With 11 years in property management under her belt, Jessica Melling is somewhat of an expert. It’s this passion and knowledge that drives her in her current role as BDM at LJ Hooker Robina and Mudgeeraba, where she also oversees the property management team across both offices, as well as working with Burleigh Waters and Burleigh Heads.
“As a team we’re growing rapidly. I work alongside another business development manager [Blanche Manby] and we currently have four offices that we look after. Dave Manby is the principal alongside Raymond Pienaar. Dave started LJ Hooker Robina, then purchased Mudgeeraba, then opened Burleigh Waters and Burleigh Heads. The property management team are based in Burleigh Heads.”
Jessica currently operates under the title of client investment manager, which gives the investors she works with a snapshot of what her role can provide them. Jessica says it’s her 11 years in property management which makes her so suitable for this title. Her thorough understanding of the management process gives her the ability to sell her skills, and those of her team, to potential new business.
“I’ve always had an interest in property and people, and while I was enjoying the day to day property management tasks I was doing I wanted to test myself. That’s the main reason I stepped into a BDM role. My boss gave me a bit of a go and I found it was a happy medium for me; we had just bought an investment property ourselves so I was really interested in it.
“From there I started learning a lot from the sales department. I started to use what I was interested in and the skills of everyone around me, which led me to where I am today.”
Managing a Team
Once the rent roll began to grow, the team had to decide if they were going to host the property management department in one office, or spread it out across the four areas. Even though the decision was made to keep everyone in the same location, Jess says her team specialise in different areas and are regularly on the road seeing clients. With the other four offices to rely on in a tough spot, landlords know their investments are always under a watchful eye.
“Having the four offices, even though the property managers are based in Burleigh Heads, we’re lucky that we have staff regularly going to and from those offices. So if your property is located in Robina, we have our sales team there to help us. There’s always someone keeping an eye on your property.
Virtual Assistants are fantastic; I’d love one to do my backend data work – but it’s still about the personal touch.
“When we bring a property on, all of our sales team know about it and so do our property management team. So not only do you have those extra eyes on your property, we’re also able to promote your property from four different offices.”
Promotion of the services available across the four offices is something Jessica is really passionate about. She works closely with the whole sales team, and provides them with rental valuations for every home they list. This not only helps seal the deal with potential investors looking for a new purchase, but also helps smooth out the financing process.
“I take the time to catch up with my sales team once a week individually. We talk about the marketing they’re doing, if there’s anything I can jump in on, look at what stock they have coming up, the open homes they’re doing and which of their properties are attracting investors.
“It’s about taking the time to build that trust so they know that when the time comes I’m going to do the best job possible, and it keeps me at the forefront of their minds all the time.”
The Digital Age
Another important thing for Jessica and her role is a focus on technology. Working in an area popular with investors, it’s important that the team stand out – something Jessica says comes down to providing a superior service.
It’s about taking the time to build that trust so they know that when the time comes I’m going to do the best job possible.
“We pride ourselves on technology. We’re starting to do a lot of 3D videos for our listings; we’ll do the walkthroughs on 3D cameras. That’s both for advertising and for condition reports as well.
“We’re about to move into the video space, using videos of myself or someone else talking about the rental property that’s being advertised and doing a walkthrough alongside it which will have the photos and the floorplan. We’re really trying to pre-qualify people to the homes before they come through.”
A Personal Touch
At the end of the day, Jessica is well aware that delivering a good customer experience is not about throwing all the new tech offerings into a blender and seeing what comes out. She and her team win, and keep, listings through good old-fashioned personal touches, not advanced equipment.
“I just had this conversation with my property managers yesterday. You can have the best technology, do the best report and send that report to an owner in a text message, but it’s not personal and people want to deal with people.
“Picking up the phone and speaking to people is something that just isn’t happening any more, so we believe that personal contact with our clients is going to be the point of difference. I think virtual assistants and other things are fantastic; I’d love one to do my backend data work, because if you’re not processing applications fast enough or responding to tenants you can lose them – but it’s still about the personal touch.”