The 2018 Voice of the Australian Property Management report reveals just 25 per cent of the industry is currently upbeat about its future, while 47 per cent are passive and 28 per cent negative. And those who feel disgruntled believe they are overworked, underpaid, have few prospects and are stressed by the constantly increasing demands of clients – even if they love working with their team.
The survey, conducted by Rockend, found that while the property management industry has its eye on the future, the day-to-day ‘people’ challenges are absorbing most attention. It reveals there is a significant disconnect between principals and property managers, which is creating stress to such a degree that 40 per cent believe their next role will be in a totally different industry.
“It’s the first time the industry has been surveyed so extensively, and the insights are really enlightening for principals and property management team leaders,” said Rockend Head of Marketing Catherine Vissiere.
“The data highlights in big neon letters that the best property management businesses are well run, have great career structures in place and support their property managers to be more than just property task managers, but encourage [them to] train their team to be property advisers.”
The report surveyed 1,034 respondents across property management, including property managers, principals, heads of departments, BDMs and trust managers, to establish a benchmark, analyse job satisfaction levels and to understand key issues that are affecting the industry.
The state of the property management industry
The survey confirmed that property management is dominated by women overall, with 82 per cent of respondents female and 18 per cent male.
Respondents to the survey were most likely to be property managers (44 per cent), while 25 per cent were heads of department and 23 per cent were principals. The remainder were a mix of BDMs and trust accountants.
The report shows industry staff are most likely to be aged between 25 and 55 (54 per cent) although 40 per cent were aged over 45. Most (31 per cent) had been in their current role for more than six years, while 21 per cent had been in the industry for less than a year and 28 per cent had been in their role for between two and six years.
It’s not just the hours worked or the time in the industry that determines if someone is a detractor or promoter, but how they perceive their opportunities and if they feel valued.
The majority of respondents (62 per cent) managed rent rolls of fewer than 150 properties, while 15 per cent managed rent rolls larger than 250 properties. Their agencies were most likely (33 per cent) to have fewer than 150 properties, with 27 per cent managing 150 to 349 and 30 per cent managing 350 to 999.
When it comes to salary, 15 per cent are very satisfied with how they are paid, followed by 45 per cent who are somewhat satisfied. In contrast, 19 per cent are dissatisfied to a degree about their pay.
The data shows most property managers work a 40-hour week, but busy-ness is an issue with the majority feeling overworked. It shows 12 per cent believe they are far too busy, and 43 per cent feel they are slightly too busy. Just eight per cent don’t believe they are really busy at all.
Interestingly, the proportion of respondents who said they intend leaving the industry was also 12 per cent.
Challenges and opportunities
The survey found that, as a whole, 72 per cent of respondents are excited by the idea of digital disruption and the move to the cloud and regard it as a huge opportunity. Outsourcing was seen as the next-best opportunity, identified by 50 per cent of all respondents.
When it came to challenges, 58 per cent found both the growing expectations of tenants and owners and the uncertain property market the most pressing. This was followed by 51 per cent identifying consumers’ comments on social media as a challenge that needs to be overcome and 39 per cent regarding it as an opportunity.
But the data gets particularly interesting when we start to examine how different roles regarded the challenges. “When we examined the data by the role that the respondent held, we saw a significant disconnect between principals and property managers,” Ms Vissiere said.
“Principals were just as likely to see the changing expectations of tenants and owners as both a challenge and an opportunity, with 49 per cent believing it was a challenge and 46 per cent seeing it as an opportunity.
“But the majority of property managers (63 per cent) believe growing expectations are a challenge, showing that it’s the frontline that are doing it the hardest.”
Property managers were also likely (61 per cent) to be more concerned about the uncertain property market than principals at 54 per cent, and property managers (41 per cent) were more likely to believe that changing regulation offered opportunities to their business in comparison to principals (33 per cent).
Detractors, promoters and passives
A third of the businesses with 150 to 349 properties on their rent rolls had detractors within their business, followed by those with more than 1,500 properties which had a 32 per cent grumble rate. Promoters were fairly evenly spread across all rent roll sizes, while passives were most likely to cluster in the 350 to 999 rent roll level. As such we can conclude that rent roll size is not really a determiner of how happy someone is in their role.
So what makes someone a detractor or a promoter?
“The data shows that it’s not just the hours worked or the time in the industry that determines if someone is a detractor or promoter, but how they perceive their opportunities and if they feel valued,” Ms Vissiere said.
Ironically, those who worked the longest hours were more likely to be very positive about the industry. Of those who worked over 60 hours a week, 42 per cent were promoters while 31 per cent were detractors; while of those who worked a standard 40-hour week, 24 per cent were promoters and 29 per cent were detractors.
Being far too busy was most likely to result in a worker being a detractor, with 41 per cent of those who felt frazzled being negative and unlikely to recommend the industry, together with 43 per cent of passives.
The data shows that 75 per cent of promoters strongly agreed that they had career opportunities within their business, compared to just 36 per cent of detractors and 58 per cent of passives. Promoters were also significantly more likely to have the tools and resources they needed to do their work correctly (80 per cent) compared to just 46 per cent of detractors.
In addition, 92 per cent of promoters said they felt secure in their role compared to 63 per cent of detractors. The impact of the sum of these factors cannot be underestimated, Ms Vissiere said.
“The data shows absolutely clearly that when career opportunities, job security and the right tools are made available to staff, they are most likely to be happy,” she said.
“We found that 93 per cent of promoters absolutely loved working for their employer, in comparison to 48 per cent of detractors.”
Ms Vissiere said the sense of either optimism or overwhelm fed through to how the property management industry perceives the future.
Detractors were significantly less likely to see the growing expectations from tenants and owners as an opportunity (29 per cent) compared to promoters (50 per cent) and were more likely to see comments on social media as a difficult challenge (59 per cent) compared to just 45 per cent of promoters.
What is the cost of the disillusionment and unhappiness? A higher cost of training, onboarding and loss of business knowledge, resulting in a poorer service to owners and tenants as teams constantly struggle to be on top of their workloads.
“Only 50 per cent of detractors said they were likely to find another role in property management, compared to 70 per cent of promoters,” Ms Vissiere said.
“Detractors were most likely (24 per cent) to seek to leave the industry in comparison to 11 per cent of those who were passive, and passive respondents were more likely (34 per cent) to seek a different role within the property industry.
“Those people are going to be talking down property management and that’s not viable long-term,” Ms Vissiere said.
There is more on the Voice of Property Management Survey in the upcoming January 2019 issue of Elite Property Manager. To access a full copy of the report, click here.