Most (but not all) of the duties a property manager undertakes are repetitive and, as such, can be planned.
Planning is an unknown concept for many property managers, who simply react to what needs to be done. The side effect of being reactive (as opposed to proactive) is lack of control, excessive workload and high stress.
To get (and to stay) in control of your workload in property management, it’s all about creating a regular 'routine' to deal with repetitive tasks.
3 steps in creating your regular routine
Step 1 – Determine what recurring activities NEED to be done
Activities such as:
• Returning calls/emails
• Administrative tasks
• Answering correspondence
• Paying accounts
• Outgoing inspections
• Incoming inspections
• Periodic inspections
• Showing available rental properties
• Checking tenancy applications
• Lease sign-ups
• Landlord liaison
• Tenant liaison, and the list goes on...
Step 2 – Determine WHEN these activities need to be completed
Step 3 – Timetable these recurring activities
The regular routine is not likely to be a perfect fit for all property managers because responsibilities can vary from company to company.
It is the concept that is the key to this, not the content.
There is no reason why a property manager's week cannot be planned.
Sometimes unplanned situations will occur that need immediate attention; that's property management.
However, all the repetitious, routine aspects of a property manager's role can be identified and 'pigeon-holed' into appropriate times of the day or week.
Property managers who have regular routines are always in control and masters of their own destiny.
So what are the keys to a regular routine?
1. Spend time identifying the routine duties you perform in your role.
2. Take the time to carefully place these duties into times of the day or week that suit you most.
3. Allow some spaces in each day of your regular routine for unplanned situations to occur (i.e. don't pack your week too tightly).
4. Provide a copy of your regular routine to:
- your agency principal
- your reception staff
- the rest of the property management team (if there are any)
- and get their support for it, otherwise, it will not work.
5. Stick to it as close to 100 per cent of the time as possible and do not let anyone else break it.
6. Give support staff sufficient information to help you keep to your regular routine. For example, reception staff should be advised when you are doing your rent arrears because, although you are in the office, you don't want to be disturbed. The reception staff should use a scripted dialogue to handle any incoming phone calls or unexpected arrivals, such as: "Sorry, Mr Smith, Mary is currently out of the office doing routine inspections. May I take a message and have her call you before the close of business today?"
Clients will not have an issue with leaving you a message if you return the call prior to the nominated time. It is when calls are not returned as promised that problems may occur.
7. Enter recurring monthly tasks such as your rent statement run or planning your next month's routine inspections into your monthly diary.
8. Plan activities that occur on an annual basis, such as the end of financial year Income and Expenditure Statements and Christmas cards.
9. Don't be afraid to modify your regular routine, but only once it is in place and you have done your absolute best to stick to it. If it is not working well for you, change it – don't give up on it.
Use an 'action list' to set out the next day's activities in order of importance. This enables you to easily recognise your urgent tasks, as well as those that are unpleasant. Planning tomorrow's tasks every night lets you relax and sleep better. By writing a list of the next day's challenges you lift them from your mind and are able to concentrate on your immediate surroundings.
On your list, rank the activities you've set for yourself in order of importance. Tackle those items you like least first thing in the morning and get them out of the way. By doing what you don't want to do early, you save hours of excuse making and exhausting internal debate.
While you're procrastinating, the nasty problem is getting worse, and your fear of dealing with it is getting stronger. This habit of making sure you clear all tough tasks first every day will do wonders for your morale and double your efficiency.