EPMEPM: First Person

Will you survive the future of property management?

From DOS-based trust programs, no internet or email, big chunky mobile phones and a long wait in a bank queue to deposit thousands of dollars in rental cash, to the fast-moving businesses we have today - the amount of change has been phenomenal. Debbie Palmer looks at where property managers will sit in the new world order.

The way we do things, the technology, software and apps we embrace, artificial intelligence advancements, legislation compliance and the way we communicate and operate a real estate/property management business have rapidly changed and will continue to do so.

Before we know it, there will be an Uber-like disruption, unless we stay current, connected to our clients and understand that property management is more than just technology.

From a property management perspective, I believe the most challenging issues we are facing right now are:

  1. A lack of quality and experienced property management team members to recruit into agencies. This is a national epidemic, placing many agencies/business owners into vulnerable and reactive modes.
  2. Disruption from outside businesses to the traditional property management agency structure, such as Airbnb and Cubbi – and there will be many more to come and challenge what we do.
  3. The rapid advancement of technology, apps, software and artificial intelligence.
  4. A shift in property managers establishing their own independent agencies, where property management is their sole focus and service is a priority.
  5. A change in how agencies are structured and operated; including the emergence of Virtual Assistants (VAs) being more widely accepted and utilised in the industry.
  6. A lack of systems and processes within property management agencies or what I call ‘a blueprint for success’ – being a consistent ‘mapped way’ of undertaking each daily activity and how your business delivers exceptional service.
  7. A lack of wellbeing, emotional intelligence and mindfulness being embraced by business owners to grow strong, long-lasting property management team members.
  8. An increase in compliance processes and legislation.
  9. Old-school principals not engaging in or taking the property management business seriously.
  10. Competition of property management agencies offering discounted fees.

The key to surviving or staying competitive in a changing market is to improve our connections, relationships and communications with our clients (landlords) and customers (tenants).

MAKING CONNECTIONS

I personally believe that the key to surviving or staying competitive in a changing market is to improve our connections, relationships and communications with our clients (landlords) and customers (tenants).

Property management is a people business. It is a long-term relationship of managing the landlord, tenant and property; not a quick once-off transaction.

Now, more than ever, property management businesses need to be increasing their service offerings to compete with the disruptions that are entering the marketplace.

How would you rate your service now? What client service strategies do you have in place to stand out over your competitors or to create long-term loyal clients?

Our focus cannot just be on the day-to-day processes.

Have you ever received a telephone call from an outside agent advising that they have just listed a property for sale that’s currently on your rent roll? If you have (and you have a sales department), then this is a red alert that you may need to improve your client service strategies.

HOW DO YOUR COMMUNICATION OPTIONS COMPARE?

Video marketing

When we think of video marketing we often think of virtual tours or videos of properties. However, video recording/marketing is now being more widely used to communicate with clients and deliver important ‘personal’ messages. We can call it ‘video relationship connections’ (VRC). This is where a property management team member is talking and communicating with their clients via video recordings or real-time virtual apps such as Skype or the simple camera feature on your iPhone.

Open houses

An open house has just taken place and all the prospective tenant details have been recorded in a live CRM system on your agency’s iPad. Following the inspection, the modern-day property manager or leasing consultant sits in their car or at the property and records a video message to send to their client/landlord. “Hi Mrs Smith, great to connect with you again. This is Debbie from PPM Realty. I just wanted to quickly give you a personal update on today’s inspection. We had ten groups through the property and six tenants were really interested, asking for an application. This is really positive news! You can be assured that renting the property to the best possible tenant is our priority. Hope you have an awesome weekend and I will give you a call early next week once the applications have been received and processed.” Click… and send the personal message to the client/landlord.

Conducting inspections remotely through technology, where the tenant can guide property managers around the home, will happen sooner than we think.

Routine inspections

I believe that conducting inspections remotely through technology, where the tenant can guide property managers around the home, will happen sooner than we think. This will alleviate many safety concerns for property managers. Smart homes are also being developed to create a total automation experience. Property appliances can be linked to an app that can send message reminders of air-conditioning units requiring to be serviced, electrical issues, and so on, as well as many more features.

Virtual tours

According to research, website visitors spend approximately 400 per cent more time looking at video marketing of properties than property photos. Virtual tours have often been considered a high-end option for renting properties and more so for sales. However, it is becoming common for rental properties to feature online with virtual tours and floor plans. There are many apps on the market now and service providers that make putting together a property virtual tour simple, easy and affordable. It is a 24/7 advertisement of the property.

Landlord and tenant portals

Property management departments have had access to trust account portal features for more than a decade.However, many are not utilising them to their optimum capabilities. Consumers want to be able to transact, communicate and view data and information online remotely at any time. If you are not utilising this feature, put it on your to-do list.

Telephone calls and client surveys

It is more important than ever to start picking up the telephone (or sending video messages) to have real conversations with your clients. When was the last time that you personally surveyed your landlords or tenants? Not to talk maintenance or rent arrears, but to really connect, build relationships and find out what you are doing right and what you could do a little better. Conducting client surveys effectively is also a great way to generate more business and income.

Once a client has experienced increased service offerings, it will become an expectation. Would you give your business to a bank where the only service option was to walk into the office, email or telephone?

The way to survive the future? Wow your clients so they remain with you and don’t want to ever leave.

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Debbie Palmer

Debbie Palmer is the Managing Director of the PPM Group and is considered one of Australia’s leading expert coaches and trainers and is a multi-award winning, Property Manager. For more information visit ppmgroup.com.au.

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