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Kylie Walker: the art of negotiation in property management

If you are a parent, then there is every chance you have well and truly mastered the art of negotiation.

Trying to get your toddler to avoid a massive tantrum in the supermarket because they desperately want one of the carefully placed chocolates or toys at the checkout.

You know the ones placed strategically just at their eye level. You didn’t notice them before you had kids, but now stopping that meltdown requires a superhuman negotiation effort.

Fast forward a few years and try to negotiate your teenager out of going to a party they are hell-bent on attending because everyone else is going!

Again, herculean negotiation skills are required.

You can probably stop reading this right now if you’ve negotiated your way out of these situations, but only if you’ve managed to retain your sanity and the kids have survived too.

Negotiation is an essential skill in life and in the property management industry yet, no one takes the time to educate or teach it.

On the other hand, if you work in sales it is full of coaches and guides on how to negotiate a sale price to get a contract over the line.

In property management, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that your negotiation skills are required almost on a daily basis. So, let’s break down the art of negotiation in property management.

The three main areas of property management negotiation

1. Management fees

The new landlord conversation rarely gets finished without a discussion around the management fees or a discount in fees.

Everyone wants a deal, a bargain, but more importantly, they want a degree of negotiation.

If you stand hard and fast by your fees and won’t budge, I totally respect that and good on you. If on the other hand, you are open to some form of negation there is an art to it.

2. Conflict and disputes

There will rarely be a day that goes by that you won’t be required to use your negotiation mastery to resolve a conflict or ongoing dispute.

Conflict and disputes are two of the biggest stresses property managers deal with, yet very few receive training on how to deal with them. Negotiation is key. 

3. Promotion

Negotiating your way to a pay rise or promotion is a skill everyone should learn, not just property managers.

It is something we should teach our kids before they enter the workforce.

This is a life skill that we either need to master or be content with never moving ahead and always being too afraid to ask for what we desire and deserve.

So, now let’s dive into how you go about honing in those all-important negotiation skills.

How do you negotiate your management fees so that you don’t lose the management or end up agreeing to fees that are way too low and you’re not actually making any money?

How do you resolve your conflicts and disputes without sleepless nights, crippling anxiety and unresolved stress?

And how do you talk to your boss about being paid what you deserve despite what others in the industry are doing?  

The top negotiation skills you need

Become a good communicator

To achieve your ideal outcome, it’s essential to clearly communicate what you’re hoping to walk away with and where your boundaries lie.

You also have to be brave enough to step into the negotiation, and not shy away from it because of your fear of confrontation or offending anyone.

Learning how to clearly articulate what you want and what you are willing to give and take on will make the negotiation far more effective and avoid any confrontation.

Being a good communicator also means listening more and asking the right questions at the right time in the negotiation.

Understand emotional intelligence

Emotions play a role in negotiation, for better or worse. Understanding your own emotions and being able to understand others is essential.

Without a high degree of emotional intelligence you won’t be able to read other parties’ emotions.

When you can read other people effectively this will enable you to more easily pick up on what they’re implying rather than explicitly stating.

In addition to understanding what you and others are experiencing throughout a negotiation, emotional intelligence can help you advantageously manage and use emotions.

Planning is key

Planning ahead with a clear idea of what you hope to achieve and where your boundaries lie is an essential step in any negotiation.

Without adequate preparation, it’s possible to overlook the important terms of your deal.

This is especially crucial when it comes to conflict and disputes.

Make sure you know your legislation and what it says about the situation.

Do you have all your evidence together and have you prepared what you are going to say?

Have you made a stance or a decision on the conflict? Pre-plan this and the negotiation will fare so much better.

This also goes for fee negotiations, go in with a plan on what you are willing to negotiate on and what you want. At the end of the day, you’ve got to have a bottom line.

Add value

Creating value in a negotiation is one of the most powerful skills you can add to your tool kit.

When entering into a negotiation, each person wants a larger slice of the negotiation pie, but experts suggest shifting your goals from growing your slice to growing the whole pie.

The benefits are twofold: first, each party can realise greater value; second, a sense of rapport and trust is established, which can benefit future discussions.

Can you offer free additional services included in the fees, can you negotiate a payment plan in a conflict situation, wherever there is an opportunity to add value in a negotiation use it.

Also, remind people of the value they’ll be missing out on by not working with you or giving you that promotion.

Create a win-win situation

A bit of give and take goes a long way in a negotiation.

As we just discussed, everyone wants to walk away with the biggest slice of pie, but the goal should always be to create a win-win situation.

Can you get your landlord and tenants to meet in the middle of a dispute?

In a promotion or pay rise conversation, can you take on additional responsibilities in order to warrant your promotion or pay rise?

Whatever it takes try to get to that mutually beneficial place.

Negotiation should be one of the most important skills a property manager possesses, importantly though make it a life superpower as well.

Being a good negotiator will also come in handy when you buy your next car or house, have kids, or travel to Bali.

So, if you are struggling in this department, it is time to brush up on your negotiation skills, and if you’d like a couple of kids to sharpen them up on, I’ve got a few to spare…I could use a hand to be completely honest.

Negotiating with teenagers is like a hostage negotiation on steroids. It is exhausting, emotionally challenging, and frustrating, but I’ll save that rant for a different column.

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Kylie Walker

Kylie Walker aka The Property Mum teaches business owners, property managers, BDM’s and working mums the action steps for starting, growing and scaling profitable property management businesses. She is also a working mother, Journalist, Podcaster and Author.


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