With almost 30 years'' experience in the property management industry, Debbie has witnessed three decades of change.
From DOS based trust programs, no Internet or email, big chunky mobile phones and a long wait in a bank queue to deposit thousands of dollars in rental cash; to the fast-moving, technological, modern property management businesses we have evolved into today.
The way we do things, the technology, software and aps we embrace, artificial intelligence advancements, legislation compliance and the way we communicate and operate a real estate/property management business has rapidly changed and will continue to do so.
Before we know it, there will be an UBER disruption, unless we stay current, connected to our clients and understand that property management is more than just technology.
From a property management perspective, I believe the most challenging issues we are facing right now are:
- A lack of quality and experienced property management team members to recruit into agencies. This is a national epidemic placing many agencies/business owners into vulnerable and reactive modes.
- Disruption from outside businesses to the traditional property management agency structure, such as AIRBNB and CUBBI and there will be many more to come and challenge what we do.
- The rapid advancement of technology, apps, software and artificial intelligence.
- A shift in property managers establishing their own independent agencies, where property management is their sole focus and service is a priority.
- A change in how agencies are structured and operated; including the emergence of Virtual Assistants (VAs) being more widely accepted and utilised in the industry. The traditional model of a real estate agency having the most prominent position in the local area is becoming outdated as consumers are wanting to do business online, rather than walking into an agency.
- A lack of systems and processes within property management agencies or what I call ''A blueprint for success'' - being a consistent ''mapped way'' of undertaking each daily activity and how your business delivers exceptional service.
- A lack of well-being, emotional intelligence and mindfulness being embraced by business owners to grow strong long-lasting property management team members.
- An increase in compliance processes and legislation.
- Old school principals not engaging in or taking the property management business seriously.
- Competition of property management agencies offering discounted fees.
WILL YOU SURVIVE THE FUTURE OF PROPERTY MANAGEMENT?
I personally believe that the key to surviving or staying competitive in a changing market is to improve our connections, relationships and communications with our clients (landlords) and customers (tenants).
Property management is a people business. It is a long-term relationship of managing the landlord, tenant and property; not a quick once off transaction.
Now more than ever, property management businesses need to be increasing their service offerings to compete with the disruptions that are entering the market place.
How would you rate your service now? What client service strategies do you have in place to stand out over your competitor''s or to create long-term loyal clients?
Our focus cannot just be on the day-to-day processes.
Have you ever received a telephone call from an outside agent advising that they have just listed a property for sale on your rent roll ''your agency''s client''? If you have (and you have a sales department), then this is a red alert that you may need to improve your client service strategies.
HOW DO YOU COMPARE OR WHAT REAL TIME CONNECTIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS ARE YOU OFFERING?
When we think of video marketing we often think of virtual tours or videos of properties. However, video recording/marketing is now being more widely used to communicate with clients and deliver important ''personal'' messages. We can call it ''video relationship connections'' (VRC). This is where a property management team member is talking and communicating to their clients via video recordings or real time virtual apps such as Skype or the simple camera feature on your iPhone. They are using VRC to record/film company branded profiles of ''Why choose us'', to deliver a library of tenant and landlord tips and much more.
An open house has just taken place and all the prospective tenant details have been recorded in a live CRM system on your agencies iPad. Following the inspection, the modern-day property manager or leasing consultant sits in their car or at the property and records a video message to send to their client/landlord. "Hi Mrs Smith, great to connect with you again. This is Debbie from PPM Realty. I just wanted to quickly give you a personal update on today''s inspection. We had 10 groups through the property and 6 tenants were really interested, asking for an application. This is really positive news! You can be assured that renting the property to the best possible tenant is our priority. Hope you have an awesome weekend and I will give you a telephone call early next week once the applications have been received and processed". Click... and send the personal message to the client/landlord. Can you image how a landlord would feel receiving a personal updated message at a time when they are feeling their most vulnerable and stressed about the property possibly being vacant.
Property managers conducting inspections at a rental property have many safety concerns. I believe that conducting inspections remotely through technology, where the tenant can guide property managers around the home will happen sooner than we think. Smart homes are also being development to create a total automation experience. Property''s appliances being link to an app that can send message reminders of air-conditioning units requiring to be serviced, electrical issue, etc. as well as many more features.
Leading ''Elite'' property managers today are inviting their clients/landlords on live tours of inspections where they walk them through the property in real time.
Property managers are also taking videos of property inspections and uploading them to a private YouTube accounts for their clients.
According to research, website visitors spend approx. 400% more time looking at video marketing of properties in comparison to property photos. Virtual tours of properties have often been considered a high-end option for renting properties and more so for sales. However, it is becoming common for rental properties to feature online with virtual tours and floor plans. There are many apps on the market now and service providers that make putting together a property virtual tour - simple, easy and affordable. It is a 24/7 advertisement of the property. There is also the option of virtual reality tours of the property entering the market.
Landlord and Tenant Portals
Property management departments have had access to trust account portal features for more than a decade. However, many are not utilising them to their optimum capabilities. Consumers want to be able to transact, communicate and view data and information online remotely at any time. If you are not utilising this feature, put it on your to-do list.
Telephone calls and client surveys
Technology is here to stay and is often an efficiency and time saver. However, one of the greatest negative impacts it has created within our society, is a lack of connection. We are socially connecting via Facebook and Instagram with our friends and we are professionally connecting via email with our clients. It is more important than ever to start picking up the telephone (or sending video messages) to have real conversations with your clients.
When was the last time that you personally surveyed your landlord or tenants? Not to talk maintenance or rent arrears but to really connect, build relationships and find out what you are doing right and what you could do a little better. Conducting client surveys effectively is also a great way to generate more business and income.
The list of modern-day advancements is endless... New and improved trust account software, cloud solutions, external back-up solutions, CRM solutions, integrated technology solutions, artificial intelligence, apps, new start up service offering companies and social media, also play a big part of the future success of a property management business.
Once a client has experienced increased service offerings, it will become an expectation like online banking. Would you give your business to a bank where the only service option was to walk in to the office, email or telephone?
Don''t get left behind... wow your clients so they don''t leave you.
Author: Debbie Palmer