Katie Knight owns RE/MAX Success in Toowoomba, is passionate about property management, and is the only person to have won Real Estate Institute of Queensland Property Manager of the Year on four occasions (in 2014, 2012, 2010 and 2008). RE/MAX Success manages almost 1500 residential properties and almost 300 commercial and storage properties. We asked Katie what it really takes to remain at the top of the property management tree.
Holding on to a position of success, whether that be recognised as successful by your peers in the industry or through the profit your business turns over each year, is something you have to work at; and I mean work at continually and constantly not just when awards nominations come around or it is heading to end-of-financial-year.
Following are some of the principles I follow. Some are almost mantra-like. And the list is by no means a rule book for success but a checklist toward achieving better performance.
1. When you are at the top of your game, there is absolutely no time for complacency.
You simply cannot afford to remain ‘comfortable’ or you will soon be left behind. Look for the next challenge taking that level of success even higher.
2. Be open to trying new things.
Thinking ‘but we’ve always done it that way’ just won’t cut it.
Technology is only one example. There are different styles and systems to research, and new expectations that must be considered.
For example, our business is open seven days a week. We have people in the office and out in the field Sunday through to Saturday, and we cover open houses, tenancy sign ups, entry reports, exit reports etc. in every one of those seven days. That is not the norm in Toowoomba, and, in fact, some of our competitors don’t like it. Our customers certainly appreciate it though, and it has brought us new business.
Also, these days we tend to have a ‘snapshot’ audience who want all their information upfront, usually on a screen rather than having them visit our office where we have the chance to ‘upsell’. If that snapshot didn’t grab them, they may have moved on; so we’ve had to focus on improving the detail and quality of our online listings.
3. Maintain the highest exposure to industry training that you can, and genuinely dedicate time and the resources to do that.
Through good professional development offerings, you will have the greatest chance to have 100 per cent knowledge of legislation affecting the industry, along with other valuable lessons relating to best business practice.
Network as much as you can – through real estate institute gatherings, other industry bodies, general business and community events, and be interested in people in general. It is the way to learn and gather experiences.
4. Seek out every possible source of local market information, remembering that sales information flows into property management so is just as vital to have in your repertoire.
For example, valuers’ reports can be very useful, as are any other professional reports that arm you with knowledge of the local market and wider issues. Soak up all the information you can about changing infrastructure and future plans for the area, for instance.
Toowoomba is getting a new airport which will impact on local jobs and more FIFO personnel basing themselves here. When you know and can talk about such things, it builds investor confidence, you are seen as an authority and respected for your expertise.
When you can give the ‘why’ and not just the ‘what’, it adds a huge degree of credibility.
5. Be aware that the finish line is forever moving.
Another way to think of it is that those shifting goal posts mean you need to be constantly reevaluating your goals, both professional and personal
You must regularly reevaluate your business plans.
For example, three or four years ago my focus shifted from growth (number of properties) to more profitable properties and the quality of the clientele (landlords). That shift, I believe was triggered by a heightened awareness of litigation. No matter how successful you may be, you do not operate in a cocoon and must change to manage change.
6. You have to stay in touch
My personal opinion is that regardless of how successful you are, how high up the business ladder you are, you should not totally remove yourself from the field. You have to stay grounded.
7. Make sure your own standards are reflected in your team
Set your expectations and make sure they are understood. Establish procedures and standards for all to follow. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and remains that way.
8. …but don’t get bogged down in procedures!
You still have to love what your do, and show it – because if you lose the passion, people will know!
Work out what it is that you really love. For me it’s problem-solving. Believe it or not, I get a buzz out of complaints because I see them as the perfect opportunity to create lifelong clients when problems are quickly and professionally resolved.
When you can identify what it is you most want to get out of what you do, what really does it for you, it is much easier to restructure the business, the team or your time so you can do the things that will get you that vibe back.