Growth for any business is a necessity but how you do it matters.
I’d like to illustrate this with a story. I was hired as the third consultant/coach to a rapidly growing property management company. The owner of the company was a born salesperson and was working with investors. He was bringing on 100-200 doors per month. The operations manager couldn’t hire or train people fast enough to absorb the business. My advice was to stop the growth and implement systems, templates, processes to put a foundation in place. The owner refused and within a month the company imploded. Yes, growth is good and necessary, but this was an awful situation for everyone involved. This business was a Reactive Business, and it didn’t end well.
I learned early in my career that templates work. I have templates for everything including emails, forms, letters, processes, career development plans, inspections, maintenance workflow systems; anything in property management can be systematized.
This creates efficiency, consistent quality work, provides ease of training and allows for employees to add to their knowledge without the overwhelm. Systems allow for measurement and performance tracking which as adults we seek feedback. When you have systems, you can continuously adjust, revise, and improve without reinventing everything from scratch.
When you are intentional in how you develop your business versus being reactive to what is happening daily you will have a company that works from a plug and play model, and which can be replicated again and again.
I like to start at the end and work backwards to determine what is the next step, the next template or system to create. Once you know your endgame you put a plan in place to get there. Is the goal to start, grow quickly, and exit within two years or is the goal to start, build, sustain, and take a back seat, or sell after 20-30 years or pass down to family members? Your endgame will dictate if you are what I call a Go Getter, Shooting Star, Consistent Climber, or North Star.
What is a Go Getter? They are people that don’t question how to do something they figure it out on the go, they deal with obstacles as they arise, and they tend to work 15-hour days, 7 days a week for years until they burnout.
A shooting Star is bright, beautiful, everyone is awed by it and then it is gone. These are the salespeople who are great at getting new clients but who have no clue how to run a business. They are salespeople at their core.
So, what is a Consistent Climber? These are the people who intentionally want to have a business, who want to serve their clients and want to do it right. They don’t even start their business until they have all the pieces in place; the foundation laid before they build the house. They usually have a plan in place, and they intentionally work their plan and consistently grow their business, revenue, reputation, and brand.
The North Stars are proven business owners that are rock solid leaders, excellent communicators that keep the team moving toward the company vision. They are focused and steady. People like working for them because they exude confidence, and you know they will be around for a long time.
So, if you are a property owner which style of person or company do you want to do business with? If you are a business owner which style resonates with you? If your personality is a Go Getter or a Shooting Star is there any hope for you to have a business that supports you instead of drains you?
This is what I know from my decades of experience in property management is that EVERYONE needs a plan. A plan allows, for you, the business owner, to be intentional about the life and business you want. If you don’t have a plan, then you are just winging it and a professional doesn’t wing things. If your house is on fire, do you want a fire crew to show up and wing it?
We are tasked as fiduciaries to manage and make decisions in the best interest of our clients and that isn’t possible if we are reacting to everything that comes our way.
I would argue it is better to be a Consistent Climber and North Star if you want a business that sustains you, is profitable, and allows you to meet the expectations of your clients, employees and fulfill your fiduciary responsibilities.
Why did you get into Property Management? Do you love Property Management? Basically, what is your WHY for being a business owner? What do YOU want? Reactive businesses have lost sight of what they want and their WHY. They have abdicated their role to the Owner, Tenant, or Vendor and are merely taking orders or responding to the emergency at hand. No wonder people in property management are frazzled, worn out and struggle with growth.
So how do we create a company that is intentional instead of being reactive to everything that comes our way? Everything we do in property management can be anticipated and planned for by creating a system or process that allows us to do it again and again in a consistent way.
Why do people buy franchises and why do people shop at franchises? They know what they will get and how they will get it every time. Franchises are known for their templates, or processes.
So, what gets in the way of growth? Usually, it is YOU. We place the barriers to our growth by taking on too much business without having basic processes in place. We chase opportunities instead of focusing on the opportunity at hand. We get distracted from the important work by coming up with excuse such as “good people” are hard to find, I serve on many important boards, email and phone calls are never ending, etc. We allow others to control our time.
Guess what? It is our business; we get to decide and part of getting to decide is learning to be intentional in our decisions. Develop a plan for operations, marketing, business development, accounting, maintenance, customer service, staffing and employee development, acquisitions, an exit strategy, and maybe even have a plan for retirement.
Are you a Go Getter, Shooting Star, Consistent Climber or North Star?
People fall into 2 groups: Reactionary Business Owners or Intentional Business Owners. It always breaks my heart to hear the reactionary business owner’s story. They have poured themselves into their business at the expense of their family, health, and wellbeing. They are burned out and barely able to keep their head above water and remember that story about the CEO who refused to stop the growth and the company imploded? Reactionary businesses aren’t sustainable if they want to grow.
The people who have the most success at creating a business that will be able to sustain them are those that are intentional. An intentional business reaps the following rewards:
- Ability to measure, change and improve.
- Less staff is needed.
- Customer service is consistent.
- Ability to hire and train (uneducated staff) easily.
- Nothing will ever be an emergency again.
- Less stress since you know exactly what and how you do business.
- Client expenses decrease by being proactive.
- Clients’ value your expertise. You aren’t an assistant, you are a manager, an advisor, a partner.
- Ancillary services are received positively which increases profitability.
- Lower employee turnover because a career path is offered versus a job.
- Marketing costs decrease since referrals increase, and there is less churn in the business.
- Hours and days worked are of your choosing.
- Confidence to say NO to clients that aren’t the right fit without worrying about the loss of income.
- The risk of lawsuits decreases significantly because there are processes and policies in place.
- The threat of discrimination, mismanagement, embezzlement is almost eliminated.
- You feel in control, confident, energized, optimistic about the future.
- The team is working towards the company vision and goals.
- It attracts quality employees, clients, tenants, vendors. Success breeds success.
- It is easier to get lending for growth or reinvestment into the business. You are low risk.
- It is easier to sell the company if that is part of your plan.
- It is easier to put in place a succession plan if you know where you are headed.
Being Intentional has so many positives why wouldn’t you try it?
What if something happened to you would your business continue? Would your business be in a place where it could support you and your family? The Pandemic has illustrated the importance of being intentional, having a plan, working the plan, being open to change, and thinking out of the box. Ultimately, it is about taking action and being willing to make the necessary changes.
I encourage all of you to be intentional with your business and your life. Have a plan. Keep the plan simple and focus on doing one thing at a time. Know your WHY. Don’t lose sight of what you want. Is what you are doing getting you closer to what you want and need?
So, what IF you are a Go Getter or Shooting Star? Who says you can’t be intentional? Maybe you are intentional and hire someone to be the Constant Climber and you Go Get the business or blaze a new trail like a shooting star. If the aim is to grow quickly and sell, then you are in your element. Just get your foundation in place to coexist with the rapid growth.
Play to your strengths but in my experience most people start a business to have freedom of time, chart their future on their terms, attain that stream of income and security, and many do have the idea that eventually they will exit the business. If you are intentional, create templates, and systems and focus on one thing at a time that will have the biggest impact to your business, then you are well on your way to creating a thriving, growing, successful business and life on your terms.
Kathleen Richards, MPM®, CPC®, MS in Management, was Broker/Owner of a successful management company with CRMC®. She knows firsthand the highs and lows of being a business owner. She is a nationally recognized coach, speaker, instructor, author, and thought leader for the last 30 years focusing on business, leadership, and specifically the field of property management. She owns PM Made Easy – customizable products to streamline operations and founded The Property Management Coach. She can be reached at 800-475-3084.
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