Often we hear the terms “reactive” or “proactive”, and I’m sure you’ve been asked what you are at least once in a listing presentation.
If not, I’m asking you today. Are you a reactive or proactive property manager? Or do you think you’re proactive, but you’re actually the opposite?
Reactive: We all know what this means, you react to the past. Yes, you may “get the job done”, but how?
If you say, “well, I received a maintenance request for something I saw five months ago at the routine inspection, but didn’t bother to follow up the landlord because it wasn’t a big deal. Now the lounge room ceiling has caved in due to extensive water damage”, you most likely fall into this category. Sure, you will handle the insurance – but you know this situation could’ve been avoided.
You’ve lost the landlord a pretty penny or two, a tenant is without a roof and now you have to deal with an insurance company that will surely drag their feet for the next three weeks, while both the landlord and tenant get grumpy at you. Oh, and don’t forget the other 150 properties you’re looking after!
By being reactive, you have allowed this situation to occur. I understand some landlords need that extra push – but there’s ways around that. If you’re not a great salesman, look at writing a script for these types of clients. Remember, it’s your job to recommend preventative maintenance.
If you were proactive, you would’ve seen that water stain on the ceiling and thought “hmm, that could get serious pretty darn quickly”, finished your inspections for the day and went straight back to the office to speak with your client.
You’ve gone to them and said “hey, I conducted an inspection today and this is what I found”. You convinced your landlord that this may be nothing, but if it is, they risk losing their lounge room ceiling and the income from the tenants. Straight away the work order is sent, the tenants informed and made your client aware that you have actioned the problem. You follow up in a couple of days with the tradesperson, and give them a swift boot up the bum if they haven’t even bothered contacting the tenants, then you send a quick “just by the way” email to your landlord and tenant.
Everyone is happy. Your tenant thinks you’re awesome because you’re doing your job by ensuring the property is properly maintained, and your landlord thinks you’re doubly as awesome because you have saved them money and stress by avoiding a serious problem.
Sounds like a lot of work, but when you think of how far situations can escalate, you will understand that being proactive is actually a time saver.
So, how can you change?
According to my husband I’m incredibly stubborn (what does he know?), however one piece of advice he gave me that did actually make it through was this statement –
“Always go to your client with a solution, not a problem”
Now, this doesn’t mean avoid delivering the bad news. It’s going to happen no matter how hard you try. It simply means, be proactive.
Using the above example, instead of going to your client and saying “hello Mr Landlord, I noticed some water stains to the ceiling… What do you want me to do?” or simply sending the inspection report and hope they read it. Go to them and say “hello Mr Landlord, I’ve noted some water stains to the ceiling. I’ve already spoken with two tradespeople that will go out in the following days to give a quote and will updated you shortly”. See why the latter makes you awesome?
Proactive is to anticipate an outcome, or a number of outcomes. Your client will appreciate that you’ve taken the initiative to action issues without them asking and your tenant knows, despite their prior assumptions, that you don’t just drink coffee all day.
The best part? Even when something complex comes up, or your “fantastic” tenants turns out to be a dud – your current client is still happy. There’s also the potential to win business from your tenants. Even if you don’t “win” business from your tenants in the form of a new management, providing they’ve held up their end of the bargain, you can place them in another property with little to no vacancy time for another landlord. A win all round!
Being a PM is often a thankless job, but being proactive will see many more “thanks” being handed out. What would you prefer?