How to take care of the lifeblood of your agency’s long-term profitability
MRI Software recently released the Voice of the Property Manager 2021 report which highlighted alarming statistics on the health and well-being of property management personnel within the property industry.
In a survey of 773 respondents, 23 percent said they intended to not just leave their current job, but leave the industry altogether.
This number should sound the alarm for your business.
Think for a moment and consider how your business would be affected if a quarter of your property management staff resigned and walked out the door.
Especially since there is already a nationwide shortage of property managers within the industry, making replacement 1. difficult and slow.
What is even more concerning is the impact this would have on your landlords, who, if unhappy, could easily seek someone else to manage their property, eroding the valuable asset that is your rent and your cash flow.
I sincerely believe that our industry goes beyond looking for band-aids and needs to get to the heart of the problem. We need to put an end to the revolving door of property managers moving in and out of the industry.
How to retain staff and reduce turnover?
After more than 40 years in the industry, I have identified three crucial areas requiring immediate and decisive action.
Many states have introduced legislation and training for property management personnel, which is a step in the right direction as it has raised skill levels.
However, we also need to ensure that our staff are trained in valuable skills such as conflict resolution, time management and using technology to facilitate their jobs.
The better a person can do their job, the more likely they are to feel satisfied with their role.
2. Working hours
Every member of the property management staff should have enough downtime. After-hours work should be shared and distributed among team members.
If necessary, bring in part-time staff to help out so your property managers don’t have to work continuously after hours or on weekends.
Make sure your property managers can comfortably handle the number of properties they manage.
I have seen situations where it is almost impossible to provide good service to owners due to the heavy workload.
The unrealistic workload may be the result of a manager who is under financial pressure, unable to pay more staff because the agency is cutting costs and struggling to make a profit.
This highlights a significant cause-and-effect problem running through our industry, caused by agents cutting their fees, putting pressure on other operators to compete on price for new business.
Staff costs represent the lion’s share of an agency’s operating costs.
Reducing fees puts the business owner in the position where they cannot afford to pay staff at the level they deserve or reward their staff adequately, which contributes to the current staffing crisis.
What is the solution?
It is incumbent on agency managers across the country to take the time to engage with their property management services.
They need to know how their staff works and what issues need to be addressed.
- Examine what you charge for new business and its impact on your bottom line. Be sure to run a separate chart of accounts for your property management department by proportioning agency costs, so you can get a true picture of what the department contributes to your agency’s profitability.
- If revenue needs to be increased to generate more profit, examine your fee structure and see if you can find ways to increase revenue without compromising service levels. Every extra dollar you can generate goes to the bottom line because your fixed costs are already covered.
- What needs to be done to make your staff more productive and their jobs easier? See how technology can help and support your team. The only difference between you and your competitor is what you do and how you do what you do, so aim to raise the standard and be the best.
- Review staff workloads and, if necessary, restructure to balance the workloads of those who are struggling or consider increasing staff. Hire a temp to cover periods of high workload or weekend appointments. Consider automating after-hours calls or setting up a roster system for emergency calls, but don’t leave it to just one person.
Implementing these practical suggestions will go a long way to taking some of the stress off your property management services and increasing the chances of retaining your staff.
Your people are the face of your business, and it’s imperative that you consider their health and well-being a top priority in your operations. And while you’re at it, why not strive to earn “Boss of the Year” for 2022?