Jarrad Mahon has been a strong advocate of continual improvement throughout his career. As managing director/licensee with Investors Edge Real Estate in WA, Mahon’s drive has led he and his team to pick up several accolades through PPM Group’s national property management awards over the years, including Property Management Agency of the Year.
Today, Investors Edge has some 598 properties on its rent roll. The business celebrated its 10th year of operation in early April. “Sometimes I pinch myself and realise how fortunate I am to work with such a wonderful team,” Mahon said. “The last couple of years have been tough in Perth, so we’ve had to improve or die, which made winning that last award at PPM in 2016 so important – it was right when the market was darkest.”
“Taking out that win gave our team external acknowledgement that, for us, said ‘While you’re doing it tough, look how great you had to become to compete with the market, let alone the rest of Australia,” he said.
Why apply for PPM’s ‘Best of the Best’ Awards?
PPM’s ‘Best of the Best’ awards, Mahon said, is one of the premier awards Investors Edge looks at each year, providing a chance to have their hard work acknowledged at a national level. “PPM has a great balance across the different aspects of property management,” he said. “Some bodies are so focused on ‘growth for growth’s sake,’ but with PPM Group, there’s a genuine focus on other aspects of the business: the procedures, systems, continuity and consistency – not merely rewarding growth and the front-end.”
“In the award application process, they look deeper at the numbers – what you put in your application isn’t just taken at face value,” he said. “In that respect, the PPM’s awards offer an even better measure of how you’re going.”
How winning awards like PPM’s ‘Best of the Best’ changes your outlook
Mahon said he had some idea of what winning an award could do for his office in the early days but found it hard to comprehend until they took out their first significant award – the State Property Manager of the Year (REIWA) in 2010.
“It’s a little like renovating your house,” he said. “People take a second look, and you attract a different quality of buyer/tenant. It’s the same when you win an award; it gives you authority, a position in the market and puts you on the map. But it’s also important to maintain that renovated property. If you don’t continue to improve and be better than you were, there’s no point; your clients’ expectations are higher, and you have to deliver.”
Mahon said the Investors Edge team has used this motivation to keep growing, improving and to this day uses these awards as an outside measurement on how the office is going and giving the internal team acknowledgement.
“When we picked up the most REIWA awards back in 2013, that was a real, ‘Wow, we’re serious,’ moment. None of the big brand names did better, which was a good outside acknowledgment. We then looked Australia-wide to think, ‘How do we compare ourselves nationally, and can we even compete on this level?” By attending conferences like the PPM Property Management Conference, we realised there was a lot more to property management than we realised and a lot to be gained by having a broader comparison, education and understanding how property management works around Australia,” he said.
A focus on continual improvement
Mahon is no stranger to working hard in all aspects of his life. At 16, he picked up a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad which led him to question what he could do to improve his life. He invested his time studying engineering, and by 21 had written his first business plan and shopped it around to neighbours. When one neighbour expressed an interest in investing in his business, Mahon’s parents soon realised he might be onto a good thing and became his first partner.
“I remember dropping my brother off on a bike in Huntingdale while he dropped flyers into the letterboxes of run-down properties. I was already into leveraging at that age,” he laughed. “We had someone contact us that wanted to sell quickly, which was how we picked up our first and second house. We did a renovation together as a family and learned everything you’d ever need to know about painting and stripping tiles – you realise the value of your time when you give up your after-hours and weekends. But I learnt so much through that.”
“By my mid-twenties, I was in a place where I had four property managers, and I was frustrated with them not getting back to me. I had to follow them up, they’d order a lot of maintenance without checking with me, and they didn’t seem to understand investing.”
Learning both sides of the story
“When I became a tenant myself, I came to understand the other side; tenants are often disrespected in the rental relationship. It gave me some perspective on the other side of the experience; I could fill up a book with stories on how I was treated and how basics weren’t done which meant I’d moved on or left that property quicker than I otherwise might have done. Mahon said there’s a direct tie-in between the level of management and keeping good tenants.
“When a tenant is happy, they stay,” he said. “Many of our tenants have gone on to become our landlords. For us, that changes the dynamics of how we see our customer – any renter can also be an investor, especially today with many choosing to rent as a lifestyle choice.”
“I think the best managers get hooked on that feeling of solving someone’s problem, however small”
“I’ve got a wonderful team that I couldn’t do things without. If it’s not for our shared values, going the extra mile, continual improvement and our proactive communication, we wouldn’t have enjoyed the success we’ve had to date. We all aspire to have a quality of life; I want them to take holidays, I want them to enjoy what they do and learn about investing for themselves and help them to do that. If I can’t support that kind of environment, then I’ve failed.”
Mahon said he initially thought about property management from a ‘create wealth’ point of view, but that soon changed. “When I saw how important it was to change a tap and improve someone’s life in just the most basic way, the buzz was amazing. I think the best managers get hooked on that feeling of solving someone’s problem, however small.”
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Positioning the business to compete and work smarter
Mahon says he has considered how his company can compete with lower-cost managers, and how they should position themselves to work with technology – a task that has led to the development of an innovative new system for the team that they’ll look to kickstart in coming months.
“One of our biggest challenges is geography,” Mahon said. “We can have the best systems in the world, but geography probably accounts for 25-30% of the inefficiency we make up for with systems, processes and smarts. I’ve been trying to find a way to reduce our fees to our clients over time and reduce that isolation. I’ve also looked at the property management industry. Unfortunately, it’s one that has become stressful and demanding; the industry has lost a lot of great PMs over the years because of these frustrations.”
“I want to create an opportunity for managers to help them create their own lifestyle business, operating from home with our full automation, back-end, support and centralised system. They won’t have to worry about that tediousness and can focus on the clients, growing the business and enjoying life,” he said.
The new model, Mahon said, would mean each PM could start with 15-25 properties as a base point to get them up to speed, have revenue from the start and be no more than 10 minutes from the properties they manage to keep inefficiency at a minimum.
“We’re excited about the type of person we can attract to this role,” Mahon said. “It’s classic in this industry that a manager can be here one day and gone the next, but if they have a larger purpose of building their business, and sticking it out for the long-run, then it should also benefit the client to have that continuity.”
The PPM ‘Best of the Best’ Awards aim to encourage, recognise and promote excellence in the areas of service delivery, systems, technology, marketing, business development, leasing, personal achievement and best industry practices. All award categories will be judged by industry experts who know property management and will be appointed by the PPM Group.
The national awards will be held on 17 June 2018 at Surfers Paradise Marriott, Gold Coast.
The awards are held in conjunction with the PPM Group Property Management Conference which runs from 17 – 18 June. The conference is an opportunity to learn from and rub shoulders with many of the stars of the property management industry, as well as leading trainers and coaches.
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