Property Management is a multi-faceted balancing act between accounting, investing, property maintenance, expense management, marketing, logistics coordination, tenant management and communication, industry expertise, and so on. There is a never ending list of to-dos, making it easy for small, but vital, things to slip through the cracks.
Even Property Managers in niche markets can’t escape the nitty-gritty of daily operations. Problems are unavoidable, but there are ways to create the time and resources for those problems to be properly handled.
The greatest challenges for single-family rental Property Managers today revolve around resource management. The three most important resources are people, time, and money. Mastering resource management is the key to operating an efficient and profitable property management organization.
Here are the most common challenges in the world of property management.
Challenge #1 - Finding Qualified Staff
With the US unemployment rate at a 50-year low, finding qualified employees is quite the feat. There aren’t many people to choose from, and requiring industry-specific experience eliminates a huge portion of your candidates. Since property management requires expertise in so many different fields, there isn’t one place to find all of the talent you need. Here are some options to consider when you’re looking for qualified employees to invest in.
- Hire remote employees. Working remotely is increasingly popular for both employers and employees. Research has shown that employees are more productive, engaged, and happier when they have the freedom to work remotely. The true benefit of offering remote positions in a thriving economy is the ability to find talent globally. Your pool of qualified candidates increases exponentially and you get more bang for your buck. Another benefit - having fewer bodies in the building means you can pay for less space.
- Offer a clear growth plan. Career growth is one of the most important factors in choosing a job. People want to know where, how, and how fast they can grow. Showing candidates the exact path available allows them to visualize their experience at the company. Allowing them to follow that path at their own speed is just as important as seeing the path. Encouraging and supporting uninhibited growth is a huge benefit for potential employees. And you’re likely to develop better talent at a faster rate.
- Look for potential, not experience. Looking within the industry is a good way to find someone with relevant experience, but having relevant experience doesn’t mean they can grow in the ways you need. People are changing industries more than ever, so connecting with only those in your industry limits your options. Rather than experience, look for someone who challenges the status quo, looks for growth beyond their responsibilities, and has a passion for personal and professional development. Skills can be taught, but you can’t teach someone to have a passion for growth and learning.
Challenge #2 - Time Management
Managing and maintaining physical assets comes with an array of time-consuming tasks. From hundreds of daily work orders submitted by tenants to a tree breaking through the roof of a property, a disaster can ensue at any time. Upholding daily productivity is nearly impossible when the major parts of property management require an eye for detail and hours of attention every day - not to mention every time you need to ‘drop everything and fix it’. Try these methods if you feel like there isn’t enough time in the day.
- Automate and Pre-Plan Where You Can. Manual processes are the killer of productivity, but it’s not the only way to get things done. Hundreds of automation tools exist, we just have to find the right ones. For example, put your monthly subscriptions and bills on autopay. When employees submit receipts to accounting, make sure they use a Google Form or another system that automatically sorts the data. Rather than posting on social media multiple times a day, schedule all of your posts on Monday and forget about it. Grouping or eliminating your daily tasks will increase focus and help your brain flow in the way it needs.
- Outsource to Contract Workers. Big projects come up, and seasonality changes what work needs to be done. Don’t be afraid to use freelancers when there’s too much work for your current team. Outsource the time-consuming and tedious processes. Keep your strategy in-house, but occasional graphic design, bookkeeping, or content creation can be outsourced when needed.
- Be Mindful of Your Productivity. Spending hours on something when you aren’t in the right headspace isn’t helping anything get done. Working through lunch and staying late isn’t the answer to an unproductive day. Making time throughout the day to reset your brain increases your productivity. You may think that you can’t spare 30 minutes to walk around the block, but that mental break will help you get through your projects faster. Be mindful of how you’re feeling and when you feel stuck. Take notice of this and take the time to give your brain a break
Challenge #3 - Keeping Expenses Low
One of the best ways to keep expenses low is by allocating the right talent to the right tasks, and making sure that every department is communicating properly. Creating company-wide trust and communication can eliminate the need for additional resources, which often cost money. Here are a few things to consider when you’ve been tasked with keeping expenses low.
- Optimize Your Use of Freemium Products. There are thousands of free tools that can improve the organization of your company, and there’s no reason not to use them. Corporate giants can convince you to spend tens of thousands of dollars on top-tier products, but the truth is that there are comparable tools available for free. Take inventory of your software expenses and see where you can cut corners. Here are a few services with a freemium model:
HubSpot CRM - sales pipeline management that syncs with your email
Hootsuite - social media post scheduling tool
Trello - project management tool that you can use across departments
MailChimp - create, automate, and track email campaigns
Google - spreadsheets, word documents, surveys, calendars, and video chat
- Cross-Train. Interdepartmental cross-training is the best way to get your departments to work better together and as individuals. For example, if you understand exactly how receipts/invoices are tracked, you can give better context to your accounting department, which saves hours of time when inputting expenses. Take the time to sit with every department that you work with in a week and learn their processes. Often times an extra 15 seconds of effort from your process translates into hours of saved time in another department. Create a truly fluid workflow and avoid paying for additional employees or expensive management tools.
- Streamline Your Workflows. Cross-training is a huge benefit for interdepartmental projects, but taking one step further to streamline company-wide workflows can create a nearly seamless project pipeline. If each department uses the same vocabulary, definitions, and project templates, the change between departments can go quicker and without issue. This saves time and frees up human resources to work on more projects.
Property management is a bigger job than most people realize, but there are ways to get past the daily struggles and roadblocks that keep you from achieving growth. Take the time to step back and re-evaluate the systems you have in place. Creating efficient solutions is necessary for those companies interested in growing. If you can learn to master resource management, there’s a long way for you to go in the property management world.