There’s no doubt that property managers have had to adapt in response to the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation.
As far as Hannah Gill is concerned though, the pandemic has provided opportunity to accelerate some much-needed change and innovation in an industry that is “ripe for disruption”.
So, what does the property management industry look like right now?
According to Hannah, it can be summarised as fundamentally reactive, manual and task-based; and that is not where the potential value of property management as a service truly lies.
This is more than just the reality of the job for property managers, it’s also the experience for clients; slow, often frustrating, and falls short of increasing expectations.
Hannah notes that, as with other industries which have undergone a period of transformation and disruption (think ridesharing, takeaway food), “people want things in real time—they want information, they want it now and they want it where they want to find it”.
“If a client can self-serve and have everything they need in the palm of their hand for those services, they expect that they can have that for our services too.”
The current reality, however? A far cry from a genuinely client-driven, user-centric experience.
So, where are we heading?
Hannah believes that property management will become increasingly about relationships over tasks; about connecting with human beings over performing administrative duties.
She cites that by 2032, 82 per cent of real estate jobs will not exist in the way they do today, and while many property managers feel threatened by this prediction, it actually represents “an exciting opportunity in the industry”.
This wholesale shift to a relationship-centric model over a focus on performing tasks relies on a number of changes to business as usual; none more important than the automation and outsourcing of the manual tasks and the “death by checklists” reality for many property managers.
Given that “quite frankly, a lot of the jobs in the industry, aren’t great jobs. They’re highly manual, very task-based and not particularly rewarding in many respects,” the evolution of technology, data and automation will allow the industry to “automate certain pain points and certain flows in our business so that we’re not relying on traditional processes that take longer.”
All while, critically, freeing up resources to focus on what’s really important in property management.
Technology, artificial intelligence and data and their role in facilitating critical business decisions is only part of the puzzle that will spurn the industry forwards though, as Hannah believes that the impetus behind developments needs to be that technology “doesn’t replace relationships, it…. enables them”.
Relationships, client communication and centring the concept of wealth creation in job descriptions is where the true value of property management lies as a discipline and a profession.
With increasing and relentless pressure on fees, the industry will become proficient in the provision of advice to clients that seeks to build and create wealth for them.
Rather than constantly reacting to the demands of tenants and clients alike, property managers will proactively build relationships, provide expertise around wealth creation and investments and ultimately justify fees by delivering a measurable return on investment.
“If we start to have more holistic conversations around how we can create wealth or value for our clients, that’s where we’re going to alleviate that pressure on [property management] fees.”
What will remain to be the driving force behind property management though, in 20 years’ time or 50, is a core belief in the work as being of service to others in the community.
“Real estate is inherently human, and everything we do needs to serve our people… whatever we decide to do it’s important that we understand how that impacts and benefits the person that we’re serving.”
Hannah’s Transform 2020 session also includes a deep dive into the way Hannah and her team at Independent have mitigated the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lesson reviews innovations implemented in the operational, client communication and employee experience space, while sharing a range of tips including the most underrated medium for keeping up with your clients and the questions you should be asking yourself before investing in a new tech platform.
To watch Hannah’s lesson, other top, exclusive content direct from Transform 2020 and secure access to all of Elite Agent’s best actionable tips, strategies, news and views, subscribe to Elite Agent Pro here.
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