Property management best practices are a set of guidelines, ethics or ideas that represent the most efficient and sensible course of action designed to lower risk and increase the value of any investment. Here are some of the more common best practices for PM firms to follow.
1. Know Your Market
Every rental market is different. Know exactly how your building sits within your market, and how it compares to similar rental buildings in the area. Determine your niche, what makes your property desirable and then market the heck out of it. Better rents and more profits are sure to follow.
2. Build Your Brand
Build your brand and find ways to differentiate yourself from other companies to clients and occupants alike. Your website is a first impression of your business for prospective tenants and owners. So, ensure that it is easy to navigate, mobile friendly and informative. Use SEO techniques as well as PPC to drive targeted traffic to your website. You want your PM company to be top-of-mind for both owners and tenants.
3. Onboard + Train Your People
The thing you never want to hear an employee say is “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that.” Give your people the knowledge and tools they need to do their job. Encourage ongoing learning with internal or external education programs designed to enhance their career development.
4. Create an Efficient Maintenance Plan
Have a regular maintenance schedule. Property management services will include a 24-7 maintenance staff to handle any emergency situations. Tenants are your best source of free marketing when there is good customer service and they are happy with the condition of the building. However, if preventative and regular maintenance as well as any tenant-requested repairs fall through the cracks, expect to hear about on review sites or social media. Be sure to use property maintenance software for instant visibility into all maintenance across your portfolio.
5. Leverage Technology
Using dedicated, purpose-built property management software is a bit of a no-brainer. It helps property management firms to run their business in real time. The use of technology can create efficiencies, eliminate redundancies and organize – and automate – multiple tasks. It gives property managers time back in their day so they can focus on showing properties or delivering superior customer service to tenants.
6. Vendor Management
Reliable, skilled trades people are critical to your operations. Timely and high-quality repairs and maintenance are the hallmark of good customer service for tenants and building the worth of the building for the owner. Build your database of the best trades people, and then make sure that local and regional managers use your authorized vendors. If you don’t have the time to make sure your tradespeople have the right certificates and insurance, outsource it to someone who can.
7. Boost Revenue
Switch over to an online rent payment solution to improve on-time collections and speed-to-bank. Your rent collection policy should be aggressive and unfailingly enforced. Don’t be afraid to charge late fees without exception. Consistently review areas for ancillary income, from additional locker storage to renters insurance to telecom bundles and parking fees.
8. Build a Sense of Community
Holiday greetings and decorations, a tenant appreciation day, a quarterly newsletter… there are numerous ways to help foster a sense of community in your buildings. This sense of connectedness can help extend a feeling of ownership amongst the tenants as well as improve lease retention rates.
9. Screen Well
Responsible renters pay their rent on time, communicate issues with your property management team, and respect the property and its inhabitants. The first step in preventing bad or “professional” tenants is screening. Have an extensive, fair/unbiased and consistent screening process in place.
10. Be Security Minded
Above and beyond things like fire extinguishers that are required by code, be proactive about creating a safe environment for your tenants. This could include CCTV in the lobby, motion-sensor lighting, keeping bushes around windows trimmed and neat, and sidewalks and stairways in good repair.
11. Go Eco
Make sure your buildings are as energy efficient as possible. Install water efficient toilets and taps, and energy efficient appliances. Ensure your HVAC system is well-tuned. It saves tenants’ money and lowers the costs of your buildings.
12. Have a Long-Term Plan
Monitor your properties and use analytics to make data-driven insights relating to which buildings require more maintenance, which ones have the most vacancies, etc. Stay on top of new bylaws or market trends. Put budgets in place for work that needs to be done in the coming year, two years and more. Have a clear vision for your property and work towards that.
13. Communicate Clearly and Frequently
One of the most critical property management best practices for all parties involved (owners, managers, and tenants) is communication. Tenants want to easily contact you to ask questions or make a maintenance request. Owners want to know how their investments are faring. And managers need to be able to easily collaborate with each other and third-parties. In addition to the usual tools of the trade, online portals are invaluable for centralizing and keeping a digital record of all communication.
14. Create an Eviction Policy
Establish a lawyer-reviewed written eviction policy. Ensure that all property managers follow it to a T. Evictions are expensive and can take a longtime and any errors on the part of the property management firm can delay matters. Everyone needs to be on the same page and play by the rules.
Stay tuned as we do a deeper dive into these best practices (and a few others!) throughout 2020!