Growth in property management comes in many forms from adding doors, increasing profits, hiring more staff to support the growth, expanding into new locations or with new offices, adding new businesses that compliment what you do such as a maintenance company. How you do it matters and knowing what type of growth you want is essential before you even start down the path. What is your roadmap to growth? The following tips should give you something to think about as you plan your route and timeline.
1. What do you want?
I find it interesting that people start a business without much thought to what they want, truly want. The typical answers are usually:
- an income of x,
- financial freedom,
- flexibility of time,
- control my own destiny (If you have ever been laid off or downsized you know what I am talking about.)
- fell into the job
Even if you have been in property management for years it is always a good idea to look at your plan and decide if changes need to be made. Maybe your goals have changed. Just like updating your estate plan when you have major life changes think of your business this way, too. At the start you were ok working 12-hour days, 7 days a week. Now, you have a family, or are caring for parents, or at the point where work isn’t fulfilling like it used to be.
Check in with your roadmap, goals, or life plan annually to see if things need to be updated. I had a 5-year plan at the outset that kept getting extended because I was still finding growth (personal) and financial in my business. You always want to have options and you get options by thinking ahead and planning. What you want will be unique to you. Remember you can only run your own race. Don’t try to run someone else’s.
2. Do you have the skills, education, and time?
Growth of any kind whether personal or professional requires work. I think many of us wouldn’t have started a business if we really knew what would be involved. So, being naïve has its purpose. Once you are in business your roadmap will determine the steps necessary to take at different stages of your business. Do you have the skills necessary? Do you have the education whether formal or life experience and most importantly do you have the time? Your roadmap will reflect these different aspects. Don’t let a lack of any of these areas hold you back. What I love about entrepreneurs is that they are problem solvers. They are willing to look for an alternative way to get something done.
If you don’t have the skills find someone who does. Take a course, find a mentor. Keep it simple and implement one thing at a time.
Education comes in many forms, and this is what makes you unique. All your experiences have brought you too today. How you leverage that experience and apply it to your business is what will define your roadmap. Education is never a one and done. Take classes, attend conferences, network with those that have gone before you.
We never seem to have enough time. Yet, if you look at people you admire how do they seem to get it all done? We all have the same 24 hours. They have learned to focus on their strengths and get support where needed and to not overextend themselves. They also know it is a long game, so they don’t expect to birth a full-grown business overnight. Just like raising children they go through stages. Your business will do the same so don’t force the growth if you don’t have the time to put into it. What type of business do you want?
- Startup – rapid growth, people tend to work long hours and the finish line is visible at the start.
- Slow but Sure – this is consistent growth but centered around the amount of time that can be invested with limited resources at the outset. Mindset is for the long haul so let’s do it right.
- Corporate structure – large business with departments and staff to carry out their tasks. Not as nimble as small companies but are able to provide consistent results.
- Boutique – small to medium in size with founder and or a small team that focus on relationships and accessibility. Low turnover and a business based on referrals.
3. Make it easy for people to do business with you.
There is a myth that I want to bust which is to have a legit business somehow it must be complicated. Overwhelm comes from complication, time constraints and not following your roadmap. I just had the experience of renewing a vacation permit with my county. The process is all online and the website was awful. The text was small, the instructions were complicated, and it took me 2 hours to read through everything and watch all the training videos just to figure out how to fill out and submit the renewal application. Then I couldn’t find where to go to setup my account to load the application, another hour wasted. Finally, I decided this is a government website where would it be hidden…it was like looking for Waldo. Then I found it. Super small print on the site in a location that didn’t make sense. It didn’t even say Setup Account. It just said eplan. It has taken me a full week to go through the process, numerous emails, and phone calls to department staffers who all work from home now, and a trip to the county (per the instructions) to be told email the person they weren’t in that day.
With all the technology available to us today in property management we need to be careful to not hide behind it. Make it easy for people to do business with you. Never more than 3 clicks to get to the info. Instructions should be easy 1., 2., 3., not a novel. Have options to communicate such as, text, email, chat, and phone. List office hours or time frames when you are available by phone so that endless phone messages back and forth don’t raise level of frustration. People often say emulate big tech…well there are pros and cons, but I also think there is a place for doing business the old-fashioned way…person to person. I can never get anyone in big tech. It is submit a ticket, chat with a bot, or review our FAQ page. I love small business because it is about connecting with and servicing your customer. It is personal and fulfilling.
Technology is here to stay, and it will continue to change the way you do business. Today the modern property management office may be remote. There are zoom meetings, video tours, online applications and rent payments, electronic signatures, along with outsourcing aspects of the property management cycle such as maintenance. However, property management and the growth of your business is still reliant on how well you cultivate and maintain relationships. Use technology to become more efficient but don’t let it become a barrier to building relationships with your clients. Today more than ever people want to feel heard, connected to their community and their support system. Trust is built and sustained when you can connect, communicate, and serve your clients. Implement tech throughout your business to elevate your customer experience and you will have a winning plan for growth.
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.