The controversial topic of outsourcing parts of the property management process overseas was discussed at a recent industry roundtable, reaping interesting reactions.
The annual Leading Property Managers of Australia (LPMA) roundtable is a large meeting of members from all over the country, including the principals of prominent and powerful PM businesses.
LPMA executive director Bob Walters said one topic spoken about at length was outsourcing.
“Of the people who attended the roundtable, there was a lot of interest in outsourcing and the people that spoke most passionately about it were ones that had successfully used it in their businesses,” he told Residential Property Manager.
“At this particular roundtable, there was nobody that spoke out vocally against it, but at some previous LPMA events there has been more vocal opposition towards it.
“But I believe there has been some evolution in the thinking of people in the industry – the only talk about [outsourcing] was positive,” he added.
Mr Walters said providing outsourcing is purely used for office support or administrative functions, he sees no problem with it.
“You don’t need to be Einstein to know that customer service demands from landlords and tenants are ever increasing, and there is an industry skill shortage in many parts of the country,” he said.
“So many business owners are crying out, wanting to find competent property managers.
Good property managers are very valuable and often expensive, and the only way that you can maintain your customer service levels and sustain profitability levels is to reduce your wages cost for some of the back office functions,” he added.
Mr Walters said the most controversial side of outsourcing is the “patriotic angle”.
“[This is] where some people think it is morally wrong to source work to other countries with lower pay rates, that you are potentially doing Aussies out of employment,” he said.
“However, on the other side, for the people in those countries that carry out administrative property management functions for Aussie companies, they are typically very appreciative of the work, and in my experience, the workers have been some of the best-paid people in their country.
“There is obviously a danger in getting outsourced workers from other countries to be communicating directly with clients and customers, particularly in a ‘voice to voice’ situation, as there are potential issues with accents and grammar.
“However, where the outsourced worker is required to communicate with clients and customers, it can be successfully done via email, as long as it comes across in a professional way.”