Elite AgentOPINION

Is there a better approach to property management?

As the mediator between the needs of a landlord and those of the tenant, property management has never been real estate’s easiest gig.

It can be thankless, exhausting and sometimes lacks the leadership support that’s devoted to real estate’s brighter and shinier sector of sales.

As a property manager of 16 years, I know personally how tough it can be. And, as we’re all well aware, the last couple of years have exacerbated the challenges many PMs face.  

But rather than spending time on anecdotal evidence, perhaps the current figures speak for themselves.

A quick search of job portal Seek reveals there are 2832 property manager roles within the real estate industry currently available.

Widen that search term to just ‘property manager’ and the figure balloons to just shy of 5000.

We also know there’s been a mass exodus of PMs from the industry as part of Australia’s great resignation and due to more industry-specific issues such as burnout and stress, with the tenure of a PM now averaging just nine months.

We could devote a whole lot of column space to analysing what’s gone wrong, but instead perhaps it’s time to pose the question, is there a better way?

As Head of Customer Advocacy at :Different, I believe there is, and it’s something we’ve been working on extensively over recent months.

:Different for Agencies

Earlier this year, :Different launched an all-in-one property management solution for agencies. Known as :Different for Agencies, its aim is to offer property management as-a-service, while relieving the pressure on PMs.

It allows an agency to retain ownership of its rent roll, and focus on growing it, rather than navigating the traditional challenges associated with running a property management department day-to-day.

As part of this service, :Different has built a team of highly experienced property managers who are empowered to be the heroes of customer service.

They are offered flexible working conditions, are fully supported with cutting edge technology and have dedicated experts in all arenas of property management assisting them behind the scenes.

The idea of a Property Partner

Known as Property Partners, the property managers at :Different are empowered to solve the pain points that landlords and tenants experience when it comes to a rental property.

This model is quite different to a traditional property management department. Property Partners work in pods and are further supported by a senior team and experts in specific areas.

Behind the scenes there is a financial team, an inspection team, a maintenance team, and trust accounting specialists, each focused on the various aspects of property management.

For :Different’s Property Partners, it means they get to deliver excellent customer service and build real relationships with owners and tenants, rather than juggling the multitasking that is a driving factor of stress in the industry.

Support when needed

Key to the success of this model is the support that’s ingrained into :Different’s model. Every Property Partner and every expert has years of experience in the industry.

No matter what the query or the issue, there’s a brainstrust available to provide an answer and a solution.

Not only does this allow for great customer service, it also gives the Property Partner the security that they’re part of a wider team dedicated to finding great solutions for their clients.

If we’re honest, a lack of perceived support is often one of the biggest bugbears property managers have within the traditional model.

Although it’s not always the case, a traditional property management department can feel like an after-thought, with the agency leader often more focused on and experienced in sales.

But when you’re supported by a team intent on finding solutions, that is dedicated to efficiently and effectively managing a rent roll, that’s when property management becomes an empowering experience with real job satisfaction.

Empowered by tech

:Different came to fame as a tech co, and the company is proud of the tech stack that helps us deliver exceptional results.

But its value isn’t just in customer-facing solutions. Behind the scenes, this tech enables the Property Partners to access in-depth insight into every property that they manage, and every contact with a client that they have.

It offers full transparency and an ongoing record of exactly what’s happening, what conversations have occurred, and what action or steps need to be taken.

For the Property Partner, it ensures they’re on the front foot at all times, offering proactive rather than reactive customer service that’s designed to delight, not just tick off a box on a never-ending to-do list.

Great culture at its core

In addition to the peer support and the technology that :Different has at its fingertips, culture is also key to the business.

Long before Covid made flexible working a mainstay, a balance between working in the office and working from home was something available and encouraged for the :Different team.

Couple this with the fact Property Partners are empowered and seen as heroes, and it’s a winning combination.

It’s genuinely a place where people enjoy working, and as a result, they report incredible satisfaction in their role.

Now available to agencies

Over the coming months :Different’s Property Partners team will continue its expansion as the group rolls out its dedicated service for agencies.

In the process, :Different for Agencies will allow agency leaders to concentrate on growing their sales business and their rent roll, but eliminate the complexity of managing a property management department on a day-to-day basis.

It also means property managers currently working at these agencies will have access to the :Different for Agencies solution and the support that comes with it.

In time, their role would morph into what :Different defines as a Property Partner working hand-in-hand with the tech.  

And here a couple of factors come into play. The technology :Different has built and constantly revises allows for ultimate property management efficiency.

But no PM department runs on technology alone. There has to be the human touch, and that’s what the Property Partners model provides.

Experienced, well-supported and experts in their field, :Different’s Property Partners are considered the heroes of property management.

They’re empowered to step in during those critical moments of truth and build the great relationships that underpin an efficient and profitable rent roll.

Along the way, they get to enjoy true job satisfaction, in the knowledge they are forging relationships, building an agency’s business, and delivering the best rental service possible.

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.