The biggest issue for the investor is the breakdown in communication and the inconsistency this creates from one property manager to the next. They finally have a good working relationship with their Property Manager and then too often that person leaves the organisation within 12 months.
When a new client speaks to us about the issues they have had in the past with staff changes, we don't make false promises about providing them with the same property manager for life, we explain that regardless of the organisation you choose, staff will come and go for various reasons. There is never a guarantee that you will have the luxury of dealing with the same person for the next 5-10 years, particularly in the property management industry where the dominant demographic of a Property Manager is female in her early to mid-thirties. The fact is, this demographic is the most likely to start a family, travel or may still be considering their career path. Unfortunately, not everyone is cut out for this challenging industry and while you could suggest it is up to the business owner to look outside of this demographic, there are often limitations on the business and budget restraints.
It is all very well to offer a high salary package to attract highly trained people however the budget will only stretch so far and with the war on discounted management fees, it's often not an option for some agencies. We reinforce this to the new clients when they ask about discounting fees, what they are asking us to do is negotiate on our resources and ultimately our service.
Dealing with staff changes
We will go on to explain how we deal with staff changes as an organisation. Firstly our clients are appointing us as a company, they are not signing an agreement with the individual property manager, therefore the responsibility for the service they receive is ultimately on the principal or manager of the organisation. The best operators rely on quality systems, not just the people, to ensure consistency through growth and staff changes. They have a controlled environment where the people are accountable to use the systems and every aspect of the business is monitored with audit processes and strict guidelines.
In simple terms, by choosing a managing agent who has a focus on business systems, you are less reliant on the people within that business and the various management styles they bring to the organisation.
Choose the business reputation over the person
When choosing a property management business, the client should look at the overall reputation of the company and ask more questions about the processes and statistics of the business. Google is a great place to start! look for things like testimonials (with names and dates), awards, and innovation. You may also find the "not so good" reviews.
Investors who make the mistake of following an individual property manager from office to office will eventually be disappointed when that person leaves and they are handed down to someone less competent.
The second mistake investors make, and the most common is choosing a property manager based on the lowest fee or discounted fees. The problem here is, that the agent with the lowest fee will also have a limited budget to attract and retain the best people. They will generally be the agents with junior staff who come with little or no property management experience. These unsuspecting young people are generally naive to the fact they are being placed in a senior role with a huge responsibility. They are often given a desk, a phone and a list of properties they are responsible to manage. They are then faced with the “sink or swim” scenario, the trouble is, most of them drown, hence the staff turnover and inconsistencies.
How to reduce the impact
Our office is not infallible, we face the same challenges that all property managers do each day. The difference is we have the systems in place to minimise the impact of staff changes and we are highly trained to offer the best protection for our clients.
We don’t rely on the individual style of each Property Manager, we have processes that each person in the organisation is accountable to follow. Our systems create consistency and our record keeping provides transparency. The ongoing training covers the skill, so no matter who sits in the property manager's seat in our office, they will have clear instructions on how to drive the bus. That doesn't mean to say anyone can drive the bus, it is up to the employer to select people with the basic skills required to do the job before they put them behind the wheel! The business has an obligation to the client to ensure that the team are equipped with the tools and training in order to provide the smoothest ride possible.