing for rental property
- Clause limiting the liability of the property manager
- Duration for which the contract is valid
- Lease renewal fees
- Termination and cancelation clause
7. Focus on time management
A few properties on your hand and all seems good. As you begin to grow your portfolio, your day-to-day operations start getting all over the place. While most agents are ready to dive in and sort things out, the hard way does not have to be the only way of doing it.
While time management is a serious problem for property managers, automation is the key. This helps free your time for things that actually help you grow the business.
A few more tips to manage your time better as an agent are:
- Prioritise work based on urgency and importance
- Create realistic deadlines for daily, weekly and monthly goals
- Block distractions caused due to switching between tasks
- Delegate or outsource things that others can do better than you
8. Build a leads pipeline
Simply relying on referrals to grow your business is the most common mistake most growing property managers make. You need to build a leads pipeline right from the start to get highest rated properties and top quality occupants to fill them with.
- Start by automating your processes as much as possible
- Create a proof of your success with content and photos as you grow
- Create an email list and actively sell your properties to it
- List your properties on Google maps to get found easily
- Make the most of your social media presence
9. Keep on top of your compliance game
Living up to the industry standards and accountability is vital to build trust with the owners as well as the occupants. These laws and regulations protect all parties from safety hazards, discrimination, frauds and much more. As a property manager, you need to ensure compliance across three domains:
- Financial compliance: Accurate accounting and secure payment processing
- Property maintenance: Hiring licensed and qualified suppliers and carrying out regular inspections to keep the properties safe and convenient for living. Occupant relations: Fair Housing Act, credit reporting storage and permissions, and eSignatures covers this section.
10. Focus on building occupant experience
In order to give a positive occupant experience, think about the amenities that will add comfort and safety to their lives. Preventive maintenance, rather than reactive maintenance, should be the way to go when you handle work order requests. Lay out plans for emergencies such as natural disasters or robberies.
11. Arrange an unlimited supply of wine
The truth of the matter is that while property management can be a lucrative career, it can still be a handful of a job. With you checking emails in your lunch break and attending to emergency requests after work hours, make sure you actively try to find time to balance it all.
Go home, rest and relax. You never know what new challenges tomorrow will bring.