Staffing for Property Management: Escape Survival Mode
As your property management business grows the time comes when you need to bring on employees to help you get off the treadmill and scale in a systematic way.
Creating an effective team can support you and your property management business but first you must stop and take an honest look at what is working or not working, otherwise nothing will improve. Once you do this, you have to invest the time, money, and energy to make it happen. Don’t rush the hiring process because the cost of a wrong hire is immense. The first step is to have a plan so that you can implement change in a focused way. This will guide you to who to hire first, what are the needs of the company now and moving forward and more importantly what are the tasks that you no longer want to do or hate doing that can be delegated.
Now that the world is becoming more accustomed to working remotely it’s a good time to look to improve your systems and maybe make that first hire. Virtual assistants and vendors that support your property management business are extremely cost effective, specialize in specific tasks which means they get the task done quicker and probably better than you would do it.
Some are nervous about hiring a virtual assistant but here are some reasons that they may make sense for your business.
Virtual Assistants for Property Management
A friend of mine shared her story about being forced to look for other ways to hire. It goes like this: “A few years ago, I had a long-time employee who decided she was done with being a leasing coordinator and decided the best way to make her exit was to text me (when I was out of state on vacation) and exit the building without telling my other staff she was leaving. This sent the office into chaos with phones ringing off the hook and emails pouring in.”
I don’t know if you have ever experienced such a drastic call to action but I took the plunge myself when I couldn’t find a local hire willing to do the job for the pay I was offering and candidates were asking for pay that was higher than what I was paying myself as the owner of the company. Like my friend I was pushed into looking for alternative ways to build my team. I have to say once I hired a virtual assistant I was blown away on so many levels. I was already planning my next virtual assistant hire.
Many people are worried they won’t have enough work for a full-time virtual assistant. Or can they afford one? There are some companies that do allow you to hire part-time support. But let’s face it there is always something that needs to be done in property management.
Many people ask – what can a virtual staff member do for a property management company and the answer is simply anything that can be done with a computer and a phone.
- Responds to email inquiries for vacant properties
- Responds to and schedules property showings
- Follows up with every showing
- Solicits feedback of the homes and encourages applications
- Puts all the available homes on the MLS and other rental sites
- Updates website
- Prepares bi-weekly marketing reports for owners providing them with # of showings and feedback solicited from follow up calls
- Does rental CMAs on new properties about to go onto the market and evaluates existing rentals every two weeks
- Forwards applications for processing & updates the spreadsheet for current status of applications and vacant properties
- Updates the MLS and removes any leased properties from websites
- Brings attention to any potential concerns either with an applicant, tenant or property for us to address
- Onboarding Owners or Tenants into software
- Scanning work orders and invoices
- Following up with vendors during maintenance calls
- Answering phones
- Anything you can think of….
Virtual assistants are trained the way you want things done. They are exactly like an in-office employee, but are less disruptive, are thankful for the opportunity while costing a fraction of outsourcing or hiring a local staff member. Virtual assistants work in Maintenance Coordination, Marketing & Sales Support, Social Media, Accounting, General Administration, and Leasing.
My assistant was hired to replace my Leasing Agent and eventually we added the front desk position to my VA’s duties. I had replaced two employees with one virtual assistant. The savings were huge financially, less drama in the office, and higher quality of work produced. I was sold!
A great resource to start building your team is our affiliates page (https://www.pmmadeeasy.com/customer-center/affiliate-partners/). Two great companies that focus on the needs of property management are www.HireSmartVAs.com which will recruit a full-time team member for you and www.PlanetSynergy.com which provides a team to support you and is knowledgeable in different property management software for accounting, in addition to the type of tasks mentioned above. Their niche is that they can provide part-time help with a minimum 40 hours per month on up to full-time. Did I mention virtual assistants by both companies all have college degrees and are professionals?
Virtual assistants are a great option for adding staff at a low cost and allow you to start delegating and growing. Team members tend to stay for a very long time which means turnover is low and the cost of training is minimized.
Preparing Your Employees for Success
After the hiring process ends, many business owners and managers often feel their work is done. This is not how to set up your new team member to succeed. With this attitude, they fail to properly introduce the new team member into their new workplace. When you are immersed in the business, it is very easy to forget that property management is quite different from many occupations. The newest member of your team must learn about the portfolio, owner needs, who the tenants are along with new procedures, handle frustrated customers, put out fires, and know when not to overstep assigned duties or authority.
We’ve found, one of the best ways to lay out your expectations to new employees is by having a system in place that welcomes and guides them during their probationary period which can be from 1-3 months. Documents such as a Policy & Procedure Manual, an Employee Manual, along with reading a Fair Housing Guide and taking a Fair Housing class within the first month of employment. Make sure to review their job description in detail, review their contract, discuss what they are “not-to-do” and be clear about your company’s policies and procedures.
Although much of this information was covered during the interview and onboarding, this is new to them, and they may have only absorbed 50% of the information. Lastly, introduce them to a “go-to” person or mentor where they can direct their questions. This will help them feel part of the “team” and build unity of purpose.
Hiring can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process whether it’s your first hire or you’re training someone new for the hundredth time. By turning the process into a system, you can remove a significant amount of the mental energy required, make consistently good hires that lead to lowered expenses and increased profits.
Our existing Staffing Essentials Manuals help you build your team and provide a policy manual specifically for your employees. This lays out expectations along with the details of employment with the company which manages your risk should things ever go south.
Our new products to be available in October are a Hiring Process Manual that guides you through the process of who to hire, how to hire and how to onboard them for success. It also includes sample job descriptions, job advertisements and interview questions. As you grow you will reach a point where you need to decide your organizational structure and the Staffing Options Manual will guide you through which option is best for you and your property management business. These manuals are a great place to start systemizing your staffing needs and giving you confidence with your next hire.
Kathleen Richards, is the owner of PM Made Easy and The Property Management Coach. With her 13 years as a broker/owner of a property management company she speaks from experience. Kathleen authored, Property Management A-Z and teaches regularly at community colleges and conferences on property management topics. She is active in her field and holds professional designations as Master Property Manager (MPM®) and Residential Management Professional (RMP®) and her company held the coveted, Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC®) designation from NARPM®. She is currently a National Instructor for NARPM® and is honored to be sharing best practices with other NARPM® professionals. Kathleen has served at the local and state level on the boards for NARPM® (National Association of Residential Property Managers)