Helpful Advice for New Property Managers and Operators

When I first entered the apartment industry more than a decade ago, one of my job duties was to facilitate sales and customer service training for new property managers and leasing agents. I inherited a curriculum that exploded with so many scripts and lists and closing techniques that I watched my students’ eyes glaze over halfway through the first day.

That was the one and only time I ever used that training

In my second session – and in every single session that followed it – I would start by sharing the outline of everything we were “supposed to cover” in that class. Then I would tell the participants to tear it from their workbooks, crumple it up, and throw it away. 

“After all,” I would say.

"There is really only one rule for being successful in property management. Act like you own the place.”

After the sound of crumpling paper subsided, we made a list of everything we would do to ensure we would be successful if we were the property owner. As it turns out, it’s sound advice for property managers and leasing agents too.

When I first entered the apartment industry more than a decade ago, one of my job duties was to facilitate sales and customer service training for new property managers and leasing agents. I inherited a curriculum that exploded with so many scripts and lists and closing techniques that I watched my students’ eyes glaze over halfway through the first day.

That was the one and only time I ever used that training

In my second session – and in every single session that followed it – I would start by sharing the outline of everything we were “supposed to cover” in that class. Then I would tell the participants to tear it from their workbooks, crumple it up, and throw it away. 

“After all,” I would say.

"There is really only one rule for being successful in property management. Act like you own the place.”

After the sound of crumpling paper subsided, we made a list of everything we would do to ensure we would be successful if we were the property owner. As it turns out, it’s sound advice for property managers and leasing agents too.

Control your time.

Don’t be worried if you are feeling overwhelmed in your new role. The paperwork alone can feel like an insurmountable hurdle. Financial reporting, lease execution, resident notices, traffic logs, and operational checklists are more than enough to fill your day. Add in a phone that never stops ringing, a door that never stops opening, and surprise, a broken boiler in building 2, and you have good reason to feel a little anxious.

Take comfort in knowing that almost everyone feels that way at first. But they work through it, and you will, too. Take a few moments each morning to prioritize your day. Develop an organizational system that works for you and use it religiously. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice from your more seasoned peers or supervisors.

Control your time.

Don’t be worried if you are feeling overwhelmed in your new role. The paperwork alone can feel like an insurmountable hurdle. Financial reporting, lease execution, resident notices, traffic logs, and operational checklists are more than enough to fill your day. Add in a phone that never stops ringing, a door that never stops opening, and surprise, a broken boiler in building 2, and you have good reason to feel a little anxious.

Take comfort in knowing that almost everyone feels that way at first. But they work through it, and you will, too. Take a few moments each morning to prioritize your day. Develop an organizational system that works for you and use it religiously. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice from your more seasoned peers or supervisors.

Know your residents.

I will never forget a property tour I took with one of my company’s maintenance technicians. As we drove to the back of the community on a golf cart, he spoke to every resident we encountered and called them by name. He asked about the big soccer game and pulled out a dog treat for a hungry little beagle who was all too excited to see him coming. This wasn’t a best-in-class property by any means. It was older and somewhat lacking in amenities, but its renewal percentage and online review scores were through the roof. It proves that when you take care of people, many other things take care of themselves.

Know your residents.

I will never forget a property tour I took with one of my company’s maintenance technicians. As we drove to the back of the community on a golf cart, he spoke to every resident we encountered and called them by name. He asked about the big soccer game and pulled out a dog treat for a hungry little beagle who was all too excited to see him coming. This wasn’t a best-in-class property by any means. It was older and somewhat lacking in amenities, but its renewal percentage and online review scores were through the roof. It proves that when you take care of people, many other things take care of themselves.

Cater to their wants.

This is a seemingly obvious, but often overlooked point. You are not the sum of your residents and therefore, your wants may not be the same as theirs. Seek regular feedback on how you can provide the best possible living experience. Is there specific fitness equipment or class offerings you could add to your property’s fitness center? Would partnering with a food truck or mobile oil change service be a benefit in your residents’ busy lives? Do resident events for the entire family get greater participation? Maximizing resident engagement doesn’t require a big budget, but it does require an open mind.  

Cater to their wants.

This is a seemingly obvious, but often overlooked point. You are not the sum of your residents and therefore, your wants may not be the same as theirs. Seek regular feedback on how you can provide the best possible living experience. Is there specific fitness equipment or class offerings you could add to your property’s fitness center? Would partnering with a food truck or mobile oil change service be a benefit in your residents’ busy lives? Do resident events for the entire family get greater participation? Maximizing resident engagement doesn’t require a big budget, but it does require an open mind.  

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Regular and timely touchpoints throughout the terms of the lease increase the likelihood of resident renewals and help minimize resident dissatisfaction when there is unfortunate news to share. Send emails using pre-designed templates, use your property’s social media channel, or pick up the phone and call.

Create a resident communication calendar with regularly scheduled notices and supplement with ad-hoc communication as the need occurs. Include the following and any others that may be beneficial:

      • Any service interruptions such as power outages, water shut-offs, or amenity closures
      • Local events or special offers that might be of interest to your residents
      • Holiday greetings
      • Feedback on move-ins, work orders, or resident events

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Regular and timely touchpoints throughout the terms of the lease increase the likelihood of resident renewals and help minimize resident dissatisfaction when there is unfortunate news to share. Send emails using pre-designed templates, use your property’s social media channel, or pick up the phone and call.

Create a resident communication calendar with regularly scheduled notices and supplement with ad-hoc communication as the need occurs. Include the following and any others that may be beneficial:

    • Any service interruptions such as power outages, water shut-offs, or amenity closures
    • Local events or special offers that might be of interest to your residents
    • Holiday greetings
    • Feedback on move-ins, work orders, or resident events

Be grateful.

Remember, most residents had countless choices of where to live and they chose you. Make them feel at home. 

Be grateful.

Remember, most residents had countless choices of where to live and they chose you. Make them feel at home. 

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

Comments (2)

  1. Avatar

    Pat

    Reply

    Certainly DON’T let them take control over you or you will be run over big time. They won’t stop.

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