Career planning is often way down on the priorities list for property management professionals. There are hardly enough hours in the day for your to-do list as it is. But if you want your career to go places it’s well worth putting time and thought into making it happen and finding the people who could help you along the way.
Brock and Kathryn from the Kolmeo team are property management alumni with decades of experience between them. They offer advice on the career moves that matter in property management right now.
Back in the old days, when we had a gap in our technical knowledge we picked up the phone to ask the person who would know. That might be Consumer Affairs Victoria when you’re unsure how much notice to give your tenant when the owner wants to move back in.
Nowadays, the wait times on a phone call like this can make this course of action impossible for a busy PM on the run. Which is why many will turn to one of many social media groups where a crowd of fellow PMs are only too happy to share what they know. But this can be a bit risky as the answer you get may not be the right one. Instead of trusting the potentially patchy expertise you’ll get from this approach, just head to the relevant website for your state body or authority. Not only is the answer going to be the right one, you’ll also be learning this piece of knowledge, giving you a more complete picture of how things work for property management in your state.
Getting in the habit of consulting with the experts can come in handy for polishing up on other skills and competencies. “One of the best career decisions I ever made was to ask a colleague to coach me to lift my prospecting game,” says Kathryn. “I saw how effortless he was making cold calls and knew he could help me get more comfortable having those conversations. I was humble enough to ask for the help and he came from a teaching background. So he was more than happy to take on a mentoring role and plug a critical gap in my skillset.”
This goes to show how investing in interpersonal skills can take you from good to great in property management. As a team driving an app designed purely with people in mind, it’s no secret how highly we rate the personal, relationship-driven approach to property management. And we’d be over the moon to see more time and energy spent on this type of training and development in our industry.
“It might be handy to have technical know-how at your fingertips but it’s relatively easy to find these things out on the fly,” says Brock. “What takes more time to learn, but is way more valuable, are the interpersonal skills you need to hold difficult conversations with tenants and owners. And coming up with solutions and making smart decisions to limit or resolve conflict takes solid thinking skills. My career advice to PMs would be to take a more lateral approach to the capabilities you need to add value to your employer and get singled out for the next great opportunity.”
Having worked at the coal face of property management, both Kat and Brock know just how much PMs pack into their working day. Fitting training or mentoring into non-existent slivers of time has long been a problem. “We simply didn’t have the time to take a whole day out of the office for a conference or training event,” says Brock. “And if we did, the emails and voicemails would be a major distraction from activities over the course of the day.”
This is why Brock welcomes the fact that all-day events are on ice for the time being and that this has led to providers being more innovative in their offer to time-poor PMs. “The Transform program has broken the mould for real estate professionals who want to get the most from experts and peers without checking out from work for days at a time,” he says. “It runs for 30 days and you get to be part of a small, very committed group, guided by industry leaders on a learning journey. The way activities are shared on the leader board keeps everyone motivated and accountable throughout. It’s also a safe space to learn from like-minded and knowledgeable experts in their respective fields.”
Time isn’t always the biggest barrier to building skills in property management. Agency managers have a lot to juggle so it’s no wonder career development can get pushed down their list of priorities. But as Brock points out, you’ll pay the price for neglecting this essential part of your business. “You’re only ever a staff change away from a great PM service turning into an average one,” says Brock. “And if you think it’s foolish to invest in skills for your people that they might take elsewhere, it’s worth considering the alternative. What’s worse than training people in amazing customer service only to have them move on? Having them deliver poor service and stay.”
A happy team is a settled team. And as we know staff churn is a punishing cost in real estate and not just because of the time and effort it takes to show new hires the ropes. Owners are often loyal to the PM rather than the agency, so if someone walks, you might lose out on fees too. Investing in skills for your team is going to send them a clear message that you value you them and their contribution. And that has got to be worth a lot to morale, retention and outcomes for your business, in both the short and long term.