A few of us “oldies” (20 years or more in the industry) had a discussion the other day about the way things used to be in Property Management, in the 90’s.

Our lease agreement was typed on a typewriter, with duplicate carbon paper, and was 2 pages long.  We had a backspace button on the typewriter that would NOT backspace, no matter how many times you pressed it (or how hard).  While typing one lease you would go through about 2 rolls of the whiteout “thingy” per lease agreement.  There was none of this pay way – credit cards were rarely used and if they were, we had a manual swipe device that was the size of a keyboard.

Cash was ALWAYS taken, and the poor receptionist usually had to walk up the road with countless thousands of dollars of cash in a nice calico bag that was in no way shouting: “I have a thousand dollars please mug me today”.  Then, as you would arrive at the bank, you would generally line up for half an hour as EVERYONE had cash to bank at 4pm daily, and heaven forbid if you did not have your notes exactly, the same way – the looks the teller would give you as she would spin them around to all face the same direction.  

Now let’s talk technology – dot matrix printers and the good old DOS system.  If a tenant needed a receipt *(no they were not just handed out back in “the old days” it was a real annoyance).  $1000 bond received – counted in front of the tenant – all bundled in $50 notes facing the SAME way with a rubber band around them, in piles of 10, and then the tenant asks .. …wait for it…..”a receipt”.   So off you go cursing under your breath, and spend 15 minutes out of your day finding the receipt book. “Has anyone seen the receipt book?  Angela the receipt book; do you have it?”  Once the book was found, another 5 minutes is spent writing (yes, with a pen) out the receipt for this painful tenant whom has requested a RECEIPT!  How dare he.     

Which brings me to pens.  We used to handwrite everything, except for the 2-page lease agreement, purely because by the time you got the typewriter setup for a one-page entry notice it was quicker to handwrite – entry notices, bond lodgement forms, breach notices.  That is why so many of us have RSI and carpel tunnel now (or just didn’t breach tenants as it was too difficult to write).

Back in the 90’s not everyone had a car, and public transport was not as easy – definitely not UBER, and taxis were so expensive so we used to allow the prospective tenants to “ride with us”.  I refer to it now as Property Management UBER.

Rental payments – well they were fun. None of this fancy software that does all the calculating for you, even if they over or under pay a week’s rent.  We used what was called “an index card”.  Yep – a simple little card that had a name, a property, and a running ledger of payments made and paid to dates – all worked out with our brains, and a calendar.  No such need for a calculator, and if you did have to use a calculator it came with yet another BIG roll of paper attached to the back of it and made the loudest noise. It was easier to work it out in your head or with a piece of paper and tally marks!

End of month was fun – and I say end of month because there was none of these owners wanting mid or weekly payments – it was just too difficult.  Everything was written by cheque, handwritten to the majority of landlords, as EFT disbursement was so expensive (not that it has gotten much better however). But if you were that lucky person that had the job of writing out the 50 plus cheques, you always said to an owner “NO, we only pay you at the end of the month, sorry there is no other option”.  

Which brings me to the Kalamazoo Accounting system.  I can say I was fortunate enough that a dear 70-year-old lady in our office had this job but, I can tell you one thing, I have never heard a 70-year-old say so many “naughty” words in one day.  I did love going in, on end of month day, just for the cussing!

Stationary orders – easy you may think, all done online these days.  Well, not back then.  We had to phone the stationary shop and order by telling them we need the white, carbon thingy for the typewriter that is supposed to remove the letter on the typewriter when you press BACKSPACE, or the staple puller outer thingy, or the big, noisy, paper thing that goes into the calculator.  

Should we mention backing up to a floppy disk…or 3. Don’t even get me started on “spell check”, I was an oxford dictionary girl myself.

My point to this epic travel through property management time is not to say, “how hard we had it” but to say, “how hard it has become” due to legislation, systemisation, and procedures. Technology had no option but to increase.  I am still in the industry, and have been for many years now, as a Property Management trainer and honestly, I am unsure which was easier?  No technology or so much legislation requiring so many procedures.  

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix


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


The job title Property Manager has the word “MANAGER” in it.  How do you generally get to be a Manager in any industry?  With hard work and dedication and climbing the ladder – blue collar or white collar.

I know most states of Australia have different legislation and course structures to obtain this title. But in general, all Real Estate courses only take an average of 3 or 4 days in a classroom setting and they are completed.

Wow!  3 days and I can be a MANAGER.

We have spoken before that the job of a Property or Asset Manager is gruelling and that newbies get extremely overwhelmed due to varying factors which have been outlined as follows:

  • How to deal with difficult situations – This is a personality trait that is learned by being put in extremely difficult situations where you are abused, sworn at and intimidated. This simply cannot be learned from a 3- day course.
  • Lack of training – This comes back to Principals being responsible for providing the team the type of training and quality of resources needed to make the title of Property Manager easier and supported.
  • The hours – No Property Manager has ever said, “I can just have a day off and the work fairy will come and do everything for me” ….
  • Technology – The amount of different systems it takes to run a Property Management department efficiently is overwhelming. These systems include Trust accounting software, inspection software, application trackers, specific software for CMA’s, listing software, Word processing software and of course learning the Apps on the IPad.
  • Extensive legislation –Australia has extensive and comprehensive laws. This cannot be taught in a 3 day course.

I could go on and on with how tough the job really is.

The epitome of the medical world is a brain surgeon.  Does he just finish his general training and start cutting into people’s skulls?  No, he continues to study and work his way up the corporate ladder.  He continues to train in different specialities until he reaches his goal.

Consider obtaining a driver’s license.  Even while learning, you must put an “L” plate on your car to advise everyone that they need to be cautious around you because you are still learning.  When you complete the required hours of driver time, you then must pass the written exam.  If you are lucky to pass the first time, you then obtain your driver’s license.

But when you get your license you still must have different colour “P” Plates to again let others around you know you are new to driving and that you have a few certain driving restrictions such as cylinders in a car, blood alcohol limit and number of passengers.

Obviously, driving can cause death hence the restrictions and cautions. However, Property Managers have a duty of care to make sure the property and the people residing in the properties are safe.

We have all heard the horrifying stories with relation to certain certificates not being obtained resulting in death in relation to pool safety and smoke alarms.

So tell me then, why don’t we have “L” plates and “P” plates for our Property Managers?

Lauren Kropp

Director

Real Strategix


By Nick Buick of TheOnsiteManager.com.au

One of our core services at TheOnsiteManager.com.au is to assist managers selling properties within their complex. This is a vital service for managers as it allows them to grow and retain their letting pool, compete and guard against outside agents, and generate additional (and considerable) revenue through sales commissions. To this end, we provide all the tools, databases, contracts and paperwork needed by the manager. We also allow the manager to market the sale on all the major portals around the country. We don’t charge any commission (at all!) to do this which makes our service hugely popular with over 370 managers engaging our agency for marketing. And why wouldn’t it be, when you consider selling a listing isn’t that much different to renting one. There’s one recurring question, however, that first-time selling managers ask me when they come on board: How do I acquire the disclosure statement for the sales contract?

That’s an interesting question, how do you get a disclosure statement?

It’s the lot owner’s responsibility to provide the disclosure statement to their agent. When completing a POA Form 6 (Part 4.4) the on-site manager generally includes a condition to the effect that “The client authorises the agent to order, and sign, the Body Corporate Disclosure Statement for the purposes of contract preparation and presentation to the buyer. The Body Corporate Statement will be ordered at the Client’s expense”.

In order to procure the disclosure statement you can start by contacting the Body Corporate management company. If the listing is in your own complex, you’ll no doubt already know who this is. If not, ask your vendor for their last BC minutes or fee statement, and this will tell you who the company is. It might pay to reach out to this company and just ask them how quickly and how much a disclosure statement will cost from them and give them a heads-up that you’ll be needing one soon.

Keep in mind that the Disclosure Statement can’t be more than 1 month old, so there’s no point getting this statement prepared from the outset as the sales process will probably be longer than 30 days. Instead – get a copy of the most recent BC Levy Notice (hopefully showing a zero balance) from the owner, along with their latest Water and Rates bills, also all paid up (hopefully!). These will furnish your prospective buyer with evidence of the outgoings and the account standings at the time of the inspection, without having to spend money on a disclosure statement from the outset.

Also get a copy of the BC Financials and Minutes for the previous year and while you’re speaking to buyers you can make mention of all the things that have been paid for in the building. “We just painted the entire building six months ago, the lifts have all just been upgraded they’re good for another 20 years, the sinking fund is flush with cash, etc, etc”. Being an onsite manager, you’ll be armed with far deeper knowledge of the operations of the body corporate and the building than an outside agent, so use this when you’re selling! Buyers will be impressed you have such a deep knowledge of the complex. Likewise, your knowledge of rentals within the complex will dwarf that of outside agents, so be sure to explain all about the management situation in the complex – as an investor, it’s refreshing to encounter an agent who understands the needs of investors – few real estate agents seem to be able to do this in my experience.

When presenting this information to the buyer, you can explain that you will, of course, have prepared a full disclosure statement from the Body Corporate, but it can’t be older than 30 days so you’ll do this and have it attached to the contract of sale. If you’ve had such a statement prepared in the past, it might pay to show a copy of this to the buyer also so they can see an “INDICATION ONLY” of what to expect. All-in-all, the statement should only take 3 days to prepare so it shouldn’t cause any real problems for genuine buyers.

An interesting strategy I’ve seen managers use very effectively, is to present the buyer with an ‘Offer Document’. This is a very simple and unimposing 1-page document that allows the buyer to jot down their name, postal address, email, phone number, and the details of their solicitor along with how much they’d like to sign the contract for. You can whip this out on the spot and, although it’s not legally binding, in the mind of the buyer, it implants them into the sales process and gives you a stop-gap-measure while you prepare the sales contract and disclosure statement and get these out to the buyer and their solicitor for signing. It can also ensure your sales contract is nice and clean without pages of crossed out offers scrawled all over it.

Preparing the sales contract is one of the big psychological barriers new managers have to selling in their complex, but it isn’t difficult or complicated. RealWorks will deliver a perfectly formatted sales contract using the latest QLD Law Society template in a matter of moments, and a good Body Corporate management company will produce your disclosure statement quickly and affordably. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Good luck!

Special thanks to my own onsite manager: Heather of The Nouvelle; for helping me put this article together.


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.


We have all seen the show “Undercover Boss”.  There have been two instances over the past 2 years that I have placed myself in the relief management/temp world as an “undercover boss”.

What is it really like to be a relief manager?

“Easy” you’d 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 starting Real Strategix Relief Management Program it happened by sheer accident.

As you quite possibly know I am a Trainer. I have over 15 years’ experience in all aspects of Property Management, trust accounting and consulting.

I kept receiving calls from associates in the industry asking if I knew a Relief Manager. So I thought there is no way I can actually make my new business venture work unless I “Live it myself.”

Relief Management is different than Real Estate temping (which we also do) as relief managers are generally placed “alone” with no one to turn to. Many managers go overseas; some on cruise ships and you are given a half day handover if you are lucky.

I knew that due to my own professional experience that “I got this”. Admittedly, it was hard for me to take my consultant hat off and put my “Relief Manager” hat on. I knew I had to step up and be a Relief Manager if I wanted others to do so for my business.

I thought I was extremely over qualified for the job at hand. It was hard for me to sit in an office alone and just twiddle my thumbs.  It was a permanent complex with no office hours so I just sat there, waiting….

The first particular office did not know the extent of my background and had just heard through the grapevine that I might be interested.  They knew that I was a former property manager who was a new manager consultant and they trusted me with their business.

“I got this”.

Then the twiddling of the thumbs stopped with one phone call.

“Hi! I am Tash and the owner said that I could break my lease if I needed to because my husband was in the army and I may have to relocate.”

“Ok Tash that is fine. But you understand there is a break lease fee and you have to pay rent until the new tenant moves in and …”

And then “Tash” lost her banana peel…. She was livid, screaming at me that I should know; the notes should be there that the owner agreed when they moved in….bla bla bla…

There were no notes. I went through the software; files, emails and had to tell Tash to do same (she could not find anything in writing either). As far as legislation and her lease agreement showed, Tash was responsible for those payments.

Over the case of the 3 weeks I met many more Tash’s and it was then that I really understood the difficulty of being a Relief Manager.

Like Tash initially told me; when her head spun on her shoulders and smoke came out her ears, that when the onsite manager returned “yes Tash was right” it was a verbal agreement.

The owner somehow forgot to mention that to me…funny that.

As a Relief Manager, all they have to work with are the facts and what is written in front of them.

I am trained in 8 different trust accounting software and can tell you every one of them has a “notes” section and if you are not using it, it is what we call “Tash times”.

It is now the time to start.

Relief Managers are increasing their prices due to this very fact. They come into an unknown situation more like a private investigator. However, if resorts and complex owners are not diligent with their note keeping they are basically getting paid to be yelled at by Tash.

When Real Strategix receives a relief management enquiry, the first thing we tend to ask after the basic questions is if you have a “relief management bible” or a go to book.

If you have never had a property sell under your management or had to do an insurance claim or apply to QCAT for abandonment or have a guest destroy a room – I guarantee it will happen when a Relief Manager is there.

They need to know what you want them to do in this instance (yes a lot of it is legislation and they will know that) but “how much are incidentals, who is building insurance and with, the tractor that takes the bins out has broken down – who will fix it?

Start your bible NOW!

I also guarantee that you will NOT be 100% happy with your relief; they will do something different that you as a manager would not do and you will not be pleased.

But remember THEY ARE NOT YOU; they haven’t run the resort for 4 years.  They are there to help make your life a little bit easier so you can enjoy your holiday!

ONCE AGAIN – MAKE SURE YOUR RELIEF MANAGER HAS PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE!

Undercover boss, over and out……

 

Lauren Kropp

Director

Real Strategix


Finding a good relief manager is difficult, finding a great one is rare!  I will ask you this, how much is your business worth in the hands of someone else?

When we receive a phone call from a client requesting a relief manager and they ask how the process works, the one thing I am always upfront about is – “you will not be 100% satisfied as I guarantee they will do something incorrect” – this generally gets a gasp down the phone but I then explain the reason behind it is simple…. “they are not you”.  You have run your resort for a number of years and generally have it operating like a well-oiled machine, it is extremely difficult for a relief manager to sit in your seat for a number of weeks and be able to carry out the day to day operations as you have done for a number of years.

A GREAT relief manager will generally grasp your buildings operation by the end of their contract and will therefore be GREAT the next time you book them!

A relief manager MUST have Professional Indemnity Insurance – this is so very important.  You have worked hard for your holiday all year, you do not need a relief manager coming into your office and be heard giving incorrect advice, completing legal documents (RTA forms etc) incorrectly, banking figures not matching or simply providing false information to guests/residents.  If they do not have Professional Indemnity Insurance DO NOT HIRE THEM.  Think about the consequences if any of this happens.  For a Relief Manager to get Professional Indemnity Insurance means they have met all of the licensing and insurance requirements, if they do not have it you need to ask yourself ‘why not”?

This brings me to Public Liability Insurance– The relief manager (QLD) should operate under your public liability insurance which you need to confirm with your insurer.   Many policies will have a clause written in for “temporary contractors” if yours does not, you need a copy of your relief manager’s public liability insurance certificate or simply adjust your policy to include contractors working under your license.

I have invested a lot of time and money into ensuring we are 100% compliant and would like to pass on the information to you as advised by the OFT, our solicitors and insurance brokers.

  • Relief Managers and temps are not defined in the current legislation. There is not a list of what they can do but only a list of what they CANNOT do as advised by OFT.
  • In QLD for a relief period of over 30 days if the licensee is leaving the building, you (the resort) must apply with OFT for a Form 11 – apply for substitute licensee (the relief must also sign off on this form so you need to know who you are employing first).
  • You must have written approval from the Body Corporate if you act as licensee and leave the resort/complex in the hands of relief.
  • Contractors, where they are performing real estate functions, are considered by section 98 (2) of the Act to need to hold a real estate license/registration (again this states what they can do – leasing and rent collection is just some of them).
  • Routine inspections – this one totally surprises me but a temp/relief does not need to hold a current real estate salesperson certificate/license as long as that is the only task they are performing. (i.e. – Real Strategix operates a Property Inspection service where one of our relief/temps purely does routine inspections however if that relief was also managing the rent roll/bookings they do need a license/registration)

I cannot stress enough in making sure your relief manager has the correct insurance and licenses to be carrying out the work that you have asked of them.  You have asked them to run your resort/complex in full capacity as per Body Corporate regulations.  They cannot do this if they are unlicensed/uninsured.

Please seek your own legal advice as the information written above was given to me so that I can ensure that my business operates ethically and is legally compliant.  It may cost you $20 – $40 per day more to employ a company such as Real Strategix but all of our relief managers are fully insured and are of the highest standard due to insurance regulations.

Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any further questions or would simply like a quote lauren@realstrategix.com.au


Increasing your fees

A Form 6/20A gives you the right to state your fees and you are free to negotiate these within legislation.  Of course there are industry standards which need to be reflected however as you are not a Real Estate Agent you simply cannot say “oh well we didn’t get that one, we will try for the next”.  Most of you can only obtain managements from within your complex.  When you miss out on one ….it hits you hard.

In saying that you need to believe in yourself and your ability and not undersell yourself. Inflation is a term that we are simply used to hearing along with the GFC.  “The pair of jeans I bought last year just isn’t on sale this year due to inflation”……..”We have not had a price increase in 5 years and therefore due to inflation we have had to increase our cost.”  Sound familiar….

Why can’t you do that too?  Surely you have purchased new booking software, PABX system, procedural system, stationary something that makes your service compliment your fee structure.

Below is an extract letter from our Manage It Right system that you can use if you wish to increase your fee.

 

RE: INCREASED FEE – (address)

Firstly everything is going well with your investment property.  The tenants are paying rent in advance and we have had no complaints. 

 We value you as a landlord and would like to thank you for choosing us to manage your property.

 We pride ourselves on offering a superior level of service and have made the decision that due to this we have reassessed our current fee structure to compliment the service that we offer you.

Our fees have not been reviewed in quite some time, they have slipped below industry standards and you will find a new management agreement with these fees outlined on (PAGE number)

 Please sign where indicated and return the new agreement to me at your earliest convenience.

 If you have any further concerns please do not hesitate to contact me on (email/phone number).

 Yours sincerely,

 

This leads me to industry standard…..

MANAGEMENT FEE:  QLD & NSW Permanent rentals can drop to as low as 6.6% however industry standard is still 7.50% Adelaide is about 8.8% and WA is around 9.35% (all plus GST), Holiday QLD is still approximately 12%.

Please keep in mind this fee is property negotiable – If the property requires a lot of maintenance, the owner needs to keep the rent low or the owner is simply difficult….more stress and work for you = get paid for it!

LETTING FEE: QLD is one week’s rent plus GST other states can and will charge up to 2 weeks plus GST.  If it means gaining a new management try and negotiate to half a week’s rent plus GST.

LEASE RENEWAL FEE:  This is the most undercharged fee of all…and easiest to obtain.  Almost as much work goes into a lease renewal than a new tenancy.  How long will you spend on administration, getting smoke alarms checked, liaising with owners on rent increases?

Industry standard is anywhere from $55 to a full week’s rent in some states.  Personally I feel a full week is too much as you have not had to do the application process for a new tenant however half a week’s rent I believe is fair considering the amount of hours it would take and you need to cover a wage to perform the task.

Many of you will not be charging this.  Based on $150 per property, if you have 30 properties under your management and each tenant renews every 6 months – you have given away $9000 per year.

ADMIN FEE:  $5.50 minimum as great as $12.00 per month

ROUTINE INSPECTIONS:  These are not commonly charged in Management Rights due to “you don’t have to go far shouldn’t it be covered under your management fee”.  I tend to agree…however there would be nothing wrong with you charging a small administration cost for the report…i.e. $11.00

TRIBUNAL, REFURBISHMENT & INSURANCE FEE: Industry standard remains at $55 per hour.

Remember to ‘sell’ and believe in your ability.  I guarantee when you roll out these fees that you will get phone calls from disgruntled owners, however if you can justify the reasons you will surprise yourself.

If you would like any more information or just want to discuss possible outcomes please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

Lauren Kropp – Director – Real Strategix.

 

 


Unfortunately, in this day and age, it is almost necessary for a Property Manager or leasing consultant to complete a course in self-defence along with their registration.

I began asking Property Managers if any have had scary encounters whilst at a tenant’s premises.  Statistically speaking, 1 in 5 had some sort of scare.  I personally, have been pushed against a wall, whilst carrying out an exit inspection, by the outgoing tenant.  This drew me to the conclusion to NEVER agree to conduct the inspection with them present.

Routine inspections, if carried out correctly, should be fairly straight forward and the tenant should, in most instances, be aware that you are coming.  However, if a tenant forgets or simply did not get the notice, when a Property Manager turns up on their door step they are instantly frustrated, mad, and unhappy that you want to come in.   This is your fist decision in safety.

1) Enter and be prepared to be abused or put in an uncomfortable situation or 2) apologise and ask them when it suits for you to come back.

The first option is the safest, but this scenario could also be avoided if you have a team member make a courtesy phone call, or even an SMS, the day before the inspection to remind the tenant.  This way you will not have to be put in a threatening situation, or have to reschedule, and your inspection dates can stay on track.

On occasions, you will enter the property and find no one home – until of course you open a bedroom door and find them sleeping.  If you continue to carry out the inspection you will be putting yourself in danger.  If the tenant wakes up they may think you are an intruder and attack you, so in this instance it is best to leave a card on the bench or at the front door on your way out, and contact them by telephone later that day to explain and reschedule.

We are entertained on a daily basis, as Property Managers, as to the different types of personalities that we come across.  A Property Manager is really a “Problem Solver”.  Sometimes the tenants we deal with will not be happy with the way we solved the problems and will instantly take a dislike to you.  These types of tenants still need routine inspections carried out.  Every office should have a policy that if a Property Manager does not feel comfortable going alone to a certain property that another staff member attends also.

If, at any stage, you do not feel comfortable going to a property alone, you MUST discuss this with your Department Manager, or Principal, as there is nothing more important than one’s own safety.

At times, however, you may not know you are about to enter a threatening situation, so  below are a few tips that you should always do before, and while at, EVERY routine inspection.

  • Check the history notes in your trust accounting software. Generally speaking if a Property Manager has had a threatening situation before with a tenant, they will have logged notes.
  • Colour Flag the office copy of the key.  Create an office rule that, if you have an aggressive or abusive tenant, a little red tag is put on the set of keys, so that if a team member or a tradie is going to the property, for any reason, the flag is already raised.
  • Have your office on speed dial and always keep your mobile phone in your hand/pocket for ease to call.
  • Keep the front door open so if something happens, you can make a quick getaway. I personally tell the tenants if they are home that “our office policy is that the door remains open at all times for personal safety reasons, and that I am not singling them out we just keep our policies streamlined across the board – I then make a joke to lighten the mood that I would ask the same from an 80 year old grandma, especially those with walking sticks!
  • Always call out twice when you “partially” open the door yourself, and wait at least 60-90 seconds before entering. This will allow someone time to get to the door if they were up the end of the house, or you will find out if they have a dog in the house that may attack you.
  • Ask the tenant on the phone call /text the day before the inspection to please make sure all animals be tied up outside as you need access to the entire property (this will keep the savage dogs at bay)
  • Ask your Principal to send you to a self-defence course – this is not a joke. An employer will want you to feel comfortable and to be able to protect yourself.

The most important thing to remember is that you know your gut feelings better than anyone else and, if for one slight second you feel uneasy make an excuse to leave immediately.  Illness is always a believable excuse, something as simple as “I am sorry but I do not feel well at all and I have to leave, the office will be in touch to reschedule.”

If, of course, your office does not want their Property Mangers carrying out Routine inspections, companies such as Real Strategix can do them for you.

 

Lauren Kropp

Director

Real Strategix

 

 

 


The main reason that I am called to consult in management rights offices is organisation.  You have just completed your RLA course and purchased your management rights…..how hard can it be?

Whether you run a holiday resort or permanent complex, have 15 or 80 in your letting pool your work load will increase if you do not have an organised work place.

Many years ago we would have been able to run an office without a computer but these days due to the severity of fines from legislation requirements we are thankful to have the use of computers.  The first step in organisation is obtaining software that is easy to use.  Over the period of a year most subscription based software companies will charge in excess of $1000.  This may seem like a lot but for what you receive in return it is well worth it.  It is also tax deductable. There is no point in paying the subscription without the correct training and correct training leads to utilising the software to its maximum potential.  You may think that your simple to use trust accounting software is just there to receipt and perform your end of month…..this is not the case.  Most programs assist you with your maintenance, arrears, RTA forms, booking confirmations, and also have the ability to merge all tenant/guest and owner information to your letters that are on your computer.

Which leads me to the second item that will help you with organisation.  Your office system… obtaining or creating your own letters and forms that you can use on a day to day basis.  You may be lucky enough to purchase Management Rights with an extremely helpful outgoing manager that may have left behind their letters for you to use…..for many though this is not the case.

Property Management will throw twists and turns at you on a daily basis and a lot of the time it is the administration tasks that are the toughest.  You are beginning end of month process on your computer while you have the tenant from unit 1 on the phone complaining about the tenant in unit 2 and in front of you is a prospective tenant/guest who wants to register their details.  If you are an organised office you will have a ‘complaint register’ form which can easily be emailed to the tenant of unit 1 to complete, whilst on the phone you can turn around and hand the prospective tenant a ‘seeking property’ form to complete which leaves you to carry on with your end of month.

Having the tenant/guest complete these forms helps you in two ways…..1) the information is in writing for future reference and 2) your time is precious and you can deal with the required action once you have prioritised it.

If you do not have the time to write or create the required forms or letters yourself there are industry professionals such as Real Strategix that will provide these for you for a small amount of money which again is tax deductable.

Item 3 – Everything has a place.  I do not mean sticky notes have a place all over the desk and up the wall.  “I know I wrote it down on a sticky note” and you look up and you see your desk and side of your computer screen covered in sticky notes.

My advice is to have two desk trays.  One is your ‘in tray’ for work that needs to be completed and the other is for important documents that you need to get your hands on quickly.  (i.e. – tariffs, by laws etc.).   EVERYTHING else needs to be in your filing cabinet in labelled suspension files or ring binders.  It is time to write that RTA bond cheque and now you need to attach the bond lodgement forms….where are they?  Rather that search the property files for them or the pile on your desk, once they are signed put them all in a folder labelled “bonds to be lodged”.

Once you have attended to the above three items you will notice your productivity increase, your stress levels decrease and you will have more time to spend with your loved ones.

Management Rights can be extremely daunting and you will find that it isn’t just your office in a mess and other managers feel the same.  The quicker you get systems in place the more confident you will feel.

If you would like any more information or simply need Real Strategix help with any of the above please do not hesitate to contact us.


Whether it is routine maintenance, emergency repairs, lease renewals or property vacancies, you will always have the landlord asking you to explain the necessity and costs involved.  Property Management over the last decade has become much harder, and time consuming, as legislation has changed and people are taking others to tribunal over the smallest of things.

The first lease I prepared was in 1997. It was typed on a typewriter with carbon copies, and there was no such thing as inventories, CMA’s or online bookings.  If someone had told me that in 18 years’ time (now I feel old) we would be arranging smoke alarms to be checked for every new lease I don’t think I would have believed them.

This is what owners are also having trouble understanding.  With regards to legislative items such as smoke alarm checks, blind compliance and pool certificates, the simplest way to explain your reasoning of these charges is that owners simply do not have a choice.  If an owner refuses to comply, you as a managing agent must cease management of the property or else you will be the one at tribunal. My advice is to include these in a monthly/quarterly newsletter or as a note on all owners statements along the lines of ‘’you may notice additional charges appear on your statements over the coming months for smoke alarm servicing these are legislative requirements and MUST be performed.  Please see attached information”.

Signing of a Form 6:  It still bewilders me that upon due diligences there are still agencies that do not have a signed copy of either a 20A or a Form 6 on file.  I am not talking hard copy but even just a scanned copy.  The rules are the same – without a copy signed, if the owner refuses you must immediately give the property to them to self-manage.  I will also point out the rule is quite simple – if OFT find out you are managing a property without an agreement , you have been illegally representing the owner and should not have been collecting any fees for the entire period you have acted without a signed agreement.  Therefore, you will have to refund ALL fees collected back to the landlord and face a heavy fine from the OFT.

Maintenance:   This is by far the toughest item to be agreed upon.  Although there is that lovely little section in the management agreement where the landlord indicates they agree for you to spend $500.00 or 2 weeks rent (for example) I highly doubt they will be happy when you spend $450 on general repairs that may not have been urgent but make the tenant more comfortable.  The phone call comes in and the irate landlord asks you why you repaired the curtain rod, loose toilet seat and dripping tap without their knowledge and you reply that the tenant requested it to be done.  A landlord will not find this answer acceptable.  Dealing with tenant maintenance requests that are not urgent is always difficult and each landlord will also view these maintenance items differently.

In short there are 2 types of landlords

1)      Mr & Mrs “we appreciate your looking after our home as if it is yours”

2)      Pay me the rent to pay my mortgage and that is all I care about.

Owner type 1 will appreciate that you are trying to keep the property well maintained, as well as making the tenant live as comfortably as possible so that they continue to remain great tenants and pay their rent on time and will live at their property for as long as possible.  This tenant will understand that the landlord repairs things so the $10 rent increase will be justifiable.

Owner type 2 – Not so much!  This is what we call a “tread carefully owner”.  This owner will likely threaten to take the management off you at least twice in a 2 year period.  The best way to approach this situation is to advise them that the repairs are necessary to avoid any unnecessary disputes, as tenants are very ‘legislation canny’ and to also mention that upon lease renewal we may look at increasing the rent.  Similar to above, but the mention of more income is a focus.  Beware not to promise though, due to CMA’s in the area this may not be possible when the lease is due for renewal.  You may also need to remind this owner that they signed the section above allowing you to spend $$ without notification and if they would like that to be amended you are happy to do so.  You may also like to mention that part of your job as managing agent is to maintain the property for the landlords benefit as well.

In saying that, you as the agent need to determine one thing ….is it worth it?  If the property is boutique maybe it is, but if it is $300 per week with 7% fees, it may not be worth it.  An onsite manager may view this differently, of course, as the complex is their livelihood.

Lease renewals:   “no, I don’t care if the tenants are on a lease”.  The agency cares because generally you will receive a lease renewal fee.  A rent roll valuation is favourable – fixed term leases attract more income, the structure of a fixed term tenancy makes it much easier to prepare (busy periods, lease expiries, actioning rent increases within legislation etc).  Owners need to feel that their half weeks’ lease renewal fee of $200 is warranted…what will they get for it?

1)      Financial security

2)      No insurance issues – Besides your industry insurers, AON, EBM, Terri Scheer etc some insurance companies such as banks, home insurers etc do not cover landlord insurance if tenants are on periodic leases.

3)      Rent increases can be written into leases these days so there is nothing wrong with a 12 month lease with an increase after 6 months.

Property Vacancies:   We have been lucky in QLD of late that vacancy rates are very low.  However, some owners expect you to find them a tenant a day after the other tenant vacates.  The general turnaround time should be close to a week minimum to allow the Property Manager time to perform the vacate inspection, have the tenant attend to anything they need to, plus have any maintenance carried out.  This needs to be explained to your owner by the BDM upon signing the management agreement.

The majority of the time that properties cannot rent could be due to rent being too high.  A property should not be listed prior to 4 weeks from vacate date or it will become stale.  The average person needs to give 2 weeks’ notice to vacate and will begin looking 2 weeks before this notice. The property manager/leasing consultant will perform the CMA and advise the owner of what they feel we be an achievable rent.  If an owner is insisting on a higher rent you need to advise them that you are happy to try higher for a 2 week period but if the property does not generate interest in that time they will need to look at dropping the rent.  For some reason, owners see $450 (what they want) compared to the $430 you are advising, as a massive difference in rent, but they forget that for every week the property is vacant they have lost $430….which actually negates the $20 per week increase over 21 weeks (for each empty week).

The sign up process with a tenant, and owner, is the most important thing to cease objections.  If you advise them of all your systems and procedures at the get go this will generally halt a lot of objections at a later date.  The sign ups may take longer but this will stop a lot of irate phone calls in the future.

We are here to help at Real Strategix, if you have any questions or would like some advice please contact us.


As a resident manager unless you have reliable staff you rarely have time for a holiday.  A full time employee is entitled to 4 weeks annual leave per year however when you own your own business it is hard to find a suitable relief manager to step in and take on your building like it is their own.

The thought of utilising a relief manager scares a lot of RUMS.  In most occasions you will find the Resident Manager would prefer to have their work escalate and return from leave busier than ever than to have relief come in for a week and make things worse.  However you are not in a position to simply lock the office and leave the country for a week due to legislation and body corporate requirements.

Hiring relief does not have to be scary if you employ a specialised agency to source relief for you.

There are generally 3 types of Relief Managers.

1)      Relief that comes in and decides to change all your systems and procedures

2)      Relief that will answer the phone but does little more.

3)       The professional relief.

Part of my role as Director of Real Strategix is to find the ‘professional relief’.  A person might look great on paper, however, once they are in the role – they can often turn into a number 1 or a number 2 relief!

If you are sourcing your own relief there are a few things to consider.

Firstly you would like to see a resume and references.

Make sure you call EVERY reference whether it is permanent or relief and ask a little about their performance and if they were employed permanently, ask why they left.  If they were employed as relief ask if they would put them on permanently if a position was to arise. This obviously confirms if they were a good worker.

Insurance is something you must also consider.  All of Real Strategix temps & relief are covered by our Professional Indemnity Insurance which assures a lot of clients that we trust our relief’s ability.  Many relief managers will have their own public liability insurance however if they do not they may be covered through the Managers public liability insurance (make sure you make the phone call first to your insurance company before assigning a relief manager without suitable public liability insurance).

Relief  in QLD (Real Strategix only specialises In QLD relief so I cannot comment on specifics for other states) is allowed to be contracted to an agency for no longer than 30 days at a time unless suitable forms have been completed with the OFT (Form 11).  Even though you would obviously prefer a Relief Manager who has actually held current registration previously, this is not a requirement, the reason being that a ‘temp/relief’ is not employed under your workplace employment agreement so the registration certificate is void.  Real Strategix will not however have a relief manager appointed by us that has not held registration previously or worked in the industry for less than 10 years.

Relief is NOT allowed to perform the following duties of a registered Property Manager/RUM:

  • They cannot sign the following:    RTA forms, any Agreements and/or trust account receipts.
  • They cannot make a final decision on tenancy applications or major maintenance approval without obtaining approval from either the landlord affected, another employee or Body corporate.

You must also make sure that your body corporate and any other relevant parties are aware of your departure and aware that you have appointed relief and provide them with contact details.

If you would like any additional information or a quotation on employing a relief manager at your resort/complex please do not hesitate to contact me on lauren@realstrategix.com.au

Lauren Kropp – Director – Real Strategix

 


We have all had them.  They are the ones that when the receptionist says “Sue Jones is on the phone”…..you shudder and say “tell her I am not in”.

Unfortunately with a tenant like that….they will not go away.  They will not forget why they called and the longer that you leave returning that phone call…..the more disgruntled Sue Jones will be.

Unfortunately when a tenant is irate or disgruntled the saying “out of sight out of mind” definitely does not come into play.  The saying that seems to work the best in these cases is “actions speak louder than words”.  Confront the situation and advise the tenant what steps you have taken to show that you have ‘listened’.

Generally a tenant just wants to be heard.  They want to feel that their issue has been addressed.  These days’ tenants seem to have a lot more rights than they did 10 years ago and they know what these rights are.

A few years ago I had a tenant 30 days behind in rent crying to me that I was mean throwing her out on the street……2 days later I spotted her in the local pub feeding $50 notes through a pokie machine.

Unfortunately as agents, situations like these are frustrating.  We have to follow the correct procedures in legislation however as hard as we try and explain it to our landlords, as far as the landlord is concerned we have not done our job properly.

The definition according to Wikipedia of ‘Property Management’ is “Property management is the operation, control, and oversight  real estate as used in its most broad terms. Management indicates a need to be cared for, monitored and accountability given for its useful life and condition.

From my experience the definition of a Property or Onsite Manager can be summed up in 2 words PROBLEM SOLVER.

As with any problem comes a solution.  For the solution to be exposed the key is ‘people skills’.  As hard as it is in many cases the only thing that will calm an irate tenant down is to simply listen.  If you show anger or frustration this will only escalate the situation.  If the tenant is interfering with your place of business (i.e. – screaming at the reception desk) simply ask them to please come outside to discuss this and give your receptionist the look of “get ready to dial 000 if I am not back in 10 minutes!”

Strangely enough there is nothing more calming to a tenant if when they are angry you nod your head and smile back whilst uttering “I understand your frustration”.  I have implemented those words in EVERY confrontation with a tenant that I have ever had over the past 10 years and it has calmed the situation down EVERY time.  You are not saying that you agree with them or accepting fault you are simply saying that you understand that they are frustrated (which is evident by the way they are speaking to you).

Threatening a tenant that you will end their lease or increase the rent (besides being unethical) will only make matters worse as the tenant will “call the RTA” or “their very good Property Management friend” and then the argument will start with another source or with advice from a third a party.

In this day and age with violence seeming to be only increasing you need to be looking out for your safety and also that of your staff.  People are extremely unpredictable.  A number of years ago I was evicting a tenant who was extremely unhappy to receive the notice to leave that I had issued. She must have been waiting by the office for me in her vehicle as part way home I noticed I was being followed.  She then pulled up at the traffic lights behind me where she waived a knife at me.  Needless to say I drove to the nearest police station.

I urge you to take care in your place of business and give the phrase “I understand your frustration” a go.

One final thing…..the tenant with the knife was also the tenant feeding $50 notes into the pokie machine!!!

If I can be of assistance with any situation please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix

info@realstrategix.com.au


I thought that I would follow up my previous article “How to win back Lost Managements” with a strategy pointing out the advantages of an onsite manager looking after an investment property compared to a Real Estate agent doing so.

As an investment property owner myself after putting aside my Property Management and Consulting roles at the end of the day, my personal expectations of the agent managing my property are:

1)      That rent is paid on time

2)      That the property is being looked after and protected in a professional manner at all times

3)      That regular monitoring of the property and behaviour of the tenant is maintained.

The following strategies can only apply if you, the manager live & have an office on site.  If you do not unfortunately you are going to fall into the “Real Estate” category for this article.

  • A major factor working in your favour as a resident onsite manager is that the average Real Estate Property Manager has a portfolio of approximately 150 owners and properties to look after and service and spread over a number of suburbs and areas.  You, on the other hand, are able to offer a far more personal, effective and professional service as your portfolio comprise only your owners and tenants at just one location and you have control of all the common areas within that complex
  • If you hold a master key to all units in the complex you have the ability to access each unit in appropriate circumstances.
  • As an onsite manager you can monitor the behaviour and movements of all occupants in the complex and as part of your contract with the Body Corporate you can make sure that all tenants comply with Body Corporate by-laws.
  • One of your major advantages is that if you are managing units in the complex, you will invariably be attending to minor repairs yourself and be using your own tradesmen for any specialised or major repairs. This enables you to access the unit on quite a regular basis enabling you to keep the owner regularly informed as to the condition of their investment property and whether their tenant is looking after it satisfactorily. This advantage is not available to an outside agent. (Please remember to make a note of your  entry though in your trust accounting software/diary or copy of entry notice if required)
  • As part of the agreement with the Body Corporate, you have direct access to both the committee and the Body Corporate Manager. Most agents don’t even know the name of the Body Corporate Management Company or how to contact them. You therefore have the ability to promptly have any problems or misbehaviour attended to and appropriate action taken by the Body corporate, if necessary.
  • Let’s face it, any tenant is going to be much more careful about their behaviour and that of their visitors when they know you have the ability to control and decide their fate.
  • You can see who comes and goes…….With all of the trouble we have been having of late (and my trying not to discriminate)  a Real Estate Agency would not know that your 50 year old single male tenant wears a bikie ‘club’ jacket and has visitors of similar nature daily.
  • Tenants will use every excuse possible not to pay rent especially around Christmas time as they need the additional $$$$ for presents/holidays.  A Real Estate agent will not know that recently that tenant that is apparently broke bought a new car 2 weeks ago and still manages to find money to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.
  • Monitoring lease holders is a major plus for onsite managers.  In a complex when everyone lives on top of each other, people talk.  They mention to you that their neighbour Suzie (your tenant) has broken up with her boyfriend (the only one working) and she has a new flatmate…..
  • Inspections – How much time do Real Estate agents waste by driving to the property to find out that the keys do not fit, locks are changed or the unauthorised dog has bailed them up.
  • Unauthorised Pets – The majority of the time the property with an unauthorised pet is managed by a Real Estate agent simply because the Property Manager has not been told.  An Onsite Manager however cannot fail to hear the barking sound coming from unit 5.
  • Disturbing behaviour  – Whether it is tenants having guests come and go at all hours of the night, suspect drug dealing, abusive language, loud cars you will ALWAYS know who the cause of the problem is and will be able to action it immediately.

Now you are armed with all of the positive reasons and strategies to use when confronted by these questions.

If you have any more queries or need my advice on a situation please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Lauren Kropp –Director

Real Strategix

info@realstrategix.com.au

www.realstrategix.com.au


You have bought your investment….Management Rights.  Some people look at it as in buying yourself a job.  I look at it as buying your retirement.  For those of you with a RLA and not a full license you are restricted to only managing those properties within your complex.  You are not like a Property Manager that works for the local agency that can source properties anywhere. Generally you live and breathe FOR that complex.

If you are good at what you do there is no reason that you cannot have EVERY investment property in the complex on your rent roll.  Your complex is your livelihood.  Every time a Real Estate agency gains a management from your complex you are basically handing them $1000 per year (based on $250 per week rental).

I have many years’ experience in Property Management and will give you some tips on how to gain those properties back.

1)    Introduce yourself. Part of your role as onsite manager is to also care take.  There is nothing wrong with calling those owners that have let their properties to outside agents and introducing yourself. Advise them of your hours and reiterate that you will keep an eye on their property as it is very easy for you to do as you also live on site…..DO NOT try and sell yourself here….just plant the seed.

2)    Many times when a property that an outside agent manages becomes vacant prospective tenants will drop into the manager’s office before an inspection on the assumption that they ‘must check in’.  NOTE THIS DOWN.  Ask the prospective tenant which agency they are meeting, what unit and also ask them how much they have it listed for.  Make a note of this information and the date.    A few days after this you can contact the landlord yourself and simply follow up on how the inspection went on (date) and if they managed to secure a tenant.  If they did not …..This is your chance.  SELL YOURSELF.  Advise the landlord that you reside on the property and will keep a better eye on it, onsite managers are more approachable than agents as you all live together, you can easily assist with any neighbourhood disputes and that in this instance you will only charge half weeks letting fee.

3)    Half a week’s letting fee.  I was recently consulting at a complex who was telling me that ‘ohhh I forgot to charge the let fee and it doesn’t matter’.  It DOES Matter.  To gain a new management it may take some negotiation.  Real Estate’s rarely will forgo their letting fee.  This is something that you can use.  For the sake of maybe $125 (half week let) you will gain a rental and approximately $1000 per year.

4)    Real Estate agents have fantastic systems, procedures and can ‘talk the talk’.  I think you will find that all an investor cares about is that their property is being looked after, rent paid and there are no hidden surprises.  For these reasons BE YOURSELF.  Believe in what you do, believe in your ability and don’t be afraid to make the follow up calls when you don’t get them on board the first time around.

If you have any questions or would like Real Strategix to assist in any way please do not hesitate to contact me.

Lauren Kropp – Director

Real Strategix

info@realstrategix.com.au


The main reason that I am called to consult in management rights offices is organisation.  You have just completed your RLA course and purchased your management rights…..how hard can it be?

Whether you run a holiday resort or permanent complex, have 15 or 80 in your letting pool your work load will increase if you do not have an organised work place.

Many years ago we would have been able to run an office without a computer but these days due to the severity of fines from legislation requirements we are thankful to have the use of computers.  The first step in organisation is obtaining software that is easy to use.  Over the period of a year most subscription based software companies will charge in excess of $1000.  This may seem like a lot but for what you receive in return it is well worth it.  It is also tax deductable. There is no point in paying the subscription without the correct training and correct training leads to utilising the software to its maximum potential.  You may think that your simple to use trust accounting software is just there to receipt and perform your end of month…..this is not the case.  Most programs assist you with your maintenance, arrears, RTA forms, booking confirmations, and also have the ability to merge all tenant/guest and owner information to your letters that are on your computer.

Which leads me to the second item that will help you with organisation.  Your office system… obtaining or creating your own letters and forms that you can use on a day to day basis.  You may be lucky enough to purchase Management Rights with an extremely helpful outgoing manager that may have left behind their letters for you to use…..for many though this is not the case.

Property Management will throw twists and turns at you on a daily basis and a lot of the time it is the administration tasks that are the toughest.  You are beginning end of month process on your computer while you have the tenant from unit 1 on the phone complaining about the tenant in unit 2 and in front of you is a prospective tenant/guest who wants to register their details.  If you are an organised office you will have a ‘complaint register’ form which can easily be emailed to the tenant of unit 1 to complete, whilst on the phone you can turn around and hand the prospective tenant a ‘seeking property’ form to complete which leaves you to carry on with your end of month.

Having the tenant/guest complete these forms helps you in two ways…..1) the information is in writing for future reference and 2) your time is precious and you can deal with the required action once you have prioritised it.

If you do not have the time to write or create the required forms or letters yourself there are industry professionals such as Real Strategix that will provide these for you for a small amount of money which again is tax deductable.

Item 3 – Everything has a place.  I do not mean sticky notes have a place all over the desk and up the wall.  “I know I wrote it down on a sticky note” and you look up and you see your desk and side of your computer screen covered in sticky notes.

My advice is to have two desk trays.  One is your ‘in tray’ for work that needs to be completed and the other is for important documents that you need to get your hands on quickly.  (i.e. – tariffs, by laws etc.).   EVERYTHING else needs to be in your filing cabinet in labelled suspension files or ring binders.  It is time to write that RTA bond cheque and now you need to attach the bond lodgement forms….where are they?  Rather that search the property files for them or the pile on your desk, once they are signed put them all in a folder labelled “bonds to be lodged”.

Once you have attended to the above three items you will notice your productivity increase, your stress levels decrease and you will have more time to spend with your loved ones.

Management Rights can be extremely daunting and you will find that it isn’t just your office in a mess and other managers feel the same.  The quicker you get systems in place the more confident you will feel.

If you would like any more information or simply need Real Strategix help with any of the above please do not hesitate to contact me.

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix

lauren@realstrategix.com.au