02 May

Does Your Property Manage You?

Do you manage your property, or does it manage you? This should be at the forefront of your mind every day. This question is meant to keep you on track and focused. Why? Because property management is an industry that can make or break you! As property managers we are the ultimate in multi-tasking. We know that anyone can become a property manager, but the ones that truly standout and differentiate themselves are the ones that manage their building. Not the other way around.

There can be constant interruptions and challenges throughout any given day. The day starts out fine until you get a call about a flooded property, or an unexpected customer complaint. Now you need to drop what you are doing and attend to the crisis at hand.

As you begin to tackle this new challenge, it is best to keep reminding yourself that you manage the building, the building does not manage you! When the flood hits, do you have a contingency plan? Why is the customer complaining? Analyze the issue and address the problem. The number one solution is to be proactive. Do all you can to prevent these issues from happening again. Manage it and do not just react to it!

When an issue arises, it must be broken down into the smallest components in order to find the reason or cause. Once it has been solved, it is time to develop a new approach or plan so that it can be prevented in the future. This can be as simple as more training in a specific topic, or even just determining if the task should be outsourced rather than performed in-house. Whatever the solution, it needs to be developed, implemented, and then monitored. If a solution is developed but it is never put into action, or if it is put into place but no one follows up on it to make sure it is being implemented correctly, it will do no good and create more headaches for you later on down the line.

For instance, if there is a flood, what caused the flood? Was it the lack of preventative maintenance, human error due to lack of training, a service contract failure, etc.? The point of managing is to anticipate and not wait for matters to arise. The entire premise of good management is to think about “What If” and anticipate everything. Constantly ask, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” or “What if this happens?” Then consider another important question “How should I prevent it or react if it does happen?” If you are prepared, it is no longer a crisis or interruption. Instead, it is just another part of the normal multi-tasking routine. Remember, the goal is to manage your property, not for the property to manage you!

“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…..

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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.