Recently at a trade show, a man asked me what the difference was between a “policy” and “procedures.” In addition, he wanted to know “what was the point” of having a Policy and Procedures Manual. The person asking the question was a seasoned broker and I automatically assumed that he would know this. The moral here is that we all too often “assume” that people know something we do.
I offered this explanation to the broker.
~ A policy is a principle.
Example – the real estate/property management company supports all Fair Housing laws and regulations.
~ Procedures are the actions that support the policy or principle.
Example – the real estate/property management company has Fair Housing procedures, such as offering the same rental price to everyone, refusing to use discriminatory words in advertising, and having the same requirements for all applicants. Therefore, these procedures support Fair Housing.
I further explained that there are some very important “points” of having a Policy and Procedures Manual. Three critical ones are:
~ Creating company organization
~ Training personnel
~ Reducing company risk
The broker first needed to understand the underlying reasons for this particular manual. After our discussion about a policy and procedures manual, he purchased a policy and procedures manual for his company, took the steps to implement it, and is now uses this document as a training manual.
Take this a step further and think of the number of people businesses hire. Don’t we often assume personnel immediately understand terms and concepts that we have been working with for years? The real estate/property management industry uses many expressions that people do not routinely know. We need to remain consciously aware of this reality in order to help team members with the success of their work.
It is not enough to have someone read and acknowledge a company policy and procedures manual, not to mention the many other forms and manuals associated with this business. It is critical to train them properly on the what, why, and how of the terms and documentation. When individuals understand the concepts of what they are reading, they can apply them to their work. This in turn can reduce your risk and liability.
The same applies to everyone connected to the property management business – owners, tenants, vendors, and the public. A property owner may not understand that service animals are not pets. If you do not clearly explain to tenants your expectations of property conditions when they move out, there will be more problems. It is easy to assume that a vendor will use common sense with tenants while working on repairs. Applicants will not automatically know what documentation they need when applying for a property.
The more people understand, the easier your work will be. You have to be prepared to educate and explain your expectations to everyone. Take steps today to plan how you can increase everyone’s awareness and avoid those faulty assumptions.
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.