I have missed my deadline for writing articles, let’s just say, a few times. I know, I know—it’s terrible!
And so to mitigate that issue, I began scheduling my writing time in my calendar—first a writing session time, then a proofreading time, and then a submission time. That’s great in theory. It’s supposed to be on Thursday mornings to give myself enough time to think about what I want to write, complete that post, and get it submitted with time to spare.
Well, it’s nearly midnight.
The whole plan was to NOT have to stress over getting this written, take my time, feel like I have the chance to read back through it (probably more times than necessary). The bottom line is, I didn’t get it done in the planned timeline.
I did look at two new properties, get a referral for a new listing, on-boarded another property management client, assessed a situation with a rehab not going exactly as planned, and on and on. We have lots of great things happening, and I am so thankful for that. Our property management business is growing with great success, with new projects both internally and for external investment clients.
But man, it’s so busy, sometimes it’s hard for me to catch a breath.
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Busy Shouldn’t Equal Disorganization & Stress
With all this going on, it means more receipts, more contracts, more details, more stuff to submit for contracts, more contractor bids, etc., etc., etc.
More indeed. However, that’s no excuse not to get things done in the allotted time. But it also means I needed to develop my strategy and get it implemented in a hurry. When I have something on the calendar, I need to get it done. I also have to make sure I’ve not put too many things on the calendar in one day, so I am able to complete those tasks or meet with those clients without having to rush and with a good amount of “head space” to process what that next meeting or appointment is.
One of the things we have been working on for a few weeks now is getting a virtual assistant. You know, just send them a few things to do, have them crank it out, and wham, they are off my plate. As if having someone in office who you communicate directly with isn’t hard enough, try sending all those details via email or some online cloud system, likely over different time zones, and getting exactly what you need from that VA.
As a little aside here, I’ll admit this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to hire a VA. I had another one a few years ago. I did a terrible job managing them and giving them direction, and it didn’t go very well. The things I asked for didn’t come back the way I expected. The design elements I had asked for (this one was a graphic design guy) didn’t look at all like what I thought they should. I just got frustrated and figured my experience was a total loss of money and time.
But why didn’t it work? And why did I think it would be better this time?
Hiring the VA
Luckily this time I have a very skilled and comfortable partner who took the reins and helped talk through everything first. He also did almost everything on the front end of the hiring process. That might not seem helpful at first to you, but what I am getting at is I got to watch first hand how he processed through the applications and performed the screening, interviews, and then hiring.
By going through and finding some of the larger teams of VAs, we were able to locate some who could really handle a large volume of work within the price criteria we were looking for and with the real estate experience we needed them to have. We didn’t want to have to teach them all the basics. Instead, we wanted to focus on systems.
Why Systems Are Vital
By having really thoughtful processes internally, we are able to more easily tell someone else what we need them to do, because WE KNOW what we need to do.
The systems have changed a lot of things for us. We now have a process on how we onboard a new property, and we can duplicate that each and every time. This doesn’t mean that we won’t refine it as we go, but we have an explainable process to give the VA: “We need documents 1-5, and please fill them in with new management client X, and have them ready by ________ .”
We also define the different parts of the business. For instance, do we need the VA to work on documents for writing offers, organizing documents from a previous week in our online database, or filing away and documenting receipts for the bookkeeper to deal with later?
The “Ah-Ha” Moment
I really started to see the system working after I was able to take a few steps back and view what was happening. I asked myself how I could help by giving good direction on how I (optimally) did things, and then recreating that into the system for others to duplicate. You can’t expect the system to work if you are unable to explain it in such a way that it is easy to duplicate by someone else.
By putting our systems in place, we’ve been able to start a sort of operating manual for the business. It has not only the ideas and macro-thinking, but also the nuts and bolts for operation. We aren’t 100% there yet, but we know what we need to do to get there.
Even if you aren’t trying to manage properties for others or you are starting on your first project, think about the operation and the process as you go. Talk with others who have been there. You will thank yourself later for being ahead of the curve on setting the standards for your business practice, and that way as you bring on in-office employees or a VA assistant, you can give clear direction on what you need them to do. Helping them to understand their role and their job will allow you to (eventually) take those tasks 100% off your plate, giving you more time to do what you want—and excel at.
Have you successfully brought on new team members?
Please share your experience!