EPMEPM: HR and Recruitment

How to overcome wage woes in the modern agency

When the market slows, many have found that without cash to fuel the business it is impossible to invest more to grow. But embracing change in the way property is managed can improve the bottom line, as Mark Engelmann explains.

What is stopping your agency from achieving growth, and not just surviving but thriving in the current market? Most people would say it’s cash.

Whether it’s growing your people through training and development, growing your market though lead generation and business development, or growing up operationally by investing in new technology, it all takes time and costs money. So the spotlight often returns to expenses; specifically, a review of ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ costs.

One of the biggest costs is no doubt going to be labour.

The cost of labour is a killer, but property management staff are essential – and they can only manage around 100 properties each, right? Even if they could take on a few more, that only alleviates things for a little while until you have to hire more staff to manage the growth. We’ve heard this scenario time and time again.

There are four levers you can use to manage your labour costs:

  1. Staff hourly rate
  2. Employee benefits
  3. Staff productivity
  4. Process efficiency

John Knight, Managing Director at businessDEPOT, says it is not uncommon for cost of labour in the PM business to sit around 50 per cent; however, the best agencies are operating at around 37 per cent.  At Beepo we have customers who, through the use of outsourcing and cloud software, are achieving results of 25 per cent.

If you haven’t moved to the cloud yet, investigate your options and put the wheels in motion now.

It all comes down to how many properties each property manager can service. Everyone has a different opinion on this, but generally it seems most people would agree that it sits around 100 properties per full-time property manager. But, with the right support, they can manage two or even three times this figure.

We have many successful agencies using outsourcing as a lever to free up cash in their business to invest and grow. As I mentioned, one of our agencies is operating a cost of labour at 25 per cent and their property managers are managing 250 properties each, with a fast-growing rent roll.

How have they done that? Three broad activities have been brought together in an efficient manner to achieve this result.

Outsourcing offshore

By supplementing your existing team with offshore resources, you can create an environment that allows your local team to stop the process-driven work and focus on what is important to the business, such as business development and investor wealth creation.

The obvious benefit of running at a lower cost of labour is a glowing bottom line – but that’s the short game.

Outsourcing locally

Outsourcing inspections has its pros and cons; although it is a simple process, it is also incredibly time-consuming. How much time does your team spend on inspections? Someone has to complete and issue the entry notice, drive to the location, spend enough time at the property to complete a thorough inspection, write the report and send it to the landlord. Your property managers do not need to do this; hand it off to a specialist organisation to look after it for them.

Cloud technology

Automation and artificial intelligence are no longer science fiction. Technology has come a long way; if you haven’t moved to the cloud yet, investigate your options and put the wheels in motion now. New software platforms have varying degrees of automation and or artificial intelligence built into them (or can be easily integrated), freeing up your team’s time to focus on the high-value tasks.

The obvious benefit of running at a lower cost of labour is a glowing bottom line – but that’s the short game. The industry is becoming more and more competitive. New players, new business models and new technology are creating the perfect environment for customers and a very competitive environment for business owners. The key for survival is remaining relevant and enhancing your value.

Show More

Mark Engelmann

Mark Engelmann is co-founder and Chief of Content at Beepo. He has helped hundreds of companies successfully imple-ment an outsourcing strategy in their business.