What I Learned from My Darkest Days as a Property Manager
As a Broker/Owner of a boutique property management firm in Atlanta, I know firsthand the complexity of moving parts to a property management business. After 17 years of business, I certainly have seen many changes and experienced many ups and downs.
A few years ago, I had a long-time employee decided she was done with being a leasing coordinator. She 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. Phones were ringing off the hook and the people left were stuck dealing with her position in addition to their own responsibilities. It was a mess.
Of course, we rushed back to stop the bleeding, but at that moment, I knew there had to be a better way of doing things and my husband and I set forth to find what exactly that was. We looked into call centers, thought about rehiring another full time local person, and then we were introduced to something that intrigued us – full time virtual staff.
We spent 6 months vetting the idea. We interviewed staffing providers all over the world, to compare rates & evaluate English speaking candidates. We evaluated many countries from India, Australia, Romania & Philippines for cultural fit. We also reviewed the technology required for success. We started documenting how we liked our tasks to be handled. We completed our training manual and then we made our final decision.
We decided to use the Philippines because of the great English speaking capabilities and cultural fit. We found the process easy to implement. We took the next 6 months to create a duplicate process for the hiring and selection of fantastic virtual assistants (VAs). We then vetted our training for some of our close business friends who were as fed up as we were when looking for talent. This was the beginning of HireSmartVAs.com as we knew people wanted the solution, but didn’t want to take the 9 months to reinvent what we did. (Those virtual assistants that were placed 2 years ago are still working with those friends today.)
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. To be more specific, for my leasing position, my virtual assistant does all the following (plus more if I need her to do it):
- Answers all the email inquiries for vacant properties
- Answers all the phone calls for viewings to get the prospective tenants into the home
- Follows up with every viewing the next day
- Gathers feedback of the homes and request they apply if they are interested
- Puts all the available homes in the MLS and other rental sites
- Updates our website for available homes
- Prepares bi-weekly marketing reports for owners providing them with # of showings and feedback she has gathered from her follow up calls
- Does rental CMAs on new properties about to go onto the market and evaluates existing rentals every 2 weeks
- Forwards applications for processing & updates the spreadsheet for current status of applications and vacant properties
- Updates the MLS statuses and removes any leased properties from the websites
- Brings attention to any potential concerns either with an applicant, tenant or property for us to address
The best part about having a dedicated virtual staff member is that when we have low rental inventory like we do right now, I can provide her with any other tasks that I need done to supplement her work load. She can do research for mailings. She can do document review to make sure that every contract is in compliance. That we have updated insurance policies from our owner’s. She can contact our existing tenants to see how happy they are with us and if they are going to be renewing their leases so we can plan accordingly.
Hannah is trained the way I want things done. She is exactly like an employee, but is less disruptive, is thankful for the opportunity we provide, is a huge blessing to our business while costing a fraction of outsourcing or a local staff member.
We have virtual assistants who work in Maintenance Coordination, Marketing & Sales Support, Social Media, Accounting, General Administration, and Leasing. We also support Brokers & real estate team leaders who need back office support like Contract to Close & Listing Administration. The list is continuing the grow as we expand.
There are a lot of advantages to using a virtual assistant.
Anne Lackey is the Broker/Owner of Solid Source Property Management, Inc in Atlanta. She and her husband co-founded HireSmartVAs.com in 2015 after pulling out their hair with local staff members. They have 3 bestselling books on Amazon and love to teach their methods to other business owners.
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