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How to properly equip PMs who are often ‘the meat in the sandwich’

By Orana Durney-Benson
06 December 2023 | 12 minute read
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As the middlemen of the rental industry, property managers have to be experts in thriving amid discomfort.

The rental crisis is hitting Australians hard, and one of the sectors of the property industry who are bearing the brunt of it are property managers.

In a recent episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents, Brooke Willis, founder of Brooke Willis Property and REIQ’s residential property manager of the year, revealed that property managers are facing more stress now than ever.


“Cost of living expenses are going up,” she explained. “Rents are obviously going up substantially – and people can be looking for someone to blame.”

As the people responsible for delivering bad news to tenants, property managers are “automatically the ones they point the finger at”.

Over her career in property management, Ms Willis has learned that clear communication is key to alleviating stress for property managers and tenants alike.

When informing tenants about rental increases or rejected applications, it can be tempting to send out a blanket email, but Ms Willis knows that it’s far better to speak over the phone.

“They hear that you’re a real person,” she said. “The person who is receiving the message respects you for calling them up and acknowledges that it’s not you, it’s the situation.”

There will always be the one in 10 clients who continue to load blame onto their property manager, but Ms Willis knows that unfortunately this is part of the property management experience.

“We are the meat in the sandwich,” she said. “We are the middleman. And all we can do is deliver that news with empathy.”

Knowing that phone conversations can be highly stressful, Ms Willis likes to pre-emptively support her team members before they pick up the phone, and it’s a practice other property management leaders would be wise to emulate.

“You walk through that conversation, how it may look, and get them to do a little role play with you before they make that difficult phone call,” she stated. It may not erase the stress completely, but at least “then they feel more supported”.

Ms Willis also advises her property managers that the stress can become easier with time and experience. She explained: “I always say to my girls, the more you pick up the phone, the more you get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and the better you will feel.”

In between, Ms Willis makes sure to boost workplace morale through regular team building activities, time off to unwind and socialise, and acknowledgment of the work that they do.

“I really want to see more support and recognition for property managers,” Ms Willis concluded. “We’re just as important as sales.”

Listen to the full conversation with Brooke Willis here.

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