EPMEPM: First Person

Getting Mobile: Work is Something You Do, Not Somewhere You Go

Recent years have seen the rise of the ‘new-age property management client’ who has access to information at the click of a button. To withstand this client’s rigorous expectations of property managers, Jess Kindt explains that luring in top talent with flexible working arrangements is the way to go.

Haven’t we seen a dramatic shift in property management over the last decade? Business hours have held little reference or relevance since the introduction of mobile phones, providing clients with the ability to contact you at any time from anywhere, which opens the opportunity for flexible working.

Since the birth of mobile devices, the internet and, more recently, cloud-based trust accounting software and property management inspection apps, property managers and leasing teams now have the ability to run their tasks on the go in order to meet these increased communication expectations.

We are seeing fewer clients face to face, with most conversations occurring over the phone or via email or text message. We also know that tenants are most likely to visit an online real estate search portal as a first point of call when finding suitable rental accommodation, rather than physically walking from agency to agency collecting rental lists. Our business is becoming almost completely web and phone based.

As our industry is being revolutionised by our ability to run our property management businesses from anywhere, this has created some fantastic opportunities for real estate offices to recruit truly amazing staff.

STAFF ARE SEARCHING FOR FLEXIBILITY

Just over 12 months ago, my agency hired a property manager to manage a portfolio of about 145 properties. I knew her well as I was a previous client of hers and we remained in contact over the years. I was desperate to get her on board with us. She carried over seven years’ property management experience and is one of the loveliest, most professional property managers I have come across in my career.

After many years of approaching her, begging her to work for me, she finally jumped on board with our agency. Not because we offered her more money. Not because we, in her opinion, would offer her a better work environment. There was really only one reason that drove her to leave her old agency behind and start anew with us: flexibility.

After working for another company for the past six years, she had recently returned from a short period of maternity leave. She was working three days a week in the office and two days per week at home managing a large portfolio. Unfortunately, her business now wanted her to go back to working fulltime in the office, five days a week, but due to ridiculously high day-care fees, she was unable to commit to this arrangement.

BE RIGID AT YOUR OWN PERIL

By refusing to continue the flexible working agreement, they lost one of the most loyal, committed and hard-working property managers in the industry. We snatched her up instantly on the provision she would work one day every week at home, as per her request – and that we would ensure she was completely set up with the IT capabilities to allow her to do this.

We had not offered this kind of arrangement to a property manager before, but we all agreed that there was little reason why it wouldn’t work, based on the cloud-based solutions we have here at Place. We set a strict structure and made clear our expectations around this arrangement; as a result, we conduct regular portfolio audits and have set precise key performance indicators to ensure we can monitor from afar.

Twelve months on after joining our agency, our mobile property manager has received numerous property management awards and, until very recently, was managing close to 200 properties without assistance whilst continuing to reach full KPIs at the end of each month. Amazing! We are yet to receive one single complaint from any client since her commencement and her portfolio continues to remain in outstanding condition. She also absolutely loves working for us.

As a mother of two boys myself, I know that flexibility overrules any other factor when choosing employment. Through my network stretching over 13 years, I know that there are hundreds of property managers, business development managers and leasing consultants who have the experience, the drive, the mentality, the work ethic and the professionalism to make any business successful. However, due to their inability to commit to nine-to-five office hours, they may miss an employment opportunity.

We need to keep open minds in our industry and realise that arranging flexible working conditions is not the future – it’s the now. Don’t miss your opportunity to snatch up your next most valuable employee; recognise talent and keep it flexible.

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