Hi, it’s Max Oliviero CEO at Umanest here. I’ve just been talking with a number of our clients over the past few days. And I’ve got to tell you… the mood is pretty good! So how is the property management industry handling the effects of the Covid-19 crisis?
Why are they so confident during this time of uncertainty?
Well, it all comes down to having both clarity and focus on their own business.
During Covid-19, while the entire Property Management industry is going crazy trying to keep up and make sense of the latest projections for the economy, and listening to countless stories about the future of our property industry… Our clients are calm and mind their own business with a relentless focus on the 3 things that truly matter.
I will share with you a description of what our clients do well, and why it makes them stand out:
1) Building relationships with (all) their customers
Property management is relationship management
It is true for most businesses out there, and especially for Property Managers: The relationship with your customers is everything. They are truly the ones that make or break your business.
Sadly, most Property Managers still overlook the importance of being proactive and systematic about customer relations. All they seem to specialise in is firefighting!
Our clients know the mood of their customers. They listen and know exactly what they are thinking, because their customers are comfortable talking to them. There is a process to systemise customer satisfaction, so they have all the reasons to be confident and make good decisions based on facts and knowledge.
A common mistake
Property Managers are dealing with two types of customers with conflicting interests: landlords and tenants. A large number of Property Managers still decided that their only customers are the landlords… This is the recipe for disaster! We are yet to hear about a single Property Management company doing great with landlords and poorly with tenants, and vice versa.
Our clients take the pulse of both tenants and landlords in their portfolios.
Because they noticed that happy tenants enjoying their renting experience are the best friends a Property Manager can have. They realised that tenants are their company’s asset: you look after them and they will look after your landlord’s asset. It is a simple equation.
The risk you take when you don’t listen
To run a successful Property Management business you must know what your existing customers think of you: Where you add the most value to them, and what they are expecting from you that you may not be delivering. You need to know that in detail, so you can take decisive actions.
If you don’t listen to your customers, you’re simply guessing your way through. It’s like throwing darts in the dark. It’s not fun, and it’s dangerous.
Yes we are currently going through uncertain times, so more than ever your customers have concerns and want to be given a voice. Ignore this at your peril.
The Property Management business owners I work with have often said to me that the main threat to their business is how much they don’t know, especially during Covid-19.
Indeed it defines how strong your business truly is, but also whether it is ready and safe to scale or not.
You must ask the questions
The unknown is your enemy. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Your landlords and tenants have all the answers, so get over it and start asking the questions!
2) Nurturing a culture of performance in their property management business
What is performance, actually?
Most Property Management teams are not high performance portfolio managers valued by their customers. They are glorified task-oriented admins who cultivate the art of “busyness”. They are obsessed with things like arrears and vacancy rates.
But this isn’t the stuff that makes you stand out from the crowd, this is expected!
Of course our clients track the performance of their Property Managers on basic KPIs such as arrears, vacancy and outstanding repairs. But beyond that the focus is on customer alignment. In other words they make sure that there are no gaps between what their customers value and what the team delivers.
Focus must be dictated by what touches the customer.
Look after your staff, they’ll take care of business
When it comes to Human Resources, most Property Management businesses are truly just going blind. They don’t make good decisions because they don’t have a clue about the actual performance of their team, until someone is upset and it’s too late to fix it.
As a result training efforts are often just hit-and-miss, with a disregard for the individual needs.
Sadly, this explains why the staff burnout rate is so great in our industry… Property Managers are often left to their own tools, dealing with the challenges isolated inside their own portfolio.
Our clients continuously track the individual performance of their staff. They have transparency and all the information at hand to manage the teams efficiently and with confidence. Above all, they make team members part of it, and accountable for their own performance.
When you have both access to good reporting and your team engaging in meaningful conversations with the customers, the focus naturally shifts to providing timely and appropriate support.
Look after your staff and they will look after your customers… This makes a world of difference!
Your job is to create the environment
In the “new normal”, social interactions with your teams and customers are significantly reduced. Trying to figure out what’s going on in a portfolio during the coffee break isn’t an option anymore. Well that’s not such bad news because it never worked anyway!
Our clients don’t mind remote workers and the change of environment as much, because they feel in control and rely on a much more powerful and reliable source of information.
They can call one-on-one meetings with their Property Managers already knowing exactly what is going to be on the agenda.
Why? Because the customers already told them what’s happening and what’s important.
You must be in control
Looking after your team means having an open dialogue and providing them with the environment in which they will thrive.
It means that the good work is being acknowledged, while the areas of improvement are visible and addressed rapidly.
Being in control with an accountable team would give time to spend on business growth.
3) Taking action on their reputation and growth
A two-step process
For most Property Management offices stuck in the day-to-day tasks, lack of time and mental space doesn’t lead to new business opportunities.
They typically don’t structure the growth of the company, and it’s messy.
The very first step towards growth is actually customer retention: keeping your current customers. Because you can’t fill a bucket that is leaking!
The next steps are nurturing your reputation and generating new business leads… Filling this bucket.
Get your reputation to work for you, online & offline
Most Property Managers still neglect their company’s online reputation.
In 2020 this is a big NO-NO if you want to grow or even just stay in business. Potential customers do their homework and almost 90% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Yet we see a lot of business owners out there frustrated about their online reviews, saying this is unfair and out of their hands… The truth is that it shows their complete lack of strategy!
Dealing publicly with the aftermath of poor customer satisfaction on Google reviews isn’t fun and it is also seriously damaging for your company.
In our client’s businesses, reputation is the outcome of a systemised and predictable process. Online, they avoid bad reviews and collect good ones, effortlessly in a no-surprise environment.
Offline, they have discussions with qualified leads and attract referrals.
Their secret weapon for growth? Knowing who their happiest customers are and simply leveraging them… For more properties, more leads, more positive reviews.
You need a process that you can trust
Like I said earlier, I just spent some time talking with our clients and the most remarkable thing I noticed is how calm and confident they are.
What a contrast with the rest of the industry!
Not only are they relaxed about their current portfolios, but also confident about opportunities knocking on their door.
They know exactly what they’re doing and can trust the process we built with them. They know where the opportunities are for more business and clients.
Our customer stay focused on what matters and quietly prepare for business coming their way, especially from all those who are panicking about the impact of Covid-19 on property management.
The lessons the property management industry learn from Covid-19
Crisis or not, people need rental accommodations and Property Managers.
But it’s a new world out there, and crisis typically acts as a catalyst for change. In this environment, your customers and potential customers will take the opportunity to jump ship if their expectations aren’t met.
As Warren Buffett once said:
“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”
At Umanest, we have engineered the perfect way for Property Managers to:
- Build relationships with (all) their customers
- Nurture a culture of performance in their business
- Take action on their reputation and growth
The process outlined here is the framework for our clients success and I’m sure they will serve you in the same way it has served all of them.
The good news is that more business will be up for grabs, but only for the more disciplined and the best equipped Property Managers.
If you are interested to learn more, contact us for a free discovery and strategy session here.
Max Oliviero is helping Property Managers grow profitable and reputable businesses. He is the Founder of Umanest. Connect with Max on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Want to take your Property Management business to the next level? Schedule your free meeting here.