The insider’s guide to property management

by Chris Rooney
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The author for this guest post is Chris Rooney who is a real estate advisor, and serves for the Chucktowner Organization in Charleston, South Carolina.

 

Property management is a lucrative industry, but it requires more than common sense and a bit of business management experience to successfully operate a company. There is no one trick to excelling in the industry and keeping your company competitive requires the exertion of more skill than can be found by paging through a textbook or a few websites.  Luckily, you’re taking it from an expert– as the author is a Charleston real estate guide, and has been involved with the good and not so good property managers for many years.

 

Lived experience is the only way to unlock some of that essential management skill, but for what one can’t learn from picking through a book, one can also gain through insight from other industry insiders. An insider’s perspective is incredibly valuable as a means of grasping the most important, as well as the most difficult, aspects of property management – and what can be done to pave a pathway for success.

 

Detailed below is a brief property management guide from an insider’s perspective, shared for the purpose of giving prospective and current property management professionals a guideline for some of the most crucial considerations for operating a thriving business.

 

Develop a solid property management business plan

To achieve success in property management, it’s important to think like a businessperson. While not particularly glamorous, developing strategies and integrating them within a focused, comprehensive business plan is essential. Regardless of how much experience you have in navigating the lucrative industry of property management, a baseline plan detailing the most important aspects of your business is fundamental to both the earliest phase of development and beyond.

 

Indeed, you will likely only add onto your plan down the line, as you have the opportunity to refer back to its fundamental components.

 

To get started, however, a solid property management business plan should without question cover:

 

  • Details of your chosen business model
  • Lists of short and long-term goals
  • Fee structure
  • Descriptions of the base services you will be offering clients/tenants
  • Office location & organizational structure detailing necessary staff
  • Marketing strategies for reaching and retaining clients

 

Developing a plan additionally includes researching property management laws and qualifications as they pertain to your state. There are some requirements shared largely throughout the United States, such as possessing a real estate and/or property management license – with some states as exceptions.

 

Committing to your role as a business owner involves taking state law and regulation into consideration as you flesh out the details of your property management plan – and it also ensures smooth sailing.

 

Prioritize your clients’ satisfaction

Although having a solid organizational and operational structure in place for your business is paramount to achieving both a strong start and continuing success, one mistake many property managers make is underestimating the importance of tenant/client satisfaction.

 

Also often underestimated is the cost of client dissatisfaction. There is more to be lost from a dissatisfied client than rental income. As stated by the former President of Property Management for Jones Lang LaSalle, Dan Pufunt, “Tenant retention is a top priority is a top priority because an occupied property allows owners to maximize the value of an investment.”

 

But to spin positive, there is also a lot to gain from client satisfaction. Property management companies help clients secure a hospitable place to live, but that help is also reciprocal. Retaining your clients is a win-win situation all around.

 

Looking into the top trends circulating for satisfactory client experiences and implementing those into your own business model is a start.

 

Additional recommendations for securing the contentment of your clients might include:

 

  • Maintaining excellent client engagement through consistent and professional communication. Keeping up with current clients, as well as those prospective, keeps everyone in the loop on changes in budget or staff, and allows your clients to feel assured that they have a means to be heard should they feel the need to voice any concerns they have. Addressing concerns before they escalate reassures your client as well as your own confidence in their likelihood to renew their lease.
  • Ensure timely management response. Rapid response time to questions or concerns posed by clients is important for keeping up satisfaction rates. This means everyone – all staff members – should ideally have a means of accessing incoming client communications to help streamline the process, such as the use of software.

 

Recognize there is strength in numbers: Make connections

From internal communications within your company, to engaging with clients and prospects, you should be well aware that there is no way to keep your company afloat running solo.

 

Building and developing a network with other industry professionals for knowledge sharing can create collaborative business opportunities and provide you with a perspective you might have just been missing. Connecting with other like-minded individuals who understand the industry can spark valuable discussions about overcoming common challenges and allow you to expand the horizons of your business.

 

The National Suppliers Council (NSC), established by the National Apartment Association, hosts the largest annual conference in the multifamily property management industry titled NAA Apartmentalize – with at least 10,000 attendees each year.

 

Providing a forum for industry insights as well as networking opportunities, the conference serve as one valuable resource property management professionals are invited to explore- and may be particularly useful for those in the early phases of business development.

 

Takeaways

There are many key considerations property managers should keep in mind in the interest of building and running a successful company. There are ways to get ahead, and there are ways to fall behind.

 

By developing a comprehensive business plan, prioritizing client satisfaction, and making valuable connections with other professionals in the industry, you can be rest assured that you are taking important steps that can translate into the successful growth of your company.

 

No matter what phase of development or management you are in as a property manager eager to succeed, there is always more that can be learned and implemented to ride a property management rollercoaster that only goes up.

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