Is the Candidate a People Person?

Peter OBrien cropped

An article by Peter O'Brien.

What is one of the most important attributes you look for in a job candidate?

I look to see if they are a “people person”. Can the candidate “walk the walk” and “talk the talk”?

I have literally interviewed hundreds of candidates across Australia for placement in Property Management. When hiring new staff I often put immense pressure on myself to make the decision as to which candidate will be the right person for the job.

If the wrong candidate was chosen it can create a disastrous series of events. The incorrect placement could cause loss of clients, disruption to other staff members, hostility, stress, and upheaval in the office for everyone. It is also a very expensive exercise.

At the present time the pool of available candidates for property management positions is extremely low. We sometimes do not have any chose but to look outside of our industry and be prepared to train the new person from scratch! Is this a bad thing?

Within the first few minutes of the interview I look to see if the candidate possesses three important traits.

  1. I establish if the person can be trained. Do they have the ability and want to learn? Do they have common sense? The basics of Property Management is not difficult to teach people and with the right support and existing team in place on the job training works very efficiently.
  2. Does the candidate have strong communication and organizational skills? Can they multi-task easily and do they handle stressful situations well. This is of great benefit because it affects almost all of our day to day tasks.
  3. Finally, is the candidate a “people person”? Is the candidate a person who likes interacting with others? Is the candidate a sociable and compassionate person?

Mostly my decision as to who to hire is from answers I have been able to place next to the above 3 questions. And this is why these questions are important:

In property management, effective communication comes from being organized. It is knowing where to access information and being timely and accurate with your advice. It is also being able to transfer information professionally to avoid or reduce conflict.

A key element in leasing and managing property is to clearly express yourself. This includes talking in person, writing an email to landlords, speaking to tenants over the telephone or appearing at mediation or a Hearing of the Tribunal. The person receiving your information, advice or guidance must understand it in their terms and be able to make informed decisions.

An important part of communicating effectively is the ability to comprehend tenancy legislation and convey that interpretation to all parties in a tenancy, whether it is the landlord, tenant or other interested parties such as tradespeople. In some instances you will need to rely on advice from senior real estate professionals such as your Principal Agent or Officer in Effective Control. You must make sure your communication is accurate.

Regular communication is crucial throughout the life cycle of a tenancy. It is your role to coordinate and transfer information between all parties. Constantly keeping the landlord up-to-date on the tenancy, conducting inspections, making recommendations or addressing issues immediately will avoid bad tenancy scenarios. Take for example an urgent repair to replace a leaking hot water system. You will need to act fast, communicate with a number of parties and resolve the issue.

Staffing Levels and Structures

Bob Walters True PM

An article by Bob Walters
  

Common Questions from property management business owners

1. How many properties can a Property Manager manage?

Answer:

There is no universal answer to that because of the following variables:

  • The distances between managed properties
  • The distance of managed properties from the office
  • The type of properties under management
  • The type of clients who own the properties
  • How well systemised the business and the individual team members are
  • What the business is trying to achieve: -  maximum profit  -  growth   -  just maintaining the existing client base and staffing levels   -  running the business primarily as an appendage to Real Estate Sales.   

A better approach is to work on how many staff do I need to delight the clients with service and still make an acceptable profit. That is, to calculate staffing requirements based more on the total income being generated, rather than purely on the number of properties managed.

2. What is the best staffing structure to have?

Answer:

Once again, there is no BEST or RIGHT staffing structure. There have been differing opinions for decades as to whether the most efficient structure should be pyramid (or task management), portfolio or some combination of the two.

Some experts believe that the best staffing model is to employ Property Managers who have the total responsibility for all aspects of the leasing and management of clients’ properties, including a responsibility for growing the rent roll.

This model has some attraction due to the ‘holistic’ nature of the Property Manager’s role and the fact that there would be a wide variety of duties undertaken by the Property Manager.

However, it is my view, that leasing and rent roll growth are now specialist areas that require different types of skills to that normally required of Property Managers. In a nutshell, today’s Property Manager is primarily an administrator, while leasing and business development require a high level of SALES skills.

Another factor in establishing an efficient staffing structure is the availability of people in the market area of the business who have the knowledge, skills and attributes to fill the available roles.

There is a shortage of competent, experienced Property Managers in many parts of Australia. Therefore, even though it may be more desirable to find a Property Manager to complement the ‘portfolio’ structure of the business, a good Property Manager may not be available. On this basis, some property management businesses may need to adapt the staffing structure to the competency of the employees available.  

3. When do I need to hire an additional employee            

Answer:

One of the most difficult problems in managing a property management business is when to increase the staff numbers.  Profitability reduces every time a new staff member is employed so it is often put off until the business cannot function without one. 

The question is “What is the cost of waiting?”

Let’s say, you have the “average” size rent roll of 350 properties that generates $1,500 in revenue per property per year (a total of $525,000), have a properties managed to staff ratio of 87.5:1 (i.e 4 staff) and a profit of 20% on gross annual revenue (i.e $105,000).

You want to grow the business, but you think you should put off employing an additional staff member at the moment because everyone in the team appears to be coping and employing an extra person will reduce profit.

Over a period of time, the number increases to 390 properties, generating gross revenue of $585,000 and a profit of $117,000, but the staff are really under pressure.

The burning question is “Is the additional $60,000 income is sufficient to justify employing an additional staff member because you will probably have to pay all the additional income out in salary costs?”. The problem is that the properties managed to staff ratio, nearly 100:1, is escalating to a level where service levels may be starting to go down while the stress levels of the staff is going up.

Every property management business has it’s own idiosyncrasies, but the ability to meet the cost of an additional staff member places demands on all business owners to meet that cost by making a sound business decision.

The question must always be asked – “Can I afford not to employ another person?”, and not “Can I afford to employ another person?”

Some useful tips

1. Avoid creating a position purely to match the person’s skill set

2. Do not organise work as if they were separate, isolated functions dependent on the skills of separate, isolated people.

3. Create the structure you want first, then find the people to fit the structure.

4. As a business grows new muscles, sometimes the structure needs to be modified to provide maximum efficiency and profitability.

 

Generation Y in the Workplace

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An article by BWT


Do the terms "millenials", "echo boomers" or "trophy kids" sound familiar? These are just some of the names that have been given to the demographic group more commonly known as Generation Y.

Generation Y are people born between 1977 and the mid 1990's. They currently make up 28% (5.15million) of the population according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Generation Y's views and expectations of work and life have been shaped by early exposure to communications, digital technologies, the media and their parents telling them that they can achieve anything they set their mind to and that education is the key to success.

They are also told from an early age, to live a balanced life and not to let their job jeopardise their ultimate happiness. This attitude towards work can be misconstrued as laziness, arrogance and selfishness.

With a greater knowledge and understanding of generation Ys values and expectations, businesses can focus on management strategies to utilise the talent this generation brings to the workplace.

Employers need to recognise that the corporate world has changed. Employer and employee relationships are no longer based on hierarchal power and long term commitments for long term benefits.

The management style of throwing staff into the deep end to see if they sink-or-swim is a thing of the past. This style of management is being replaced with a more personal hands-on approach. The economy today leaves little room for error.

Hence why managers now have to be pro-active and no longer sit back and wait for things to go wrong. When things start to go pear shaped, it is up to management to step in to provide staff with direction, guidance and the support they need.

By developing a solid teaching relationship with your staff it will allow you to know your team at a deeper level than ever before, identify their strengths and skill gaps, put staff in the right roles and give feedback constantly and consistently for overall improvement.

In summary my tips to managing generation Y staff successfully are:

  • To be a mentor and coach
  • Get to know them and their capabilities
  • Communicate to them the ultimate outcome
  • Allow for meaningful contributions
  • Let them know what issues are non-negotiable
  • Show recognition for a job well done
  • Give feedback where improvement is required

With time more and more businesses will realise that what younger workers are asking for is valued by all staff. So don't bury your head in the sand any longer and let your team's talents go unutilised.

The Secrets of Employee Performance Reviews

Bob Walters True PM

An article by Bob Walters

In my experience, trying to find a formal performance review process in a property management office is like finding a $2 note.

I don't see very many, yet so many employees tell me that they would love to have a proper performance review to get feedback on their performance in their respective job roles.

Some business owners say to me that performance reviews are only for BIG businesses. Nothing could be further from the truth. Big businesses are only small businesses that have been very successful.

What can we learn from performance reviews?

A performance review:

  • focuses on staff as INDIVIDUALS, leading to a better understanding of their needs and goals
  • provides an opportunity for the employee and the manager to reflect on the employee's past and potential performance
  • identifies areas where additional training could enhance performance or expand the range of services offered by the business
  • potential problem areas are identified early and remedial action can be taken.

How should they be conducted?

The review should be conducted formally by way of a structured interview, questionnaire and discussion.

It should be conducted somewhere private, and preferably in a non threatening environment for the employee.

Here are some tips for an effective Performance Review of an employee:

  • advise the employee how you will conduct the review how long the review meeting will take
  • start and finish on time
  • focus on the employee's achievements
  • provide as much positive feedback as possible
  • give the employee plenty of opportunity to say how they feel about their job, their performance and how they feel about the management and direction of the business
  • actively listen to what the employee has to say (do not be judgemental)
  • work together on a personal development plan for the employee
  • end the review on a positive note.

How often should they be conducted?

Performance Reviews should be conducted at least once per year, preferably every 6 months.

What are the risks in conducting Performance Reviews?

The employee expects CHANGE as a result of the review, so change must occur. If you do not deliver, the employee becomes distrustful and performance may decline.

If you would like me to provide you with a great template for an Employee Performance Review just email at bob@bwt.com.au.

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