After a busy four years, Hayley Mitchell’s PM business is up and running. But getting there involved many challenges, including a major drain on her personal time
Starting a property management business from scratch with no existing rent roll was never going to be an easy task.
But hard work and a supportive husband have helped Mitchell Property Management director Hayley Mitchell grow her rent roll from zero to more than 200 properties in just four years.
Her decision to branch out on her own followed six years’ working as a senior property manager for a major network.
The award-winning agent’s vision for Mitchell Property Management was born when Hayley and husband Warren were driving from Melbourne to Deniliquin, NSW.
“It’s a four- to five-hour drive up there and he said, ‘What do you want to do?’ and I just said, I just want to start a rent roll,” Hayley recalls. “By the time we got there we had worked out the name of the business, the branding, how we wanted it to look and our motto as well.
“We arrived and said to the family, ‘We’re starting a business’.”
To begin with, Hayley worked by herself from home, managing two properties owned by her and her mother.
However, it did not take long for the rent roll to start growing and she found herself working 16-hour days to ensure everything got done.
Warren quit his IT job at the end of 2010 in order to support his wife in the business and to help establish a new office in South Melbourne, which opened in June 2011.
“The good thing about having Warren in the business full time was that he was here when we had to do a lot of set-up,” she says. “We had to set up these servers and get all the painting done, carpet done – project management for the office. He did all of that so I could just concentrate on the day-to-day management of the business.”
However, the owners now faced the challenge of balancing personal and professional lives.
“Being a small office, I did struggle and I think [Warren] did too, with working full time and living full time together because it was very hard to close off at the end of the day,” Hayley says. “That’s all we talked about. It sort of consumed you. We did struggle with it.”
Setting up the business had also prevented the couple from taking time off to go on holiday together.
“We had our first holiday in March this year after four years in business, and we took three weeks off and got married,” she says.
Despite having now resumed his IT career, Warren maintains a role in the business as a partner, looking after the general accounts, human resources, business management and IT for an hour each day.
And with three additional team members, the initial pressure on the couple has been alleviated.
Hayley still has a busy workload as a business owner, property manager and moderator for the Australia Property Managers Community group on Facebook.
However, she says she is proactive in making rules on how she spends her time so that work does not consume her.
“Even though I’m still doing the same amount of work, I’m getting it done within business hours,” she says.
“We’ve also made the decision that we’re not working every weekend like we used to – so we work when required.”
The challenge for property managers these days, according to Hayley, is being able to switch off after work.
“I’ve made a rule that when I get home from work I don’t check my emails because I want to be able to switch off work – and I say the same to the girls here.”