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.”

 

10 Jul

A Healthy Property Management Style

If you like to read great business books and gobble up terms that help managers get the job done, there is one I want you to never forget, MBWA! Not only is it effective and powerful, but it is also good for your health! Here are variations on its commonly known names:

The Acronym: MBWA
Management bWalking Around
Management bWanderingAround
Management bWalking About
Manage bWalking Around

My own version and personal favorite is – PropertyManagement bWalking Around (PMBWA). It is not easy because you have to push yourself away from the desk. Get out and just start walking around. Do nothing but walk. That is all you have to do. Start at the top, the bottom, the outside, the inside, or any part you would like. If you push yourself away from the office you will be out there in the thick of things. Walk around the parking lots, mechanical rooms, corridors, vacant spaces, other departments of the company, but just walk. Or as a former, very successful boss of mine said, “Get out there in look ‘em in the eye!”

While you are walking ask questions, talk to people, make inquiries, and introduce yourself to strangers. Ask technicians what they are working on and ask contractors what project or task they are performing for the property? Do not have a plan or carry anything with you but your smartphone. If you must take a note, just use the camera feature, call yourself and leave a voicemail, or a record a message. Do not carry notepads or anything else at all, because the notepad might make you think you need to find things to write down. It can also be a intimidating if you’re taking notes during a conversation with a colleague that is supposed to be casual. Let your mind be free and just walk. Wherever you go, information will be gleaned. There is insight to be had from the properties you manage, as well as your own property. It is talking to you, you just have to listen.

It is not easy, but consider doing PMBWA regularly. Nobody expects a property manager to just walk around with no plan, direction, or destination! It will puzzle your staff, intrigue your customers, and create interest from your contractors. Remember, this is NOT a building inspection. You are managing your property just by walking around. It sounds unbelievable, but I bet you that you will learn so much and find out so many things that it will spark enthusiasm, excitement, or bring resolution to a matter you have contemplated or been challenged by.

Try it and let us know how it worked for you!

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