The Standout Characteristic of a High Performing Property Manager

Apr 03, 2023

✍️ AUTHOR: Terri Handy       ⏱️ READ TIME: 3 minutes

As humans, we tend to overcomplicate what it takes to be great at something.   It's almost like we can't accept that what is required, is often, actually very simple.

And being successful as a property manager, follows along the same lines.  Sure there are some markets or demographics that a little more difficult than others, but generally, everyone in property management deals with the same or at least, similar issues. 

So why is it that some people struggle and others don't?  

In my role as a Consultant, I get to work with many different property management teams. This means I get to observe people who are struggling to complete all their tasks and those who are nailing it. 

Property Managers who are overwhelmed and stressed managing 120 properties are sometimes working in the same office, with the same resources, as someone receiving rave reviews from their clients with 250 properties in their portfolio.

And the successful ones, the PMs who have clean inboxes and no overdue tasks, are easy to spot.

These are the guys who make sure their lease renewals are actioned on time and they are across their reported jobs and preventative maintenance like you wouldn’t believe. Their routine inspections, well they just happen like they should - on time. They return phone calls in a timely manner and make sure their renters are paying on time.  

You might think that I am talking about the basics here.

And, yes, I am.

These items are the basic expectations of our clients.  After all, these are the tasks they have engaged our services for and what we tell them we will be doing when we first meet them.

Yes, the successful PMs have great time management skills and follow processes really well. They maximise the technology they have available and are as proactive as possible in their role. Again, these traits are not much more than what we would reasonably expect to see in any property manager. 

When I look at the difference between a successful property manager and one who leaves a trail of incomplete tasks and unhappy clients in their wake, it is easy to identify (and also not very earth shattering).

The standard characteristic is simple. 

The good ones make decisions.  They make them personally and are great at helping others make decisions.  Let's clarify that a little more.  They are good at making and helping others make fast decisions.

You thought I was going to say communication, didn’t you? 

Whilst communication does play a massive role in the decision making process, sometimes when we talk about communication in property management, we tend to get a little too granular in our thinking.

Let's keep it simple for the moment and look at why this characteristic / skill is so important for a property manager to possess.

Decisions lead to resolutions.  And without resolutions, we are stuck. 

Decisions give us the ability to move forward and to also help others move forward.

Because action creates clarity.

We want fast decisions in property management because the longer it takes someone to make a decision, particularly if they are a little uncomfortable with it, the more dissatisfaction they are going to feel. Basically the crankier they are going to get because they have had to make the decision. 

And when you think about it, a big part of what we do as property managers is very reliant upon decisions being made by other people which is why it is so important for us to ensure they are happening quickly. Otherwise, we can't move forward ourselves.

Also, I want to clarify, I am not talking about knee jerk reactions when I mean fast decisions. They are a completely different beast.  I am talking about measured, considered decisions that allow us to move forward in the right direction, quickly. 

So, how do we, as property managers, set our clients up to make a decision?

How can we help someone make a decision faster?  

Here are four steps I use when coaching property managers who are finding it difficult to resolve issues.

1. Be clear as to the outcome required

We need to be clear in what outcome we want, what the goal or purpose is. Don’t be wishy washy around what is required and understand that being clear is not rude if you use the appropriate tone.

2. Narrow down their choices. 

People can feel overwhelmed with loads of information, so provide them with only what is appropriate for them to make a decision. Do they need to see every single application that comes through for their property? Probably not.

3. Provide your recommendation.

You are the expert after all and this is what you are paid for.  You are not paid to send them a list of items the renter has reported to be repaired and then ask for their instructions.  

4. Set a deadline. 

By doing this, you are making it clear that action needs to happen and by when.  And it also makes it really easy for you to set a task to follow up if you don’t hear from them by this time.

It is important to understand that making a decision can be harder for some people than others and it generally is because they are worried about making the wrong decision, they fear failure. Indecision comes about because of a lack of confidence.  So they need to trust their Property Manager.  Your confidence will enable them to make a decision faster.

Try this approach next time you find yourself waiting for someone to make a decision and see how you go. 

If you are a Head of Department or Business Owner and your team is struggling with their workload and you are not sure why, it might be worthwhile spending some time focusing on developing/improving their decision making/helping skills.