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Hayley Baxter: The traits of top property management teams

Hayley Baxter recently interviewed a panel of successful property management professionals about how they’re managing their teams amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is what she learned.

The most successful teams (you guessed it) actually work as a team

Competitive cultures can work for some professions, but property management is not one of them.

Possibly the most important aspect of customer experience from a landlord’s perspective is the feeling that their investment is in good hands, and that everyone in the team knows what’s going on.

If property managers are not across each other’s portfolios, and this becomes obvious to the landlord, the whole agency looks disorganised.

It can be hugely harmful to your reputation.

What successful teams are doing

At Ray White Hamilton in New Zealand, the property management teams are organised into overlapping buddy teams, so that everyone in the team has some visibility over each other’s portfolio.

When someone takes annual or sick leave or needs a hand, that secondary person can step in and take over seamlessly.

At Radi Estates in Perth, the key to successful teamwork is a combination of being good at gathering information and creating context around that information.

In other words, they make a point of writing file notes, references, and documenting as much information as possible, so that when someone else needs to come in and help, they get a much more comprehensive picture of what’s happening.

In terms of gathering information, the most crucial activity is picking up the phone.

When assessing tenancy applications, gathering feedback about owners or when being briefed on maintenance jobs— wherever possible, call someone rather than relying on email or text.

You’ll get more context, more meaningful information, and you’ll get it faster too.

The most successful teams take responsibility for their actions and are always trying to improve

Do you know what stops more people from reaching their potential than any other behaviour?

Blaming others when something goes wrong.

Learning to be accountable for your actions, even when it makes you uncomfortable, and reflecting on how you can grow from an experience, can make all the difference in your professional and personal growth.

What successful teams are doing

At Harcourts Pinnacle North Brisbane, there’s a culture of daily reflection that focuses on what is and is not working, with a view to actively building new tools for the ideal property management toolkit.

This focus on continuous improvement can only be achieved by being honest with yourself and the rest of your team about what’s going well, and what’s not.

At Ray White Hamilton, the focus is on the kind of accountability that mothers would be proud of.

That is, ‘never do anything you couldn’t tell your mother about,’ and a similar, related axiom, which is to ‘treat people how you would like your mother to be treated’.

These twin beliefs centre the team’s actions and drive their behaviour.

The result? The team’s portfolio continues to grow organically, their reputation is good and landlord churn is virtually non-existent.

The most successful teams have optimised their processes as much as possible, and make sure they stick to them consistently

This seems like a really obvious one, but it’s also one people struggle to find time to do.

If you’re stuck in triage day in and day out, how do you find the time to optimise a process?

What successful teams are doing

The team at PRDNationwide Toowoomba decided to lean into optimising and automating as much of the process as possible when they moved to Console Cloud.

As senior property manager Mitch Betheras tells, “It was a matter of getting everything down to one touch per job’.

“We all talk about handling a piece of paper or a process only once, but I thought we could do better, and so we did.

“We set up our SMS and email templates; we streamlined our processes.

“It’s had the knock-on effect of making our processes not only easier and faster to manage from a property manager’s perspective, but just speedier overall.

“We can have a prospective tenant apply for a property in the afternoon, and have it ready to go the following morning.”

At Radi Estates in Perth, it’s a similar story.

One exercise that agency principal Tamara Radi tried recently with her team was to examine how each property manager handled a given process.

Despite being a high-performing agency with almost no landlord churn, it transpired that almost everyone had a slightly different way of doing things.

Nailing that process down for everyone is what makes that experience seamless.

And that’s the kind of behaviour that engenders trust and confidence.

Successful teams all win on one metric above all else: Landlord LTV (Lifetime value)

Enough speculation about how many properties a property manager can manage.

It’s not a good measure of success—it’s a measure of productivity vs processes.

If your processes aren’t optimised, a big portfolio load per PM means either your property managers are killing themselves to get their work done, or your clients are receiving substandard service.

What’s a better metric of property management performance?

Landlord lifetime value.

How much each landlord is worth to your business each month is multiplied by how long they stay, and how hard or not you have to fight to keep them.

Property management, like software companies, depends on monthly recurring revenue for the bulk of its income. And the golden metric in software companies has been (for some time now) customer lifetime value.

Surprise! Successful property management teams have the same idea.

Part of growing your landlords’ LTVs means measuring how they’re feeling.

Landlord sentiment is your biggest leading indicator of churn or growth.

Being able to address concerns earlier on with landlords, before they leave, has a huge impact on an agency’s bottom line long-term.

This typically means sticking to a routine of net promoter scoring (NPS) among landlords.

Console Cloud clients I’ve interviewed typically use its Yardstick feature to measure how happy or not landlords are every three to six months.

Yardstick ties those promoter scores directly to the owner in the software, so everyone can see exactly how likely they are out of 10 to recommend your business in the system.

But NPS aside, what I’ve seen highperforming teams focus on as a measure of success—above all else—is simply how long landlords stay with the agency.

All four agencies have a track record of continuous organic portfolio growth without ever buying a rent roll, and almost no preventable churn of owners from their books.

You do the math. 

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