THE CHAL­LENGE OF CHANGE

WHAT ARE THE BIG­GEST chal­lenges fac­ing prop­erty man­agers right now? Con­sole and Elite Prop­erty Man­ager in­vited five lead­ing pro­fes­sion­als to com­ment on op­er­a­tional as­pects, cus­tomer ser­vice and leg­is­la­tion. They dis­cussed how these things af­fect their bus

Elite Property Manager - - Panel Discussion -

TROY WOOD­WARD

JEFF JONES REAL ES­TATE

Troy started his real es­tate ca­reer leas­ing residential prop­erty at one of Bris­bane’s big­gest and most suc­cess­ful agen­cies. He be­came a prop­erty man­ager with Jeff Jones Real Es­tate in 2012 and has worked in al­most all ar­eas of the busi­ness. Troy’s pos­i­tive energy and fo­cus on cus­tomer and client ser­vice yields re­sults. His cre­ative so­lu­tions and pro­fes­sional de­meanour sees Troy al­ways seek­ing to bet­ter him­self and lead his team to achieve the best pos­si­ble re­sults.

JESS KINDT

PLACE ES­TATE AGENTS

A multi-award win­ning agent with an ex­ten­sive back­ground in prop­erty span­ning al­most 13 years, Jess is Prop­erty Man­age­ment Li­ai­son & Team Men­tor for Place Es­tate Agents. She is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing staff and busi­ness owner sup­port and reg­u­lar staff train­ing, and is di­rectly in­volved in pro­vid­ing strate­gic ad­vice on the struc­ture of Place rental de­part­ments, en­sur­ing fan­tas­tic of­fice cul­tures are main­tained and en­cour­ag­ing in­di­vid­ual job sat­is­fac­tion and staff re­tain­ment. Jess is a strong as­set to the Place team.

KAREN GE­ORGE

RICHARD­SON & WRENCH CA­BOOL­TURE

As Di­rec­tor of Richard­son & Wrench Ca­bool­ture Prop­erty Man­age­ment Depart­ment, Karen is a li­censed real es­tate agent with sig­nif­i­cant in­dus­try knowl­edge. Her di­rec­to­rial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clude reg­u­lar anal­y­sis, eval­u­a­tion and re­port­ing. A skilled and ex­pe­ri­enced trainer, her lead­er­ship and pre­sen­ta­tion skills ex­tend be­yond the re­gion. In­vited by her peers to pro­vide state-wide pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment con­fer­ences, Karen en­joys sup­port­ing her im­me­di­ate team mem­bers, as well as her as­so­ci­ates within the wider real es­tate in­dus­try.

LAURA VALENTI

SO­LU­TIONS PROP­ERTY MAN­AGE­MENT

Laura is the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of So­lu­tions Prop­erty Man­age­ment in Burpen­gary, Bris­bane, QLD. She be­gan her real es­tate ca­reer in 2002, and she and her hus­band founded So­lu­tions Prop­erty Man­age­ment in 2008. Laura now over­sees two of­fices with 10 staff, man­ag­ing over 700 prop­er­ties in the greater Bris­bane area. She is the ul­ti­mate per­fec­tion­ist who con­stantly looks to im­prove pro­ce­dures and sys­tems, in or­der to achieve the ul­ti­mate in pro­fes­sional prop­erty man­age­ment ser­vice to her clients.

MICHAEL PA­PAN­TO­NIOU

LIST PROP­ERTY TARRAGINDI

Michael is the Prin­ci­pal of List Prop­erty Tarragindi. When he opened the in­de­pen­dent agency in 2010 it al­lowed him to com­bine his pas­sion for prop­erty with his ex­ten­sive busi­ness knowl­edge.

List Prop­erty is a grow­ing agency with an ex­pand­ing prop­erty man­age­ment and sales di­vi­sion. Michael has held en­gi­neer­ing man­age­ment roles within ma­jor projects across Queens­land and has his own En­gi­neer­ing Con­sul­tancy.

Fiona McEachran: How has the land­scape of PM changed in re­cent times?

LV: I be­lieve that there are more spe­cial­ist prop­erty man­age­ment com­pa­nies ap­pear­ing in the in­dus­try, as op­posed to the tra­di­tional sales-plus-prop­erty-man­age­ment type of of­fices. I think this is not only be­cause of the de­mand for a more spe­cialised ser­vice, but also due to in­creased leg­is­la­tion lead­ing to more chal­lenges in cer­tain ar­eas of the in­dus­try.

MP: I agree; there are a lot of bou­tique agen­cies now just fo­cus­ing on prop­erty man­age­ment and there are a few agen­cies that don’t want to deal with the prop­erty man­age­ment side at all due to the leg­isla­tive bur­den.

JK: It’s not just spe­cialised prop­erty man­age­ment com­pa­nies, but also spe­cialised po­si­tions within those com­pa­nies now. Once upon a time you had a prop­erty man­ager who would take care of your let­ting and be your first point of call as a new client, and he or she would take care of your main­te­nance. Now that the leg­isla­tive re­quire­ments have in­creased, we’ve had no other choice but to di­vide all those tasks up, so that prop­erty man­agers are now tak­ing care of the prop­erty (and leg­is­la­tion); you’ve got BDMs tak­ing care of new clients, you’ve got leas­ing con­sul­tants out there and also there are lots of of­fices that have as­sis­tants help­ing out the var­i­ous roles. On the whole, it ac­tu­ally feels like man­age­ments per prop­erty are de­creas­ing to han­dle the in­creased work­load from leg­isla­tive re­quire­ments.

KG: I think the other part flow­ing on from that is ed­u­ca­tion. We spend a lot of time and ef­fort in ed­u­cat­ing our­selves to make sure that staff are well in­formed so that they can de­liver that ser­vice. Be­cause there is new leg­is­la­tion, and be­cause our busi­ness is chang­ing, you re­ally need to in­vest in your team.

JK: And you can’t ‘fluff it’ now, ei­ther. There is too much ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion and ev­ery­body has online ac­cess to ev­ery­thing. Gone are the days when you could have some­one on the team who wasn’t aware of all the leg­is­la­tion. I look back and in 2003, when I started, I didn’t have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence or train­ing; but I still did my job well be­cause of the cus­tomer ser­vice fac­tor. Now it’s gone in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.

FM: How has this changed the role of the prin­ci­pal in the of­fice?

LV: I’m not sure how a sales-fo­cused prin­ci­pal could man­age a prop­erty man­age­ment depart­ment, for the rea­sons we’ve just been talk­ing about. They would need to have a very, very re­li­able man­ager for that part of the busi­ness. I sign-off on the trust ac­count bal­ance sheet ev­ery day. I know ex­actly what’s hap­pen­ing, and would be very scared if I didn’t!

MP: From a prin­ci­pal’s point of view, there is a lot more on us. I man­age both sides, sales and rent roll. Know­ing what your staff are do­ing in both sec­tions is im­por­tant, but it takes more ef­fort to man­age the PM side of the busi­ness be­cause that is where the ma­jor­ity of the com­pli­ance as­pects are.

LV: And a lot more risk, as well.

FM: With these changes are you try­ing any­thing new in terms of man­age­ment pro­cesses, or in terms of mar­ket­ing or pre­sent­ing your­selves?

TW: Safety is a big is­sue. We are look­ing at ways to as­sist land­lords in be­com­ing aware of safety is­sues in prop­er­ties, and we look to part­ner with other com­pa­nies that can help and make own­ers aware of these is­sues too.

JK: I agree with Troy. In our area there is some busi­ness we just don’t take on, be­cause the prop­erty is not in a con­di­tion that we think we can suc­cess­fully man­age pro­fes­sion­ally. And I think you have to be hon­est. You have to be able to say to those clients that the prop­erty needs work. If they are not will­ing to do that, then it’s not a re­la­tion­ship we should en­ter into.

FM: What are the trends with re­spect to man­age­ment fees – have they in­creased or de­creased?

LV: Ours have in­creased, dra­mat­i­cally ac­tu­ally. But our over­heads have in­creased too. We do ed­u­cate our new own­ers and ad­vise them of this be­cause we need to as­sure them that they’ve got the very best work­ing for them and their prop­erty. And why wouldn’t they pay? We use a com­mon anal­ogy: you’re not go­ing to buy a BMW for the price of a Ba­rina.

We also charge for ad­di­tional rou­tine in­spec­tions if it’s more than three. I re­mem­ber, 10 years ago, in­spec­tions were just a sim­ple re­port; but now ev­ery­one wants photos and some ex­pect videos. Some­one has got to pay for that. We also in­vest in soft­ware so that we can go out and do these in­spec­tions on our mo­biles.

MP: I think with com­mis­sions you can charge the pro­por­tion­ate com­mis­sion to the value that you are adding. And you have to ed­u­cate the own­ers, be­cause a lot of the time they don’t un­der­stand what we do.

TW: There are risks as­so­ci­ated with go­ing with that cheap op­tion, as there is in ev­ery­thing in life…

MP: And the risks are quite large in some com­pa­nies. I’ve heard of own­ers be­ing with­out rent for six months be­cause their prop­er­ties weren’t leased or the ten­ants weren’t pay­ing. So yes, ed­u­cat­ing own­ers on all these as­pects is im­por­tant.

FM: What are the best ways to go about ed­u­cat­ing own­ers?

LV: I think it starts at the sign-up process; there are a lot of com­pa­nies that are hir­ing BDMs to take care of this. But the BDM also needs to have ex­pe­ri­ence. We don’t prom­ise any­thing that we know we’re not go­ing to de­liver, or any­thing that is not in line with the leg­is­la­tion.

MP: You must have a great re­la­tion­ship with the owner and that starts with the prop­erty man­ager; the owner hav­ing trust and con­fi­dence in what they say is a very im­por­tant step. Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills are es­sen­tial to de­liver the right mes­sages.

JK: We have de­vel­oped other meth­ods, be­cause in a city mar­ket we have had to adapt to the fact that face-to-face is start­ing

to be­come less fre­quent. Even peo­ple that are lo­cal are time poor, so we put to­gether some­thing elec­tronic that is in­for­ma­tive, cov­ers us as an agency but is also at­trac­tive to the client. But it’s a whole mar­ket­ing mix that comes into play.

KG: It has to be flex­i­ble for ev­ery prop­erty. We still meet most of our own­ers face-to­face. They still walk into my of­fice, trust my fam­ily who have been there for 21 years and say, ‘Here’s my prop­erty. Look af­ter it as though it’s your own.’ They know our sys­tems are in place. I think there is a wrong per­cep­tion out there that in­vestors, even in­ter­state or over­seas in­vestors, only want to know about the num­bers. They don’t. If they were all about the num­bers, they wouldn’t have a prop­erty man­ager; they would just col­lect the rent.

FM: Task or port­fo­lio? Which is bet­ter?

LV: We do part task and part port­fo­lio; we have prop­erty man­agers who take care of the main tasks, like list re­newals and in­spec­tions – they have the main com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the owner. We have a ded­i­cated leas­ing con­sul­tant who just shows the prop­er­ties and finds ten­ants. Our of­fice man­ager chases the rent and does dis­burse­ments. That set-up works for us.

TW: We are port­fo­lio-based, and our man­agers are the sin­gle point of con­tact. We also have a ded­i­cated leas­ing team, a ded­i­cated trust team and a ded­i­cated busi­ness de­vel­op­ment team. So we are split up into dif­fer­ent ar­eas but have a sin­gle point of con­tact for own­ers and ten­ants.

MP: The owner gen­er­ally only wants to con­tact one per­son, and that one per­son should know ev­ery­thing about their prop­erty – or at least come back to them with the in­for­ma­tion.

LV: It’s just crazy to ex­pect one per­son to know how to mar­ket and take beau­ti­ful photos and in­spect a prop­erty and be the best per­son to chase the rent. One per­son can’t usu­ally do all that!

FM: What are the big­gest chal­lenges you are fac­ing right now?

KG: Our big­gest chal­lenge is def­i­nitely tech­nol­ogy, and keep­ing up. Tech­nol­ogy, for us, is re­ally im­por­tant to make sure that we are abreast of new in­for­ma­tion and new ways of do­ing things.

JK: I think it’s the op­po­site for us. We’ve in­vested so much in the last eight to ten years in brand new tech­nol­ogy. My great­est chal­lenge, at the mo­ment, is ac­tu­ally tak­ing us back a step and go­ing back to cus­tomer ser­vice, be­cause I think that that’s re­ally what’s go­ing to suc­ceed in the in­dus­try. At the mo­ment, I think, it’s very easy for peo­ple to jump on board with these cool apps and tech­nol­ogy, SMS and email; but I don’t want our staff be­ing com­pla­cent or re­liant on or hid­ing be­hind text mes­sages, emails and apps. I want them to de­liver ser­vice, be­cause with­out that we will lose busi­ness.

FM: What do you think is in store for the fu­ture?

MP: I think it’s a mix of both cus­tomer ser­vice and tech­nol­ogy. Tech­nol­ogy, cur­rently, is grow­ing rapidly. When you look at the por­tals and other as­pects – for ex­am­ple, VPA on the sales side of things – per­haps we will start to see more prop­erty man­age­ment com­pa­nies look­ing for paid advertising for rental prop­er­ties?

LV: I’d like prop­erty man­age­ment to be more pro­fes­sional. I don’t want to see some­one do a five-day course with one day of that be­ing prop­erty man­age­ment; how to fill out a Form 6 and here you go, there’s your mil­lion dol­lar, bil­lion dol­lar port­fo­lio, go and man­age it. We have to pro­vide all the train­ing from the be­gin­ning, which is fine. It just drives me crazy when you see other agen­cies and you know their staff are not trained and the prin­ci­pal doesn’t mind what hap­pens in the prop­erty man­age­ment depart­ment. It makes us all look re­ally un­pro­fes­sional. A good prop­erty man­ager is such a ca­pa­ble per­son. We do any­thing and we need to be recog­nised for that, in­clud­ing be­ing paid what we are worth!

“IT’S JUST CRAZY TO EX­PECT ONE PER­SON TO KNOW HOW TO MAR­KET, TAKE BEAU­TI­FUL PHOTOS, IN­SPECT A PROP­ERTY AND BE THE BEST PER­SON TO CHASE THE RENT. ONE PER­SON CAN’T USU­ALLY DO ALL THAT!”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.