AF­TER MORE THAN A DECADE IN PROP­ERTY MAN­AGE­MENT, Sam Nokes has worked his way up to Head of Depart­ment at Jellis Craig. Over­see­ing a team of 24 who man­age a rent roll of over 1,600 prop­er­ties, he's also learned a thing or two about prob­lem-solv­ing.

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - HAN­NAH BLACKISTON

One thing Sam Nokes is sure about is the num­ber one thing a prop­erty man­ager needs for a suc­cess­ful ca­reer is prob­lems.

“You need to love prob­lems. If you don't love prob­lems find an­other job, be­cause pro­fes­sional prob­lem solver and prop­erty man­ager are in­ter­change­able ti­tles,” he says.

“The more prob­lems we have to solve the more ex­cited we should be, be­cause if we don’t have prob­lems then we don’t have a job. I love prob­lems.”

Since get­ting his start in prop­erty man­age­ment as a work ex­pe­ri­ence stu­dent in high school, Sam’s been build­ing a rep­u­ta­tion in Vic­to­ria. The South Yarra res­i­dent also works in the re­gion, man­ag­ing prop­er­ties across the Jellis Craig of­fices in Ar­madale, Rich­mond, South Yarra and Sor­rento.

Sam’s cur­rent role fo­cuses on strat­egy and growth, as well as men­tor­ing his team of 24 who are spread out across the four of­fices. Keep­ing con­trol of a large team, es­pe­cially when they’re not in the same lo­ca­tion, can be tough; but the key is to es­tab­lish trust and set up clear pro­cesses.

“Trust and en­gi­neer­ing are the two im­por­tant things there. We’ve tried to em­brace giv­ing our team as much trust as pos­si­ble, be­cause we want them to feel en­gaged and feel own­er­ship of the work they do.”

Not only is there no time to mi­cro­man­age when you’re work­ing with a large team, giv­ing your team au­ton­omy also al­lows your work­ers to take pride in the work they de­liver. By giv­ing them trust and let­ting them know you be­lieve in their work, prop­erty man­agers are able to take con­trol of their own port­fo­lios and tackle prob­lems with­out con­stant man­age­rial in­put.

It helps when you hire the right peo­ple. Sam says the em­ploy­ment process in his of­fices can take weeks, but it’s im­por­tant that they find the right per­son for the role.

“You can’t hire the first per­son through the door. Our process takes weeks to go through, but it’s en­gi­neered that way on pur­pose to make sure we have the right peo­ple in the team. It’s worth a bit of pain in the mean­time. If we have a role open for a cou­ple of weeks with­out some­one in it, that’s just the price we pay for build­ing a great team.

“You want peo­ple who en­joy the work


they do and are happy be­ing here. That trans­lates to cus­tomers who you know are ex­tremely happy and will be get­ting the best ex­pe­ri­ence.”

There’s been a steep learn­ing curve for Sam when it comes to man­age­ment. Un­der­stand­ing how to han­dle dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties in a team is some­thing he used to think was a waste of time, but now he re­alises that de­liv­er­ing a man­age­ment style unique to the re­quire­ments of each worker achieves bet­ter re­sults.

“We adapt our style. It de­pends on the sit­u­a­tion and the per­son, and there’s a shift be­tween the lev­els of re­quire­ment from each team mem­ber. We need to work re­ally closely with some team mem­bers, com­pared to oth­ers where we’re very hands-off.”

To im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion across the of­fices, Sam and his team work on a needto-know ba­sis. An over­flow of in­for­ma­tion can re­sult in em­ploy­ees switch­ing off, in­for­ma­tion get­ting missed and over­flow­ing in­boxes.

“Un­der­stand­ing the depths of mes­sages for dif­fer­ent groups of peo­ple is re­ally key. If you've got a project on and 80 per cent of the busi­ness needs a top-line over­view of it, then they don't need to un­der­stand the de­tail and have that com­mu­ni­cated.”

Keep­ing the work­place en­gaged with a quick FYI email gives them all the in­for­ma­tion they need, Sam explains, rather than hold­ing a con­fer­ence call for ev­ery tiny change in a project. The same can be said for han­dling land­lords and ten­ants. Not ev­ery com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs to pro­vide too much in­for­ma­tion; most clients are sat­is­fied with a cou­ple of lines, and the ones who re­quire more will re­quest it. Plus, know­ing the au­di­ence and who is re­ceiv­ing the in­for­ma­tion means it is eas­ier to de­cide who needs the most de­tail.

One of the things Sam is known for in the in­dus­try is a fo­cus on men­tor­ing and train­ing. Prop­erty man­age­ment train­ing doesn’t tra­di­tion­ally re­ceive the same fo­cus as sales, but a lot of lead­ers in the in­dus­try have sug­gested this could change. While it’s some­thing Sam feels is im­por­tant, he doesn’t see it chang­ing any time soon.

“Prop­erty man­agers get pro­moted be­cause they hang around long enough and there­fore they be­come a head of depart­ment. Then, when some­one asks a ques­tion that they don't know the an­swer to, they de­cide to do some train­ing. That’s the ba­sic process for how train­ing de­vel­ops in prop­erty man­age­ment.”

Sam’s of­fices have em­braced the push for sales train­ing by com­bin­ing the BDM team with the sales team for train­ing ses­sions. This means the whole team is get­ting train­ing at least once ev­ery fort­night, and the prop­erty man­age­ment team also have ac­cess to the Real+ plat­form.

“Un­less some­one is will­ing to in­vest the re­sources, it’s not go­ing to change. It needs to start higher; the heads of de­part­ments need to hire train­ers.”


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