Leaders Create Culture

Sometimes culture is used only as a buzzword and often gets described as “the way things get done around here”.  The culture of a business should be seen as the prevailing values,
beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of our people.

Management & Leadership_croppedAn acidic or destructive culture inside your team will place your whole business at risk. Some of the signs that your culture is affected will be subliminal, whilst others will be clearly evident.  The key is to see the signs early and create a change culture for the team. Not an easy task, but one that all leaders must undertake.

The need to add new people to the team will be a constant for you, this is the natural course a business will take as it grows this automatically creates a cultural shift .  This, in itself, presents challenges, and your members will go through various stages as they change from being a group of
people who were previously unknown to each other to a united team with common goals.

If a business is a revolving front door of staff, it is an indication that there are cultural issues.  If these issues are not addressed quickly, the acidic or destructive nature of the culture will spread quickly and more often than not your business will suffer a loss of valuable team members.  The flow on effect from this is that leaders then start recruiting by crisis.  Choosing the wrong people or skipping key new employee inductions as they desperately try to fill the position.  The cultural impact this has,  can bring a business to it’s knees.

Leadership is about making things happen and building effective teams.   Often described as “leading yourself” an identification of your own leadership strengths something that you must understand before you can successfully lead others and evolve your culture.

What are your career development goals for 2016?

What are your career development goals for 2016?

The start of a new year is an opportunity to look ahead and make plans for the next twelve months.

I see a huge gulf between people who just work in property management and people who are property management professionals – and the bridge between the two is ambition coupled with professional development. Anyone at any stage in their career benefits from learning, being aware of industry standards and upskilling. If you speak to someone who is successful in their career (inside or out of our industry) they’ll tell you how they are constantly learning and more often than not, set aside dedicated time regularly to do so. Personally, in my 30 years in property management I have benefitted greatly from structured learning, strong leaders, wise mentors and saying yes to opportunities to try new things and pushing myself at all times.

You never know everything, so I am always learning and actively seeking out opportunities to understand the latest developments in our industry and how they can be applied. I also have the opportunity to share with others some of the key learnings and nuggets of gold that I have acquired.

Something on my horizon that really excites me is the upcoming Property Management Conference (PMC) in April. There are so many great conferences to upskill at, but the PMC is special. Not only is it purpose built for our industry, by people from our industry – but as the biggest one in our part of the world, it attracts the best people. And it’s that opportunity to learn from and with other people with different experiences, who are all working towards the same goal, that is really unique.

At PMC it’s my pleasure to speak about  ‘5 Channels of Growth’ – a structure that fits any Property Management business and provides deep insight into how you can progress and prosper, whatever your goals may be. In the year since we have been discussing the ideas that went into the 5 Channels of Growth, we have been working with a number of agencies to develop targeted marketing plans for each of the 5 channels. In this session we will be discussing some of the experiences we have seen, share some of the best practices that are emerging and debate the ideas we have for pushing it forward.

I’ll also be participating in The Great Debate – an action packed and light hearted dressing down of whether our actions speak louder than words. It’ll be a lot of fun, and a great way to have a laugh with a like minded bunch.

After all, with the day-to-day stress that we can sometimes feel with our line of work, letting your hair down a little can be very beneficial – and here PMC steps up too! The Gala party is without a doubt one of  the craziest and most fun nights of my life, full stop. Last time there were actual crocodiles, lasers, live bands, fire-breathers and knife throwing. This is one of those events that you cannot dress up enough for and can really go all out. It’s time I started thinking about my costume for this year’s theme ‘Heroes and Villains’.

I’m passionate about helping people progress their careers in Property Management and if you have any questions, or want to bounce around some ideas please get in touch. You can find out more about the Property Management Conference here.

What career development do you have planned for 2016?

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Click here to find out more about PMC2016

People make the difference

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The concept of a “landlord” can be traced back to the Roman Empire. Back then, peasants were bound to the land, dependent on their landlords for protection and the provision of justice. As time has passed, the basic concept of the landlord providing a person with shelter still exists, but today, it’s overlaid by influences from courts, laws and the general evolution of what we now know as property management.  Advances in business, education and technology have shaped the industry we exist in today.

But let me ask you this question; is it the industry that’s different, or are we different?

I have a firm belief that property management is all about relationships. The product we deal in is property and housing, it’s true. But without the landlords who own them and the tenants who live in them, a property management business cannot exist. So given this, why do most property management businesses focus solely on the product and not the people?

In an industry that ultimately hinges on client interaction, communication and customer service, we seem to get caught up in the transaction, rather than focusing our attention on fostering solid relationships.  I often hear the saying “clients for life” being thrown around, but do we as an industry really believe this is possible? If we do, then clearly our industry has to be about people.

Furthering this concept, it’s critical that business owners and leaders ensure they have the right people inside their business.  All staff must know and understand the true nature of the client relationship and do what’s necessary to foster it, rather than just thinking about the product. As an industry we struggle in the recruitment sphere, essentially stemming from the fact that property management is not seen as a real profession but rather just a rent collection and maintenance service.  As leaders in the industry, we must ensure that we have a stronger focus on learning and development, offering career paths to people, understanding the true meaning of leadership inside real estate businesses and knowing what our industry is really about.

The technology space has also had a significant impact on our industry over time, with more platforms released into our markets, but a question here is “does the industry truly understand the power of technology or just rely on it as a tool that collects, transfers, records and houses data?”.  We must understand that technology will only perform to it’s full capacity when we have a solid understanding of use and is extended in full use by people.

The industry is already moving towards providing a complete suite of  investment services, delivering a broader range of knowledge and client services to the marketplace.  When our people understand the needs of both tenant and landlord and are able to effectively satisfy them, the concept of clients for life becomes not only a possibility, but an achievable reality.

Marketing Your Agency

Marketing Your Agency

It is a myth in the industry that ‘marketing’ is the same as ‘advertising.’ No idea could be more wrong and even worse can destroy any plans to grow your agency beyond the the ‘traditional’ organic growth.

Marketing is much more than advertising. It is instead a broad discipline that fundamentally connects the activities and things you do to your consumer and market place. Good marketing is as much about changing your practices to meet the market as it is about promoting your agency to the market. After all, if you are not doing what your potential clients value, no amount of noise and activity will be able to overcome that.

In planning an effective marketing strategy must should start by identifying and understanding your clients and potential clients. Think about it this way, what will they want from your agency?

You then have to develop processes and systems through the various mediums to make contact with those people and establish your connection.

The final and most critical step in my opinion is to ensure that you nurture and grow over a period of time, your relationship with these people.  It will take time but your patience is the key.  People have to get to know you and your agency and trust that you will look after their needs and their assets.

What is your Point of Difference?

It is a basic principle in any market and in any business that as a supplier you must find a way to distinguish your products and services from your competitors in order to gain substantial market share and growth in the business.

If a supplier cannot do this, then the only way it can sell a product or service is to sell it cheaply. If every other supplier has the same problem then everyone will lower their prices and a race to the bottom follows.

It is believed that the Property Management industry faces this very dynamic because the industry is yet to find a way to clearly differentiate one property management business from another.

To effectively stand out in the crowd you must have a point of difference.  Working out your point of difference is not easy, but you can achieve this.

An effective point of difference must have three characteristics:

  • It must provide valuable to your clients
  • It must be credible and also provable
  • It must be real and be embedded into everything you do

Each of these three things requires a lot of work. It can be complicated but not unachievable, the best way to approach this is to work through it, as part of your business strategy and planning process.

A key component in getting this right is to really understand your clients and recognise that they are the ones that define the value in your products and your services.

A simple and powerful idea yet one that is most often forgotten.

Retention – is it us or is it them?

Retention  – is it us or is it them?

Following on from my last post, I wanted to take a look at the other side of recruitment, a key to longevity.  Retention.  It’s costly in a business to have a revolving door of people, not just in terms of your recruitment activity but also in development and training.  There are clear signs that indicate if your business will suffer retention loss. Learn these and you will save valuable hours and costs.

Business owners will often say, “If I can get a good couple of years out of a person then I will be happy.”  That’s a short term view, in my opinion.  It’s in line with yet another one of those urban myths that people inside the real estate industry quickly burnout.   In some cases that might be true, but if you looked at the relevant business more closely, I believe you’d find triggers including bad culture, a lack of clear vision, reactive processes and a lack of leadership.

Let’s think about something. If we interviewed the best and the longest serving people in any business across the industry, I believe we would hear a consistent and strong message  – “the leader supports me and that’s why I stay and why I love my job”.

In our industry it’s common to hear people say “this is such a hard job”.  Well, I’m going out on a limb here and stating that I believe sometimes people make the job harder on themselves.  A business that is reactive, where workflow processes are not structured and streamlined, will always be chaotic.  

It’s proven that when things are missed and jobs are not done properly, the frustration felt by the clients and customers is immense. It just simply becomes all too much.  This sentiment can creep further into the business ethos to the point where, every day, your employee is faced with angry and frustrated clients.  It becomes enough to drive them from the business and the industry.  If we are honest, who would blame them?  The key to avoid burnout is to look for the real cause and not just blame the role or the industry.

If burnout happens in your business, you have to ask yourself a question. Was this a fault of their own doing, or is something missing inside my business?  Sure, there are things outside our control in any business and of course a crisis will interrupt any team’s day, but in a well organised and structured business with strong leadership and the right people, insurmountable becomes a challenge that’s solvable and satisfying.  

Retaining good people and watching them grown inside a business is probably the most satisfying part of being a leader.  I’ve often been asked what my role is as a leader. My answer is to make the people who work with me even greater leaders.

During my career I’ve been fortunate to have some of the best leaders in the industry. It’s through their guidance that I’ve been fortunate to have taken on some really challenging and high profile roles.  For any leader, though, it’s important never to forget where we started.

Effective Recruitment – It’s Not Just Getting People On Your Bus

Effective Recruitment – It’s Not Just Getting People On Your Bus

Recruiting good people is a key responsibility for any leader.  It’s not, however, an easy task and more often than not it’s an area I’m asked to consult on.

A critical part of effective recruitment is attraction.  It’s important to ensure that a business and its culture is genuinely appealing to potential candidates.  The reputation of a business in the local community and the broader industry is commonly well known and/or well researched by any potential candidate.  People quickly discover who is good to work for and who is not.  

I recall a discussion with a business owner one day, who is described as being a great leader and well known for operating a fantastic business, a classic example of  “a business of attraction”,  so much so that potential new recruits are regularly knocking on his door saying “I want to be part of your business, I want to work for you”.

Why would someone want to work for this business? Is it about remuneration or incentives? The answer is No.  It’s about the culture.  The business has successfully created a strong, united culture through great leadership.  The culture is one of teamwork, focused through leadership and support. Openness, honesty, a defined and structured professional development program and career paths are features the business is well known for.  It’s something everyone wants to be part of and that’s an attractive package to any future employee.

A key component of the recruitment plan for this business is never to recruit by crisis. As the principal says, that’s a common trap that can lead you into a deeper hole.

Engaging the candidate right from the start is another important component. Anyone looking to join the business is not just pushed through the traditional interview process, but rather engages in discussions that leave the candidate feeling like they are already part of the business. At the very least, they should feel they had just met people that they could trust with their future career.

Breaking this down, candidates are not just presented with the role description, they’re given a clear insight into the vision for the business and the critical role that they would play in the future of the company.  

It’s not often that someone in the interview stage of recruitment will come away with such a clear and definitive understanding of the key expectations for both themselves and the business.  If the candidate can’t see or share in this vision and doesn’t want accountability and transparency, then it’s clearly evident early on and the business owner knows that they’re not right for the business.

What benefits does this strategy bring? If you look at the example business today, it continues to grow, there are more opportunities opening up as a result of this growth, and the business owner has a great team that embraces the culture.

In today’s environment, it’s critical to ensure that you recruit not only competent people, but people that share your vision and can help achieve business goals.  

Get this first step right and you’re more than half of the way towards success.

A new revolution in Property Management has arrived.

Living Here is carving out a new space in the real estate industry.

Unlike traditional real estate businesses, Living Here puts investment management at the heart of the business. The result is a complete suite of services to lease, manage, finance and sell properties – all designed to help customers create wealth.

Living Here offers an exciting future for real estate business owners who are seeking to focus on the growth of their rent roll assets, rather than sales. It also offers an ideal succession planning solution.

The focus and investment on the brand, marketing, industry-leading training and technology is designed to help business owners offer the highest quality services to property investors and tenants.

This is a fresh brand with a new direction and a new energy in the market.