EPMEPM: BD & Growth

Natalie Hastings: Should They Stay, Or Should They Go?

It’s in a property manager’s DNA to find solutions that turn disgruntled clients into raving fans. But if you’re spending hours each week devoted to a problematic landlord, it’s time to consider freeing up your time to win better business. Natalie Hastings explains.

Property management is a people business, best suited to those natural problem-solvers with a positive disposition and a flair for collaboration. But what happens when you do your very best time and again, yet find your days disturbed by an aggressive landlord who is impossible to please?

Many principals are loathe to ‘sack’ a landlord – even if their behaviour is atrocious and damaging to team culture. Work through the checklist below to establish whether a landlord should stay or go.

THE 80/20 RULE
A business adage that rings true regardless of your industry is that 80 per cent of revenues are generated by 20 per cent of customers. Equally, 80 per cent of complaints come from 20 per cent of our customers. And we’re not immune from service issues as real estate professionals either; 80 per cent of quality issues occur within 20 per cent of our service offerings.

With the 80/20 rule in mind, think about the landlord you want to move on to greener pastures. Is their behaviour unusually needy and demanding? If they’re part of a high-needs demographic of your rent roll – and you’re providing them with even more tailored service than the 80 per cent of uncomplaining landlords and tenants – they may not be a good fit for your practice.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing client dissatisfaction across more than 20 per cent of your rent roll, other quality issues may need to be addressed within your property management department. The 80/20 rule is a clever diagnostic tool which can help you make swift, frank decisions about clients.

Another consideration before moving a landlord on are fees; are they paying rock-bottom management and letting fees? If so, reflect on how this occurred. Were they bringing a sizable portfolio to the business, or one property that has proved a weekly blight on your schedule? If you’re not being paid top dollar for your top-quality service, move them on.

Some landlords are worth the extra effort and attention if they are a regular source of new business and referral for your agency. In other words, their goodwill and kind words about your service outweigh the additional hours on the phone troubleshooting.

However, if they’ve never referred you a prospect, are rude to you on the phone and treat you like a second-class citizen, they’ve really got to go!

Does this troublesome landlord have you running around in circles getting umpteen quotes to fix a dishwasher simply because they can? Before letting a landlord go, consider the quality of your communications with them, and their respect for your advice.

Do they deal with maintenance matters and tenant requests in a timely and fair manner? If they’re a highly responsive client who is simply an inexperienced or anxious landlord, you may need to support them with additional attention while they get ‘into the groove’.

If they refuse to undertake maintenance, have unreasonable expectations around ‘wear and tear’ and are always griping to access their investment property, they are probably more effort than they’re a return on investment.

Consider too the distance of the property they’re leasing with your business – is it a serious trip away, or just around the corner? If the property is inconveniently located (and you’re part of a franchise network) perhaps you could ‘trade’ the landlord to another office location.

Should they stay, or should they go? The bottom line when considering moving a landlord on must be ‘Are they profitable?’. When you apply the 80/20 rule and account for time spent on your challenging client versus income received for your efforts, the answer will be clear.

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Natalie Hastings

Natalie Hastings is the Managing Director of Hastings + Co. For more information, visit hastingsandco.com.au.