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Ask a teacher, “What is a successful teacher?” and the answer is likely to be, “One whose students learn.” Ask a property manager, “What is a successful property manager?” and the answer is likely to be, “One whose tenants are happy.” Though this answer is true, the path to having happy tenants is much more complicated than a 5-word response.
Like all managers, a good property manager must be able to listen and communicate. She must also be proactive, involved, and knowledgeable. Great property managers deliver great customer service by treating clients and tenants with respect and going above and beyond to resolve any problems and issues. Most people working in the property management industry agree that the most fundamentally important trait for a good property manager to possess is the ability to communicate and relate to others. According to Mike Levy, in his book “50 Interviews: Successful Property Managers,” successful property managers all have excellent people skills, including the following five critical abilities:
1. The ability to relate to people on all different levels. In the property management industry, you literally come in contact with just about everyone from just about every socio-economic class.
2. The ability to exercise patience. Every day seems to bring new challenges and problems to solve; this is especially important in dealing with clients and tenants, particularly if you end up taking on the mediator role.
3. The ability to be willing to change. As with all businesses, you need to be able to change when the environment and/or industry changes.
4. The ability to listen. I cannot overemphasize the importance of listening. Like a good diplomat, the property manager needs to be able to see other people’s perspectives, hear what they are saying, and solve their problems. Listening doesn’t mean simply hearing what your clients, tenants, vendors, suppliers, or employees are saying; you must also interpret and understand what they want you to know. Sometimes people simply need to be heard, particularly if it is a complaint, and many problems can be solved by understanding and curing a lack or breakdown in communication.
5. The ability to say “no” when necessary. Tony Blair (Politician) said, “The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” Many property managers have a tendency to say “yes” to their clients and tenants just to make them happy and sometimes cool down a heated situation, which is not always the best solution.
Brendan Flaherty, an editorial assistant with The Cooperator, confirms that “A good property manager has to be able to communicate and interact with a variety of different people and personalities, while keeping all logistics in order.” When property managers resolve problems, clients remain confident in the company and want to continue the business relationship. In addition, happy clients and tenants help spread positive word of mouth, resulting in an additional avenue for marketing and advertising for your company. Smaller businesses compete with larger ones by cultivating relationships through personal attention and care.
Whether it is inspecting a roof, informing the owner of a new inspection requirement, checking the price of diesel fuel against the budget, explaining to a local tenant that they have to abide by the terms of a lease, or mediating a disagreement over contracts, a good property manager is hard to find. If you have a “keeper,” be sure to let him or her know!