With so many property managers out there, investors have a lot of options for who they select to manage their property. Keeping them happy is the key to building and retaining a strong portfolio. The key to being a successful property manager it is good communication.
As simple as it sounds, the most common reason why an investor changes management companies is because of poor communication. The breakdown in communication could be due to a number of different reasons; time management / organization, understaffed, afraid of confrontation, or not knowing enough information.
Don’t fall into the trap that most property managers find themselves in. Recognize that the reason why your client hired you was because they feel you can manage their investment for them while using your expertise to maximize their income.
Take credit for what you do. As a property manager, you often find yourself going out of your way to help your client in one way or another. Then, when they decide to switch companies, you become irritated because of all the extra time and energy you put into trying to help them out. Before getting too upset, ask yourself if your client even knew of all the extra things you did for them.
In most cases, property managers do not take credit for the things that they do. Without informing your client, how can they possible know that you did them a favor?
The next time you go out to a property and clean up trash that blew into the yard, pulled a few weeds, or went out of your way to show a property, be sure to let your client know. Not only does this re-assure them that you are looking out for them, but it also helps prevent them from developing a sense of entitlement. The last thing you want is to go out of your way and your client responds saying that’s what you were hired to do.
Granted, you were hired to perform a service, but property managers are not landscapers, maids, or repairmen. While we should be able to take care of minor problems, it should not become something that is expected of us unless its spelled out in your management agreement as one of the services they are paying you to perform.
Updating, Updating, Updating
Its important to know your client. In an apartment community setting, most investors focus on the bottom line and are not generally involved in the day to day management of their property. Obviously in this scenario, you are not going to update the property owner on every that takes place every day, however you should arrange for them to receive periodic updates and be sure to let them know in advance of major improvements that may be needed. Key areas to update them would be maintenance performance, leasing productivity, turnover / vacancy, and general finances.
For those who focus on single family, condos, town-homes, and smaller multifamily, regular updates are critical. When a property is vacant, be sure to speak to your client at least once a week with a marketing update. Inform them of future maintenance repairs like carpet, appliances, cabinets, and other large expenses that are coming up at least a year in advance. Communication during repairs is also important even if the repair cost is under your pre-authorized repair limit.
The last thing any of your clients want is for something unexpected to come up. Sometimes property managers avoid bringing up problems that will come up in the future hoping to postpone the discussion for another day. The challenge with this approach is that the client will be caught off guard almost every time. By letting them know ahead of time, it gives them a chance to process the information and even prepare themselves so when it happens, its not a total shock to them. While they might not like what you are telling them, it at least demonstrates that you know what you are doing which reassures them why they hired you in the first place and they may even take your advice more seriously in the future.
October 24, 2013