Robert Harris has been in property management for almost 30 years, but he still enjoys the sense of fulfilment he gets in helping people find a new home.
When did you first join the PM industry?
I'm a veteran in property management. I think I started in 1987 or 1989.
Why did you join the PM industry?
Fate played a big part in my starting in the industry. I injured my back with nursing and did a retraining program in office administration. I had just moved into a shared house on the weekend. [The] property manager came for an inspection on the Monday so I crawled out of bed to open the door. I chatted for a while with the PM and received a call to start work within 15 minutes of her leaving the house. I started as a receptionist, within six months they gave me my own portfolio and years later I’m still going.
What were you doing before PM?
I was a nurse before I received the calling to property management.
What would you like your next career step to be?
Pretty much I'm really into having a boss that allows me to run my portfolio as if it's my own business and to share in the income.
What piece of technology do you find the most useful for your business and why?
Certainly the iPad – it's the best thing since sliced bread. To be able to have all the tools of the trade at your fingertips at all times is the best.
What area of PM needs more training focused on it and why?
The actual practical application of inspections and property condition reports along with the age old issue of being time-effective.
What skills does a PM/BDM need to be successful?
Organised, know the difference between empathy and sympathy, great eye for detail, passion for what you do and just the ability to be real with people.
Where do you believe a PM’s responsibilities should start and end?
It starts at the first contact of preparing the owner for the journey that is property investment, making sure they know the good, the bad and ugly that property management holds. The end is to ensure that all parties to the contract know their rights and responsibilities and everything that goes on in-between.
How do you deal with disgruntled and aggressive tenants?
Listen to their concerns, then present the facts as clear and precise as possible. Once the facts are laid down and the emotions are taken out of the situation, usually the aggression dies down.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in the PM industry?
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Helping people find their new home.
What are the most stressful aspects of your job?
Dealing with rent arrears. The worst part of the job: not getting emotionally involved with tenants' personal issues irrelevant to the job at hand.
How do you relax after a stressful day at work?
Play with my dog and watch a good horror movie or go cruising in my car with the roof off.
How would you describe a perfect property management day?
Out on the road with multiple viewings and routine inspections where you’re able to help people move into their new home.