Once upon a time, people wrote letters by hand, then by typewriter, then on their word processor. This still takes place but these practices have become more and more infrequent. It was important to compose a proper business letter before it went into snail mail. Communication took much longer and under certain circumstances, it sometimes didn’t happen. Email has dramatically impacted the way we communicate with everyone, how quickly, and how often.
Unfortunately, if not used properly, email can create a very poor business image. This is the first of a three part series on handling problems with email business communications.
Have you stopped and thought about what potential or existing clientele see when they receive an email from you? Go to your “sent file” in your email program and bring up 3-5 recent important business emails. Look at them critically. Then answer the questions below with a yes or no.
- Does your email address reflect who sent it?
- Did you include a good subject line?
- Are there spelling and/or grammar errors?
- Is the message clear and concise?
- If you needed a reply, did it clearly convey that request?
- If you referenced an attachment, did you make this apparent?
- Does it reflect that you are a property management professional?
- Does your email end well?
- Do you even review your emails before you hit that “send” button?
If you have answered no to even one of the above questions, you need to change a habit, two, or more. It really is important to send a professional email.
Of course, it makes a difference where you are sending an email and why. Everyone generally has a more informal email relationship with friends and family than with your clients. Think carefully about that – sometimes there are fine lines between friends and clients – you have to decide when you can cross over that formal to informal line. You can send different types of emails to those who are both but always send a professional email when the situation warrants.
Set up your email address to show your name or at least your company name so your clients know who is sending it. This will help to initiate a faster response and possibly keeping that email out of their junk or spam file.
ALWAYS include a clear subject line. For instance, if you are making a request about a certain property, put it in the address – example, “Repair request for 559 Mossy Circle” or even just “559 Mossy Circle.” Rarely will a property owner ignore or not know the address of their investment property.
ALWAYS avoid spelling or grammar errors. Perhaps you never could win a spelling bee in school. No one needs to know that! Turn on the bells and whistles in your email if they have spell check and/or grammar. If you use Microsoft Word®, spell check is on and it will automatically show up if you use Microsoft Outlook®. If using another program, for example, Gmail, you may not have spell check. You need to review for bad spelling. For some programs, there are “Internet Add-ons” to solve this issue. Take the time to figure it out – remember, it reflects on you
Just because email is fast and easy does not mean you should ignore composing a reasonable and intelligent “letter” when necessary. You do want to get to the point and be clear about what you are saying. Avoid putting everything into one long sentence that someone has to read three times to understand what you ARE trying to say; even then, they may still miss some of your information.
Do you need an answer about that repair or tenant problem? Then, make sure you are clear that you want a definite reply. Add it to the subject line – example, “Repair on 559 Mossy Ridge, PLEASE REPLY.” You can also put a reminder to reply at the end the email
Did you send an attachment? If so, be sure to reference it at the beginning of the email – it is easy to overlook if it is buried in a lot of text and of course, be sure to actually send it. This is the email goof everyone does at one time or another so just fix it. If you forget, just send another email as soon as you can with the attachment and reference your previous email
When you compose your email, look it over. Read it as if you are receiving it. Does it sound like a professional property manager is sending it? Does it make sense? Is it unpleasant news? If so, you may need to pick up a telephone or request a telephone call.
Does your email end properly? It should contain your name, title, company name, telephone, and some optional information such as your website, logo, and disclosure statement. If possible, set this information up to automatically insert into your emails or easily add so you do not need to “reinvent the wheel” every time.
Now before you hit that send button, review the entire email looking for areas to correct. It’s worth the extra time – after all, it is going to reflect on your image
Email IS an efficient tool because it is fast, inexpensive, and has increased global communication. Unfortunately, a large majority of business email communication is just plain sloppy and unprofessional. It just does not have to be this way and you want everyone to know that you know “professional management matters.
Next month, in the second article of this series I will continue this discussion with “Using Email Netiquette.” There is a lot to proper “netiquette” – the buzzword for email etiquette. I will include a free “Netiquette Checklist” as well. Until then, remember that Professional Management Matters.
Jean Storms, MPM® is the founder/author of LandlordSource and has been a NARPM® member since January 1993.
Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.