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Transformation – Property Management Round Table: Part 6

As a finale to Transform PM 2016 our four PM Directors were joined by Charles Tarbey, Fiona Blayney, Chris Gray, Richard Bray, Julie Davis and Neil Williams for an industry round table discussion on the future of property management and how to best serve the needs of property investors. The session was facilitated by Alister Maple-Brown of Rockend.

In this sixth video of our 8-part series, we hear from each of the four PM directors on their Transform experience, including what they have learned, what has changed, and what they will implement in their businesses moving forward.


Alister Maple-Brown: I’d like to shift over to the directors and ask each of you, where did you start and where have you ended up during this PM Transform program? Philip, let’s start with you.

Philip Bell: Where do I start?

Alister: The before and after.

Philip: Well the before…the things that have changed, I suppose, the easiest way to answer that question is [I have] put more accountability into the staff to report back. For the BD to actually report more often and more regularly and with a little bit more in-depth information than just the commission claim at the end of the month. From an ongoing point of view, I think from my point of view, I found that rather than me trying wear the director’s hat, a sales hat, and a property manager’s hat. I’ve leaned more towards property management as the most important thing. So someone said at ARPM, I think, property management should be number one. That mindset and focus on that department – I’ve seen dividends of it already in the way it’s growing and probably the things we’ve changed.

Fiona Blayney: That was a big thing for you, wasn’t it? I remember having a conversation in one of our sessions, and you’re like, “this to-do list”. It’s the little things that you forget. You know meant to do it.

Philip: But it’s not ‘a little’. It doesn’t seem a big thing, but it is.

Fiona: It’s a big thing.

Alister: Great. Adriana, what about you? The before and after story?

Adriana Dendrinos: When I came into this, I thought we were doing pretty well. [laughing]

Alister: Good place to start.

Adriana: This should be pretty easy, not easy, but it’s been quite eye-opening for us. On the short term, we’ve applied a few things straight away. So we did Keylog with our key systems, the portals, we finally unleashed them, I let go of my control on that. [laughing] So, little logistical things.

With the staff, as I said, Julie’s helped and Neil [has] helped me understand staff and where I should be deploying them better. I just realised there’s another level I need to get to, and I need to withdraw and empower my staff. They’re really good staff, and I’m just micromanaging them at my expense, and I should be doing other stuff.

Alister: What’s their reaction been?

Adriana: Some of them are scared, thinking, ‘What are you going to make me do?’ Let me rephrase that. They’re excited in any sort of change in the business. I’ve got long-term staff; I’ve got staff that have been there 5-8 years. So I’ve got them there, I just haven’t moved them in the right positions, I don’t think. I’m getting excited about this time I’m going to have to do other stuff.

Work on the business. As Tanja said, be the eagle that flies over and looks at everything as opposed to getting bogged down. If you can get someone to do it 95% how you want it done, that extra time you get for yourself, it’s worth it. To go and get these opportunities that Charles is talking about. So that’s where were at.

Alister: Fantastic. That’s a big shift.

Adriana: It is.

Alister: It’s really exciting. Kelley, what about you? What have you experienced?

Kelley-Ann Seaton: We’ve had a big change in our business. Back before this started, we had a small portfolio in Brisbane of about 56 properties and then another portfolio in the Hunter, about 200. We don’t have either of those anymore. So we’ve removed some waste, moved to an area where we want to be and pretty much back to start-up business. We’ve only got under 30 properties now. I think this is highlighted that, the fact that we now have this opportunity to start it all again, wipe the slate clean and do it better. Team-wise, they’ve got so much out of this.

I used to be pretty much like Adriana and have a bit too much control over them and now I’ve just learnt to do what these guys are doing – they’re doing an amazing job – just let them go with it and when they make a mistake, we’ll fix it. Rather than just letting them get it right every time and being perfect.

I guess, in hindsight, we’re going to do the simple things well, rather than try to cover everything. Just take it back a few notches and try to be the best at those one-percenters and doing that one percent more than everybody else.

Alister: Super. Great, thanks. Trent.

Trent Shorland: Lots of things, over the journey, I think. For me, we had a new BDM and, for me, that was a new role. It was a job that I did. So, trying to understand her and manage her was my biggest challenge. She’s an excellent sales person, but I’m used to doing that job. So, it was trying to work out what I should be doing with her to manage her with Fiona and Lauren, who’ve worked with the sales team have been terrific. I think the relationship between Kerry and Rachel has been one that started off a bit rough. Through this process – obviously going away together, understanding each other through the profiling – the whole lot has been terrific in building that relationship between the two of them. So that’s been a real plus for me. It’s made my job a lot easier.

Probably one of the biggest holes in my business was, and we just touched on it before, was the data. We’ve got a big business. We’ve got 33 staff in Adelaide Hills – decent sized business. We have 15 sales people. So there’s a lot of information that was just flying out the door. Through, through our open homes, and we weren’t capturing it. I mean, I was doing the job and I was just using my contacts to be with our rent roll. So being able to implement that with some structure behind it has been great and there is still a lot more to do. I reckon the back of my red book, there’s probably 12 months of jobs to do. [laughing]

Alister: You’ve got a lot of people to delegate to now.

Trent: Yeah. I think probably the most important thing from the whole process is being that when you’re doing your jobs day in day out, you’re going in one direction, you’re not really looking outside for different things. I think what this has brought to me is just so much more out there that you actually tap into, which can help your business, technology, training, coaching, all those things that you ignore because you’re not looking for them. Whereas this is actually brought that to the forefront. So, to me, it’s been a whole lot of good and I’m really appreciative for the opportunity. So thanks again.

Alister: That’s great. Well, there really seems to be this common theme about stepping back, empowering and delegating. Fiona, you’ve seen it first hand across all of the businesses. What’s your perspective?

Fiona: So I think the first thing was the openness. Even though you didn’t necessarily come in with a particular outcome, you were open to the journey along the way. Equally what it has reiterated to me is that, with everyone that I work with in general terms, I always take their position as being very unique to them. What it is that each of you needed to then get out of this process is actually quite different. Because the four businesses are different. They’re different in size, structure, the surrounding business, your geographic areas. Everything about your businesses is actually quite different. For me, all four of you had a different clarity around why you’ve got your business and what it is that you’re attempting to achieve.

I know that you all woken up to some level around the data and the opportunity that exists already in your businesses with the people that you interact with, all the contacts that you have everyday. I think that’s been great. Seeing you let go and trust and trust your people – I know we’re still building that – but to trust your people, and as Kelley said, just letting them do it. Empowering them by getting them into the right roles and restructuring and allowing the business to unfold around you. I think [this] has been very, very inspiring. Looking at and really questioning everything that you’ve been doing up until now.

Alister: Fiona, what about really small incremental changes that you’ve experienced? Very small, potentially mundane that all add up. Anything that comes to mind?

Fiona: Consistency. Consistency in meetings, agendas, reporting, accountability. Having hard conversations. Knowing that this conversation needs to be had, I’ve got to step up and have it, because I’m at the head of the fish. I’ve even done that myself in recent times. I’ve seen the to-do list, I’ve seen auditing your tech, really understanding the mechanics of your business. We’ve also seen with the PMs the time log all of them have done, their ideals weeks, preferred weeks, they’ve all done that.

They are small things, yet so enormous in the scheme of efficiency in the business. The BDs, I think that, for the business owners there’s been an acute awareness as to what a BD actually is and what a converter is. You just sold a property, the guys bought it for investment and he’s come in ready to sign and that’s a converter. This is understanding [if] my BD that I have in place now, are they a converter or are they actually core selling and getting that clear?

I think then just looking at the overall tech of your business and I know that you’ve had various elements of change around that or even just usage. Sometimes it’s not about getting more tech; it’s about knowing what you’re not using from what you’ve already got. I think that’s been some small wins there.

Oh, and listing presentation kits! Everyone’s looking at their kits because they’re all awful but we’re getting back there now.

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