The importance of open communication between a property manager and the property owners they represent cannot be overstated. Transparency is paramount in our industry, where owners ought to know exactly what they’re paying for, and managers ought not to act on assumptions. I’ve commented often on the need for good communication between these parties, and what follows is a comprehensive guide for positive and profitable interactions with your clients. Managers should always be working on how to better communicate, and owners should know what to expect of a good property manager.
1. Communicate Involvement
I always introduce this point with the same mantra: One size fits all fits none. That is to say, there’s no perfect algorithm for property management that suits all property owners across the board. And on top of that, owners don’t often go out of their way to express to you exactly how they want to be involved in the management of their property. It’s up to you as a manager to get to know their style of ownership and ask them what type of involvement they want to have in the management process.
There are clients who essentially want to wipe their hands clean of the entire operation and receive only the most essential updates, but there are others who want to hear every minuscule detail of the work their manager does for them. Be prepared to accommodate both, and learn where each client lands on that spectrum of involvement, because that knowledge will determine how you communicate with them going forward.
2. Communicate Goals
Healthy communication with clients doesn’t just come about naturally — it requires strict scheduling. Don’t rely on yourself to organically wonder every six months how each of your clients’ goals may have changed in that time period. Instead, after you’ve established their desired level of involvement and goals for their property at the beginning of your working relationship with them, schedule a call (with automated calendar reminders) every six months to check in with each property owner about their priorities. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to talk about any remodeling work they might be considering, and this can segue nicely into a more general conversation about the quality of job you’ve done for them so far.
3. Communicate Charges
Another communication-related point I’ve touched on before has to do with the value of walking every owner through the details of their first statement. If you agree that transparency is crucial to high-quality property management, put your money where your mouth is, and spend time with the owners you represent, talking with them about the nitty-gritty details of what they’re paying you for. Offering to do this will show them that you have nothing to hide, and that you’re willing to make an extra effort to give them the peace of mind that comes with full understanding of everything in their monthly statement. You could even set up screen-sharing with owners to make sure that you’re literally on the same page as you talk about their statement.
4. Communicate Understanding
My last recommendation for those seeking better communication in property management is more of a general philosophy than a trick of the trade, so use it wherever and whenever you can. It’s simply this: In all of your interactions, apply understanding. No matter how detailed or meticulous a particular client wants you to be, have the wherewithal and the patience to step back and intentionally see things from their perspective. I don’t just mean see their property as they do (though that is important). I mean that you should sincerely try to understand their situation and assess whether you’ve truly earned their trust.
Maybe that sounds moralistic, or like an attempt at being profound, but I intend it only as practical advice. There’s no doubt in my mind that trying to better understand the perspective of your clients — even when that’s hard to do — will make your business relationship more manageable and more profitable.