Where have all the property managers gone?
I remember another trainer joked: “They’re all living in a mental asylum on the Nullarbor Plain and if you get close you can hear them screaming, ‘They didn’t care about me!’”
There’s too much truth to this joke!
More and more PMs are leaving the industry – faster than they are being recruited – and it’s well known that it’s difficult (if not near-impossible) to find an experienced, competent PM when needed.
So here are seven compelling reasons why I believe PMs leave. It's my hope that these reasons will wake the industry up.
These keys, of course, are not relevant to all businesses, but I believe that more than 50 per cent of PMs would be able to relate to some or all of the following:
1 – Stress from overwork and burnout
Possibly the biggest factor of all is the stressful nature of the job. Add to that the bad habits of poor time management and not maintaining checklists and procedures, and it all snowballs into something that’s unsustainable.
Most PMs work well above their 37.5-hour week, and rarely take lunch breaks as they are seen as interruptions to the job. Thus, they end up with an imbalanced life and suffer burnouts and disillusionment – and resignation soon follows.
2 – Lack of management accountability
In few industries are two distinct and different businesses run under the same roof, as focusing on one at the expense of the other often results in one business thriving while the second struggles.
A lack of accountability and focus means issues are not resolved, processes are not improved and the business barely keeps its head above water. While chaos is the norm, problems will always exist and staff turnover will be high.
3- Lack of value from the boss
I recently had a meeting with a PM whose boss made it clear to the sales team that it didn't matter if they referred property management clients to other agencies. Yes, you heard correctly – direct the business elsewhere!
This is an extreme situation and not the norm, but when one aspect of the business is valued over another, just because it is better-liked or more familiar, the latter naturally ends up in trouble. Both aspects are important and serve the company: rentals provide the business with a saleable asset and continuous cash flow, and the keep the company protected financially when sales are down. Sales should be the 'cream' income and bonus money, as all overheads are paid by property management.
4 – Lack of opportunities for promotion
Most rent rolls are small in staff size, so the opportunity to be elevated to a position like department manager is limited. The most common position a person will be elevated to is that of PM. People who want to grow and take advantage of better career opportunities often opt for another industry.
5 – Poor pay and rewards
Let’s face it, PMs are never paid overtime, though they do plenty of it. Most never take a lunch break and their salaries do not reflect the hours they work or the pressure, the responsibility and the risks they are exposed to every day.
Unless you have a passion for the role, you quickly realise that other industries offer better pay with less responsibility.
Additionally, when rewards and bonuses are structured only towards new growth, neglecting the rest of the business, they don’t tend to motivate PMs like they should.
6 – Lack of resources
Property management is known as a place of old and outdated technology, either because department fee income levels are too low to provide new equipment, or because bosses focus too heavily on sales and neglect their rental business. This means that PMs struggle along with old technology and a lack of training, slowing them down and making their role more difficult. This also leads to burnouts.
7 – Too many difficult clients
I’ve always maintained that a ‘C-Class landlord’ who is over-demanding and unreasonable, wants sky-high rents and low fees and won’t fix the property is like a pack of cigarettes, and will take years off the life of a PM.
They can upset staff and are just plain bad for business. I feel they are a big factor that makes the job unpleasant, leading to more resignations.
A good boss is quick to listen to staff and wants to ‘let go’ of bad owners. This wins the respect of staff because it shows that the boss cares.
Good property managers are now waking up
I believe the above seven reasons are compelling and have the potential to change the face of the industry over the next 10 years.
The point is that good PMs are now waking up and want to work for bosses that share their values.
Bosses always get the staff they deserve: good, bad or otherwise!