Let’s face it, property management is never easy and it doesn’t get any easier no matter how long you have been in the industry.
There are always things that add to the difficulty of the role and the biggest challenges are evolving with the ever-changing social and technological climate.
By Darren Hunter – DarrenHunter.com
The challenges listed below are what property managers told us were of most concern to them today. Perhaps these are yours as well.
Regretfully we can’t provide solutions to each challenge listed in this article but we will endeavour to address them one by one in coming articles.
#1 Meth labs and meth testing
This issue is HUGE in Australia and New Zealand right now and some serious discussion is underway about the compulsory testing of rental properties between tenancies for methamphetamine contamination. Meth production and use has skyrocketed in the last two years and will become a growing concern and problem into the future. Watch this one for sure!
#2 Drug-affected tenants
The drug of choice amongst the general population has changed over the years however ICE has induced behaviour not seen before in other drug users. ICE is known for sparking erratic and aggressive behaviour in users of the drug, making this a real problem for property managers to identify and deal with when tenants are affected. More drug education is required in our industry overall.
#3 ‘Instant’ communication expectations of owners and tenants
When a property manager gets an email, then a phone call, and then a mobile phone call all from the same person all in the space of 60 seconds, it’s a real challenge sometimes. The key here is the management of expectations around the accessibility of the Property Manager at the start of your owner or tenant relationship.
#4 After-hours availability
A bit like #3- if right expectations are not set at the start, then your owners and tenants think you should be available 24 hours a day. The naysayers suggest that you need to offer ‘good customer service’ and be fully accessible all the time because you work in ‘real estate’. I say this just causes poor mental health, places a PM out of balance and causes burnout, leading to resignation. Set up right expectations so you can switch off after-hours.
#5 Working too many long hours
Not too many property managers can work a strict 9-5 day every day, and then also take a full lunch break. Instead, they skip a lunch break and generally work up to an extra 2-3 hours a day. This causes burnout and leads to resentment and disillusionment and then to resignation. Changes that could improve this include good time management, following procedures and checklists and also the support of management. Never underestimate the effect that property/owner selection has on this all too common problem either!
#6 Dealing with aggressive and abusive owners and tenants
When you’re dealing with an owner’s financial investment and a tenant’s home there are going to be some clashes and conflict in property management. This issue alone is right up there as one of the most prevalent reasons that property managers leave the industry. Setting effective expectations and appropriate induction for both parties reduces this issue but nevertheless, even the very best property managers still find this issue difficult to deal with.
#7 Social media complaints and bad Google reviews
We are truly living in the world of social media and everyone has an online voice – and an opinion to match. With the basic fact that you cannot please everyone coupled with the growing demand for perfection and people having their ‘rights’ met, we are seeing a growing number of consumers vocally critical of the services that they receive. We need to accept that online complaints are normal and getting a bad google review can occur really easily (especially from a disgruntled tenant that didn’t get their whole bond back). It’s all about your response to complaints and bad online reviews that’ll determine the end result, not the complaint itself.
#8 Dealing with bad owners
This issue keeps coming up as a big one because we spend a lot of time selecting tenants, but not much thought goes into owner and property selection, so we end up taking on difficult owners and business that burns us out. It all starts with valuing profitable quality business (not taking on all business) and taking on owners that have the same values as you do. When these values differ, you get conflict. Don’t value bad business. Be prepared to vacate it from your rent roll.
There will always be discounters out there whose business practices continually challenge the quality service providers whose fees represent what they provide. When the management fee becomes the main focus of total fee revenue, discounting (or the pressure to discount) your management fee can cause a lot of financial problems long into your business future. The key is to have strong points of difference so prospective clients can see that paying more for a quality service is important and often even non-negotiable. If you don’t have strong points of difference this will continue to be a challenge – and a challenge that you cannot win.
#10 Mental health and the inability to ‘switch-off’ after hours
Taking home the chaos of the day and having it swim around in your head at night is a real challenge for many property managers. It is important to understand that it’s just business and any issues will still be waiting for you in the morning. It is your choice to give the pressure access to your personal time and mental space, so for now, just relax. You’ve always dealt with issues and got on top of them before and these new issues are no different. It takes time to get on top of this one and to develop healthier personal habits but it’s one that you need to master for your own good mental health and industry longevity.
#11 Getting everything done – time management
It doesn’t take you very long to work out that you cannot get everything done in a day so you only work with priority tasks. Therefore good task and time management is one of the most important skills to develop to survive the jungle that is property management. Working from a priority list every day, following strict policies and procedures, appointment and interruption control and task batching all play an important role in getting through the demands of the day.
Darren Hunter - of darrenhunter.com is a national and international property management trainer, speaker, consultant and authority on property management, specialising in fee maximisation and profitability as well as time and stress management and property management productivity.