Property Management Paperwork & Data: How Much is Too Much?
Fortunately due to modern technology, the trees can breathe easy since many property management paperwork are now digitized.
Property management styles run the gamut from the laissez-faire “Do nothing unless someone calls you to complain” to the highly intensive “stay on top of everything and document everything that happens along the way and produce regular reports of all that stuff for the owners, management, and anyone else who might be interested.”
Royal Rose Properties leans pretty hard toward the latter, although some owners complain we don’t give them enough info, while others state we give them too much. We’re acutely aware of just how much paperwork our management style produces – and the advantages and disadvantages that it creates.
The short version is, “we can usually figure out more or less exactly what happened in a given situation.” That means:
• Our owner clients rarely hear the words “I don’t know what happened.” – or if they do, they’re followed by “Give me a bit to look into it, and I’ll figure it out and get back to you.”
• If worst comes to worst and we end up in court, we are almost always capable of whipping out the documentation we need to prove the story to the judge.
• For the areas of the business that involve a feedback cycle, like the Marketing Department tracking advertising progress and making course-corrections on particular marketing efforts, we can show our owners exactly what we’re basing our recommendations on.
• When tenants make claims like “no one told me about that!” or “someone told me that…”, we can almost always find the exact communication where “that” came up.
The challenge here is, “we can get lost in too much information sometimes.”
• Because sometimes a specific problem can get entered in multiple different areas of our system, we can occasionally end up with multiple different departments following up with a tenant/owner/vendor within a few days (or even a few hours). That can be frustrating.
• Often a specific update to a problem is entered into one part of our system but not another, so it can take our staff a significant amount of effort to collect the whole story about a situation – which can be an issue if there’s a very agitated person waiting on the phone.
• Training new employees is a challenge, because all that documentation requires a lot of attention to detail. Also, the ‘hard to find the whole story’ problem mentioned above is particularly exaggerated when the person looking for the story is a newbie.
• All that documentation means that tasks tend to take a little longer than might seem intuitively obvious – particularly when that task involves searching several potential sources for a bit of information that you don’t know exists. Did the owner of that property say “go ahead with that repair” or not? Better check your email, the department group email, the owner’s communication log, the portfolio communication log, and the work order itself!
• Another issue is our owner clients sometimes feel overwhelmed with the information we provide them and stress about getting a quick answer. This is typically the case with an owner that hasn’t taken the time to learn our systems and where to look for information (we do offer online tutorial sessions).
So, why do we choose such an information-heavy way of running our business? Simply put, we want to be able to explain ourselves to anyone who cares to ask. It’s one thing to run fast and loose when you manage a handful of properties – when you have 300+ families and 20+ currently-being-renovated buildings under your management, a question that goes without a good answer can mean way too many people suffer.