Tools To Conquer Growing Pains

Every business has growing pains. When you start a property management business there are laws to learn, regulations to follow, owners and tenants that are demanding and policies and procedures that need to be created. It can be overwhelming. Even seasoned property managers who want to add a new service or re-structure their business can go through a period of growing pains.

Here are some tools to help you conquer the growing pains in your business.

HIRE A BUSINESS CONSULTANT OR COACH A business consultant can help you target exactly what you need to focus on and hold your hand through the process. We considered hiring a coach at one point, but never did. We just couldn’t afford it. For those who can afford it, a business consultant is an amazing growth tool. But if you can’t afford $500/hr for a business coach, then there are other options.

ATTEND CONFERENCES If you manage single-family homes I highly recommend joining the National Association of Residential Property Managers. They offer a Broker/Owner Conference in April and a National Conference in October of each year. The conferences are invaluable for meeting people and learning how to build your business. We always made attending conference a priority, but we still weren’t able to attend every conference every year. One year our mom was fighting cancer. One year our grandmother broke her hip. Life gets in the way, especially if you are a family-owned company.

ATTEND TRAINING: There are many sources for training courses: your local board of Realtors, NARPM, IREM, NAA and others. Some courses are in-person training and some are online. My favorite part of in-person training is asking questions and getting forms.

ATTEND LOCAL MEETINGS You can learn a lot just by networking with others in your industry. No matter how hard we try to make every local NARPM meeting there are days when our business takes priority and it doesn’t fit in our schedule.

JOIN ONLINE GROUPS You can find online groups for property managers on Facebook and LinkedIn. These are usually casual groups without a formal structure. These are great for getting quick answers to a pressing problems. Check out BetterLandlord.net’s Facebook Group.

BUY AN ONLINE COURSE Some courses are pricey, but if you can find one that answers exactly the issues you are having trouble with, then they are an excellent option.

JOIN THE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT ACCELERATOR The Property Management Accelerator (PMA) is a subscription membership that combines the best of these other options but doesn’t kill your budget. Our focus is on systems and processes to master day-to-day operations so that you can focus your time and effort on other things – like spending time with family or accelerating your growth. Every successful property management business is built on solid policies and procedures that manage risk.

In this information age we have hundreds of options for knowledge and training. Choose the ones that are right for you.

Do As I Say…

Have you ever heard the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do.”? Well, I should really take my own advice. This happened last week.

A tenant inquired about installing a wireless alarm. We have an amendment setup in our software for that. Sent it out. Ok done.

The tenant called. He had questions about the alarm amendment fee. SIGH. Spoke to the tenant explained the fee. Ok done.

He called back a couple hours later. Now he had questions about the wording of the amendment. UGH! We never ever make changes to our contracts. Took the call. Listened to his issues. Agreed that there was some unclear language. Fixed it then sent out the updated amendment. Ok done.

Tenant called again. Wording was still confusing. SERIOUSLY? I was getting more and more frustrated. We had recently combined our hard-wired alarm amendment and wireless alarm amendment into one document. Honestly, we had done a terrible job. We reviewed the amendment and we agreed it needed to be re-written. I re-wrote the amendment. I had the staff look it over to see if it was clear. We included a checkbox to designate whether there was a hard-wired alarm already at the property or not. I triumphantly sent it out to the tenant. Ok done.

Minutes later the tenant called. The tenant said, “Thank you for updating the wording. But you forgot to check the box.” OMG! I deleted the lease I sent them. Created a new one – checked the box – and sent it out to the tenant. Ok done.

The tenant called back thanking us profusely for listening to his concerns. I apologized for the confusion.

I learned this lesson – not for the first time:

DO NOT create documents without reviewing them.

DO use a checklist so that contracts are filled out correctly.

DO NOT be quick to react to tenants negatively.

DO listen.

I hope your day is a productive one!

PS – Is your business stuck? Let us help you get going again. Learn More

Most Common Problem in Property Management and a Solution

A common problem that I see in the property management industry is a company that wants to grow but is completely overwhelmed with the day-to-day operations of the company. They are overwhelmed because there is a bottleneck somewhere in the company. Our solution is checklists. Let us show you how powerful they can be.

Property managers are determined and driven and we are very detail oriented. That means company owners/brokers want things done THEIR WAY. This isn’t a flaw. This actually is a valuable trait of a property manager. Property management requires an enormous amount of attention to detail.

Where is the bottleneck in your company? I hate to say it, but 9 times out of 10 the broker/owner is the bottleneck. Does everyone come to you to find the answers to questions? Is this frustrating for you? I can tell you it is definitely frustrating for your employees.

There is one easy solution to this problem – create checklists and forms that have your policies and procedures baked right into them.

Here are the 5 steps we’ve used to create our checklists.

Choose ONE Activity: A checklist should document only one activity, for example Move In, Move Out. Lease Renewal, etc. Resist the temptation to put more than one activity on a checklist. For example, don’t include Tenant Screening tasks on a Move In checklist.

Systematize Policies & Procedures: Use checklists to define what should and what should not be done during each activity. This will lower risk and provide superior customer service.

Interview Your Staff: Observe. Ask questions. Take notes. Who initiates an activity? What are the tasks that need to be done? Is more than one person involved? Who does which tasks? What is the most efficient order of tasks and people for this activity?

Keep It Simple: Keep wording simple, for example “UPLOAD lease to software” or “SEND lease to owner” or “PREPARE tenant folder.”

Put Your Checklists Online: Use a simple and free project tracking tool like Asana.

I was the bottleneck in my business. I was the one person who knew every policy and procedure in our company – because I wrote them. My staff was constantly bombarding me with questions like “What do I tell the tenant about adding a pet?” “How does the tenant add a roommate?” “This owner is having trouble logging on to their account.” I had not time to do anything except answer questions.

You can have a great training program for your employees. But we all get busy and forget something we learned months – or years ago – or it’s too much trouble to look it up in a manual.

A checklist is a quick and easy tool that assures everything gets done the WAY YOU WANT IT DONE. And no one has to wait for you to answer their questions. When you create checklists you can completely eliminate the bottleneck of information. This frees up your time to concentrate on bigger and more profitable projects.

If you are just starting out to create your property management business then checklists are an essential tool for you to outline your policies and procedures.

If you have been doing this for years then a review of your checklists may be in order. Policies change and so should your checklists.

No matter where you are in your business, creating powerful and effective checklists will lead to growth.

Where is the bottleneck in your company? Post in the comments below.

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