EPMEPM: Best Practice & Legislation

The Executive Property Manager: Sarah Bell

IN THE SALES ARENA, we have seen the emergence of Agent 2.0 and 3.0 (are we up to 4.0?) as the value of a sales agent has changed with technology and evolving customer expectations. The new breed of agents are true professionals, unrecognisable from the stereotypes which placed real estate among the least trusted of all professions. So where does that leave property managers?

THE EXECUTIVE sales agent is respected for their sales craft; they are community leaders, remunerated for their learning, effort and results.

This begs the question: is there a similar pathway available for aspirational property managers? I think there is, but it looks nothing like the property manager of the past. I want to introduce you to the archetype of the Executive Property Manager.

The Executive Property Manager understands that if they expect valuable remuneration for their time, then their time needs to be valuable. Value isn’t an esoteric concept. Value, in this context, isn’t a reflection on a person’s worth or humanity. Value means fee-earning, and is inextricably linked to profitability.

High-end rentals and high-end fees in a high-end brand means high-end service at the customer interface. High-end service should mean high satisfaction, high retention, high referral and high growth. The augmentation of a capital asset in the rent roll and the creation of a positive brand experience is the value piece of the Executive Property Manager.

There is no escaping that there is work to do in property management: tactile, physical, the recurring toil of arrears, maintenance, routine inspections, lease renewals and so on. At seven or eight per cent commission, this work is not going to post the profit margin needed to sustain executive talent at the income level they deserve.

The Executive Property Manager’s time is better spent in the management of others to do these tasks, whether that is managing other property managers in-house, managing remote teams or finding new ways to get the job done in a way that allows them to focus on growth and customer experience.

Technology for technology’s sake can destroy time, not create it. Despite all of the advancements in technology, the ratio of properties to property manager hasn’t changed or improved for most. The Executive Property Manager knows that tech must have a deliberate reason for adoption and the benefit to revenue, time or brand must outweigh the cost and implementation burden that attaches to all new and shiny things.

Leading is a different skill to understanding how to manage. Leading is about raising self-development and self-management to a level where others naturally follow and where you are in a position to share your knowledge and serve. Whether that is your team, your clients or your community, leadership is the organic process of the Executive Property Manager using their experience and knowledge to add value to those around them.

The best sales agents understand the power of personal branding, specifically the trust and credibility it can build through awareness and consistency.

Whether property managers know it or not, and whether they like it or not, they are also selling.

Selling the dream of financial freedom through property investment. Selling the benefits of completing repairs and maintenance on their asset. Selling a rent increase to tenants in a bear market. All of this ‘selling’ is executed when there is an awareness and trust around the advice and recommendations of a professional. The Executive Property Manager has a personal brand and a profile that investors can depend upon.

The Executive Property Manager knows the difference between good business and bad business. In offering a high-value service to clients, they understand that a compromise on standards of the properties or clients they work for will compromise the service that they can deliver across the board. If one property (or property owner) cannibalises the time of the Executive Property Manager, it comes at a cost – the cost being the opportunity for other clients to access their service or time. Firm standards and expectations of clients and their properties create good relationships and a calm portfolio.

As we automate and offshore, being ‘effective’ is no longer the threshold for customer service. Customers expect the mechanics of asset management to be performed with due care and skill. Indeed, the professional fees paid by landlords require this to be of a standard higher than mere competence. For customer advocacy, referrals and growth, the Executive Property Manager creates after-sales service that is exceptional. An owner cares nothing for the demands of the portfolio; they care about their problems and their hopes and dreams for the eventual liquidation of the asset. Communication with a care factor is essential; but to go above and beyond there must be a wow factor. That could be flowers and gifts, but it could also be the gift of time and attention. To deliver proactive, researched, detailed and sound advice about their long-term investment strategy and options… wow!

For a lot of talented people, the option of being a career property manager or a career BDM is not available because of the remuneration. Ambitious property managers often ‘upcycle’ to sales, where they are rewarded financially for their product knowledge – because there isn’t currently much of a paycheck in passion when your passion is property management.

The Executive Property Manager could be set to change all of that. It’s a new world.

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Sarah Bell

With a background in research and investigations, Sarah Bell married into the real estate industry in 2009 and has found a passion for both the business and its people.