Laing+Simmons has appointed a Head of Property Management for the first time to lead its new in-house property management training program to build property managers’ skills and stop the ‘churn and burn’ typically associated with the industry.
Michael Anania started as Head of Property Management at the start of October but has been with Laing+Simmons for two years at The Abassi Group, and brings 15 years’ real estate experience to the head office team.
The network will also provide greater training for existing property managers, while its new in-house property management service will provide support to individual offices to run their PM departments on a short or long-term basis if required.
Mr Anania said the training program would fill a large gap in the market.
“Many property managers have left the industry in recent times but equally, many new people are making the career transition to property management too,” he said.
“Hospitality and other face-to-face customer service experts are showing increasing interest in this specialist service area.
“These people need to be supported and trained from day one so they can grow and develop to become great property managers in the future.
“This is our focus at Laing+Simmons and the training programs and initiatives we make available to the property managers across our network creates a powerful point of difference for our offices.”
Mr Anania said consultation with agency principals had revealed they wanted more property management training for existing team members as well, as often principals don’t have the time to take it onboard themselves.
He said while those moving into property management from industries such as hospitality often had great customer service instincts, dealing with landlords and tenants required specialist skills.
“We educate them on different personalities, how to profile someone, and engage with them more, rather than be on the defensive because you don’t know what to do,” Mr Anania said.
“We want everyone to be happy and it helps to retain the staff as well, because they’re getting support. We’re there to support them through whatever it is they need.”
Mr Anania said the extensive training program would cover everything in property management from A to Z, including how to read and complete a condition report, routine inspections, how to read and process applications, managing rental arrears and how to deal with the life events that can sometimes arise during a tenancy.
“With Covid, we’re coming out of a little spot where people have been going through job changes and having a little trouble paying rent, so we’re teaching them (PMs) how to have those difficult conversations and make it personable,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of commentary lately about tenants having a go at their agents because they are just trying to do their job.
“Property managers are people as well and it’s about trying to say to them (tenants) we are trying to do our best and we want to give our staff the best resources to be able to do that.”
Mr Anania said his appointment was also clear evidence of Laing+Simmons’ people-first culture that enabled team members to grow and be promoted within the company.
“It’s great to know that at Laing + Simmons we do try and promote as much as we can internally, even between offices,” he said.
“We want to keep our great staff.”
Laing+Simmons Chief Executive Officer Leanne Pilkington said Mr Anania was perfect to lead the new in-house property management service as well.
“Many networks have a Head of Property Management whose typical focus is compliance,” she said.
“At Laing+Simmons, our corporate team provides a full property management service to our offices, whether it be to facilitate short-term support until they build their own property management business, or to manage this function indefinitely.”
Ms Pilkington said the service offered flexibility that was unique in the industry.
“Effectively we’re saying, ‘If you don’t have the current resources to operate a property management function then don’t worry, we have a dedicated in-house team which can do it for you’,” she said.
“Michael is the ideal person to lead this operation at the corporate level.
“Providing a complete property management service to our franchise partners is an investment we’re able to make because as an ownership group, we’re not beholden to specific profit targets or revenue benchmarks.
“Our owners are successful business people in their own right, so when it comes to the health and growth of the network as a whole, there is a shared willingness and enthusiasm to invest more heavily in our people.”