Being a successful property management team member is 90 per cent mindset and 10 per cent knowledge. So how do you manage the challenging issues that we all face and do the little things better?

The juggling act: Know when to eat your toad


“The procrastination disease is in everyone’s lives. Know when to eat your toad.”

PPM Group managing director Debbie Palmer says it’s easy to get caught up thinking we’re the only one having an issue.

“We all face the same challenges. Whatever you focus on becomes your idea of reality. If you believe tenants and landlords are difficult to deal with and drive you crazy, that’s what you’ll attract and what your day-to-day will become,” Palmer said.

4 challenge points property managers face:
1. Stress (Finding that work/life balance)
2. Working smarter, not harder
3. Knowing what it is that we really do
4. Delivering the 10 per cent than 90 per cent of agents aren’t

The toad scenario:
– A man is diagnosed with an incurable disease, but no specialist could offer him a solution. On the internet, he finds a remote African jungle man who has a cure for his disease. He gets on a plane to Africa, finds the tent where the man lives and asks, “What do I need to do to cure myself?” The man says, “What you need to do is eat a toad every single day.” But the question I ask you is if you had to eat a toad every single day, when would you eat it? Would it be breakfast, lunch or dinner?

What this story relates to – whether you’d eat the toad for breakfast, lunch or dinner is a reflection on your level of procrastination. If you would eat the toad for breakfast you’re happy to get in there and tackle your worst asks. In property management, that’s all the difficult things you put off. When you put a task off, it affects your confidence. You think, “I need to ring that owner / make that insurance claim / admit I made a mistake.” It builds up and up.

“I encourage you to build a morning ritual. Remember that the toad is those difficult tasks you need to perform. You always know what your toad is – if you have a to-do list, the toad is usually at the top. But by 5pm you’ve made up so many other things, and the number one thing usually doesn’t get actioned,” Palmer says.

The scenario is akin to going to the gym each week. The more you face the gym, build up your muscles and your mind – the more you ‘eat your toad,’ the easier it will become. If you can get your worst tasks out of the way in day-to-day property management, the sky is the limit.

Palmer said her biggest, best and brightest tip for property management was the concept of working smarter, not harder.

Consider this scenario:
– There are two rent rolls. One has 100 properties; all are rented at $250 per week. The other agency has 200 properties at $125 per week. All properties are rented on an 8% management fee. Both are competing agencies. Which would generate more commission?

It’s a mathematical equation that both of these rent rolls will generate the same amount of commission. Which one would be more profitable though? Do you have selection criteria for the properties you manage? Or are you the type to get excited when you pick up a management, even if there’s rising damp, it’s a bad area and the owner lives upstairs? Consider analysing your rent roll to the point of analysing your market areas: As a business owner, do you want to manage the 100 or 200 properties?

“I find it very interesting that the properties which cause us the most stress, pressure and time pay us the least. The secret is to switch your mindset, it’s not about numbers, but quality.”

Know what it is we really do
Palmer said this was an interesting concept that many property managers were embracing and enquiry and listing presentations, but if someone were to ask what it is you do, the answer is typically: “Choose us because we’re the best / We do this” and your entire delivery at that presentation is about that.

“What happens is the presentation becomes all about you. It’s not about you at an enquiry or listing. It’s not about your services, but the client and their needs.”

To make it easy
1. Make the initial communication with the client about them: Mr Smith, do you have any concerns about renting out your property? What’s the most important thing about appointing someone to care for your property? Landlords want peace of mind and more money in their back pocket.
2. Focus on the sizzle: When you start talking the ‘landlord lingo’ that owners want to hear, you will stand out and rise above every competitor in your presentation. Mr Smith, we want to make sure that in two to three years’ time, your investment property is appreciating rather than depreciating. We will be going into the property to give you feedback on renovation / improvements.” Focus on HOW you can make them money and show them value in this.
3. The 10 per cent than 90% of agents don’t engage in: This is more tailored towards client and customer service. But gifts can be as simple as a $3 packet of Tim Tams with a bow on it. This is useful for times when you’ve signed a new management or you really want the business. Wow the client before you even get the business.
4. Make your interactions stand out: We need to make property management and the overall interaction more positive. Property managers are often very negative with the tenants. But for every negative, consider whether there’s a positive. Think about rewarding tenants with a ‘rent paid on time’ certificate.