IN AN INDUSTRY WHERE TECHNOLOGY IS NECESSARY for productivity, Michelle Delaney argues that what really makes the difference in property management is people.
The concept of a ‘landlord’ can be traced back to the Roman Empire. Back then, peasants were bound to the land, dependent on their landlords for protection and the provision of justice. As time has passed, the basic concept of the landlord providing a person with shelter still exists; but today it’s overlaid by influences from courts, legislation and the general evolution of what we now know as property management. Advances in business, education and technology have shaped the industry we’re in today.
But let me ask you this question: is it the industry that’s different, or are we different?
I have a firm belief that property management is all about relationships. The product we deal in is bricks and mortar, it’s true. But without the landlords who own the properties and the tenants who live in them, a property management business cannot exist. So given this, why do most property management businesses focus solely on the product and not the people?
In an industry that ultimately hinges on client interaction, communication and customer service, we seem to get caught up in the transaction rather than focusing our attention on fostering solid relationships. I often hear the saying ‘clients for life’ being thrown around, but do we as an industry really believe this is possible? If we do, then clearly our industry has to be about people.
Furthering this concept, it’s critical business owners and leaders ensure they have the right people inside their business. All staff must know and understand the true nature of the client relationship and do what’s necessary to foster it, rather than just thinking about the product. As an industry we struggle in the recruitment sphere, essentially stemming from the fact that property management is not seen as a real profession but rather just a rent collection and maintenance service. As leaders in the industry, we must ensure we have a stronger focus on learning and development, offering career paths to people, understanding the true meaning of leadership inside real estate businesses and knowing what our industry is really about.
The technology space has also had a significant impact on our industry over time, with more platforms released into our markets; but a question here is ‘Does the industry truly understand the power of technology or just rely on it as a tool that collects, transfers, records and houses data?’ We must understand technology will only perform to its full capacity when we have a solid understanding of its use and its potential in the hands of trained staff.
The industry is already moving towards providing a complete suite of investment services, delivering a broader range of knowledge and client services to the marketplace. When our people understand the needs of both tenant and landlord and are able to satisfy them effectively, the concept of clients for life becomes not only a possibility, but an achievable reality.