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Is Your Office an “Employer of Choice”

Having just celebrated their ninth birthday, Melissa Karatjas of Real Estate Career Developers explains that although there have been many changes in the industry, one thing has remained the same: Recruitment and Retention still remains one of the greatest challenges faced by real estate businesses.

Having just celebrated their ninth birthday, Melissa Karatjas of Real Estate Career Developers explains that although there have been many changes in the industry, one thing has remained the same: recruitment and retention still remains one of the greatest challenges faced by real estate businesses.

Having traditionally played second fiddle to sales, property management is now well and truly in the spotlight as businesses place increased emphasis on it as a reliable source of income during the sales downturn. Consequently, businesses are looking to attract the very best talent to ensure their rent rolls continue to thrive.

Real Estate is a transient industry for staff, and the cost on business continues to increase.Finding the right talent, to match a strategically created structure and a strong foundation on which to maintain your business is vital.  

With unemployment at historically low levels, businesses need to adjust their recruitment strategies to ensure they secure the best property management staff for their business.

Appoint a professional
Businesses need to assess the opportunity cost of time searching for the right candidate and place a further emphasis on the induction and training process thereafter. Not finding the right person initially can be equated to 30-50% of the individual’s salary to rehire and train.  It is common for us to have clients call after placing their own candidate only to find two months later they are just not quite the right fit.

Using a recruitment company streamlines the process and weeds out bugs you may find in sourcing staff, saving you both time and money.

Make yourself an employer of choice
In a candidate short market, it also pays to consider whether you are an employer of choice. New property management staff coming into your organisation will be evaluating you on the following criteria:

  • What remuneration structures do you offer, and are they attractive?
  • Outside of remuneration, what methods are you using to retain staff once you have successfully recruited them?
  • Do you use temporary staff, or simply overload other staff when a team member is on holidays?
  • What sort of team activities do you undertake to engage your team and boost morale?
  • What career progression opportunities exist for the candidate?

The more thoroughly you have considered these questions, the better chance you have of attracting the best new property managers to your business, and retaining them.

Revaluate your current structure and requirements
An effective recruitment strategy is not just as simple as resource replacement. Before simply re-advertising to replace a departing property manager, assess the current structure and objectives of your business. 

How has the vacancy occurred? Is the rent roll growing? Perhaps you require specialist business development staff to free up the property managers to focus on their core service. Are there staff internally you could look at re-training or up skilling? Consider adopting a structure that offers a succession plan for the new property manager. Implementing these strategies will increase your attractiveness to potential property managers and promote longevity. Examining your structure in relation to your objectives may shed new light on your requirements. 

Be willing to invest in training
Instead of limiting yourself to candidates with a certain amount of property management experience, consider the investment of training. It is a common misconception that “experience equals competence”. Often retraining staff that have adopted negligent working habits can prove more costly than the initial investment in training. If you recognise quality attributes and a great attitude in a candidate, be willing to put in the short-term effort of training. In some instances, we have been able to place candidates from other industriesand provide them with on the job trainingwith the assistance of a temporary senior property manager. In addition, be open to skilled property managers relocating from the country or interstate. Enthusiastic property managers make it their priority to get to know the area!

Advertising: consider relevant media
“seek.com.au” is still the number one resource for job seekers, but when attempting to attract talent, particularly from “gen y”,  consider not only your own website, but your company Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn profile if appropriate, to alert potential property management professionals of the job opportunity. This promotes word of mouth and increases your reach in the target market.

Prioritise the recruitment process
There is no doubt good talent is becoming harder to find, but if you are 100% committed to the recruitment process, and available to make decisions, rest assured you will still attract great talent to your business. 

With good property management candidates now lining up multiple interviews a week, or even a day, employers no longer have the luxury of taking as much time as they like with the decision making process. Those that do are seeing candidates disappear within days. Speed is now of the essence! Interview today, second interview within 48 hours and a job offer within the week is a good timeline to adopt to eliminate the risk of missing out on your preferred candidate. A candidate will appreciate receiving feedback in a timely manner and it will be a positive reflection on your business. 

A decision should not be rushed, but we highly recommend that when you are convinced you have the right candidate, given the current job market, move swiftly to avoid disappointment.   

Induction: ensure you have a plan
Once you have the right property manager, your next challenge is induction and consequently retention. Having a clearly defined induction strategy builds staff morale and motivation from day one.  

Firstly, some simple practices should be implemented to ensure the induction process runs smoothly. Obviously, induction must start at a basic level with an introduction to the office, the location of the kitchen, bathrooms, notice boards, stationary cupboard, car parking, and information regarding the day-to-day running of the office. This may seem like common sense, but often the simplest of things can be overlooked, and this results in an employee feeling uncomfortable from the very beginning. Simply having their computer logins, email set up and business cards ready to go goes a long way to making them feel valued. 

Provide a policies and procedures manual detailing all of the basic office protocol as well as mandatory health, safety, and legal requirements. Communicate the office structure, and provide an organisation chart if available, so that the new property manager can begin to make sense of the company structure and reporting lines. Having step by step procedures manuals, forms and letters assists the new team member with knowing what is expected of them and eliminates stress. This will also ensure a smooth transition and a consistent service for your clients. 

Schedule any required job training for the new employee early on so as they feel comfortable they will be provided with the required support. This may require a combination of both internal and external training.

Ensure you are accessible and open to questions throughout the induction process and beyond and schedule regular catch-ups to monitor the progress of your new property manager.

Lastly, organise a team lunch on the new property manager’s first day – it will give them a chance to start building relationships and is a great icebreaker!

Melissa Karatjas is the Co Director of Real Estate Career Developers, a talent consultancy and recruitment business operating in Sydney and Melbourne www.recd.com.au.

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