WHEN DID WE STOP BEING COURTEOUS?

Customer service is a term, widely used, to greet someone who approaches your business.  “Hello, good morning, how may I help you?”  This is a common response to greet someone who has phoned/visited your business.  I know you all get trained in how to greet clients that could potentially be buyers, sellers, landlords, or tenants, but what if someone is selling your agency something?

I instantly notice a shift in demeanour.  All of a sudden, the person is not helpful and you will notice, if you are in front of them, that their shoulders lower, jaw drops slightly, and even on worse occasions a possible eye roll, and they very quickly cut you off and tell you to ”just leave your business card/flyer” with them.  Over the phone you can hear it in their voice, or they will just leave you leave on hold and never come back.

We all joke about doing this to telemarketers calling from foreign countries, however the same is still done to industry people that could be extremely advantageous to your business.  Let me ask you…who are you to judge which trained professional can assist you in growing your business, or how do you on the reception desk know that a different software package wouldn’t make your life easier?

I personally hear these complaints daily from other industry professionals and, naturally, due to our temporary recruitment side of the business, our Recruitment Manager mentions the rudeness she encounters on a daily basis from Principals/Department heads hearing the word “recruitment “and will literally hang up the phone on her.  When all she is trying to say is: we offer TEMP recruitment only, until you can place a permanent staff member yourself.  Can I also mention, that on countless occasions these particular agencies will eventually call us to enquire about our services (that we tried to explain weeks ago).  We do secretly love those calls!

People specialise in industries for a reason, and most are not trying to sell you a non-marketable nor helpful package, they are simply offering you what may or may not be the solution you need.

I think by far the best conversation with a Principal earlier this month was “Hi I was just wondering if you received our email following up on our services that we offer you” to be replied with “oh yeah for sure that was in my delete pile this morning” …. and hung up the phone in our ear.

Now, why is this necessary? A simple “yes I did get it, thank you very much, but at this stage we do not need your assistance “.  How difficult is that?

  • It is courteous, and respectful.
  • Gives the person the same respect that you would expect be given back to you.

The former just teaches the younger generation who you are generally working with, or are walking past you in the street, how NOT to treat people.

Personally, I get offers also, at least 5 times a week, of people trying to sell me something that at this stage does not interest me – I reply with “thanks for thinking of me, but we are not in a position right now, but feel free to follow me up” or “no, that won’t suit our business mould, but thanks anyway”.

This puts a stop to them contacting you day in and day out for an answer, and in 6 months’ time when they call back, you may be in a better position to meet with them, or you can keep their information on file so you do not have to run back to them in a few months with your tail between your legs.

Some of you may find this article very blunt, or you may be one of these people. However, I have never been one to keep my thoughts to myself, and am a big believer in doing everything possible for humanity, and to bring our younger generations up right so they, in turn, can pass on what we teach them to make the world a happier place because it is truly becoming sad and inhumane.

From the words of My Idol – Ellen Degeneres…. Be kind to one another

Lauren Kropp – Director Real Strategix

 


15 years ago, there was no such title as “Business Development Manager or Business Development Officer”, and really – what is the difference between those 2 titles anyway?  Another one I like is Client Services Officer, or New Business Consultant.  These titles are simply that – titles.  In most instances, you can choose which you feel is more appropriate.  However, the role is the same and the end goal is identical: to get new listings for the Property Management department.

Each agency will have different techniques, systems, documents, and procedures for you to follow. But, the best way of advertising your services are often missed and not included in these areas mentioned.  It is free, and adds far more punch to any letter or email.  What is it?

Social media.

The BEST form of adverting and interacting with your audience.  You may think – “yes, I do this, I post on Facebook”, but what you are forgetting is ‘so does everyone else’.  A few tips and tricks for you to follow, to stand out:

  • You MUST think outside the box and be entertaining. A picture of a house and a caption saying “just listed $350 per week perfect for family“is simply not enough these days to catch someone’s eye.  Why not add a picture of a person screaming in joy and jumping in the background with a caption “OMG I found my next home” – the OMG must be eye catching, to make the audience stop and read the post.  Posts like these will take extra time to create but you will generally get 25% more audience attention, and more likes.
  • More likes – Just this week I posted one entertaining item, that wasn’t even about real estate, that had 67 post views. All it took was for 1 person to tag a friend in that post (as she found it funny) and it immediately jumped to 364 views and one of those new viewers also tagged one person and the post had 843 views.  From this post, instantly we had 8 more people “like” our page.  8/843 is not a lot you may think; however it is 8 more than yesterday.
  • Genuine likes – Having grandma and your aunty like your page is fantastic support but ‘are they really your target audience’, you may think. In the Real Estate world – everyone is your target audience, everyone needs a home whether it be to buy or rent, live in or as an investment, holiday home or for a friend – all likes in this industry are genuine.  For BDM’s and salespeople don’t forget to include “agency tenants” as your target audience. These tenants will hopefully eventually buy a home and if you treat them well it will be with you.
  • One person – that is all it takes to generate more audience interaction. Why not ask your staff members to also “like”, share or tag people in your posts?  Remember that Facebook, Instagram, and Linked In all work the same way that any audience interaction takes that particular post to the top of the news feed so if you spread this out throughout the day your post will keep being put to the top of the news feed.
  • Finding people to like your page – This is time consuming, but social media pages have a “search” filter where you can search not only for a person’s name but their email address and mobile phone number. When consulting we advise people to outsource this task, or have a receptionist spend 1 hour per day adding tenants and contacts from their CRM to the social media pages.  In most instances, the person has to accept your request, so if you find someone on a page remember this does not necessarily mean they will accept your offer, but you have at least touched base with them and made them aware that you would like them to keep up to date on agency activity.

Real Strategix have more tips and tricks in relation to social media and gaining new business interaction, plus we also offer assistance in creating your social media images and a complimentary marketing plan if you do not have the time to create them yourself.

Lauren Kropp

Director

Real Strategix

 


As you may know, part of our service at Real Strategix is to provide temporary recruitment to Real Estate agencies and onsite managers.  We perform all our checks as you would a tenant, or employing someone yourself. We have our own 100-point system and one of them is social media.  When I say social media – I mean everything on the big, bad web.

We put your name into Google and you would be surprised what comes up.  We have had people apply for jobs that have no mention of working at a “particular” real estate on their resume, but this agency still has them listed in the back end of their” about us” page of the website.  Personally, I worked for a company many years ago, and if you type my name in I am not listed in “about us” or “our team” but I come up in staff photos from Christmas parties, in blogs, and also in the backend of the “about us”.  I am more than happy for that, and by the way it is purely an example.  Do it yourself and see what you find.  Set up a Google alert too – that will take longer to explain, but you can see what people are saying about you, or to you.

Facebook – the WORST culprit for you – the best for any employer!  Make your page private.  We have had many candidates that we search, who have their name, and a strange name in brackets under it.  For example: Mary Rose (perfect princess).   I have, on a few occasions, then entered the words (perfect princess) into the search engine, and low and behold Mary Rose has a talent for other things that men pay money to see (that was an example, by the way, just to clarify).  People are not silly, and these days you cannot escape social media. Even if you try to, people will TAG you in the drunken photos. Facebook has the ability that requires you to “accept” being tagged in photos.  My one rule – no DRUNK posting!  In fact, don’t touch your phone while drinking!

You might want all of your Instagram followers to see you as a model, and holding up a bottle of protein powder.  This might get you sponsors, however WE also see this!  We can, therefore, see how drunk you got last Saturday night, and what people are commenting back to you.  Many employers have absolutely no problem with weekend shenanigans – we have all done it – all been there (I was just fortunate that social media didn’t exist when I was 18).  Just remember, that even though it is in “your time” it does, unfortunately, open you up to be judged before you have walked into the interview.

If you are a BDM, Business professional, agent, trainer – why not have TWO Facebook profiles.  I do – one to follow all my sporting teams, my sons football, my daughter’s gymnastics, and become a member of my own gyms personal group; but everything else in my life relates to my working life.  I actually now find I use this profile more.  Just remember which one you are posting on!

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix


What is bullying? Everyone’s definition of bullying is different.  Wikipedia says as follows:

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict.

Many of us have children and the bullying that occurs at schools today astounds me.  From verbal threats to physical attacks.  We all are asking “why is it getting worse?”  I don’t remember it being this bad when we were kids.

We can blame that fact that our children are getting older “quicker”.  Some of the things my 8-year-old comes home and tells me are things that I was saying when I was 15, not 8.  Where are they learning this – at school – at their PCYC – on the internet?

This could very well be true, but we learn by example. We learn by what has happened to us as children, and how NOT to treat children, or we teach our children how to behave as humanitarians.

This carries over to the workplace, and I, myself, am guilty of this as I am sure all of you are too, but simply not aware.  We come home at night and grab a glass of wine, and sit with our partners talking about our day, which sometimes involves talking about certain co-workers that have not met deadlines, not performed, or simply drove you to drink the entire bottle of wine.  Our children may be watching the TV, but they hear everything.  They think it is ok to talk about someone behind their back but do not have the filter that we have learnt, through age, to keep it behind closed doors.  Yes, we are telling our partners as a vent, but the children do not know this. They then think that it must be ok to talk about people behind each other’s backs.  Which then gets carried to the playground, which in turn creates a ripple effect that we now refer to as “bullying”.

We all have worked with that one person that sits at the office desk, or the lunch room, and speaks crudely about the “boss”, and then when the boss walks in and he/she says, “Hi boss how is your day”?  The moment the boss leaves he/she giggles and resumes speaking ill of the boss behind his/her back.  This is workplace bullying.  Someone will tell the boss – which again causes the ripple effect.  The difference is that we, as adults, in such a workplace situation can rid ourselves of these people. However, our children do not have the emotional intellect to do so.

Workplace bullying is therefore, unintentionally, being carried into our homes as we speak ill of our colleagues, and setting an example of poor behaviour to our children in allowing them to think it is OK.

Many people think of bullying as physical – “No boss I didn’t hit Tim with the stapler, I simply told him he was not smart enough to do the task at hand.”  What hurts Tim more?

We must be more mindful of what we say, and how we speak of others, to impressionable young children who simply want to be just like mummy and daddy. They are possibly following in our footsteps with behaviours we are setting.

Please be kind to your co-workers!

Lauren Kropp – Director – Real Strategix


Three years ago, you were employed by your agency to run a portfolio of 150 properties and had the title “Property Manager” on your business card.  Many people were looking to change this title to “asset manager”, “people manager”, “counselor” but we still referred to it as Property Manager.

As times have changed, many agencies have resorted to outsourcing their administration tasks.

These tasks include the following:

  • Lease renewals
  • Arrears
  • Application processing
  • Reference checks
  • Scheduling of inspections and sending appropriate forms
  • Entering and arranging maintenance
  • Compliance (smoke alarms, pool management)
  • Arranging open homes including uploading to websites.
  • Sending lease documents and welcome packs
  • Email liaising
  • Client marketing
  • Social media posts
  • Trust accounting

What is left for the “Property Manager” to do?  The only true gap that I see is routine inspections, leasing or viewings and tenant and landlord signups for those who prefer face to face.

If an office was to hire a routine inspection officer or outsource one and a Business Development Manager who could in fact, perform the signups and viewings, this would make the role of the Property Manager obsolete.

I hear a lot of Property Managers complain that they do not get paid enough for the highly stressful job and I concur.

However, if an agency appoints the outsource team and a BDM what will happen to the current annual salary of a Property Manager?

If this were to happen, a Principal has every right to greatly reduce the role and salary of a Property Manager or make them redundant.

Outsourcing is like religion – everyone has an opinion. As the Managing Director of an outsourcing business specialising in trust accounting and temporary recruitment, I have spent a lot of time especially of late writing a “pros and cons” list.

A Principal will LOVE outsourcing if they do not have a strong relationship with their team and sees them purely as an expense.  That may sound harsh but not all employers respect the employee and value the face- to- face concept of their input in the business.

By contracting the services of an offshore Virtual Assistant, they only pay $7 per hour to perform the above tasks compared to $25 per hour for a regular employee.

In some instances, they do not have to pay GST to the contracted worker as the company is owned and operated overseas.  They also do not have to pay super or work cover to the VA.

However, they must make sure their Professional Indemnity Insurance covers the VA. Based on a 38-hour work week, this is a cost savings of $684 in wages plus $65 in super.  This is almost a savings of $39,000 annually!

In a portfolio of 150 properties the Property Manager will generally have an assistant or a routine inspection officer to assist them. Therefore in the above instance, the Property Manager would be made redundant, the routine inspection officer would keep their job and the business would be better off by $39k but what happens to customer service?

The Principal that likes good old fashion customer service, face- to- face conversations and walk- ins will NOT like outsourcing.  But they can see the benefit of paying an additional $39K in wages because they have built a brand and a reputation. Therefore the business should be making up for that $39K and more with new management and growth.

One final negative in offshore outsourcing is the language barrier. The time spent initially outlining and training the VA in procedures and tasks is consuming.

But I can tell you from firsthand experience that if you are fortunate to have a VA that fits your business mould, the initial training is worth it.  We use a VA for our administration tasks but she is restricted from calling our clients due to the language barrier.

Property Managers however will LOVE outsourcing if it makes their life easier and they keep their job.  Therefore, the type of outsourcing suitable for this is a routine inspection officer and/or a trust account specialist.

If the idea of a VA interests you but you are worried about the language barrier, it is possible to outsource to Australian companies.  However, you will pay more than $7 per hour due to Australian minimum clerical award but this will assist the smaller offices who may only want a part time employee to work from home. The training will also be much easier.

I have the best of both worlds. I have a VA in the Philippines for our admin and at Real Strategix, we outsource Australian staff to perform inspections, provide in office temporary recruitment and trust account outsourcing.

Therefore my view as presented above is completely impartial.

Lauren Kropp

Managing Director – Real Strategix

 


We have all seen the show “Undercover Boss”.  There have been two instances over the past year that I have placed myself in the Temp world as an “undercover temp”.

What is it really like to be a temp in a property management department?

Easy you think …. you just come in, do your job, leave at the end of the contract and get paid well.

You are greatly mistaken.

When I first put the feelers out about entering Real Strategix into the recruitment world although I have personally over 15 years’ experience in all aspects of Property Management, trust accounting and consulting, I thought; there is no way I can make my new business venture work unless I “Live it myself.”

It was hard for me to take my consultant hat off and put my “temp” hat on.  What that means is “just do the job Lauren the best way you know how but do not tell them there is a better way as a consultant would”.

The first particular office did not know my background and had just heard through the grapevine that I might be interested in temp work– perfect timing.

My job was doing the lease renewals for three large portfolios which was a full time 4-week position.  During that time, I was seated in an office off to the side where no one really checked on me. I was basically forgotten about.

It was by no means welcoming.

I would hear from reception:

“Who is Lauren?”

“Does anyone know a Lauren?”

To which the office would fill with yells; yes “yells”,

“Nope. Sorry!”

Receptionist would reply,

“Sorry Mr Smith, We don’t have a Lauren that works here.”

It was about now I had to go and introduce myself to Reception.

  • Who hired me? Who was paying me? Where was my induction?  I didn’t even know where the toilets were, the emergency exits or who I was reporting to.
  • Did I have a password? Was I a registered user of the trust accounting software so my “temp” role and notes could be tracked?
  • Did I have a timesheet or could I just leave at the end of the day?
  • Who were the people whose names were on the portfolio that I was doing lease renewals for?
  • Is there a system in place which they want me to follow? Or do I just send the lease with a notice to leave? Do I always do a CMA? Oh… do they use RP Data for this?
  • Who is this horrible woman eyeballing me from across the room? Oh… that is the Property Manager whom I have had to tell the Principal has not actioned lease renewals for the past 4 months and has 130 properties on periodic leases.

This particular role was not stressful just the abuse from the owners wondering why their tenant had not been on a lease for 12 months.

Luckily in this instance I was able to secretly put my consulting hat on and take a very unhappy owner and within 4 days his new lease was returned with a substantial rent increase and he became my best friend.

During my time in this office two people out of 30 introduced themselves to me. After 3 weeks, I was still hidden away and by this stage everyone knew who I was as I had introduced myself and my role.

This is the hardest job of a temp. They are brought into an unfamiliar office for sometimes as short as a week or two as the Property Manager has just walked out. And if that particular Property Manager did not leave notes – all they have to go on is Email searches which are sometimes like reading Nancy Drew novels.

We all know there are good PM’s. I loathe the term “bad” PM’s. Instead, I refer to those as “PMs’ who struggled with the workload”.  But you must realise how difficult it is to have a temp come into your office and pick up the pieces.  I call them Temp Private Investigators.

Don’t get me wrong we have gone to many offices that are what I call “WGT “(We Got This). These are the ones that have the computer passwords set up, the introductions sorted, a list of things to do and the friendly “Thank you Mrs. Temp for coming in and helping us out” attitude.

Please be nice to temps. I know you must show them around and they will be asking you questions about procedures and systems but they are there to help make your life that little bit easier.

And trying to get you to stop at just “one glass” of wine instead of a “bottle” a night.

Undercover temp, over and out……

 

Lauren Kropp

Director Real Strategix


When I began Real Strategix 3 years ago, as a first-time business owner I was overwhelmed by the amount of preparation and setup that I had to do.  As most of you know, it was a very stressful time and there was no way I could think about Social Media.

I didn’t know exactly how social media could help my business.  I knew that I needed a business Facebook page and then I would ask all my “friends” to like it.  YAY!  Within a week I had 100 likes on Facebook.

And then it all stopped.

How on earth could I get more “likes” on Facebook?

It was great that my aunty, mother- in- law and the neighbour down the road liked my business page. But in showing me support, does that mean they need Temporary Property Managers or Consulting?  What exactly is the point of liking my page outside showing their unconditional support?

I found Facebook groups where if you join, tag your business and like their page, they would like your page as well. EXCELLENT! Now I had 200 “likes” from all over the world. However, I still had dubious likes from people who would not be interested in our services.

It was then that I was advised by a contact to set up a “Personal Business Profile”. This way, people I knew in the real estate industry would friend me and we could like each other’s page. WOW – another 50 likes; this time GENUINE in nature.

I cannot tell you the amount of assignments we have been given due to the power of social media.  Just last week, I was personally tagged 7 times in one post for someone needing assistance in our area of expertise.  This was extremely humbling and to be honest, darn right satisfying. To top it off, we were awarded the assignment by the client!

I would much prefer to have a smaller number of genuine likes on our Facebook page than have a large number of followers that would have eventually blocked our posts.  Wouldn’t you?

Lauren Kropp – Director


I am going to touch on a subject that relates to everyone on a daily basis.

As business owners, do we name and shame customers that cost us money? 

I don’t care what business you operate.  I guarantee all of you have at least one customer who believes they are better than you and everyone else. That one customer will simply refuse to pay for services/products rendered.

We have quite a few!

It is very hard to sit back and watch while they keep trading with their big franchise name knowing that the smaller operators cannot afford the legal fees or resources to fight them.  It is unfortunate, but this is the way the world works.

We all have that account code in our accounting package called “bad debt”; but my question is why can’t we name and shame them?

It is not deformation if your facts are true and you have appropriate evidence and documentation.  You have surely been told before to “rise above” and they will get what is coming to them.

But how will they get what is coming to them if no-one speaks up?

Ethics is defined in the dictionary as “moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity”.  Every business course that you study generally has the topic of Business Ethics which touch on exactly this: How do I become a good business operator and be fair in your dealings with others?

What it doesn’t touch on is: How to deal with the emotions you feel when certain businesses believe they simply don’t have to pay you because they are the big dogs.

There is a real problem with the economy for small business and this is what lets us down.  This is why the big dog will always remain the big dog and small businesses will always remain that – small.  Unfortunately, the steps required to chase a bad debt are very costly and not to mention time-consuming.

  • Numerous phone calls and emails which are ALWAYS ignored.
  • Letter of Demand – generally not acknowledged
  • Solicitor letter (costly)
  • Local magistrates court application – time consuming, costly and will take a while for a hearing date
  • Hearing – This could go either way depending on the JP/Magistrate if the other party has justified evidence.

Not to mention the emotional strain and sometimes physical strain that is put on you and ultimately your family.

Personally, I am yet to find a good outcome on bad debts.  It seems that these particular egotistical customers pride themselves on their BIG branding and rely on the fact that the little people will simply “give up”.  I urge you not to.

If we want to set a good example for our generations to come, the one thing I want to teach my children is if you believe in something and feel you deserve to be paid….Fight.  Fight for what is yours.

Perhaps by naming and shaming, we can transfer the balance of power back to small business.  It may reduce the big dog’s bark to a whimper.

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix.


Real Strategix have been providing temps for the Property Management industry for almost 3 years.  The last 6 months our revenue has increased dramatically – which is great for us but not great for the industry.

I have spoken to many contacts from employees seeking work, industry trainers, current employees and Principals to try and get to the bottom of the Great Property Management Black Hole of 2016 (that is what I am calling it anyway).

Upon my latest SEEK search for a Property Management position in Brisbane, 166 jobs came up.  The average salary for the last 10 jobs posted was $52,800.

What does this tell us?

  1. There are more Real Estates opening/expanding that the industry cannot staff.
  2. The salary package is not attractive enough
  3. Property Managers are unexpectedly leaving the industry.
  4. There is too much competition and Property Managers can jump from one job to the next provided there are more job openings.

I will address each of the options above individually and let you make the final judgment.

  1. There does seem to be a new Real Estate agency opening on every corner or new shopping village, this I agree. There is also an industry gain of Property Management agencies opening. These agencies do not generate sales.

Many of these agencies operate from home. They hire virtual assistants and generally have lower overhead costs. Thus, increased cost savings gives them the means to hire a part-time Property Manager. It should be noted that many of these Principals are Property Managers themselves.

They SHOULD not but because of lower overhead, many can reduce their fees and cover the additional wage.  These types of roles are very attractive as they are often “work from home” or “between school hours” which entices many Mums.

2. Salary package – Some of us look for the one thing in a salary package that means more to their situation than just $$$$$. It could be:

  • Hours of work
  • Flexibility
  • More quality time

You may think it is unrealistic but many people including myself, would take less money to have a good employer allow me to go to my son’s Easter concert at 2pm and divert the mobile phone any day!

However, this comes back to having good support staff.  As we know just because you turn your phone off at 5pm does not mean your day tomorrow will be any easier.  This brings me to my next point: “Department Support” which ultimately involves the Principal and Operations team.

Salary package does not just mean a flat wage. Principals need to be more creative in enticing a Property Manager they do not want to lose. A few suggestions are as follows:

  • Company car which is open for personal use
  • Incentives regardless of KPI’s or new managements
  • 1% to 2% revenue incentive for top performing Property Managers

I can assure you a great Property Manager will stay if he or she is invested in the company.

3. You will not keep good Property Management staff if you do not support and provide them with the training and systems they need to function in a stable and happy environment. Plain and simple.  The key lies in getting the Principal to understand this.

Unfortunately opening their eyes to this fact is a large reason that Property Mangers walk out of jobs.  The constant requests for assistance and systems then being repetitively turned down will always make a good team member walk. Hence, the many job opportunities.

4. The amount of job openings suggests that a Property Manager can leave your company after only 3 weeks, find a new job and simply indicate a “travel gap” in their resume.

From my observation, many Principals still hire Property Managers who have had 5 jobs in the last 12 months. This is because they prefer hiring permanent employees over temps at least until the right person is found.

All of these come down to one question, “Why do people temp?”

Traditionally, people become temps because they are either looking for permanent work or recently relocated. For women, they could be expecting and prefer reduced work hours.

Then you have the “Professional Temp” who makes more money than a permanent or regular employee.

Professional Temps have greater flexibility in their time. They can take vacations whenever they want. Unlike permanent employees, Professional Temps have the option of walking away from the portfolio once the contract has ended.

By all means this is not an ideal way to live as temp work is of course, temporary. But lately much has been said about the benefits of outsourcing work. Job designations such as trust account managers to routine inspection officers have been popularly outsourced to third party service providers.

Is professional temping then the new way to outsource?

Is this why we are ridiculously busy?  Are owners now becoming used to not having one particular person to deal with? One week it could be Tina, followed by Tracey and then Scott a week later?

Is this the new “normal”?

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix