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.”

28 Sep

If I Get Hit By A Bus…..

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Surf-and-Ride.jpg 800w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Peoria Charter Service Bus

If I said it one time,  I said it a thousand times a day to my staff while in my days of onsite property management.

If I get hit by a bus…..

Everyday in my training to those on my team, I would repeat certain sayings that I felt were important to ingrain and teach those that I cared about or those that I felt had what it would take to become a good property manager or overall employee. One of my classics was …If I get his by a bus, the next guy will be able to…….

Well the other day I did get hit by a bus (sic) and it did not hurt, it was actually pleasant! The bus that hit me was not moving but parked in a rest area taking a break. I noticed a huge mural painted on the side that stated ‘surf and ride’, but I knew there were no “waves or surf” around there, so I was my normal, curious self and I interviewed the bus driver to find out what this message was about. What I learned was so very interesting. The twist is that the bus has free wifi for its passengers. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so please view the bus photo in this article, which is a Peoria Charter Bus that travels between Champaign and Chicago, Illinois.

What a fabulous idea! A bus moving down the highway with wifi. How cool is that? I loved it. Of course it got me thinking about how neat it is when a business owner makes a decision to do something unexpected and innovative. The owner of this bus company believes that by providing wifi on his bus he betters his chances of getting you to ride his bus. This is not profound, it is simply good business.

Based on that concept, then why do we as property and facility managers not realize that by providing services, like wifi, or customer service online 24/7 or automated messages, or client document portals, that can really help grow our business? Why are we not running to get the services or subscriptions for our buildings and facilities? Is it us or is it the building owner? Who is really, driving the bus, to embracing technology in our world?

I find it amazing not to find automation or connectivity in every building or facility I visit. When I travel, I look for places with wifi. Why? Because quite frankly, I cannot work or play without it. Yes, I can use my smartphone as a hotspot now for my laptop, but there are times I need to have wifi. Where I work can change in a moment. I need to work where wifi exists, yet I trudge around looking for the service. IMHO nobody has grabbed this space yet (besides Starbucks, Panera, McDonalds) other than fast food, bookstores, airports, libraries, hotels, and (what is left?)….. No office buildings, retail stores, apartment communities, condominium buildings, medical buildings, and industrial complexes, have really embraced this yet. They are just not feeling the love for these services.

In our industry we have to realize that if a bus can roll down the highway at 65 miles per hour and offer FREE wifi service, should we as building managers embrace this for our clients and visitors too? It seems like a basic utility today, yet there are common areas throughout buildings all over America with no wifi, no online customer service, no 24/7 portals of information! It is the same old thing. Call the office between 9am – 5pm, or we will snail mail it to you or if you are lucky we can send it to you via email.

That spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y in my book! Maybe your property can make a statement or get exposure by offering FREE wifi or online everything, 24/7. Maybe your company can make a statement and offer automated services of the basic paper you are pushing now. These efforts can be turned into exposure or marketing events for your property in the marketplace. They say being 1st is so very important. Why not make your property or company step up and take that step?

Alright, so you do not want to be first. That is totally understood. But guess what? You are NOT first in the world, just first in one small aspect of one single industry. Banking has totally embraced ATM, digital reports, cell phone apps, paperless checks, debit cards, and a host of other customer service tools. The airlines are online for everything. You can see your loved one’s flight online and watch the plane in the air, 24/7/365. Almost every single retailer or product you purchase has online services. You are not 1st in the world, just in our small part of one industry.

Try it by taking a baby step. Take one horribly painful task that is repetitive and paper intensive and think of how you can do it without paper or online or via a software as a service application (SaaS). Think of a communication step that you can use with automation. Once you start the conversation in your building or at your company, it will start to gain momentum. I can promise you that once you and your staff get a taste of efficiency or streamline a process, they will never look back. The only complaint you will get is, ‘Why did we not start this sooner?’

If you want to discuss solutions and ideas or a vision to take for your property or company, email or call me and I will be happy to listen and then may be able to make suggestions for solutions that are at your fingertips NOW! Call 312.725.0060 or email Linda@ManagerLabs.com.