25 Jun

Ringing Phone is Your Wake Up Call

How healthy is your Organization’s Core? Every time you hear a ringing phone, think about it.  I would bet that if you attended any Realcomm event over the past 3 years, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you did not attend, you MUST attend next year. Get out the coffee can and start saving your money. If your company cannot afford it, pay your own way. Visit www.realcomm.com for more information.

The well being of your corporate infrastructure depends on it! To survive your organizations core must now run 24/7/365. There is no more 9 to 5. It is obsolete terminology.  There is no time for processes to cease or take a break. Today is a 24/7/365 world and the pace is getting faster and more efficient. Is your infrastructure gaining speed or losing speed? Are you hearing ringing around your offices? If so, you need to focus and reduce those ringing phones.

Think about investing small sums by trading the wasted labor expense it takes for a permanent solution that can be used over and over again. Consider the growth opportunities if you can do more with less.  This is not about eliminating people at all. It is about retraining people and realigning people. Grow the business itself, not for the sake of growing the labor pool, as many of us have done in the past.

Our industry is jam packed with business intelligence and we need to discover and unearth it. Our industry holds the key to a massive opportunity for somebody, and that somebody should be you!  The data we all share and the information we all have is vital and it is being unearthed.

Everyone is now relating to one another 24/7/365 via the internet.  People no longer want to wait for your office to open at 9:00 a.m. That is almost silly to even think of today.  What is your own reaction to waiting or being told “No”? Ask yourself that question every time your phone rings. A ringing phone should truly be the bell that goes off in your head. If there is a will, there is the internet.  If you need something you go online and just get it.

You must invest in your Organizational Core. Automate tasks, digitalize Documents, minimize paper, embrace technology, and embrace the change. The challenge for us as an industry is three fold:  ego, money and awareness.  Ego for those that believe their way is better; money for those who have the money now and do not want to lose it (ie, large software companies that will soon be obsolete); awareness for those that do not know about the movement.

There are a few organizations pioneering industry wide standards that you need to be aware of:

Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate – (OSCRE) – http://www.oscre.org   “Deliver global standards for exchanging electronic real property information and drive their adoption”

Multifamily Information and Transactions Standard – (MITS) – http://www.mitsproject.com/ “MITS is an industry-wide effort by the apartment sector to develop common data standards and extensible mark-up language (XML) protocol to facilitate data and systems integration.

Realcomm – http://www.realcomm.com,  Jim Young, Founder. The intersection of Commercial Real Estate Corporate Real Estate, & Technology.

Each of these organizations are progressive, consciously and consistently providing the cutting edge to our industry. Your Organizational Core is depending on you.  Keep your core healthy and consider any and all the baby steps that are available to embrace the new ways.  Almost all of our mundane and redundant efforts can be automated. Going forward make a pact with yourself to think about your Organization’s Core and whether or not your decisions and actions are working towards a healthy core. Test yourself and watch what is physically going on around you and every time you hear that ringing phone, think of it as your wake up call.

17 Mar

The Greening of Property Management

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This photo, “sun scoop + greenwall” is copyright (c) 2014 sun scoop + greenwall by Rob Deutscher and made available under a Attribution- Creative Commons Generic 2.0 license

When your day is spent trying to revolutionize an industry, it can be rather exciting yet a little frustrating at the same time. Not only do you have to get the word out to millions of people, but you also have all of those who ignore you when they hear ‘change’. Those people may agree with you that they want everything to be done faster and cheaper, so long as it stays the same. We always start out by reminding them that there can be very little progress without change, but it is hard for them to swallow that part of progress as it relates to changing anything. Progress they want, change they do not want. In order for a property manager to be able to say, Yes and Now to each customer, building owner, staff member, vendor, leasing broker or anyone they encounter, there must be a monumental change within the industry to make this dramatic progress a reality. We are hoping, like so many people, that by adding Greening to the concept it might take off. It seems that anything about Greening or The Environment is popular. As property managers we need to start Greening ourselves.

For us to become a green industry our effort will be more than just recycling, it will have to include creating standards, minimizing training, eliminating redundancy, identifying the appropriate tools and stopping the madness of starting over every time a new property is assigned to us and minimizing the horrific pain when a property is taken away or sold. If and when, we as an industry, empower ourselves as property managers to provide Yes and Now solutions, there will be a great efficiency or greening of the property management world. The greening will take place throughout every facet of the physical property as well. The greening will impact actual costs and improve customer retention, lower employee turnover and increase the actual value of the property if we all pull together and green this industry.

For over 2 ½ decades I have been in property management, with the majority of those years in the field, at the frontline. The frontline is an appropriate description of those persons in a company who deal with the customers. When you are at the front, the demands come from various directions. Those challenges come from the general public, existing customers, building ownership, the local municipality, the corporate office, vendors or even our own property staff, and usually all at the same time. There is a constant barrage and an endless flow of expectations, with internal conflicts. Herein lies the problem or dilemma.

For instance, the customers expect us to be at our desk at all times to answer their questions or answer the phone when they call. The building owner wants us to walk the property each day and insure all things are in top condition, while watching every single penny spent and every single penny collected. The property manager is also held accountable for each member of the building staff and the assurance to ownership and our corporate office that the staff is being supervised with eagle eyes. Those high standards are expected at the on-site office we are assigned to, in addition to the other 6 properties we manage.

The corporate office wants reports done on time so the accounting department is insured immediate response to their inquiries or needs. When a broker inquires about space available, those tenant rep brokers want the answers now. The local municipality expects us to be at the ready and drop everything, on a moment’s notice to do a full building or fire inspection so we comply with all codes and ordinances. All of the vendors want to be paid immediately after performing their services and the vendors will call repeatedly until we can tell them the exact time they will be paid. Simultaneous to this we are listening to the property leasing broker on the other line who is impatiently waiting for feedback on a 7 page, lease proposal that he/she needs to have our feedback on within the next 15 minutes. All while there is another tenant standing in the office appalled that the illegal car in their parking space has not yet been towed, along with the staff member who wishes to find out why their paycheck was shorted 1.5 hours overtime.

All of the above scenarios can be made less painful if we pull together and start a grassroots effort to revolutionize the property management industry and take the property manager out of the line of fire by igniting a movement towards creating an environment whereby the property manager or the frontline staff, can truly find the time to provide excellent customer service. In addition, immediate responsiveness to the general public, our customers, the building staff, the government, the corporate office and the vendors who all believe they are entitled to receive answers now and make us a Green industry.

Because the industry is bogged down with redundancy, limited standardization, dysfunctional tools, insane repetition and wasted motion, we are the biggest culprits of waste and ineffiency. Today, with all of the creative electronic gadgets and sleek cell phones, why is a property manager ordering 3-part NCR work order pads from Peachtree, bulletin boards to post notices, reams and reams of paper to print statements, newsletters and other legal notices, cases of timecards for the staff to punch in and punch out, binders to store records and logs, and tons of envelopes to mail out the paper coupon books, paper invoices, vendor paper checks and paper remittance stubs and letters imploring the vendors to provide the paper certificates of insurance or other vendor compliance requirements? The reason is simple. We are not creating cohesive systems or systems of any kind. With cohesive systems that communicate, the redundancy will be gone, the manual task will be gone, the errors will be gone and the service will be improved.

There is a group tackling these challenges right now. If you have heard of the organization Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE) you are on the right track. This group is taking the challenge head on. OSCRE understands the key is to create standards across all firms. OSCRE is doing this very task in a very impressive fashion. As a group, those of us at ManagerLabs.com are studying the OSCRE standards and investigating how we as web developers and technology innovators can embrace this profound effort to standardize the property management industry. In a conference call with one of the OSCRE leaders last week, we were given an overview of the various standards already in place. ManagerLabs.com will continue to monitor the OSCRE processes and keep spreading the word about this important step in the process of improving the property management industry. If you take the standards and connect this to all of our systems, we will all be able to share data across any database, no matter what accounting system, work order system, commercial listing service or lease abstract system.

Our mission at ManagerLabs.com is to connect all of these dots so things can truly be ‘touch it once’. Every aspect of managing any asset should be treated as a giant template. Once this template is in place, simply change the names and fill in the blanks. If we, as an industry can start looking at standards, practices, systems and procedures as templates, we can truly be a much Greener industry.

For more information on OSCRE or to join this group, visit http://www.oscre.org.

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