COVID-19: There is no point of reference for Businesses, Property Managers, Owners and Tenants to refer to, because we’ve never been through this before.
This is not “Business As Usual”, and it could be quite a while before a normal operating rhythm returns. To negotiate this period, here’s 9 things I’d be focussed on.
- Scripts and Practice
This is one from my days as a BDM, but you are going to be having lots of the same conversations over the coming months, so it pays to get really good at them.
Work out the key points and content with your team or Manager, and then practice how those conversations need to go to be most effective. I have always been a fan of having the main information and dot points in a really visible spot near my computer or phone, so I can refer to them mid conversation if I lose my train of thought.
- Fact check information and sources
There’s a deluge of information coming at you from all angles, and that can be quite overwhelming. One of the biggest challenges is to filter the facts, from the misinformation.
If you’re picking up information from sources other than your usual trusted advisers, make a point of verifying the correctness of the information before using it in your everyday work.
Ideally, Cloud based software makes life so much simpler in the current flexible, work from home environment. If you’re still operating on Server based software, then that doesn’t have to mean that you miss out.
Having a VPN installed, or utilising Remote Desktop access will mean that you can still access your Server based software and continue to be productive.
- Keep the Team connection
One of the best parts of Property Management is being part of the Team. If you normally do things together like Lunches, Coffees, Friday Drinks, or even Trivia at the end of the week, then keep it up!
Maintaining culture, engagement and support in the team is vital. At work right now, there’s not a single activity that we used to do in person, that we haven’t continued to do virtually. The commitment to keeping it up has in many ways made it even more effective.
- Optimise your home setup
Having spent a lot of time working from home over the years, I have found that it’s the little things like a proper webcam so people aren’t always looking up your nose, a USB keyboard (if you work from a laptop), a good headset, and a 2nd screen that make a big difference to your comfort and productivity.
I’d also add work on your internet connection, and “plug in” by ether, if your Wifi is patchy or unstable
- Be open to flexible working conditions
Drastically reduced rent collection, equals drastically reduced management fees. The problem being that the business you work for, still has most of its fixed costs to pay. This period is about survival, and being able to kick on when we emerge from the other side. It might be weird and uncomfortable to consider working less hours, or accepting a reduced wage.
Certainly don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of, and always speak with Fair Work if you are unsure – but a scaled back role that is sustainable, is better than no role at all, and having the business doors closing. If this is something that gets raised, keep an open mind to the possibility.
- Look after your Health
Working from home, I try to be diligent with a hard stop at the end of the day to go and do some exercise, even if I resume work later on.
The work will always be there, and for the next few months you might never be finished at the end of the day. Exercise is critical to remain at your best and naturally release endorphins. I also find it helps manage the temptation to turn to Beer or Wine as a way to unwind and release stress. Let’s not emerge from the COVID-19 crisis as alcoholics.
- Zoom Inspections
There’s a range of great tech out there to handle Routine Inspections by Video, and even if you have none of it, then Zoom is a great free way to deal with this.
Install Zoom on your PC, have your Tenants download the free Zoom App, and then you can have an interactive video call and complete your Routines virtually. Having the Tenant pause, enables you to take Screen Shots, and then these can be used as photos in your traditional routine inspection report to the Owner
- Leasing – reverse the process
There’s also a range of great tech out there to deal with video or virtual reality property inspections for leasing, however once again, even if you have access to none of it, this can still be actioned using existing tools.
A simple good quality phone video uploaded to Portals, Facebook Live property inspections, or one on one Facetime inspections can all be sufficient to allow prospective tenants to apply for the property. Then, only once they are approved, and before requiring them to sign the lease, you can then perform a one on one viewing with safe social distancing.
This is a time to stick together, support each other, and reimagine the tools we have at our disposal, and how they might be able to be repurposed to ensure that this period can be worked through, and we’re positioned to thrive on the other side.