Education is a Key to Management Success
Examine anything you have accomplished in your life and you will realize that you had to be “educated” from the time you were born. Some things are instinctive, such as eating, but generally, someone or some action “taught” you how to cope, such as using a fork and knife. Otherwise, you would instinctively use your fingers to shovel needed nutrition into your mouth. As time went on, your world included more and more education so that you could interact successfully with people as you grew to adulthood and ventured out into a career.
Who needs education?
Many times business owners and/or managers don’t recognize that education has to apply to everyone, as well as be a part of every office tool utilized. Think about this carefully… if you take the time to have an “educational” approach to everything, your property management business will be successful.
Take the application process as an example.
You have a good application-to-rent that parties can fill out when they are interested in renting a property. Is your attitude or that of your staff that the applicant should automatically understand the entire process? Is it clear what criteria are necessary for an acceptable application? Do they know how long it can take to process? Do they know what is required if their application is accepted?
Who needs to be educated? The answer here is all Personnel and John Q Public. People will not automatically understand your application process without some type of education. Anyone handling any part of this process must become an educator.
Review your application – does it “educate” the public on what is necessary – do you have application instructions? Meet with all Personnel and enlighten them they must not assume everyone knows what to do with an application. Train them on how to handle an incomplete application, how to forward it for processing, how to handle the acceptance and denial of an application. Too often, the training and education of the people who first meet and greet the public is neglected or inadequate.
Did you have a problem with an applicant? If so, they may unconsciously become the educator. The applicant’s interaction with your company may show an area lacking clarity in your process. Learn from the applicant’s problems and adjust for future success.
Make the time to perform a general property management office review. Question the areas that need improvement.
- Are you taking care of your own education? Do you attend seminars, conventions, trade shows, or network with your peers? You need to continue to learn to be an effective educator for your Personnel.
- Do your office documents educate? For example, does the lease educate the tenant on exactly when the rent is due, when it is late, and what will happen if not received? Does it outline maintenance requirements, late fees, notifications, and more?
- Do you need other documents to “fill in the blanks?” Perhaps you need a tenant handbook in addition to the lease that outlines your expectations of a successful occupancy and educates them on how to be a good resident.
- Do your procedures contribute to education? You may have a video that explains and highlights the lease and all related addendums and documents. Another example is an efficient and clear way to report maintenance online.
- Do you realize that property owners often do not understand all your procedures when they sign a management agreement or forget what you covered? If you do recognize this, you probably have an organized and efficient communication system with them regarding vacancies, renting, notices, major repairs, etc. You also may have supplied them with an Owner Manual or Guide to help them understand how your company works and what expectations you have of them.
- Do you provide Personnel with the tools to understand the company’s business? A Policy and Procedures Manual will help considerably with this.
- Do you think that your vendors will automatically understand what to say or not say to a tenant? This is often one of the most neglected areas of education. Require them to sign a good independent contractor agreement and provide them with a vendor handbook that will help educate them to how they should do business with you.
Think globally about educating everyone – yourself; property owners; prospective, current, and past tenants; vendors; Personnel; related service people. Do not forget to include your family. Remember, do not just “assume” everyone understands. Education should always be an ongoing process to reap the benefits in all areas of our lives.
Jean Storms, MPM®, is an active NARPM® member, a NARPM® National Affiliate, and owner of LandlordSource,which specializes in combining real estate / property management and technology to create systems for professionals.