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Should PM experience be a prerequisite for the job?

By Bianca Dabu
11 May 2021 | 11 minute read
REB Masterclass property management team 2021

The best team members aren’t necessarily found from within the real estate industry. Three business owners share their experience of looking outward.

In a recent REB Masterclass, Managed App director Thom Richards, Raine & Horne Potts Point/Elizabeth Bay director Samuel Schumann and Marshall. Chan. Yahl. director William Chan all shared their own insights and experiences in building up their own “property management dream team”. 

According to Mr Richards, it starts with goal-setting: What kind of business do you want to be?

“When people go out and they look for property managers, they’ll post an advert and tell the market all the things that they’re looking for in a candidate, but they don’t really think about what that candidate is going to take to the market where they’re taking their business to,” he said.

The location of the business, the demographic within that area and the business’s own mission and vision will all play important roles in finding the right candidate, Mr Richards noted.

“[You’ve got to think about] how you want your business to be perceived in the industry,” he advised.

The right candidate will also naturally be a fit in terms of the business’s culture and messaging, according to Mr Schumann.

Apart from getting along with everyone — from the team to potential clients — they should also be able to fulfill the promises of the business to their customers and exemplify the values that the business upholds.

Mr Schumann said: “When we were looking at the right candidate for our office, we [ask]: ‘Are they going to fit with us and what we believe in and how we want to be perceived within the marketplace?’ And also, ‘Are they going to deliver on what they say they’re going to do?’

“That’s the most important thing for us — do the things that you say you’re going to do.”

Agreeing with the sentiment, Mr Chan went on to highlight the importance of good work ethic. “It’s really important for us that they’re honest and also have a good attitude.

“If we’ve got those things, we can teach the skills, but they’ve got to have a good fit with our market and with the team.”

Hiring externally

Adding to the basic criteria for hiring laid out above, Mr Schumann said that the right candidate doesn’t necessarily have to come from the real estate industry.

Drawing on his own experience, he highlighted that one of his own property managers originally came into the profession from the medical field, where they worked as a hospital administrator.

“His attention to detail has been fantastic, follow-up is fantastic. The things that he learnt without being in the industry have actually shaped how good he can be within the industry,” he commented.

Mr Chan has also applauded external work experience, noting that people from hospitality generally come into property management with a willingness to work long hours and offer an extremely sharp focus on customer service.

In Mr Richards’ experience, he’s seen flight attendants-turned-agents who he argues display grace under pressure, good process orientation, knowledge on security and offer up excellent interpersonal skills.

In summary, as long as a candidate is the right fit within the business and they have the eagerness to learn and grow within the industry, then they can just be as good as anyone from within real estate, Mr Schumann said.

“Looking externally can be a real win… because it’s really just the work ethic and the right fit that is really important. Everything else can be taught. Those who want to be successful and want to listen — these sponges are the ones that we love,” he said.

Ultimately, all three directors believe that looking externally has provided them a chance to “go outside the box” — that is, to diversify their team and their capabilities without sacrificing the essence of the business and the culture that they want to uphold.

“A lot of the real estate agents think that you have to have X number years experience in PM, but all they do is look at how many routines they’ve done or what software they know how to use. They don’t really think outside the box,” Mr Richards said.

Mr Chan concluded: “If they are happy to be able to absorb how you want to run the business and follow your processes and they are willing to learn from you — that’s way more important than their history or experience.”


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