Project Plan for the Cooler Months

Without trying to get all Ned Stark on you, because we all know how well things turned out for him, believe it or not, winter is on its way. The year just seems to fly by and once Easter arrives and brings with it not only chocolate but also the daylight saving change, we start to see the long hard slog of the cooler months paved out before us.

Something happens in winter, people tend to want to hibernate and aren’t so keen on moving about.

If you find in your office that you do have some quieter time, it’s a great opportunity to plan some projects that will help you to be more organised and on top of your game when the busy times are there.

  • Keep on top of your preferred week. If you don’t already have a preferred week mapped out, maybe it’s time to start. The team at REAL+ have some great examples to help you with this.
  • Stay up to date with smoke detectors. Your software programs allow you to enter in details of the last date of testing so that you can audit to see where each property is at to ensure compliance with legislation. If you aren’t sure of your requirements under smoke alarm legislation, check the fire department website for your state, they have all the requirements and any recommendations for your tenants, especially as the those heaters start getting fired up ready to keep you roasty, toasty warm.
  • Try a key audit. Now, don’t completely freak out, but when was the last time that you actually audited your key cabinet? How many keys are sitting in your cabinets unused, for properties that you no longer manage? Some tips if you would like to try this process;
    • Print out or save a pdf copy of the key numbers as they currently sit before the audit.
    • Have some dot stickers to take out with you and the keys when you visit properties, check all of the keys at inspections, be it vacates, in-goings or routines and put a coloured sticker on those that work and one on those that don’t that can be thrown. Often you will find that over time, locks are changed, old keys that never work are kept and the handful of keys for one property becomes the size of Everest. If you would like to go the extra mile, write which door the key belongs to on the sticker which will really help you, your colleagues and even your Tenants.
    • Have a box to put those keys for properties that you no longer manage or that you have no idea which property they belong to. This is handy to keep around for a few months, for just in case purposes and for when you may feel comfortable with disposing of them.
    • To make key tracking easier, try some of the new software out there like Inspect Real Estate’s key tracker. It will really save you time and stress and if you choose paper, don’t forget to have a key system in place for tracking those key movements in and out of the office.
  •  Audit your routine schedule. Sometimes, believe it or not, routine inspections of properties can slip through the cracks. Print out a report from your software to find out when the last inspection was carried out and if it’s behind, get out there and get it done.
  • Get that maintenance up to date. Check your outstanding work orders and if there are any outstanding for 2 months or more, find out why. Chase up the tradies, check with the tenants if the work has been done and get those invoices in so that the Owners have a chance to claim them with end of financial year.

It’s important to remember to keep momentum during these months as the quieter times can also mean catching up on those maintenance tasks that may not take priority when it’s busy.

Heidi Walkinshaw

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Try an Easter Detox

Ah the holidays, that time of year when craziness seems to set in. For most Property Management Teams and especially Leasing Teams, it will mean an actual two day weekend. Hooray! Two days to hopefully switch off, unwind and catch up with the things you find most important. Like eating bucket loads of chocolate and dealing with the aftermath of being filled with chocolate and regret come Monday.

Did you know that studies have shown that the mind performs better and stress levels can actually be lowered by taking a short break from work? Now when we talk about a short break, it’s not so much walking away from your desk for ten minutes and taking your phone with you, still frantically scrolling through your emails as you go. It means take a breath and step away from you work world both physically and mentally for a day or two.

I know that this task can sound complicated and many of us would choose not to for fear that the world will fall apart should they step away from their patch, but believe me when I tell you that psychologically it is beneficial for your own mental health and your productivity and performance at work. It can also assist in reducing your stress levels by clearing your head space if you take the time to do something for you to unwind. Whether it is a weekend away, should you choose to battle the holiday traffic, a stroll along the beach, adventure sports or even just become a lounge lizard and catch up on a good book or those episodes of Breaking Bad that you have been dying to catch up on, your brain and your boss will thank you for it later.

If you want to try and take it to the next level, unplug yourself from the technological world. Put down your phone, iPad and laptop and take a moment to step back into the real world and see the beauty in it. Your challenge is to not look at the phone at bedtime or first thing on waking up, take some time to ignore the beep of messages or notifications throughout the day and truly clear your head space. You will be surprised how much space you can really clear up there when you take out the techno distractions. It will also give you a perfect chance to indulge in the goodies that the little guy with the fluffy white tail may leave behind.

Go on, try an Easter techno detox, the chocolate detox however, may just have to wait until next week.

Fiona Blayney

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Your Client Doesn’t Care about You

It might sound harsh, but we all know it’s kinda true. Despite any relationship and rapport built when it’s time to talk business, your client’s only care is about what you can do for them.

Why, then, do we make so many of our prospecting and new business conversations about ourselves??

Whenever I ask the question to my clients, “Why should someone chose you to manage their property”, all of the answers start with “we”…..
Typical responses include:
  • We are experienced
  • We are professional
  • We’ve been in business for 25 years
  • We are local to you
  • We have great marketing
  • We have great communication
  • We have won multiple Real Estate industry awards

These comments don’t differentiate you from your competition. Everyone gives the same answers about how great they are and I can guarantee nobody is going in to bat with a potential client saying “We are unprofessional, inexperienced, won’t call you back and don’t know much about Property Management…”. Save the accolades for your press releases and websites.

Stop talking about yourselves! New Business conversations shouldn’t be about you. They should be about asking the right questions and defining the solutions for your clients. That’s right, start talking about them!
Instead of telling your prospective clients that you’re an expert, be one! You know all about your market, and your products and services. You know best practices—what works and what doesn’t. Help them connect the dots between what you offer and the results they expect to attain. Be specific, targeted, and concise. Offer firm data results and share examples of results that other, similar clients have received.
Apply all that expertise to their unique challenges, and you’ll have not just won the business, but won a client for life.
Hermione Gardiner

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Want to Know an Undervalued Component to Saving Time?

There are a tonne of hot quick time management tips I could write about here. Believe you me, I have found many a faster and easier ways to do things in order to remove as much stress as possible from our crazy Property Management worlds.

However in this instance, I want to focus on the importance of having a good relationship with your clients, and how taking a bit of extra time to build and work on those relationships can actually save us time in the future.

In particular the strength of our relationship with that client may a direct effect on the amount of time spent on dealing with difficult situations. We continually see that generally this 20% of difficult situations take up 80% of our time.

However the way I see it, the better relationships we have the more easily we are able to prevent issues, resolve disputes, settle negotiations, predict behaviours and effectively manage the people we are dealing with. This means, that the percentage of time spent on dealing with these situations, will minimise.

Of course we will still have what I like to call the soul ‘zappers’, where there is no winning, and we may need to make a decision as to whether we want to be in a relationship with that client.

I find we spend so much time at the beginning chasing and wooing our prospective landlords, building a relationship to win them over, however I cannot help feeling like often the landlord is left feeling like they are not getting what was promised to them in the courtship stage.

Because of this – resentment can build and it becomes much easier to fall into a dispute or argument, or we find landlord has a lack of trust in what we do making it harder for us to get the smallest of tasks complete without tedious backwards and forwards strain.

How can we spend a bit more time on building relationships throughout the tenancy not just at the start? How are we ensuring we are delivering what was promised? How do we need adapt our own personalities and behaviours to meet the needs of our clients when necessary to meet their needs?

I would recommend to start with picking up the phone and having a conversation with your client on a regular basis, continuing to find out more about them and how to best deal with them. Next time you’re thinking of sending an email, pick up the phone and open a conversation, not just starting an email chain (which has its’ own time saving component in itself).

Food for thought…

Hermione Gardiner

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Don’t Forget Your Swimming Pools

With the news this week reporting that in NSW the changes to swimming pool legislation and enforcement has been pushed back yet another 12 months, the temptation may be to think it’s ok to put off the compliance measures.

This extended time frame allows for more time to get those inspectors in and ensure you are ahead of the curve and ready to go once that deadline eventually comes into force.

It has also allowed for extra breathing room as I have heard of some Property Managers struggling to get the measures in place due to a shortage of inspectors.

In NSW, the legislation includes changes such as;

  • The requirement for an Owner to register their swimming pool with local council
  • The requirement for local councils to inspect pools
  • The requirement for all tourist, visitor and multi-occupancy developments to have a valid compliance certificate for their swimming pool
  • The requirement for a compliance certificate to be attached to a lease or sale contract for a property that has a swimming pool
  • Not just in NSW, but all states, if you are taking on any properties with pools or in any current management’s it is also important when you are inspecting the property to ensure that the pool has the following safety measure in place;
  • Child-resistant safety fencing and gates separating the pool from any residential building or adjoining premises,
  • Warning and CPR signs are displayed near the pool.
  • When carrying out inspections, make sure that all gates and doors are closed at all times.

As we steam roll towards the winter month’s it can become something we don’t put as much emphasis on as we are zooming around with so many other tasks that we need to keep compliant but a task that is incredibly important and could have the potential to save a life.

Heidi Walkinshaw

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