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

#glenntwiddle

Real Strategix was fortunate enough to have a one on one (well until Jeff Fenech butted in) interview with Glenn Twiddle.  We have asked the questions you may or may not WANT to know the answers to – even the secret questions with Naomi that Glenn did not know about are at the end!

 

 

  1. Are you a boxer shorts, long john or nude sleeper? All of the above depending on availability or lack thereof!
  2. How old were you when you had your first kiss ? – mmmmm I think about 15.
  3. Was it a girl or boy ?  laughing, such a modern question, not something a boy of 15 even thought about in the 80’s in Ipswich, but yes, it was a girl.
  4. What was your first pet – Cindy a dog. What kind of dog? Urm Fluffy, I was 6 or 7 I don’t think I ever asked my Mum what Cindy was.
  5. Who was your first poster of? – Arnie of course, and you know what, I still have those posters now, and on the wall, but now they are signed! I still find it unbelievable that I now socialise with him, work with him, I’ve been to his house! Just seems like my Mum will wake me up and I’ll be back in that childhood room and just have dreamed it all.
  6. If your house was on fire would you save Naomi or the Arnie poster first? Naomi of course, she is amazing, I might have had these mad business ideas but shes the one that executes it all and makes it happen. So like that saying, behind every great man is a great woman? In her case the opposite, she makes it all happen
  7. Do you have siblings? Yes, one of each and I’m the oldest. Ahhh, so did you bully your brother then? (Laughs), of course, he is only two years younger, so as kids he was old enough to want to compete with me with at everything, but too young to beat me at anything. How about now? My brother is so happy, he has a simple uncomplicated life, he teases me now as I am always on the go and never stop!
  8. If you had hair how would you style it? When flat tops first came out that was all I wanted, I was obsessed with them, in fact my Mum gave me my first flat top and that was the longest ever day at school and my first visit to a barber to do it properly straight after! You should tag my Mum, she’ll remember that!
  9. When you went to Cabo, Mexico do you remember any of it and what was your drink of choice? That was on my own, Naomi and I have lots of holidays and what I do remember of it…. Sammy Hay from Van Halen has this club there… Cabo Wavo and they serve this cocktail called a Wavorita… and the service is amazing, they just bring them to you, over and over, even if you are in the mosh pit dancing! Anyway, I remember up to lunch time. I have never ever blacked out from alcohol except that one time… I woke up the next day with no recollection but wearing a Hulk Hogan t-shirt signed by Sammy Hay!  I’m a big fan, I am really hoping to get back there for his big birthday bash but I can tell you, Caucasian brains should not touch tequila based cocktails, and I won’t be touching them again!
  10. Who would win in a fight Arnie or Jeff Fenech? Well firstly they are both the sweetest guys on the planet so it wouldn’t ever happen…. but… well Jeff is really in shape and a great boxer, although Arnold was telling me once about when he met Mohammed Ali and they would try to push eachother over…( Jeff in ear shot yells “I’d win!)”.… Ohhhhhh Arnold teases me about getting into shape, and I saw him in the gym a while back and Arnold is still so strong and in shape!
  11. It must be amazing being around someone so famous? As I said, I still pinch myself, and I think if this d1#%head from Ipswich can do it, then anyone with the drive and dedication can do it, it’s like bloody hell, its a a one in a million thing, and I am that one..and it’s also about getting the most out of events and the speakers that inspired me, following the advice with determination and really hard work and look where it got me! The opportunity to work with people like Arnold or Richard Branson, people I admired as a kid and then read more on as an adult. But you know what, it’s also testament to those people, they are famous, but they are human, they are gracious in the way they treat their fans.
  12. You must be so busy preparing for Sydney? I am so excited, I think it will be the best one I’ve ever done, especially with the amazing speakers we have!

From Naomi (by secret spy Lauren)

Naomi believes his first pet was actually his Arnie poster which is actually STILL in their bedroom ABOVE the bed – except it is now signed.

His first kiss was with his high school sweetheart , Sharon

His middle name is James

His favourite holiday destination is actually the Maldives – but he doesn’t know it yet…..

 

CHECK IT OUT EVERYONE!  http://www.totalsuccess.com.au/

Rebecca Hill – 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

 


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


When you are carrying out your routine inspections, what is your focus? Are you inspecting the property wearing blinkers and only looking at the way the tenant is maintaining the property or are you proactive, detailed and thorough?

During a routine inspection you need to understand that you are the eyes for the owner. They are paying you a management fee for you to professionally manage their property and to provide feedback to protect their investment, maximise income and optimise capital growth. On many occasions, owners often do not visit or see their property for years at a time and are relying solely on your feedback.

If a owner was to visit one of their properties tomorrow for the first time in five years, what would their reaction be? Have you kept them updated on the condition (explaining that they must expect wear and tear and that items such as carpets, window covering, painting, etc. will need to be replaced every 4-7 years) and required renovations needed at the property?

There are four main reasons for carrying out a routine inspection:

  • To ascertain if the property is being maintained by the tenant in a clean and tidy condition
  • To advise the owner of any repairs and maintenance that may be necessary
  • To suggest future renovations or improvements that may be required
  • And most importantly, to ensure that the property is secure and safe for the tenant to live in

You have a duty of care to the owner to carry out regular routine inspections and to issue a written report.

Do’s & Do nots when carrying out inspections

Do…

  • Be upfront and honest about the condition of the property.
  • Take your time and be thorough when inspecting the property.
  • Provide a detailed written report to the owner.
  • Go the extra mile and include photos with the written report, it is becoming an industry expectation now.
  • Follow up maintenance or improvement suggestions with the owner.
  • Have a disclaimer on your written report stating that you are not a qualified builder, electrician, pest control or pool inspector.
  • Recommend that the owner engages the services of the above professionals annually.
  • Highlight that the inspection is a visual inspection only.
  • Have a system in place to ensure that no properties are missed (It is Murphy’s Law… the one you didn’t inspect, will be the one that causes you problems).
  • Explorer different technologies and Apps to make the process more streamlined.

Don’t…

  • Presume that if the property is run down it has always been that way.
  • Be afraid to let the owner know that maintenance is required from fair wear and tear. Properties are going to require upgrading. It is not your fault that the carpets are getting old and worn or the walls are becoming marked.

What to look for when carrying out a routine inspection…

Start the inspection from the outside of the property. When walking up to the property, look at the external condition of the paint, walls, roof, gutters, fences, gates, driveways, gardens, etc… You are not a professional tradesperson; however, you are being paid to be an observer of common/obvious faults and repairs. When carrying out routine inspections, the following listed areas can easily be overlooked and are more likely to lead to a liability (injury) claim should there be a fault.

Check to see ‘visually’…

  • That all balcony railings are secure
  • That the gutters and downpipes are secure and clean
  • That steps and balcony floor boards are secure and free from dry rot or mould
  • That there are no leaks under the kitchen sink, bathroom cabinet or from the hot water system
  • That there is no mould build up or water damage on walls or ceilings
  • That fences and retaining walls are not wobbly or falling over
  • That all property locks are reasonably secure – especially pool fence/gate locks
  • That light fittings and power points are secure and not hanging out of their socket
  • That there are no tears or ripples in the carpet
  • That window panes are secure
  • That there are no dangerous obstructions on the property,
  • to name a few.

When carrying out your inspections, take the approach of, “If this was my investment property, what would I want to know?”

By Debbie Palmer
MANAGING DIRECTOR
ppm | group      www.ppmgroup.com.au

Author, International Speaker, Trainer, Consultant, Coach, System Designer, REIQ Gold Coast Property Manager of the Year 1996 & 1997, State Finalist in 1998 & Gold Coast Finalist in 1999.

Debbie celebrates more than 27 years’ experience in her property management career. She is the founder of the PPM Group, a national company that encourages and supports business development opportunities within property management departments through the development of procedural systems, coaching, live training broadcasts and learning resources.

Debbie is dedicated, passionate, focused and offers a youthful approach to property management. She guest speaks with thousands of property management team members and principals each year around the nation and overseas on how to improve profitability and productivity through the implementation of systems and strategic human resource management planning. She is well respected in the industry and has dedicated her working career to improving the mindset of property managers as well as the day-to-day internal operational procedures.

She is a mum of three children and enjoys a healthy family work-life balance.


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


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.


Outsourcing is a word which some Real Estate offices liken to religion – you just would not dare bring it up at the dinner table.

Property Managers are extremely passionate and opinionated. Meanwhile, all of you believe you know the BEST way of doing things or at least a way in which a task could be better managed.

There is no crime in that.  You simply care for the industry and want your office to be successful.  To be successful you have to have systems in place and systems need money. I know firsthand how hard it is to get Principals to open their wallet.  “It will increase productivity, it will increase profits, it will stop me drinking a bottle of wine each night” ….nope…you will still drink the wine but nice try…

Outsourcing costs money.  Many Principals look at outsourcing tasks as YOUR job. The Property Manager does the routines and/or the trust accounting or they employ someone to solely do that role.  I say “get with the times”.

When I began in Property Management in 1997, I would type a lease on carbon copy document with a type writer.  There were no such things as pool or smoke alarm compliance.  A lease was 2 pages long and there was such a thing as a holding deposit.

As times have progressed and legislation is much more comprehensive, agencies have to progress with it.  The demands on staff are just too high and if one thing is forgotten, it will generally cost the agency a minimum of a few hundred dollars to rectify.

Why not appoint specialist to perform these tasks; specialists with their own liabilities and own skills?  Would you ask your husband to install a new kitchen light or your wife to replace the hot water service?

You may think this is a little far-fetched as these types of jobs are done by trades who study for 4 years.  However how many times do we all read articles about the OFT placing agencies into involuntary liquidation or arresting staff for fraud as they have been mismanaging a million-dollar trust account?

One million dollars.

You are responsible for a one million dollar trust account and you allow an unqualified 24-year-old Property Manager to receipt the money and send it to the owners each month?

These tasks need to be outsourced to reputable trained specialists who do this day-in day-out just like an electrician installing lights.  Of course, this will cost your office money. However, it could stop unnecessary problems from occurring in the future. It will also free up the time of the team member who can now focus on what they were employed for which is to Manage the Property.

Protect your asset.

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


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


The rent roll has finally sold!!!  The Principal is ecstatic and so is the purchaser.

But are you?

Do you find yourself inundated by this set of questions?

  • “Is my job guaranteed?”
  • “Am I going with the new office?”
  • “Is this office staying or will I have to work elsewhere?”
  • “I have managed this portfolio for 2 years and no one has done a better job that I have. Should I look for another job?”

Or do you find yourself thinking this way?

“Thank god – no more dealing with that crazy owner Mrs Barnett. No more sitting across from that horrible Property Manager Hailey anymore. Maybe now I can make a clean break and get out of this industry and just live on an island with a case of Merlot.”

Does this sound familiar?

“All of the above Property Managers need to find a new job ASAP; you are all going to destroy the rent roll with your mind set.  The future is uncertain and in most instances you will be given a chance to prove yourself to the purchaser and be able to keep your job but you will more than likely go on a 3 – month probation.  Don’t be offended; this is normal procedure so you can both get a feel for each other’s business aspects and dealings.”

As you all know a rent roll is only worth the amount of properties signed on new agreements on or before the day of settlement.  Therefore, you have two choices

  • Assist and prove how bad ass you are and keep your owners, Principal and purchaser happy
  • Seek and destroy – don’t care – you are probably going to lose your job anyway.

Person number 2 is easily identifiable – don’t think for one second that you can hide your “don’t care” attitude.

That smile on your face cannot hide the fact that no notes are being placed in the trust accounting software, no phone calls or emails are being returned, the HARD tasks are being put off for tomorrow, the next day or the day after.

The complaint emails are being deleted. Tenants are being made inactive for arrears; printing and then reactivated again (yes this does happen) …

We are onto you….

Keep doing your job, keep your owners informed and make as many notes in the software as you can.

Complete all insurance claims, bond disputes, maintenance items and court proceeding documents to the best of your ability in the time frame before settlement.

If these will lapse over and the properties are signing to the new agency ADVISE the authority (bond, court etc.) of the date this will occur so they can expect a new representative.

Arrears – don’t give up!  Lease renewals – we all know it is better to have them on a lease rather than lapse and go periodic.

Have a list of all vacates and entries ready for the first week for the new agency.  Make sure all your properties keys are back and not with trades.

Hold your head high knowing that you are bad ass and no matter the outcome you have kept your reputation intact as (I am just going to say it) …

Property Management industry is like the TV show “Gossip Girl”; everyone knows you by reputation alone. Stand by your morals and your reputation will forever remain intact.

Lauren Kropp – Director Real Strategix


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.


Currently, the average life span of a Property Manager is 9 months, causing a constant headache for a principal with an average rent roll of approximately 500 properties employing 3 portfolio Property Managers.  Three Property Managers, all of whom have 4 weeks annual leave per year meaning that as the business owner, you need to cover 12 weeks holidays.  The solution, “Bring in the Temp…..”

The thought of utilising a temping agency scares a lot of Principals but more so it scares the Property Manager going on leave.  In most occasions you will find the Property Manager would prefer to have their work escalate and return from leave busier than ever than to have a temp come in for a week and make things worse.

Larger offices will have a ‘floater’.  A floater is exactly that.  They cover the holidays, are familiar with clients, staff and procedures but the down side is they are another full time wage that many offices simply cannot afford.

Hiring a temp does not have to be scary if you employ a specialised agency to source a temp for you.  Most Property Management recruitment agencies will focus purely on permanent staff but some may also provide temporary assignments.

There are generally 3 types of Property Management temps.

1)      The temp who comes in and decides to change all your systems and procedures

2)      The temp who will answer the phone but does little more.

3)       The professional temp.

Part of my role as Director of Real Strategix is to find the professional temp!  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 temp!

If you are sourcing a temp, there are a few ways to find out if the temp agency has completed an appropriate candidate review.

Ask the agency if they have placed this candidate before and if so, for how long.  If it was only a couple of days, make sure that you request a verbal report on the person and ask if you can call the office which utilised them. (they may not allow this due to privacy restrictions, in which case you could ask the agency if the office could call you)

If the appointment was for an extended period, a good question to ask is whether the candidate was offered a full time role when their temp contract ended….this obviously confirms that they are a good worker.

Ask the agency if this temp is covered under their Professional Indemnity Insurance and if not, hang up the phone!

Remember that you are the client and the temp agency is technically applying for a job….ask the agency if they personally would allow this candidate to work in their offices….if they stutter or stumble then you do not want this candidate working in YOUR office.

A temp in QLD (Real Strategix only specialises In QLD temping 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.  Even though you would obviously prefer a Property Management Temp who has actually held current registration previously, this is not a requirement, the reason being that a ‘temp’ is not employed under your workplace employment agreement.  However, temps are NOT allowed to perform the following duties of a registered Property Manager:

  • 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 or a Property Manager.

 

With that being said there is still a great deal that a Property Management Temp can assist with such as:

  •  Phone calls, emails, fax enquiries
  •  Arrears & maintenance
  • Landlord, tradesperson & tenant liaison
  •  Tenancy documentation (renewals, bond increases, lease or vacating preparation)
  • Tenancy Application checks & bond finalisation
  • Inspections

Basically, treat your temp as you would anyone working in your agency who does not have a current registration.

If you would like any additional information on employing a temp at your agency please do not hesitate to contact me.

Lauren Kropp

Director/Consultant – 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