Julie Baird gets so much fulfilment from seeing her team of property managers grow that she would probably be a coach or mentor if she wasn’t in this industry.
When did you first join the PM industry?
I became a property manager in 1994 and am approaching my 23rd year in the industry.
Why did you join the PM industry?
My first role in the property industry was a receptionist at my local real estate office in Wodonga, Victoria. I very much fell into the role. I was looking for a full-time job after university and applied. Safe to say, I found an occupation I was truly passionate about.
What were you doing before PM?
I worked in the hospitality industry and as a corporate receptionist while studying at university. I always liked to keep busy, which is why real estate was so appealing.
What would you like your next career step to be?
I am very happy in my current role overseeing a growing department and property management team at hockingstuart Armadale. The role keeps me highly motivated for a number of reasons, namely the fact that I’m involved in the development and professional growth of my team, which is something I find very fulfilling. Furthermore, the industry leading training at hockingstuart and professional development courses continue to drive my personal growth. The latter is something I have always loved about property management – the ability to keep on learning. Training is a passion of mine and I can see this as a big part of any future career focus.
What piece of technology do you find the most useful for your business and why?
Presently, ‘Inspect Real Estate’ has been a game-changer for our office as it allows us to effectively manage inquiries and liaise with our prospective tenants. It has enhanced the way we manage our inspections and application-processing systems, which will be particularly important as we continue to grow.
What area of PM needs more training focused on it and why?
The balance between emotional intelligence, communication and time management needs improvement. Being able to effectively communicate with clients at all levels and manage workloads are key skills every successful property manager should nail. The task aspects of property management – such as leasing, inspections, arrears and maintenance – are actually not what property managers find most challenging; it is responding to clients, landlords and tenants that causes the most stress and frustration.
What skills does a PM/BDM need to be successful?
Emotional intelligence, an ability to prioritise, empathy, effective communication and life skills. The task management side of property management can be learned, but it’s these emotive and strategic skills that create successful property managers.
Where do you believe PM’s responsibilities should start and end?
I have always believed the role of a property manager is to manage a client’s investment property or home within the boundaries of legislative requirements. It is our responsibility to provide clients with the information for them to be able to make informed decisions regarding their property, to maximise their rental return, maintain their property and minimise vacancy times. Taking the time to build relationships is key and we need to educate both landlords and tenants about their obligations once they are in a landlord-tenant relationship.
How do you deal with disgruntled and aggressive tenants?
You need to treat unhappy tenants with understanding. Disgruntled and aggressive people are usually frustrated about a situation and not able to manage their stress or communicate effectively as a result. Sometimes it is about assisting them, other times it is about educating them and also making sure they feel heard.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in the PM industry?
I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But if I was doing something else, I am sure it would be related to training and coaching as I love to mentor people.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love that after 22 years in the industry, I’m still able to learn and push my professional growth. I enjoy working with people, watching my team develop, celebrating the wins and learning from challenges. There is such variety in this role and room to grow as a person. Property management has been an amazing career choice for me and quite an adventure.
What are the most stressful aspects of your job?
I feel that no matter how organised I am, there will never be a slow day in property management, which at times may be stressful. I’ve learnt to carefully prioritise my workload in order to reduce stress and perform at my peak.
How do you relax after a stressful day at work?
After learning not to take property management personally and take my work home with me, I became better at switching off and relaxing after a stressful day. I am a big movie buff, I love yoga and body balance, and I spend quality time with those close to me.