EPMEPM: First PersonEPM: Productivity

2018: Your Best Year

Times are changing and every year property management brings new challenges. Kasey MacDonald offers some practical suggestions to make 2018 your best year yet.

With almost two decades’ experience at the coalface, I will admit that I didn’t always do things right. There have been a lot of learning curves along the way.

On my very first day on the job, I was given an empty desk and a phone, and that was it. I didn’t know the first thing about managing a property, and boy, didn’t I learn fast!

There was nothing traditional about my induction to property management, and although it was tough, it ended up being a bit of a blessing. Not only did I have to learn fast, but it also showed me a lot of things not to do. From that, I established processes and procedures that I have fine-tuned over the years.

The single biggest mistake I think I made in the early days was being in reactive mode. I felt like I was always chasing my tail. This was due to many things, including a lack of training and a severe absence of procedures in place.

That aside, I’m confident that I have gained a lot of wisdom to pass on so that you can head into 2018 full of confidence, inspiration and a mindset to achieve big things. Here’s my advice to make 2018 your year to shine and be better than you’ve ever been.

These days, the most common questions I get asked are around time management and how to find more time in the day. But it’s not about that. In property management, you could sometimes work around the clock and not feel like you’re getting ahead if you’re not utilising your time properly. Effective time management comes down to prioritising and good planning.

Some days in property management can be rather ad-hoc in nature, so it’s imperative that you plan and prioritise so you’re super-organised. That includes your mindset, your workspace and, of course, your daily and weekly schedule!

Organising your time helps you approach tasks more efficiently and with a positive perspective to allow you to be more open to opportunities. Luckily, some of the duties a property manager undertakes are repetitive and scheduled which means they can be really well planned out.

I find it’s really important to shift your approach and mindset from being reactive (dealing with what comes up) to being proactive. The by-product of being reactive is lack of control, excessive workload and high stress.

To be (and stay) in control of your workload in property management is all about creating a regular schedule to deal with the repetitive tasks, so you’re on the front foot when the unexpected stuff comes. And it will come!

Analyse your current day-to-day responsibilities, splitting them into repetitive tasks and ad-hoc tasks, then ask yourself:

  • What are the priorities around the tasks?
  • What can be consolidated, eliminated or shortened?
  • What can you do to stay ahead of less-urgent tasks?
  • Can you prevent them by planning ahead and developing alternative processes?
  • Can you automate any of your tasks to make them more effective and less time-consuming?

As part of this schedule make sure you leave time for those interruptions and disruptions. Always remember who the client is and place their importance at the very top.

I often see property managers avoid the owner if he or she drops into the office. They see them as a distraction, but I see them as a goldmine.

They are your client, and they deserve your time and attention. Remember, it’s always easier to retain clients than it is to win new ones.

Set arrears, maintenance, lease renewals, invoicing, receipting and inspections as recurring tasks and appointments. When it’s time to do those tasks, do not deviate or procrastinate; make sure they’re crossed off the list.

It’s such a cliché, but goal-setting is a huge thing for me so I can’t stress it enough. With your daily tasks more organised it’s time to set realistic and timely goals, broken down into daily, weekly and monthly categories all set to levels of priority.

There is one common trait I see in every successful property manager and BDM, and that is great communication skills. Be a really smart communicator. Remember that your landlord has entrusted you with a huge responsibility in their eyes – managing their expensive asset. Get to know what they like and what they don’t like.

Years ago I once rang my landlord at 9 am, not realising she was a nurse who had just come off a huge night shift. She wasn’t impressed with my phone call as she’d just got to sleep. I really should have known how she wanted me to communicate with her; a text message or email would have been more suitable. I always talk to my owners about how they want to be communicated with, and you’ll be surprised at the mixed responses. Don’t assume; ask!

My advice around communication is to be very clear and friendly in your approach. Remember, written messages can be interpreted in various tones, and if it’s ineffectively received it can cause a whole lot of unnecessary drama.

I encourage everyone to pick up the phone and to stop hiding behind their emails.

I’d encourage everyone to continue to pick up the phone and to stop hiding behind their emails. Emails play an important role, but we can avoid the back and forth and risk of misunderstanding by having the conversation verbally. The technology platforms available have fantastic communication tools, with reporting that can be automated; just don’t forget to talk to your clients.

My advice here is to embrace it where you can. I find some offices have a real mix of apps and cool tech programs to help make their department run more smoothly. However, they usually only use a quarter or half of the app’s features. Take the time to research the systems you have in place and use what you can to streamline your workflow. Learn about the software to use it to its full potential.

Property management is a very exciting and dynamic industry to be involved in, but it will take over your life if you let it. It can be very demanding. Take the initiative, control the things you can control like recurring tasks and remember to be proactive, not reactive.

Take a look at how you performed over 2017 and assess what you can do moving forward to ensure 2018 is a killer year.

The property management industry has ended up being a very lucrative and enjoyable career choice for me, and there are plenty of opportunities there for those who want to work hard, work smart, and reach out and grab it. Make 2018 your best year yet.

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Kasey Mcdonald

Kasey McDonald is the Director and Principal Consultant at PMT Academy AU/NZ/USA, consultant and trainer at BDM Academy and the Co-Founder of Real Estate Training Group (RETG)