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Poor cousin PMs struggle with staff retention

18 December 2014 Elyse Perrau

The tendency of many real estate agencies to undervalue their property managers is driving a staff retention crisis, according to a recruitment expert.

Real Positions owner Paulette Steele said she sees many offices that don’t realise the significance of their PM division. 

“The fact is that a great number of real estate offices with property management divisions struggle to retain staff. "There are a number of reasons for this occurring,” she told Residential Property Manager. “One is that generally, real estate principals/licensees come from a sales background and are focused more on the sales side than the property management side. 

“Some do take the time to learn about property management and become more business owners than sales principals – unfortunately, though, a great many take no real interest in property management and just like the regular income it produces.

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“They don’t see that property managers have very different skill sets to salespeople,” she added.

Ms Steele said some agencies hire PMs with insufficient experience, yet provide no training, creating “a sink or swim situation”.

“A few swim, although not necessarily learning the right way, and many drown as they struggle with sometimes massive portfolios which result in mistakes being made.

“Then they have disgruntled landlords and tenants, and this makes for disgruntled property managers, who then leave the real estate industry with a bad impression of it,” she added.

Ms Steele believes there is a definite need for better training of PMs, saying, “Unfortunately, the industry has changed and is continuing to change, however the training requirements haven’t kept up at all.”

Domain Property Advocates director Melanie Dennis said an induction process should be in place for new PM recruits to help them become comfortable in the role.

“It is important to have [an induction] in place and to do it the best that you can, because it helps the new person to get cemented in,” she told Residential Property Manager. “If you can get them in to meet the team before they start is always a really good thing. 

“Often you can get a good feel with how they fit in with your team culture, because no matter how experienced they are, if they don’t fit with your team culture, it is never going to work,” she added.

Mrs Dennis said she also thinks a buddy system is fantastic, because the new recruit will have one point of constant contact.

“They can have people who have been in the business long enough to know the systems and procedures and help them out where perhaps the written procedure is not as clear as it could be – they have got someone to bounce ideas off.”

Mrs Dennis said one of the biggest mistakes made in the industry in regards to recruiting, is “reactively” hiring rather than “proactively” hiring.

“[Agencies] will say, ‘Oh, I don't have enough properties’, so they overload their property management teams with properties, because they are waiting till they get more properties for the income to put somebody on,” she said.

“I think that it is important to know what your property management plan is. So if you are planning for growth, you need to staff for the growth, because if you don’t, then the service starts getting worse.”

Poor cousin PMs struggle with staff retention
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