One of the common complaints from property investors is staff changes, not being able to deal with the same person for longer than a year.
The biggest issue for the investor as a result of regular staff changes is communication and inconsistency from one property manager to the next and the frustration they feel when they finally feel they have a good PM and then they leave.
When a potential new client speaks to me about these issues, I explain that regardless of the organisation you choose people will come and go for various reasons, there is never a guarantee that you will have the luxury of dealing with the same person for the next 5-10 years, particularly in the property management industry where the dominant demographic of a PM a female in her mid to late 20s.
This demographic is the most likely to start a family, travel or still be considering the right career path for them, they are often still discovering their strengths and weaknesses. While you could say, it is up to the business owner to look outside of this demographic for staff, there are often limitations on the business in terms of the budget.
It is all very well to offer a large salary package to attract highly trained people, however that budget will only stretch so far and with the war on discounted management fees it is often not an option for some agencies. I would then reinforce to the client that when they ask me about discounting fees they now know why my answer will be no.
I would then go on to explain how we deal with staff changes when they occur. Firstly the client is appointing the company, not the property manager therefore the responsibility for the service is on the principal or manager of that business.
The relationship is with the business not any one individual. The best operators rely on systems not people to ensure consistency through growth and staff changes. The best operators have a controlled environment where the people are accountable and every aspect of the business has monitoring systems in place.
In simple terms, by choosing a managing agent who has a focus on systems you are less reliant on the people within that business and the various management styles they bring to the organisation.
When choosing a property manager the client should be asking more questions about the processes, systems and statistics of the business, they should look for things like testimonials (with names and dates), and business awards. They should discover the overall reputation of the business. Those investors that follow an individual property manager from office to office will eventually be disappointed when that person leaves and they are handed down to someone less competent.
The second mistake investors make and the most common is choosing a property manager based on the lowest fee. The agent with the lowest fee will also have the lowest wages budget, these will generally be the agents with juniors in senior positions who have zero experience and limited training and recourses. They are often given a desk, a phone and a list of properties they are responsible for then they are expected to “sink or swim”, the trouble is, most of them drown, hence the staff turnover increases and inconsistencies are inevitable.
I also let my new clients know that our office is not infallible, we face the same challenges all property managers do each day. The difference is we have the systems in place to minimise the impact on our clients and protect their assets. We don’t rely on the individual skills of each Property Manager, we have processes and each person in the organisation is made accountable to follow those processes. Our systems create consistency and our record keeping provides transparency. The ongoing training covers the skill, so no matter who sits in the property managers seat they will have clear instructions on how to drive the bus. That doesn’t mean to say anyone can drive the bus with instructions, it is up to the employer to select people with the basic skills required to do the job before they put them behind the wheel. The business has an obligation to the client to ensure that the team are equipped with the tools and training in order to provide the smoothest ride possible.
Creating trust in the business and the brand will remove the objection when staff changes occur and as long as you deliver what you promise you will have loyal and trusting clients (the best kind).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle began her career in Property Management in 1997 as a part-time assistant property manager. It was not long before Michelle discovered this was what she was born to do. In 2009 she created @home Property to reflect her passion for the industry and commitment to service excellence. Michelle’s love for property management is clear in her commitment not only to her clients and her team but also to the industry as a whole: she regularly shares her knowledge and experience with the next generation of property managers as a guest speaker at conferences throughout Australia and New Zealand.
In addition to multiple business accolades, Michelle's personal achievements include:
- TCCI Tasmanian Owner Manager of the year 2011
- Telstra Women's Business Awards (Finalist) 2012
- AREA Property Manager of the Year 2013
- REB – Property Management Office of the Year 2016