These 5 traits of a poor property manager should make you think twice about letting them manage your rental property.
After managing over a thousand properties, renting to over 10,000 tenants, and working with hundreds of owners, we have found that property management is a business of systems and processes.
And for the most part, it’s a pretty thankless job! However, it’s an extremely important job. Providing paying tenants a great place to live and helping owners capitalize on their investment is a time intensive job.
Since these systems and process start over every month, you would expect that most property managers should be able to develop good habits in order to manage both their portfolio and all of the tasks that go along with professional management.
Unfortunately, this is not always how it works out and simply having the title of a manager does not mean that you are good at it. We decided to point out a few hallmarks of a manager that may have trouble managing himself efficiently, much less, your property.
Here’s the list:
- Dis-organized and Bad Record Keeping
- Avoidance of Tough Issues or Conversations
- Not “Walking the Talk”
- Embracing the Status Quo
Let’s look at each of these in depth.
Dis-organized and Bad Record Keeping
In the world of property management, there is no shortage of daily transactions that take place. On top of that, there are massive amounts of communication that must be handled with owners and tenants on a daily basis.
Most of the financial transactions and records involve other people’s money and most communication deals with someone else’s multi $100,000 asset. On top of this, the real estate industry falls in the shadow of Fair Housing Laws where a simple mistake, whether intentional or not, could cause a lawsuit that could result in $100,000’s of loss. Needless to say, dis-organization and bad record keeping can cost you in many ways.
Avoidance of Tough Issues or Conversations
We’re not throwing a pity-party around here but the truth is that property managers have a hard job.
A great month is the month that you do not hear from your property manager because it means that everything went right! Most of the time, a property manager is the deliverer of bad news.
Whether a sewer line needs to be replaced, an HVAC unit needs repaired, or a tenant did not pay rent, all the property owner hears is, “You need to spend or send money”.
A property manager must be confident enough in themselves to deliver this hard truth and not avoid potentially tough conversations. Regardless whether the property manager sugar-coats the news or not, the truth will come to the surface eventually.
Wouldn’t you rather know the truth today so that you can plan accordingly? It always amazes me how many property managers struggle with facing the tough issues and delay, thus costing the property owner a tremendous amount of money. A property manager who can’t have tough conversations in a timely manner need to find another line of work.
While facing the tough issues and delivering the hard truth, a property manager must always remember not to allow their emotions to get to them.
Property owners will be upset and tenants generally are not happy with the outcome of the situation that, “No we can not waive that late fee, again, for the 6th month in a row“.
Through this, a good property manager will always keep the Landlord Tenant Law and Fair Housing Compliance front and center so that he can lead his property owner to a decision that protects from liability, as well as, helps the property owner profit the most amount of money.
Many times, delivering bad new to a tenant, a.k.a. someone that could destroy your home if made mad, is something that must be handled with kid gloves because the alternative, well, is just not a good option.
We’ve heard of managers who threaten both tenants and owners on the phone and in person. From what I recall of Dale Carnegie’s classic, How To Win Friends And Influence People, threatening your customers with bodily harm is frowned upon!
Not “Walking the Talk”
It is very easy in the property management world to say what needs to be done, but when the daily grind hits, it takes tremendous discipline and focus to ensure that you are not pulled in every direction.
A property manager must focus on the most important tasks of managing the property for the home owner.
It is always necessary for a property manager to develop processes to ensure that the daily, weekly and monthly tasks get accomplished every time on time. A good property manager is someone that follows through on doing what they said they would with a level of professional excellence that should be expected.
At gkhouses we have a series of meetings each day, week, month and quarter to ensure that the most important work is being accomplished. Here is a schedule of our meetings:
- Departmental Huddle – Each team member meets within their specific department to review what was accomplished the day before and set a ‘most important to be accomplished’ schedule for the day
- Daily Office Huddle – The entire office meets up front for around 10 minutes for any cross-departmental communication. This helps us cut down on emails and interruptions during the day.
- Level 10 Meeting – Once a week we have an office meeting where we do what we call IDS…we Identify, Discuss, and Solve issues within the business. This is a time for everyone to have input and move the company forward.
- Leadership Level 10 Meeting – This is just like the normal Level 10, but for the Leadership Team to discuss larger issues that have more to do with strategy, financial issues and personnel decisions.
- One to Ones Within Departments – Each Department Leader meets once a month with their team on an individual basis to review the months accomplishments and plan for the upcoming month.
- Quarterly Leadership Meetings – The Leadership Team goes offsite once a quarter to asses how we’ve done on a goals and plan for the next 90 days.
- Scrum – This is what we call our ‘special projects’ planning. It comes from the book Scrum and has helped us map out every detail of what needs to be accomplished in a particular project.
Embracing the Status Quo
No matter how long a property manager has been in the business, they don’t know everything. In the world of technology that we all live in, a property managers that cling to the “how they have always done it” mantra, sink. A property manager must be willing to listen to ideas and not be too proud to admit that your idea, is a good idea.
A good property manager sources good ideas from wherever possible so that he can continually grow to offer you better service. In the property management business, being afraid to “shake things up” can leaving you wondering what happened.
We enjoy getting together with other property managers in Birmingham and Nashville in order to share helpful management tips and learn ourselves.
We hope that this list of traits that a poor property manager has helps offer insight into how a quality property manager operates.
We hope that it helps you select the property management company that is right for you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by calling (205) 940-6363 ext 3 if you have property in Birmingham or (615) 925-3880 if you have a property in Nashville.