Nikki Taylor of Real Estate Jobs Search (REJS) looks at the different types of property management roles available today, and offers some tips on how business owners might ensure these important staff remain healthy and happy!
In almost all instances, staff members in the property management industry have a lot of contact with the client base of the business. Ensuring you can attract, hire, and retain the best staff can make all the difference between having a highly successful enterprise, and being one of the also-rans. An integral part of being able to do just that is making sure you place the right value on the roles you are looking to fill. As the saying goes, if you pay peanuts you attract monkeys, so you need to ensure you are competitive, pro-active and up-to-date when it comes to compensating the members of your property management department.
The first person that new and existing clients, potential tenants and visitors to your office will normally encounter is the receptionist. This person really does become the face, and voice, of your company. As first impressions always count in business, your receptionist must be able to reflect the attitude of the company as a whole – their personality, enthusiasm, personal presentation and professionalism will all contribute to the impression people form of your company, so it is essential to fill this role with someone who reflects the philosophy of your organisation.
Some of the core responsibilities of the receptionist role include greeting all visitors to the office, taking all enquiries, receiving calls from tenants and landlords and liaising between the two parties when necessary, or directing these calls to the appropriate person within the property management team. Additional tasks might include processing and tracking rent payments, handling lease applications, and day to day financials including payments to property owners, tradespeople and sub contractors.
The receptionist role is a great start-up position for a career in property management, many receptionists have moved into a property manager’s assistant position, or have become qualified property managers. As a property manager’s assistant the role would have more focus on things like routine inspections, generating property reports, follow-ups, hosting open-homes, interviewing prospective tenants and more.
It is important that you look out for individuals with outstanding skills, recognise their ability, and allow them the opportunity to develop their skills further. Receptionists should be given the chance to obtain relevant Real Estate qualifications, or you can look to hire people who have already obtained these credentials. As well as providing career development prospects you need to ensure you compensate these individuals appropriately. You want these people to stay with your company – you want to create and foster a sense of loyalty, and you want them to want to grow along with your organisation. Failure to remunerate them appropriately will do just the opposite.
It is a nationwide requirement in Australia that all property managers hold a current Real Estate qualification, so this is the first item you should check off on your watch list when employing new staff members.
A property manager’s role can be broken down in two different ways, and can be either portfolio based, or task based. A task-based system would suit an office dynamic where all the individual property managers hold very specific skillsets and have particular areas of expertise. In this set-up, all property managers have an interest in all properties your company looks after, but each one focuses on specific aspects of the management process.
More commonly favored by most property managers is the ‘portfolio-based’ system. A single manager is assigned a portfolio containing a certain number of properties that they are entirely responsible for, managing all aspects of those properties themselves. We have found that property managers generally prefer this system as it allows them to look after a property ‘from end-to-end’. Having this type of ownership also reduces the chances of confusion and miscommunication, as the buck stops with them.
Portfolios commonly range from about 110 properties to in excess of 200, but our own research has determined that around 120 is an ideal number for a single property manager to look after. If staff members become overworked, their concentration will lapse, their standards will slip and the quality of the service you are able to provide your clients will suffer, the consequence of which is an inevitable loss of income. Therefore, we always recommend creating portfolios that will challenge your property managers and keep them busy and interested, without overwhelming them or creating the need to ‘cut corners’ in order to finish each week’s tasks on time.
Depending on location and size of your company, the scope of their role and their relevant experience senior property managers are currently commanding between $50,000 – $70,000 p.a. It is a nationwide requirement in Australia that all property managers hold a current Real Estate qualification, so this is the first item you should check- off on your watch list when employing new staff members.
It is important to recognise standout performers. Whether one property manager has to deal with particularly challenging properties, has an above average sized portfolio, or simply performs consistently well, it is crucial that they are aware of the fact that you value their contribution and their ongoing efforts, and also that you compensate them accordingly. Everyone, at some stage in their life, has worked in a job where they were treated like the ‘dogs-body’, being made to toil away at the thankless, mundane tasks without receiving any sign of gratitude, so we can all understand how little this does for an individual’s confidence, feelings of self-worth, and desire to show up at work each day. On the flip side, staff who are rewarded for their efforts and feel appreciated will repay their employers ten-fold in the effort, enthusiasm and loyalty their bring to work each day.
For property managers who display appropriate skill and drive, business development is a task that can either be built into their existing role, or used as the incentive to create a new, specific position. The role involves sourcing new business, creating new relationships and identifying new opportunities. This is a role for a specific individual with a specific skillset. A property manager may be great at dealing with landlords, have fantastic rapport with tenants and a real eye for detail with their documentation, but if they cannot sell or lack confidence promoting your product then they will never be successful in the field of Business Development.
Having someone on board who is skilled at generating and developing new income-streams can pay huge dividends for your business, and the financial rewards for the individual should reflect this. New business, and the development of existing portfolios can be measured and monitored very easily, and opens the door for alternate remuneration options such as commissions and incentive schemes.
The success of any property management business, given the face-to-face nature of the industry, is heavily dependent on the personnel you have. If you can create a working environment that motivates and challenges your staff, and attracts the top performing professionals in each area of the industry, you are several steps closer to leading the pack and growing your business.