01 Jan

Have Property and Facility Managers Hit the Change Wall?

Image courtesy of  suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ID-10060668.jpg 400w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Change seems to be a dirty word in so many industries and organizations. It seems that the Property Management industry leads the charge on this front.  In this day and age of do more with less, the Property Management industry needs to start making some big changes in how it provides infrastructure to its staff.  As leaders in this movement we want to probe this powerful human condition and find out how we can motivate people to understand that change is their friend.  Remind the folks you work with that in order to have progress there must be change.

For instance, customer service. Yes, that is what I said, customer service, you know tenants, or lessees or occupants or residents or whatever your customer type, they are the customers. The other customer is the building owner, often referred to as the client. It becomes crystal clear, however, pleasing the customer, may not please the client. If you hear from your customers that they have various needs to be fulfilled or cannot understand why certain things are the way they are, it is usually attributed to a mandate or philosophy of ownership.

How do you explain a property not having a website and a domain name registered in the name of the property? Is it the PM or FM not having a website or is the building owner not wanting to pay for a website? Is the PM or FM just afraid of the additional burden of more work to do with less time? It can be a variety of reasons, but no property should be without a website. It is not a website for the sake of having a website, it is a customer service portal, for goodness sake. It can save the PM or FM time and money, which in turn can make the client happy. Will it cost something, yes, but it will remain with the property and should in fact, make the property more valuable. The customers that occupy the building can communicate or make contact with the building via the website.  It can serve as the social hub of the property and the central source of information.  By making the website the one-stop place for all things, you are freeing up your staff and yourself from the mundane and routine tasks that just take up the most valuable commodity, time.

Look at the fact that time can be put towards a well written owner report, contribution to the property’s leasing effort, attention paid to the maintenance department and their efficiency. How about time to shop prices and get bids to make further building improvements?  To me, the website can free you up. Will it take time and effort to set it up. Yes. Is it worth it, absolutely.

There are a multitude of features that the website can have, but below we have listed the key areas that can help your operation and provide the most bang for the buck.

Important Telephone Numbers – Fire, police, paramedics, management office, security desk, maintenance, etc.

Building Profile – basic information that you would consider  putting in your Customer Handbook/Tenant Manual. Hours of Operation, Neighborhood Information, Elevator Procedures, Oversize Trash, Recycling, Security, Emergency Procedures, History of the property, in other words FAQ or frequently asked questions, etc.

Location – directions to the property, maps, site plan, legal address, etc.

Announcements – calendar of events, holidays, planned building project schedules, etc.

Leasing Information – contact information

Why is change so difficult? Do companies shoot themselves in the foot when they prevent change or innovation? What frustrates those who attempt to bring new ideas or technologies to the property and facility management industry? We want to hear from you. Please share your comments about what you find yourself up against when you think there is a better or faster or more efficient way to do things, but no one wants to listen to you.

21 Sep

How Efficient Is Your Property Management Company?

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Filing-Cabinet-1024x690.jpg 1024w, http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Filing-Cabinet.jpg 1280w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Walk around your office and various departments. Ask folks what tasks they absolutely hate to do or what seems pointless. You will gain a ton of insight about your processes and procedures. Find out why you do that task. Make sure you dig down deep and study the what-ifs of each task.

For instance, each time we do a batch of “X,” a paper printout is generated. The paper is then put into a bin and we file it byproperty. Every single company, building, and system is different so this example is just an illustration. The point is to ask, “What is the value of this task?” If you file this print-out by property, what is the value of that print-out, and how many times is it referenced or utilized? Why are you printing it at all, can the printing function be turned off? How long is the data retained? There are many questions to ask, but the most important point here is, somebody just needs to ask.

Tracking and naming files and logs is very time consuming so you should ask yourself and your team a few questions. Is it meaningful? How often do you reference the information? What happens to the information after one month, one year, etc.? In one case we had a supervisor instruct the staff to pull down a report, save it to a file, and create a name for the file each time a certain event occurred. On top of that step, the supervisor created an Excel spreadsheet to document the occurrence, and listed it out by date. They did this each time. While doing my weekly walk (remember PMBWA?), I asked a team member what they were working on. They let me know about this logging task and how they felt about it. Once we discussed this with the supervisor and assured her that this data entry and log was not warranted, we were able to stop this process. There were cheers heard throughout this department as people were so glad to find out this busy work was going to stop. It turned out to be a task that took 4 employees approximately 10 minutes every single day to accomplish. That task was eliminated which reduced the waste of data entry labor, server storage, and management oversight to the tune of $5,000 in inefficiency. If we couple that with several other tasks we found and eliminated, we were able to add more properties without adding staff, which is the name of the game. It is not that we ever want to eliminate our personnel and talent, but we want to focus on how we can help them, and the company, grow without adding to our team!

In property management there are many important things we do, but we do not have time to do execute all of these tasks. You need to find the essential work (responding to customers, marketing properties, attending educational seminars, etc.) and get rid of the busy work! If we feel we do not have time for those essential tasks, are we filling our days with too much busy work? Is the owner or accounting making wasteful demands of our time? If outside demands start to add up, you may have to ask the property owner if they really need all these reports, or if they would rather have their property 100% occupied?

I am not saying that this solves all of your efficiency problems, but eliminating wasted busy work is a start! It is amazing how much you will find out about your operation by finding out what people hate to do most. In exchange, replace the task with more important functions that will bring in more rent, fill the property, make it safer, or increase its value. That should be the focus, not the mundane tasks!

“More content available at All Things Property Management by Buildium, industry leaders in Online Property Management Software.”