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.”


01 Apr

Never Put Off Until Tomorrow

Touch It Once is a mindset, a philosophy, and a management style. It is the antithesis of procrastination coupled with a smart way to work by stopping redundant behavior dead in its tracks; both of which are the enemy of any efficient and well run organization.

The concept is simple – Touch It Once (TIO). Did you ever notice that each month the cycle is the same? Collect rent, send out 5 day notices, process accounts payable, cut checks, etc. So if this is something you know that’s going to happen, why is it so painful? Then at the end of the 30 day period, the cycle is going to start again! How can you not be prepared?! It happens every 30 days!

If you think about how the concept of TIO comes into play it will change the outlook you have on your business. Every time you do a task, think about how you can do that task perfectly. Save the process, document the task, and create a road map for others to followthat same format or system. The next time the task is required, anybody can use your process, learn how to execute, and actually accomplish it with the least amount of error or redundancy.

So how do you as a property manager or leasing agent “touch it once”? For me it was about checklists and document http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Touchitonce-150x150.png 150w" sizes="(max-width: 288px) 100vw, 288px" />packets. These checklists include a new resident checklist, a move out checklist, a new vendor checklist, a monthly owner’s report checklist, etc. Every single time a new resident moves in or move out we have a series of steps and actions to take. Of course things change constantly, so the checklist was set up as a packet and saved as a .pdf document. Inside the packet are all of the forms, letters, and actual physical checklists for each item that needs to be accomplished. The checklist is clipped to the top of the file and it travels through the office circulating and being executed as required in anticipation of that new resident move in. So, if there is a form, letter, orientation, or document to be signed for any new resident, just open the New Resident document and all of it will be there. Simply hit print and go! This same concept can be accomplished in a similar fashion via online forms, but the system and procedure is the same – Touch It Once!

TIO is the most empowering tool a property manager can employ. TIO provides training, checklists, procedures, processes, and standards in everything you do. Remember, you are on a cycle. The cycle is daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, semi-annually, etc. What you want to do when you start to breaking the tasks down is to perfect the task, document the task, and train folks on how to perform the task. You are now building processes.

Those processes can be saved and used over and over like templates. After achieving these cycles and documenting these processes for one year, you now have an incredible roadmap of excellence for all to share. Now combine the power of TIO with today’s technological tools and you have a multitude of ways to execute this legacy of knowledge, which will result in the right tools being shared to your entire department, property, portfolio, or company.

One process that we developed has to do with new vendors. Each time we receive a call from a vendor or service provider we simply send them to our website to click and download our New Vendor Packet. It includes a cover letter, checklist, insurance standards, vendor profile form, all IRS forms, etc. Every single time this task arises, it is only takes seconds of time. It is also paperless and effortless. In addition, we now have a company-wide standard that everyone follows and knows what to expect. The other important element to this process is the image of you and your company. When meeting a new resident or interacting with a potential new service provider, your system is organized and systematic. When you give each process the care and proper attention to set it up and only touch it once, you are showing the world how much you respect, not only your experience with them, but also your organization, your clients, and your people.

Imagine if all employees understood the concept of TIO? If each employee were exposed to this philosophy, the power would multiply even faster and be an exciting approach to management and excellence.

TIO can result in comprehensive checklists, quality control, time saving templates, video training, orientation of new hires, new business tools, etc. It is also the least disruptive way to organize, train, and develop standards on a company wide basis, with everyone contributing. Start off trying it with one task. Remember, do it now and Touch It Once!

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