Property Management: Offense, Defense and Special Teams

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America’s great spectator sport is front and center with the Super Bowl taking place this past Sunday.  In professional football, serious resources go into the process of putting a good team on the field.  Each team has three smaller teams; offense, defense and special teams. Every good property manager needs the same structure.   Is your property management pro-active?  Are responsibility centers clear?  Who is responsible for marketing,  for emergency maintenance, for answering the phone?  Are you fielding a good team?

An arrow is a precision weapon built to pierce its target.   Armour is blunt, big and bulky.  Armour does little except deflect.  Arrows are light and nimble, armor is heavy, hard to move around. These two instruments are seldom used by the same individual. 

What does this have to do with property management?   

Let’s segregate tasks into arrow and armor categories as writers tend to do (Men are from Mars, etc.), but let’s start with a broad premise; arrows are built for distance and amour is for close encounters. 

ARROWS – A GOOD OFFENCE IS YOUR BEST DEFENSE

Arrows represent a good offense, a proactive stance on leasing, maintenance and systems.   Arrows represent marketing, customer service and tactical strategies for interaction with the public.  Note, arrows that miss the target are wasted, delivering zero benefits and costing money.  They are meant for precision strikes and can be moved to selected targets rapidly.  With a good offense you keep the other team off the field (chasing you around the field of play versus concentrating on their business).

ARMOR – PROTECTING HOME BASE

Armor represents having a good defense, being able to protect the asset with appropriate insurance, good policies and procedures, keeping the asset safe from attack.  That means having safety lighting where needed and a 24 hour number for residents to call for emergency maintenance (so a one ounce leak has no chance of turning into a 500 gallon leak). Like “real armor” you cannot move your asset, really.  Armor assist you in making a stand where you are- protecting home base.

SPECIAL TEAMS ARE IMPORTANT

In football the kicking game is fully one third of the plays in a typical game.  Ignoring the kicking game will have your offense and defense reeling for lack of field position.  Our “special teams” are our people with multiple skill sets- they are crossed trained to do more than one role when called upon.      

Certain areas of property management absolutely require cross-training.  Customer service, for example.  A uniform method of addressing our customers, with respect, with listening and attention.  Simple enough yet sometimes difficult to implement.  For example, every member on staff should be able to pick up the phone and greet a customer or potential customer.

Like in football, a missing or weak element in any of these aspects (offence, defense, special teams) of your property managment team weakens the entire team.  When budgets are tight “training” gets kicked down the list of priorities.  There are no shortcuts to building a quality portfolio or property management team.  There is just no replacement for good people — well trained good people.

Photo: Stephen Luke

About Author

John is President of WIN LLC, an owner and asset manager of apartments, condominiums and town homes. Mr. Wilhoit’s career has focused on high volume, large-scale multifamily communities including market rate and mixed-finance developments. He has previously held positions with HUD, AIMCO and the Maryland Housing fund.

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