As a finale to Transform PM 2016 our four PM Directors were joined by Charles Tarbey, Fiona Blayney, Chris Gray, Richard Bray, Julie Davis and Neil Williams for an industry round table discussion on the future of property management and how to best serve the needs of property investors. The session was facilitated by Alister Maple-Brown of Rockend.
In this third video of our 8-part series, we focus on communication, including the importance of building a strong relationship between the client and the business.
Alister Maple-Brown: Going a little bit more into the detail of the survey, Richard, that you have run. Can you share with the group some of the results?
Richard Bray: Some of the things we were already talking about – that you talked about – that was one of the biggest pain points, the landlords feeling that they were out of the loop, and if people were moving within that agency and they’re calling you, and they haven’t been informed when someone’s moved on. That’s kind of the first strike that they then go, “What’s happening with that agency? Are they managing my asset to the best ability?” That’s a trigger for them to go, “Maybe I should start looking around. Maybe I should start shopping around.”
When we saw that research, we were like, we’re educating our customers to be on the front foot. When people do move, use it as a positive experience to call the landlord, that the new person is experienced, they know the area, just to reiterate that service back. Don’t leave it so that no news is good news when they call in and things can go wrong.
Charles Tarbey: The hard part is, if you do call them and contact them and they say, “Where’s the other person gone?” That starts another process.
Richard: It does, it does.
Fiona Blayney: That comes down to that relationship structure that you’ve got in place, where the client feels that they’ve got the relationship with the property manager as opposed to having a relationship with the agency like what you would with your bank, as an example, or with your insurer. You’ve got a relationship with that larger organisation. So if you’ve got higher turnover in your business based on other outside influences rather than other internal ones which you can control, then I’m in agreement with Charles that these businesses have to start looking at their structure overall and is that actually the structure that’s going to take them forward?
Charles: We always say, and I’ve said it so many times in a business day, if I build a relationship, the conditions become negotiable. That’s great in sales and it’s also great in property management, but if you build a relationship, yes, the conditions become negotiable against you if you’re not careful.
Communication comes up every time, but we’ve done a lot of surveys with our real estate customers as well, and they were saying communication is by far their biggest pain point. We’ve done surveys with tenants, communication is their biggest pain point and then property management. It’s this three-tiered approach that it’s just this constant problem. We’ve already seen there will be a solution to that in the very short-term where all three parties or four parties can talk together through apps and through agent branding communication.
Alister: Through some platforms.
Richard: Serious platforms, because that will be what the biggest-
Charles: Can you imagine trying to ring your bank manager to ask him what your bank balance is?
Charles: That’s pretty much what it’s like.
Richard: It’s unbelievable that that’s not here now. That links to maintenance as well. Maintenance is another massive issue for property managers, for landlords, for tenants. So, a communication tool and a maintenance-type tool will be something that comes very, very quickly I think, to the market.
Alister: What other insights did your survey show?
Richard: I was surprised about the noise about Airbnb and people going to self-managing the properties themselves, but that didn’t really come out in the survey. I think it was about 80% of people still saw value in a property manager. It was an important asset to them, so they were under the belief of “Why would they manage that? They’re not experienced in that.” So back to your point about local area expertise, is what they were looking for.
Obviously really important for real estate agents to talk about, they’re established in the area, any awards they’ve won, technology they use, what they do in the local community, advising people as well about local transport, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, roads, what it’s like to live in the area for investors. That’s what investors really wanted to know. They wanted to know that that person knew everything about that area and they were experts in that area, and that’s what made them stand out to be chosen.