Real estate may seem a world away from amateur theatre, but not for Maria Page, Director of Property Management at Barry Plant Mitchell Sunbury. Here she explains to Elite PM how the confidence she gained during her time on stage stands her in good stead as a property manager.
After 15 years as a property manager, Maria has certainly seen it all – and one thing she knows for sure is how important it is to have a thick skin.
“I’m a classically trained singer and have been involved in a local amateur theatre company for more than 30 years,” Maria explains.
“In the theatre, you put yourself out there. You need to have a certain type of confidence, because with every performance you’re opening yourself up. Yes, there are the accolades. But there’s also the chance you’ll cop some criticism.”
We stuck with portfolio management for quite a long time, but it got to a point where it just wasn’t working. It was far too time consuming for one person to completely manage their own portfolio.
“Property management, in many ways, is not so different. You need the confidence to deliver a message – a performance – to your clients. And you need to be prepared in case some criticism comes your way,” says Maria.
“What we do can be quite confrontational. There’s often a lot of emotion involved. You definitely need to have the right temperament!”
Maria made the move to property management after spending the early part of her career working in banking and finance.
“Even though I come from a family of real estate agents, it wasn’t what I saw myself doing – at least not initially,” she says.
“When I left school, I felt I needed to get out, see the world and try a few things. I needed some life experience. To be a great property manager you really do need to have a decent amount of life experience behind you.”
“But there came a time when I was ready to make the leap. My second child had just started school when Simon Best, the Director here at Barry Plant Mitchell Shire, offered me a job.”
“That was in 2002 – and I haven’t looked back. It’s a great job and every day is different.”
Heading up a team of six, Maria has structured her department in a way that allows them to deliver on the Barry Plant promise to “deliver excellence together”.
“We have landlord managers and tenant managers. Because we’re spread out over three offices, we’ve found this works better for us than a traditional portfolio management model,” Maria explains.
“We stuck with portfolio management for quite a long time, but it got to a point where it just wasn’t working. It was far too time consuming for one person to completely manage their own portfolio.”
“It took me a while to create the model we now use and be sure it was going to work for us. But then we took the plunge and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. It’s far easier and more efficient for our property managers to deal with just one side of the equation. Nothing falls through the cracks. Everyone knows what they need to do.”
Property management never sleeps and Maria points to organisation as one of the key skills every property manager must master to be successful – and technology is her godsend to maintain efficiency.
“I’m a bit of an Apple girl. I have it all – an iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch, and everything syncs,” Maria says.”
“It doesn’t matter where I am – at my desk, in the car or doing an inspection – I know exactly what’s happening, where I need to be and can easily action tasks with a minimum of fuss.”
Using cloud-based software also plays an important role in keeping everything on track. A long-time user of Rockend’s REST Professional, Barry Plant Mitchell Shire made the move to PropertyTree in May 2015.
“We have three offices and the team was remotely accessing the server in the main office,” Maria explains.
“It was causing us problems. There were certain times of the day when access was far too slow and it was having a definite impact on our work.”
“We knew we needed a cloud-based solution to overcome the issue. The change to PropertyTree has made such a difference. It’s given us so much more flexibility. We don’t need to be in the office to get things done.”
“We can all be out and about, and still access the data we need to do our job. All we need to do is pick up our iPad or iPhone and everything is at our fingertips. It’s made things much more efficient.”
Maria points to PropertyTree’s Landlord and Tenant Portal as one of the features the team has found most beneficial.
“The fact that our clients can access the information they need 24 hours a day is fantastic,” she says.
“Sometimes our clients aren’t able to contact us during working hours. Now with PropertyTree, they can simply log into the portal and find the information they need.”
“We even use access to the portal as a selling point when we meet with prospective landlords.”
GEARED FOR GROWTH
So what’s on the horizon for Maria in the next 12 months? Growth.
“We’re in an area where there’s quite a lot of competition and more than just standing our ground, we want to grow our business,” she says.
“I’m responsible for bringing in new business and I have my finger on the pulse at all times. I know everything that comes in and goes out of this department. I always know what’s going on with every client’s property, so they can rest easy that everything is taken care of. I’m confident we can provide the best level of service to our clients.”