As a national property management trainer and consultant with the Bob Walters Team, I am constantly flying and travelling around the country to conduct property management seminars and conferences. I find that property managers and principals are very different in many ways depending on what state they are from, and whether they work in metropolitan areas or regional areas- there are definitely some real differences!
There are also some obvious similarities. Of course, everyone works in real estate, and when it comes to property management 95% of it is done the same wherever you go. When I ask everyone ‘who wants to be successful?’ everyone puts their hand up! This is not hard to understand why- everyone wants to be successful in their job and life.
Success doesn’t come easy!
One thing I have learned is that success will not come by not doing anything! In fact, to be the best you have to become the best! It’s not about what you do that makes you successful. It is about who you are that does what you need to do to become successful! Your qualities, beliefs, and attitude drive your performance and actions to become successful. Therefore success is a result of a process, not something that happens on its own.
To change who you are to be the best property manager in town you have to establish foundational qualities within you. These qualities can be developed, however, you must be determined to identify within yourself where you are lacking and make the change. Success and being recognised as the best in the industry don’t come easy. It requires a drive and determination from you to be constantly growing and refining your character.
In this article, I will outline 21 qualities or success keys which are my success keys to being the best property manager in town. They did not come overnight but over time. They come through a deliberate process of refinement, not through a single event. They represent most of what I urged myself to develop and learn as I was greatly lacking in many of these qualities just 10 years ago.
Attitude – The First and Most Essential Quality!
This is the first on the list and the most important. Your attitude completely dictates your performance! It does not matter how much experience you think you have and how good you think you are if your attitude is bad you will steer your ship onto rocks! Having a great attitude towards change, always striving to provide excellent service and always wanting to improve what you do will result in a great performance and this is the key driver for your success. A great attitude is also contagious! (For more reading download the article ‘Bad Attitude- Bad Performing Property Manager’
You Need to Have Goals
What do you want to achieve? Do you want to double your rent roll size? Do you want to take out the top real estate property management industry award for your state? Do you want to become a property management trainer or do you want to be part of your local real estate institute committee? Visualise specifically what you want to achieve and write it down, placing it somewhere prominent. It’s amazing that the more you expose yourself to what you want to achieve, the more chance you will have in reaching your goal. If you are consistently reminding yourself of your goals, your mind will start looking for opportunities that will make this possible. Give it a go and see the results!
Know Right Priority
As property managers, we always have a million things to do so we must know what has to happen now, what has to happen in 5 minutes’ time, and what can wait till later. We must accept that we will never be able to totally complete everything we have to do. Instead, we must focus on priorities. If we always ensure the urgent and most important things are done first, we should never run into problems caused by issues not being handled in a timely manner. And when it comes down to it, priority management is really what the job is all about!
Strive for Excellence
Excellence is an attitude! It is ensuring that in everything you do, you do it to the best of your ability! It is recognising that accepting the status quo is not good enough! Instead, it is constantly reviewing your office processes, forms, letters, and procedures to ensure that if they can be improved- they are seen to promptly! Excellence is giving everything your 100% best, even when you can take the easy road. The best road is the one less travelled and the hardest to navigate! (Download our article’ Excellence is an Attitude’)
Overcome the Fear of Failure
The problem with most people is that they fear failure! They believe failure and making mistakes is a bad thing! These people never really take risks and only dream about what could be without ever achieving it! However, making a mistake allows you to see what went wrong so you can do it a different way and get it right next time! No one ever succeeded without making mistakes! No procedure can be improved without a mistake to show it needs changing. Complaints tell you the weaknesses in your organisation! The only failure you need to fear are the mistakes that keep on reoccurring if you have done nothing to fix the process that causes the mistake or complaint!
Be the Expert with Your Knowledge
Learn everything there is to learn in property management. Ensure you read and have a thorough understanding of your state property management legislation, know your management and tenancy agreement terms and conditions thoroughly and subscribe to industry publications. Get to know regulations and parliament acts that affect property management like the Trade Practices Act, the Equal Opportunities Act, and the Privacy Act. Become an expert in everything to do with property management. Knowledge here definitely brings you the power of success!
Grow with Self-Development
This is an amazingly powerful key! Our levels of success are completely determined by how we think. How we think dictates how we act. Our actions bring success! So how do we change the way we think? This is done by exposing our minds consistently to great books authored by successful people. Books like leadership, sales, marketing and dealing with people will teach you things you could never learn simply through personal experience. I do not have time to read, so I purchase books on audio CD or download them from the internet. I listen to something at least every day. In most cases, I can listen to a whole audiobook every few days between appointments in my car. Most books only go for 2-3 hours. What I have also found is that reading or listening to audiobooks many times over brings a far greater power than just being exposed to it once. I have found that the more I change the way I think, my income has increased in direct proportion! (To get a list of great books click here)
Seek Out Mentors
Simply put, you become what you expose yourself to. Hang long enough around people going nowhere or are consistently negative- you will also become and think like them! So choose carefully who inspires you! Select people inside or outside your industry who represent where you want to be, and then spend regular time with them. The level you want to aspire to, you will then reach. Learn what they do and what has made them successful. Ask them questions about their keys to success. When they share it with you, listen carefully, take notes and do it! If it worked for them it will work for you! Don’t forget that when you have reached your new level, then go and seek new mentors at the next level you wish to go. Don’t stay at that level.
Plan out Your Route to Success
Like ‘have a goal’ planning is simply finding out where your department is currently at and recording the steps you need to do to move to a new level. What are you currently achieving and where do you want to go? What steps does your department have to take to be the best? Examine your rent roll growth, profitability, systems and procedures, time management, promotional tools, computerization, and staff structure. Record in a plan all the things you want to achieve in the next 12 months (with your principal) and then stick to your plan. A department without a plan is like a boat without a motor, it will just drift with the tide! It will not go in the direction you want it to go! Control your direction with a written plan.
Invest in the Golden Hours
Do you think property management is busy? I reckon it is! If we believe that we are going to improve ourselves and our department during business hours- good luck! Set aside time each week or fortnight whether before work, after work, or on a weekend to do things that improve your department. For example, when I attended property management seminars I would list all the things that I needed to implement and improve, and I then set aside two hours every Saturday morning to do it! This time was used to work on my business and not in it! Though I didn’t own the rent roll I treated it like I did! I saw it like a business that I needed to improve constantly. You will never find the time to do it, so you must make the time!
If something happens in property management more than once, it can be systemised. Systemisation is not just procedures and checklists but a dedication to following them. Developing skills to complete systemisation is something that a lot of property managers do not have nor ever develop. If every process, procedure, and the way you do each part of your role successfully is recorded step by step in a structured and easy-to-use format, then all you need to do is follow it. You can then predict and control the outcome. Complete systemisation brings a sense of control, reduces stress, and easily allows you to train inexperienced people if all they have to do is follow written systems. The most successful departments and companies have written procedures and checklists where staff follow and are kept accountable to them.
Develop Great People Skills
Property management is not about the property! It is really about the people who own and reside in the property! The property cannot perform on its own (it is just bricks and mortar) but it is the people who perform to ensure that the property is cared for and tenancy is successful. Dealing successfully with people requires people skills. It is treating the tenant with respect and knowing how to diffuse conflict instead of inflaming it! It is about knowing how to get tenants to think your way without a hard-line approach. It is treating your client with loyalty and dedication and ensuring their needs are well cared for. Learning effective people skills will reward you for life. Great people skills will allow you to control difficult situations successfully. ‘Treat others how you want to be treated’ was first said two thousand years ago, but is still very relevant for today.
Have Attention to Detail
Every property manager must ensure every little detail is well cared for. Loose ends not tied can develop into big problems. Double checking your work, ensuring every repair is done properly, returning every call and email in a timely manner, ensuring your records are up to date, recording every conversation in your computer system is all about an ‘attention to detail’ attitude. Thoroughness will reward you in every part of your life and is something every property manager must achieve to bring success.
Look to Add Value
If you see a need that you can fill, then do it! See everyone like a bank account that you need to credit value to. Encouraging comments, compliments, catching people out doing something right is all about adding value to others. Got a skill that you can use to help someone else- then use it! It is also important to recognise that if a person is not in need of something they do not offer it! You only add value when whatever you are giving was needed and would make a difference!
Never give up! Everyone falls down, but it is the successful people who get up one more time than they fall over! Life and property management is full of difficulties and trials, and success does not come cheap! It requires a determination that you will accomplish what you have set out to achieve, no matter what! Want to get your rent arrears to list reduced by half? Want to double your rent roll numbers? Want to achieve that property manager of the year award? Then be determined to see it through until you get the results you are after! I say to property managers that if you want to get something to drop out of a tree, then shake it. If it doesn’t budge then keep on shaking harder until it does! Never stop and never give up!
What 1% can you improve this week? Changes can be more successfully done if managed in small bite-size pieces than trying to move a mountain at once. Alcatraz, the most secure prison in the world was defeated by a man that tunnelled through its impenetrable walls bit by bit with a small spoon. After the second world war, the Japanese economy was completely destroyed but became an economic world power when their industry leaders believed that revolutionary change happens 1% at a time on a continual and consistent basis. What 1% of your procedures, processes and customer service strategies can you change every week? If something works then break it, by improving it and making it better!
No matter what happens be always travelling in the same direction. Do what you say you are going to do! Be consistent with your actions. Do not let a slack moment stall your momentum. Consistency allows the most successful businesses to produce the same quality week in, week out. Successful people have a consistency that is always improving, not up and down like a roller coaster! People that are good today but poorly performing tomorrow offer no consistency and just blow around in the wind!
Property management is very much about the ability to solve tricky and complex situations. Some days it is like we are non-stop solving problems! A successful property manager is one that has great problem-solving skills and can quickly pull apart a difficult situation into key steps and solve it. The successful property manager sees a solution to every problem. They don’t just solve the problem but also implement steps and avoid it happening next time. They take responsibility to solve the problem and make the solution happen. They keep everyone involved informed. They act quickly and know how to pull apart the most difficult of tangles! They are also not afraid to ask for further advice and help if needed.
Take Regular Training
Exposing yourself to regular training allows you to pick up new ideas, reaffirm practices and challenge you to personal and professional growth. Recently I was speaking to a principal who said that his staff does not need training! The day we stop training and learning, is the day we should close the doors as our competition will surely overtake us! If you think that training is not needed, you will be taken over by someone else who is striving to do it better!
A commitment to a high level of communication to all parties is also a vital key to your success. Keeping your landlords and tenants well informed, keeping your boss up to date with department performance, returning all emails and phone calls on time all account for success. Transparency in all matters is crucial so tell it like it is! No sugar coating and hiding things. Keep everyone well informed.
This involves being personally accountable to ensure the job is done right the first time. It doesn’t mean passing the buck and saying it is someone else’s fault or hoping someone else will fix and solve the problem for you. It means that you put your neck on the line in a commitment to your client that you will personally resolve a problem quickly and efficiently, and then do just that! Our society teaches that if something goes wrong, someone else is to blame! The successful property manager is the one that says that no one else will fix the problem but them!
Success Does Not Come Cheap!
Success does not come cheap, it is not something that ‘just happens’ on its own with no effort on your part. It cannot happen by taking the easier road that everyone else travels, otherwise, they too would be successful!
Property management is an arena where only the strong survive, so what better profession to really prove a personal success. Property management is very much a challenge, and it is one that brings a lot of reward to those that apply themselves 100%. Really, anything less than 100% is not good enough.
Strive to achieve the success you want so, go out and get it!
Be the best you, you can be!