Are you that Property Manager who struggles to manage the performance and service delivery of your staff – whether operational, financial or otherwise? Here is the thing: We are in a people-driven industry. That creates a lot of challenges. The more the stakeholders, and there are many, the harder it becomes to keep you finger of the pulse and ensure that they work together, be kept in the loop and deliver the value promised and expected. How do you get the most of our your people and the best out of your business?
You see, some employees work instinctively and perform their roles to a tee, but most need at least a little guidance on where to pick up the slack, make adjustments and focus their energy. To help them be more efficient and effective (and maximise the profitability of your business), managers and business owners need to be able to see exactly where, when and how they’re falling short. To do this, you need the right tools.
Does it often feel like you need to shadow your staff’s every move, day in and day out, pinpointing problematic people and/or procedures just to ensure that no balls are dropped and that your clients at least get what they pay for. This can’t be the solution! To get to the real solution, you first need to find and fix what’s (or who’s) broken. This can seem like finding the needle in the haystack. Even if you do manage to find it, implementing effective solutions tends to be a reactive process that’s often a little hit and miss: without proper visibility. You also need to ensure that your team has actually understood, absorbed, and successfully applied your fixes. What’s the goal here: Do more, in less time, with less resources and greater efficiency.
Solve the Manageability challenge by looking at Key Performance Indicators within your business and each community
How do you make it easy for property management business owners and portfolio managers to keep their finger on the pulse of their teams without becoming the business equivalent of helicopter parents? It boils down to Accessibility to information and Transparency into the key insights and capabilities in order to create the ideal manageable environment. You can only manage what you can measure – that’s a fundamental business principle that holds true for all industries, including Property Management. Have you ever asked yourself: What do I as Property Manager need to measure in order to manage my business and portfolio better? Where do I begin and what do I need to know? Thankfully, as Property Management ourselves, our own frustrations, needs, experience and huge amounts of research into which insights and capabilities deliver the most value for business and portfolio managers, we can confidently enable you to maximise manageability and improve the efficiency of your teams. You need insights on the following Key Performance Indicators:
Portfolio Growth over time
This one is pretty obvious: to grow your business, you need to know if your portfolio is growing or declining. To reach your planned financial goals within your business, you need to know when you are taking on new communities and understand their potential financial impact. Taking on new communities also affects the workload on your team, which needs to be budgeted for proactively.
Looking at portfolio growth is one thing, but understanding the breakdown of your portfolio growth is another. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you took on a smaller community (for growths’ sake), with a lower management fee, only to find that it had a big negative impact on your workload, manageability and profitability? Remember, all growth is not necessarily good growth, after all. The right insights into your communities can tell you a lot more about your business than you might think. It is important to ask some critical questions:
- What is the baseline workload of each community in our portfolio on our staff?
- What is the additional workload on staff per each additional unit?
- If the workload increase is too dramatic, is it the kind of growth we are looking for?
Ask the right questions, look at the data and understand the time spent on an average community. You can now define the exact threshold over which a portfolio becomes profitable for your business. How will asking the right questions and gathering this important information benefit you: It will help you to set your minimum charges and will help you focus your business development prospects on communities that fit within your particular sweet-spot.
Proactive Planning and Compliance Management
Are you a re-active property manager that handling issues as and when they arise or are you a pro-active manger that ensures that those issues never come up in the first place? You know which approach leads to greater efficiency is more valued by your clients. One of the most powerful mindset shifts in modern Property Management is the therefore the transition from reactive management to proactive management. A huge part of making this change involves implementing a comprehensive planning process that schedules all the compliance tasks required by law of all community schemes, internal processes and meetings, well in advance. From a manageability perspective, this kind of planning scheduling has three key benefits for your business:
- It provides a clear guideline for staff to follow, making it difficult for critical tasks to plausibly pass under the radar.
- It neatly bypasses the unpredictability of letting trustees get involved in setting and supervising key timelines.
- Being able to track the progress of this schedule makes it easy for business owners and portfolio managers to confirm the compliance health of their communities at a glance, assess their team’s performance, and catch any red flags before they put the business at risk.
- You make yourself and your services more valuable by reducing the risk to Trustees and creating peace-of-mind.
Are you new to the game, or a seasoned Property Management? Your pro-active Compliance Plan need to “tick all the boxes”. We’d suggest that your basic compliance to-do list (applicable to sectional title and community living schemes) include the following items and activities:
- Director/Trustee Meeting
- Annual audit
- Financial statements
- Budget meeting
- Proposed budget circulated to owners
- Send out the AGM pack (according to the legislated guidelines) before the AGM
- Submit the financial statements, updated contact details for directors/trustees, and a copy of the AGM minutes to CSOS after the AGM
- CSOS annual return
- Annual Insurance Renewal
- Fire equipment service
Processing of Monthly tasks fast and effectively
Having a proactive compliance plan in place is only half the manageability picture. The other half is having the ability to plan and track the mountain of other monthly tasks that need to be consistently and timeously completed. In our experience, Trustees and Directors are expecting more and more from the Property Manager – they measure your value on how much work, stress and risk you can take from them and if you can do it within the given timelines. Being able to quickly and easily confirm that these timelines (and task lists) are being adhered to by your team is therefore extremely valuable from a manageability perspective. Why? Because it makes it makes it easy to spot bottlenecks, communication problems and underperforming (or overburdened) departments and implement the necessary changes to get your processes streamlined and on track. Here is a handy checklist of operation, administrative, accounting and financial tasks and that your Property Management team need to complete every month:
- Arrear notices must go out
- Month-end processing must be completed
- Trustee reports must go out by the 10thand include:
- Up-to-date compliance planner & checklist
- Financial overviews of transactional and investment accounts
- Updates on arrears/debt collection processes
- Income statements
- Balance sheets
- Cash book allocations
- Transfer/consent letters issued
- Active tasks
- Completed tasks
- Warnings/penalties issued
- Last month’s payment authorisations
- Utilities must be processed (allocated and invoiced) between 1st– 25th
- Invoices must go out by the 25th
Outstanding portfolio debt
Non-payment is the biggest risk factor for most communities, which makes it one of the most important performance indicators for Property Managers to keep an eye on. Even more so with the significant impact of COVID-19 on investors, owners and tenants. Many people took salary cuts or lost their jobs. Being able to instantly spot portfolios with higher-than-average debt levels enables Property Managers to address the root causes of these issues and ensure that their communities are receiving the level of service that they need. So whether you are involved in pre-legal arrears management or formal debt collection (as registered debt collectors or via third parties debt collectors), there is an expectation from your clients that outstanding debt is managed and reported on.
Task turnaround times
One of the most visible value-adds that Property Managers provide is the fast and effective turnaround of maintenance tasks. Of course, failures in this area are equally visible and can have a big effect on trustees’ perception of your service quality. That makes it pretty important for you as a business owner or portfolio manager to be able to keep tabs on these turnaround times and hold the right parties accountable for slow or sub-par service delivery.
Warnings & penalties
The number of warnings and/or penalties issued within a community are often a good indicator of that community’s overall health state. Being able to track and view the details of these warnings is important for managers to ensure:
- Warning expiry dates are tracked so that penalties can be issued when appropriate
- Repeat offences are recorded so that problem units, tenants and/or landlords can be dealt with
- The overall frequency of offences is recorded so that steps can be taken to prevent permanent damage to a scheme’s appeal
- A great benefit is where penalties are linked directly to you billing and financial module.
Financial Audit Trails & Risk Management
Fraud is a risk whenever you’re dealing with financial management responsibilities, and we all know that financial management makes up a large part of what Property Managers do. To mitigate this risk, it’s vital for business owners and portfolio managers to have access to comprehensive approval trails and any other relevant details (e.g. which trustee approved what) relating to community and/or portfolio expenditure.
We’ve already spoken about the importance of setting up a proactive compliance schedule from a business perspective, but tracking compliance is equally important for managing portfolio performance. First prize from a manageability perspective is having access to compliance status insights and overviews on not just a business level, but a portfolio level as well.
(It’s even better if you can make a community’s compliance information available on demand to trustees – nothing is more comforting than being able to check your scheme is in good legal standing at the click of a button!)
Real-time feedback on specific portfolio KPIs
Just like you, as a business owner, need to be able to view your business KPIs, your portfolio manager needs to be able to see how healthy their portfolio is. Thus, having access to a similar overview, but focussed only on their portfolio, is critical to their ability to excel at their work. Intelligent dashboard can give you the insights you need to manage your portfolio and business better.
Lean isn’t just reserved for start-up environments. Reducing wasted effort and superfluous manpower is a great way to lower business costs and increase profit margins no matter what industry you’re in. While the methods businesses use to improve their efficiencies and become leaner versions of themselves vary, for Property Managers, it’s all about streamlining processes – generally by splitting portfolios across several, specialised departments. Unfortunately, by creating siloed workflows, effective teamwork becomes a challenge unless a concerted effort is made to maintain good inter-departmental collaboration. If you have great collaboration capabilities, however, it becomes far easier to spot and address any blind-spots, ensure your teams and workflows are fully aligned with your desired outcomes, and streamline your processes for maximum efficiency and growth potential.
Giving your trustees the ability to engage directly with their scheme’s status is a very powerful manageability tool, but it doesn’t replace reporting altogether – or, at least, it shouldn’t. The problem is, without consistent, comprehensive and high-quality reporting, a lot of the hard work your teams are doing is practically invisible – and nobody likes to pay good money for value that they can’t see. The easiest solution is to produce attractive, professional and clear monthly reports that effectively communicate your full value to your clients. Ideally, this should also be a largely automated process that doesn’t add significantly to your administrative workload.
When we get right down to it, being a Property Manager is a lot like being “middle-management”. A big part of the job is keeping trustees and directors (whose role is similar to that of corporate CEOs) in the loop at all times. Typically, this involves endless reports, emails, phone calls and meetings – that’s not exactly time-efficient for those trustees and directors, and it’s certainly not quick or easy for you. It is critical from a manageability perspective for trustees and directors to receive comprehensive community reports on a monthly basis or, even better, have direct access to their scheme’s key information whenever they choose. That way, they can stay on top of all pertinent activities, help flag potential problems, and indirectly assist you in keeping your teams on track.
WeconnectU gives you all the insights and capabilities you need
Now that we’ve explored what the ideal manageable environment looks like, you’re probably wondering how your Property Management business is supposed to get its hands on of all the insights and capabilities it needs. It is not a pipe dream and not unattainable. This might have been true in the past, but with the right technology partner you will be able to gain access to all the important information, and be transparent between all stakeholders to get better collaboration, teamwork and communication.
Achieving the ultimate, manageable Property Management environment is not only possible, it’s a whole lot easier than you might think, thanks to WeconnectU’s Community Management Solution.
Perhaps it is time to upgrade to the most advanced end-to-end property management software in South Africa. WeconnectU enables managing agents, irrespective of their size, to improve overall manageability to become a more efficient and profitable business.
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