Time is your most valuable asset, and how well you use it has a key bearing on how you perform. By analysing how you spend your time, you can begin to make changes that will ensure you get the most from your working day. Story by Amy Sanderson.
It is easy to spend too much time on routine matters, such as reading and forwarding joke emails, at the expense of high priority, productive tasks.
You might think that most of your time is spent doing useful things, but if you were to keep a detailed time log, you would probably be surprised at the number of superfluous activities.
It is easy to spend too much time on routine matters, such as reading (and forwarding) joke emails, at the expense of high priority, productive tasks. Look at how you divide your day at the moment; do you prioritise your work so that you tackle important, urgent activities first…or do you complete enjoyable, easy tasks first. Do you waste a lot of time?
The majority of your tasks can be divided into 3 groups:
1. One-off tasks, such as correspondence
2. Planning and development, such as prospecting
3. Routine tasks,e.g rental arrears, repairs, tenancy inspections
To be most effective in your job, you should be spending about 60 percent of your time on important routine tasks, 25 percent on planning and development and 15 percent on one-off tasks.
It is amazing how many businesses I see when I am consulting where the property manager has not been chasing the arrears, the tenancy inspections are not up to date and the repairs are out of control… and the property manager is stressed out!
So tell me, where does the time go?
Write down what you are doing every 15 minutes, next to it indicate:
- Was it work related?
- Was it important/priority?
- Was it dollar productive?
- Is there a more efficient way?
Reorganise your working day so that you are able to work more consistently, efficiently and achieve more. You might find that there are some activities that are taking up a lot of your time that you could be charging clients for.
Recently I met with an experienced property manager; she managed 70 properties and was stressed out, but why I asked. We went over the systems and procedures in the office – she knew what to do.
The time log told a more in depth story; this property manager had decided to ‘upgrade’ the properties she was managing. While doing her tenancy inspections, she was recommending to owners to maintain, upgrade and improve their properties, new paint, carpet, kitchens, bathrooms etc Fantastic! Higher rents, better quality properties and tenants; she was arranging quotes, meeting the tradespeople at the properties, selecting samples, liaising with the tenants and owners – backwards and forwards… renovations are very time consuming, no wonder she was falling behind in her other work… but there was a bigger problem, they were not charging for the time spent doing all this work.
This time log allowed us to see very clearly why this property manager was stressed out; she was spending too much time on something that was not dollar productive.
There were two ways to tackle this; slow down on the renovations, allowing the property manager to keep up with her other work OR start charging clients to renovate their properties. This business opted to charge clients to renovate their properties, charging a percentage of the total cost of the renovation; (anything over $1000) giving the business more revenue to cover the cost of more support to keep up with the services promised to clients.
Another common mistake property managers make is spending too much time with the wrong people. Think of ‘The 80/20 Rule’ where 80% of your time is spent with 20% of your clients.
- Who are you spending your time with?
- Is it dollar productive?
- Is there a more efficient way to communicate?
Tips for efficiency in the office:
1. Remove chairs from your desk and then only sit those you choose at your desk. Conduct ‘stand up’ meetings, allowing you to easily walk someone to the door, once you have finished the conversation.
2. Do not allow ‘blow ins’ to rule your day. Every time a ‘blow in’ arrives at reception the first question your receptionist should ask is “Do you have an appointment?” The usual response is “No. Do I need one?” An office I was working in the other day, which is located in a busy shopping centre, have now allocated ‘blow in’ time into their ideal week. Prospective tenants are given property lists then if any other questions are required or it is another type of enquiry, they are advised that they can come back to the office at specific times and the property manager will be able to assist them. Alternatively, a message can be left or an email sent.
3. Email communication is a must! Not only is it creating a soft copy paper trail for you, it allows you to be better prepared when you respond to the query. It also frees up a lot of time from reception in filtering phone calls.
4. No rental payments into the office. Every time a tenant comes in to pay the rent, not only will they have a chat to the reception staff, but they will usually bail up the property manager. It’s very time consuming, and with all the payment options that are available to us today I don’t see why this should still be occurring. Aren’t we better to get the tenants out of the office and free up our time to focus on getting the job done and delivering the service we promise?
5. Leave keys for tradespeople at reception. Have your tradespeople notify you in advance should they require the agency set of keys to access a rental property. That way you can prepare them in advance for the tradesperson and allow for a quick getaway for them. It will also ease the stress many reception staff face when the keys are not in the office and there is not a property manager in sight!
Amy Sanderson is the LJ Hooker Network Performance Manager – Property Investment Management. She has close to twenty years’ experience in the real estate industry, starting with zero properties under management to more than 500 in less than four years. She went on to manage one of the largest rent rolls in the country, overseeing a team of more than 30 people and close to 3,000 properties. She is therefore able to assist property managers and business owners right across the full spectrum of property management operations.