Advanced Property Management, Part I: Thinking Like the Owner
Up your Property Management Game by Changing Your Mind.
So this is the first in what we hope will be an exciting series of posts for property managers who are looking to up their game a little bit. The point of this article is very simple: the investors/owners who buy these properties are your clients, and the more effectively you serve your clients, the better of a property manager you are. (And, as your reputation as a great PM grows, so grows your client list and your pocketbook — but make no mistake, if you’re doing this just for the profit, you’re in the wrong profession in the first place.)
Thinking Like An Owner
Thinking like an owner means looking at every action you take in terms of the investment value over time. That’s the one factor that every owner who hires a PM shares — they all want to make money off of the property they own. Any action you take that wastes money or time, or worst of all, wastes dollars-per-time, is probably for your benefit, not for theirs — and that’s not good property management. But that’s really not what this post is about, because thinking like an owner is just ‘good’ property management. We want to be great.
‘The Owner,’ not ‘An Owner.’
You have to realize is that there is a huge difference between ‘thinking like an owner,’ which anyone can do with a little effort, and ‘thinking like the owner’ — as in, the owner of the precise property you’re currently dealing with. Knowing what owners in general want, need, are worried about, and so on is good. But if you want to bypass good and get to great, you need to pay attention to the specific individual human beings that collect the rent from you every month, and how to serve their specific desires most effectively.
What Are the Owner’s Goals?
Whenever you deal with a specific property, a great PM knows — because they’ve dealt with their clients often — what the owner of that property is most concerned about. The list of potentials is longer than you think. They may prioritize…
• Profit per month, because they’re strictly in it for the cash flow;
• Total profit upon exit, because they’re saving for retirement or some other major goal;
• Maintaining a near-zero stress level, because they have lots of properties and can’t afford to worry a terrible amount about any one of them (and they’re willing to sacrifice a little monthly/total income if it means that the income arrives without worry or effort on their part);
• Caring for the house, because they’re only renting it to turn a modest profit while their parents/spouse/children are busy elsewhere — but it must be perfect for them when they need it;
• Having a skilled, reliable PM, because they intend to invest in several more properties in the area and they want to deal with one face for the entire bunch;
• Keeping the house sale-ready, because they have a risky investment elsewhere and the house is their backup if the investment fails;
• Or any number of other more unusual goals depending on their circumstances.
Acting With the Owner’s Goals in Mind
Knowing what the owner wants is crucial to determining how to respond to a given situation. Just discovered that your perfectly-screened tenant has, contrary to every indication, suddenly disappeared and left the house unlocked and empty for weeks without warning? Your response will be massively different if you know the owner wants you to fix it without bothering them vs. if their primary concern is the welfare of the house, and you’d better get out there and inspect it in detail today.
People Don’t Always Understand Themselves
This means, all you PMs, that you can’t be afraid to talk to your clients. If you don’t get to know them, you’ll never understand why their goals are what they are. But if you can get down to the inner motivation of why they’re investing, you can act to further their goals in ways that they’re probably not even thinking of — and it’s those moments, when you impress the heck out of a client by doing something unexpected that gives them exactly what they didn’t even know they were looking for — that will make you proud to be great at being a property manager.