More than 500 property managers converged on the Sydney Hilton recently for the 16th ARPM Conference.
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This year’s theme was ‘growth’ – as individuals, as teams and through brand strength Fiona Blayney, director of Blayney Potential Plus and organiser of this year’s Australasian Residential Property Management Conference (ARPM13), says the large cross-section of speakers made the event a success.
“One of the biggest challenges of organising a conference program like this is making sure we cater for everyone,” she says. “Something for the new property manager or the new person in real estate as well as that 25-, 30-, 40-year veteran, the country agent, the city agent, the small independent and the big corporate.
“I think we hit it on the head.”
Ms Blayney adds that the aim was to create a conference that was relevant to all property managers, regardless of where they were from.
“This conference is different to any of the others because we really aim to have the conference at a strategic business thinking level,” she says.
“If I was looking at it from a ‘nuts and bolts’ property management perspective, we may not hit the mark because every state, territory and country is different, so we really tried to get the strategy level [right] and as a result, there’s something in there for everyone.”
FOCUS ON CLIENTS
In one presentation, real estate trainer Cindy Tate said a property manager’s key to successful selling was not describing what they offer, but asking questions about their clients’ situations and needs.
“Great people show their knowledge through the questions they ask, not the statements they make,” she says.
Ms Tate advises against using sales tactics in the property management space but rather including a ‘SPIN’ model for asking questions, covering four issues: Situation, Problem, Impact and Needs (of the client).
She also encourages agents to turn negative feedback into something that is positive for the company.
“Find the three most common complaints and come up with a solution. Name the solutions to your complaints and they’ll
become your biggest selling point,” she told the conference.
Ms Tate says it is also important for property managers to treat their clients in the way they would want to be treated.
“Think about their personality profile,” she told ARPM conference attendees. “Think about the way they communicate with you. If they send an email, chances are they want an email back.”
Ms Tate concluded her presentation by encouraging property managers to continually assess the way they operated.
“Step up and improve the way you do things because you have more potential than you know,” she said. “I strongly urge you to find out what’s not working for you and to make the changes.”
LOOK AFTER THE TENANTS
Director of Impression Real Estate Aaron Tunstall used his presentation to encourage property managers to focus on their tenants.
“So often we are focused on our owners that we forget the tenants,” he said. “If you have the tenants, the owners will come.”
The New Zealand business owner shared some of the initiatives his office uses to attract new tenants and to help the company stand out from other agencies. One example was a free apartment bus tour which runs every Wednesday afternoon.
“We pile a whole lot of people on there and take them around our vacant properties. It just shows that you’re being proactive in finding tenants and doing something that’s a little different,” he said.
“What started as something for our tenants ended up being something that was a business development tool for the owners because the owners saw that we were being proactive in finding tenants.
“Tenants love them as it saves them time and, more importantly, it saves us time,” he says.
Mr Tunstall advises property managers to take every opportunity to provide the best customer service to their clients.
This should even include undesirable situations, such as one when a tenant survived a 15-floor plunge from his apartment complex in Auckland. The agency sent flowers to the unfortunate person and informed the other tenants of the situation.
Mr Tunstall also told property managers to embrace fun in the workplace and to not be afraid to implement change.
“It’s possible to have a culture of hard work and to enjoy yourself at the same time,” he told attendees. “Change can be scary, but before you jump in, ask the following: Is it good for my clients and will it allow my staff to be better property managers?”
Kamal Sarma, founder of strategic leadership development firm Rezilium, presented a session on creating an optimal work-life balance.
Mr Sarma questioned the attendees’ understanding of what it means to have a work-life balance.
“Once upon a time, there was this thing called work-life separation, so you could actually separate your home and your life,” he said. “No one knew your address; people couldn’t contact you after hours. That was in the 1980s. In the 1990s, there was a thing called work-life balance. People wouldn’t contact you; you weren’t switched on all the time.”
However, we are now living in a time when work and life are totally integrated, Mr Sarma said.
“You could get up at 12am and you could check your emails if you wanted to,” he said. “It’s not as if we don’t have the facilities to do so. What we need to change is what’s inside our heads. Can you re-wire your brain so that you don’t check your emails or Facebook account?”
Other speakers at the two-day conference included MC and speaker Andrew Daddo; Starr Partners CEO Douglas Driscoll; director of UK-based Finders Keepers, Frank Webster; the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s Property Manager of the Year, Ranita Patel; Harris Real Estate department head Suzie Hamilton-Flanagan; and Sebastian Terry, founder of 100 Things, an organisation that encourages people to realise dreams while raising funds for Camp Quality.
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