EPMEPM: Customer Service

The Relationships That define A Property Manager

As we countdown to the commencement of the new tenancy legislation, never before have the relationships of a Property Manager been as important or ’key’ to their success as now. Terry Christianos discusses why.

As property managers and professionals, we represent 4 distinct groups of people – Landlord, Tenant, Principal/Business Owner and other Third Parties that are essential to our job. Our relationships with each of these groups drive our daily productivity levels. We take instructions, give advice or opinion, record & register almost each conversation and maintenance request and constantly follow up on outstanding matters, all while simultaneously having time away from the office showing properties and conducting inspections…Can you think of another service industry that is so reliant upon all these different relationships working for them in order to successfully provide a long term professional service?

How can we make these relationships work better for us?
Landlord relationships are the simplest and easiest to maintain. In basic terms – know your stuff and do the right thing and you should have nothing to worry about. In essence these words are easily typed, but when you think about it, if you are knowledgeable, you are more confident, and this is really all that your owner wants to hear on the other end of the phone….the confidence in your voice when you explain legislation and make relevant suggestions concerning their property. Never underestimate the importance of this relationship. It will forgive you should you not call back when you said you would and will be the source of many referrals for new business.
Tenant relationships on the other hand, have the tendency to go astray. This can be easily avoided by ensuring that you start out on the right foot. Just as a good office will put a new recruit through an orientation program, you should also be doing this with all new tenants. If you don’t educate your tenants from the very minute they step into/call your office about a property for rent, then you may have a harder time with them further into their tenancy. Orientation of your tenants could include things such as confirmation letters, lease appointment guidelines and tenant information packs, all of which are introduced before the tenants are even given keys to the property.

Your relationship with the Principal needs to be based on respect. This however is a two way street. Just as many Property Manager’s think their boss is only concerned about the dollars they are producing, likewise it is often the case with the boss thinking the Property Manager is only in it for the dollars. Moving beyond this and finding common interests will strengthen your relationship and make it easier to then suggest new ideas, request additional training, plan for future growth of the department and how the Property Manager’s job will then progress, etc… After all, once you have displayed your ability to grow your portfolio both in numbers and knowledge base, this will present you in a better light with the Principal and allow your relationship to advance along an easier path.

Many Principals are not aware of the sheer amount of time you spend with third parties trying to get your tasks completed. Educating the Principal about what makes up your day is a really good starting point if you think you may need to improve your relationship with her/him.

This leaves your relationships with other third parties that directly affect your output. These can be made up of tradespeople, insurance agents and service providers both private and government, to name just a few. Having a trustworthy, organised and reliable tradesperson will make a world of difference to your day. If you don’t have one, do yourself a favour and spend some quality time trying to find one that will give your office priority in return for the majority of your Repair & Maintenance work. After all, Repairs & Maintenance makes up at least 25% of your workload… something that occupies ¼ of your day or week needs to be given a fair amount of importance. Spending that extra time now to engage someone that can complete your tasks within a few days of receiving a work order means that not only will you have happy tenants and fewer complaints later on, but you will also have happy owners. This will have a positive effect on your weekly work schedule and will also keep your owners happy knowing that their invoices are at a fair cost for the work undertaken.

There aren’t many other third party relationships that you can have a direct influence over, so getting the tradespeople right and keeping this bond strong is so very important. Don’t forget them at celebration time or if your office has a client information evening or even your end of year Party….it makes them feel appreciated which will have a domino effect and in turn will make your job easier, all for the small cost of an extra seat at the table.

A Property Manager’s job is the most important one in any real estate office. You hold the key to future listings through the delivery of a long term service. Your relationships need to keep getting stronger with your landlords for this purpose, as well as with your tenants who can potentially become your landlords down the track. Add into this equation, tradespeople that get most of your work hence you will always be a talking point in their circle of friends and you potentially hold the key to many, many opportunities amongst these different parties that you represent. Get the relationships right, work on them and dedicate time and a little money to them and you will find that your job will only get easier and more rewarding.

Terry Christianos is a licensed REA and Certified Trainer, consulting in Residential Property Management. With 18 years in Property Management and after selling her rent roll in 2009, Terry is now educating, improving and growing Property Management Businesses. 

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