Does the industry need to get better at supporting property managers? Yes, this is always going to be the hot topic in today’s market, and the general consensus is that property managers generally need to be provided with a better level of support than what is being offered at present.
Obviously not everyone needs to up the ante, however as a general rule they do. Property Managers are a unique bunch of people that are mostly passionate about what they do and the nature of the business means that they are generally outgoing, highly driven individuals, and for the most part they love the industry.
But are they happy and fulfilled working for you?
You’ve invested time, energy and money recruiting, hiring and training your staff, however all of these resources may be wasted by not listening to your team, in particular paying attention to staff contentment and satisfaction levels. It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t have to break the bank – it really boils down to being considerate and thoughtful, and proactive enough to recognise problems before they arise and take steps to avoid feelings of discontent developing.
Over the years we have noticed that there are a few common areas that keep coming up time and time again when we are contacted by property managers looking for a change. When we ask why they want to move, they say some or all of the following:
Lack of Recognition
The Property Management game requires its players to work long, often random hours, and frequently exposes them to stressful situations. Now, we can all remember a time in our lives when we worked our fingers to the bone and received little or no recognition for our efforts. So why would you ask your property managers to work early mornings and late nights, weekends and even public holidays, and overlook the simple act of giving them credit where credit is due?
Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and it’s an incredibly easy emotion to impart. A pat on the back here, a five-minute meeting to commend them on their recent efforts there, and you’ll quickly find the loyalty of your staff increasing. Consider an Employee of the Month scheme, where each month you recognise the efforts of one valued staff member. A dinner voucher, bottle of wine, a set of movie or theatre vouchers and of course a bunch of flowers as a reward is a small price to pay for employees that are prepared to go the extra mile for not only the boss but also the landlords and tenants alike. It’s really easy to say “well done” when someone has generally has done well at work, and free.
Dissatisfaction with remuneration
As with most jobs out there, there will always be debate about levels of pay, and of course as an employer you will be conscious of budgets and creating a level playing field for all your workers. But make sure you endeavour to get the financial balance right. If you expect your staff to work long, hard hours, you need to compensate them accordingly. If you want your staff to stay loyal to you and your company, you need to ensure that your rates of pay are in accordance with the rest of the industry, and your competitors who could entice your workers away from you. Remember your property management team is talking to others in the market and they do their own salary surveys to “get an idea” of their value.
You need a long-term approach when it comes to considering wages and salaries. Sure, things can be tight financially, and the short-term fix might be to scrimp on wages. But long term, if you compensate your staff well you’ll get loyal, enthusiastic employees who are on hand when you need something special from them, and will in turn generate greater earnings and add to the positive reputation of your firm.
Inefficient or no training, systems and procedures
This is probably one of the biggies that we hear, lack of training, structure, systems and procedure. While most companies tend to have a good take on these areas, there seems to be a concern form good property managers that management expects them to know everything if they have been in the industry for a period of time. Unfortunately this is not always the case, as every office will have slightly different structure and procedures even if they have used your software before.
Take time to make sure that you have the correct systems in place, that someone is monitoring this if it is not you and that everything is kept up to date as well. Nobody wants their job to be harder than it needs to be so if you are able to invest in systems that will streamline your procedures, then you should. Likewise, if you are able to provide training opportunities for you staff that will make them more efficient, the rewards will be a working environment that is better organised, more professional and more dollar-productive.
Transport and Fuel/Company Car
The Property Management industry almost invariably involves a significant amount of travel, and with fuel prices as high as they are these days this is a cost you need to factor in when you consider how you compensate your staff. It’s easy to neglect incidental costs such as fuel, car maintenance, insurance etc, but these are little things that grate on your employees, and slowly eat away at their enthusiasm for their job.
Whether it’s a company car, a petrol card, or simply a willingness to compensate them somehow for the miles they travel, your staff will appreciate the consideration, and the extra few dollars it gives them in their back pocket at the end of the week. Remember also that if your property managers are using their own cars that they have the correct level of insurance or cover, it will not be a traditional domestic policy.
Principals who lack practical knowledge
In any situation where you are required to lead or manage people, the ability to be empathetic is a major asset. Without an in-depth, practical understanding of the actual work you are asking your staff to perform, this will be incredibly difficult. Nobody appreciates being given advice and told what to do by someone whose opinions they don’t respect, so it’s vital that as a manager you show your staff that you have a comprehensive understanding of every facet of the industry, and hands-on experience with all the tasks you expect them to perform.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty now and then – rolling you sleeves up and getting stuck in to some of the basic tasks will give you an insight into the dynamics of your workplace that you could never get sitting behind your desk in a closed office.
If you can explain why you are getting staff to perform certain tasks, and what value the outcome holds for the company, they will be able to approach that task with a far clearer overview of what they need to achieve, and will appreciate the fact that you provided them with background information.
Simply ordering a staff member to perform a task, particularly one where the end outcome and value is not obviously apparent, will only create frustration and a sense of confusion. It can never be a bad thing to have a team environment where people are encouraged to be “up with the play” and on the same page when it comes to the future direction of the company and the reason behind the company’s plans and goals.
It’s no good burying your head in the sand; you need to know what is happening within your team. Encourage staff members to come to you with comments and feedback. Consider holding sessions where team members are invited, in a positive and constructive manner, to comment on the way things run and to suggest ideas and possible improvements to the way things are done.
No business remains successful for any significant period of time without being open to change and being willing to adapt, so it is critical that your staff, who are the people in the best position to provide feedback, know that your door is always open and that you welcome their thoughts and opinions – even if they may differ from you own views.
In short, there are almost limitless benefits that your business can experience when you have a team of employees who are motivated, driven, educated, loyal and excited about coming to work. Spending a little bit of time and money on creating harmony in the office will reap huge rewards in the future, so get out there and create the best work environment you possibly can.
I hope this article has been of some value to you and your agency.