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 the final video of our 8-part series, we focus on The Future, including strategies to implement and remembering to put yourself in the client’s position with your service.
Alister: There’s been a lot of change from when the program started to today. Obviously what really matters is what happens in the future. I’d love to get some comments from the coaches about what you’ve observed and what you think of the main areas to focus on moving forward. I’m going to start at the top with strategy. Charles?
Charles: I think from a strategy perspective – again going back to it – if you can create and put in place… For my business, my five strategies are very simple: uniformity of appearance, consistency of form, weekly action meeting, weekly buyer’s meeting. A buyer’s meeting is matching motivated sellers to qualified buyers. I think that, in property management terms, that’s matching motivated landlords to qualified tenants. It’s the same process. Many real estate practitioners have a plan to go out and try and get new listings, but they don’t actually have a plan to make sales, which I find really extraordinary. Most of the property managers have a plan to let properties, but they don’t have a plan to actually grow their property management, so it’s slightly in reverse.
The other part of it is building a business pipeline, which is one of our foundations, too. The final one is daily diary yearly controller, and that yearly controller underpins the entire strategy of my business. Yearly, in advance, we sit down as a team, and we have a series of diary entries or calendar entries that are around every part of the business that we understand. There are things that pop up from day to day, but we know we have to do inspections. We know we have to do price discussions with sellers. We know we have to change our window displays. We have to change our Internet displays, and so on. We diarize that for a total year in advance.
Alister: Back to the directors. Phil, can you make a quick comment about how you’ve worked with strategy and planning and some of the ideas that Charles has just shared?
Philip: I think the interesting thing that Charles highlighted was that [if property managers] get poached or if they leave and they’re on business, which has happened to me about 12 months ago, where a leading property manager left and took a chunk of decent property management clientele with him that he’d built relationships with. Whilst I don’t know what the strategy is to try and avoid that or avert that because property managers do have such a tight relationship, I think that cloud-based technology, which we’re going into to try and avert that a little bit, but also I think Charles mentioned [a] help desk, where someone can phone in, as you were saying, and get the information they need there. Actually having to talk to their property manager.
Trent: Charles mentioned you have your landlord and all those bits and places. It’s really important then for the directors and our other associated people to be involved in those nights to make sure [of] the face of your business. So they’re not really connecting with just the property manager but they’re actually connected with, in our case, Trent and Kim Shorland, because that’s who owns the business. I think that’s a really key point to making people feel connected to the business.
Chris: There’s an amazing concept in the UK, about 20 years ago [with] a bank called First Direct. The whole thing was is you could ring it 24/7. You could speak to anyone. You just speak to them, and they can approve you for a mortgage or anything. Straight away, you’re not dealing with a 20-year-old; you’re dealing with someone senior. Anyone can make a decision. Straight away, it doesn’t matter who you speak to, because they’re all trained. It’s probably the investment in paying bigger wages to get better people, but then not having to have the branches and things like that. From a customer experience, it’s unbelievable.
Adriana: One thing I want to do, though, is to put myself in the position of the client. I tell the staff all the time, “You are the client. What do you want? Do you want your property manager to call you every week? No. Do you want to know if everything’s okay? Sure. How can we achieve that without all this touch time?”
One thing I’ve drawn out of this, and I can’t remember which speaker it was (she was from Melbourne), about a periodic inspection not just being a periodic inspection. This is what I’m going to implement next, [it] is to give them a market appraisal, a sales appraisal, a rental appraisal, this information you’re talking about. Package it up like a portfolio. They could use it at their bank. They can go do whatever they want to do, and you’re preempting their inquiries. Therefore they’ve got that. When they’re ringing you, you’re operating from a position of strength: “Well, I’ve supplied all this.” They’re just ringing out to confirm something.
If I had a property, I don’t want to know. I just want someone to use my money. I’ve got my money, and I’ve got the portal. Now they can log on and see their money’s gone in and what they’re going to get. Just when the property’s vacant, minimise the vacancy period. That’s what I really want to work on for the end of the year, to get something professional like that on track. I would like to get something like that. A lot of our owners at the end of the financial year, they’ll say, “Can the sales department give me an appraisal for my account?”
Fiona: A lot of buyer’s agency businesses where they’re running property management businesses – we work with several of those – they’re doing that. Every time they’re doing a review for the client because their outcome to the client is not to maintain the property, it’s to maximise their portfolio. They look at all of those as opportunities for further income streams for themselves, as well as to build further financial freedom for the client. It’s a very powerful thing to do.