The best property managers are also great leaders. If you’re not dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s, chances are your business will hurt as a result. You don’t have to be perfect, but it’s always good to know your strengths and weaknesses. That will help you build a team that complements your strengths, makes up for your weaknesses and enjoys one another’s company. What’s more, these traits don’t simply affect property managers. They’re traits every great leader needs.
1. Treat kindness as a strength
It is so important to be kind to your tenants and employees. You give them a place to live or a paycheck, but that’s no excuse to be a tyrant. It’s possible to be a straight shooter without being rude. If you can manage that, you can manage any communication issue that comes your way.
2. Don’t get pushed around
We put this one next on the list because it perfectly follows number one. It’s important to balance out kindness with assertiveness. Property managers must be fair to their tenants and employees, but they don’t have to cater to every whim. You’ve heard “the customer is always right,” but that’s ridiculous.
You don’t have infinite time or resources, and you shouldn’t have to give up your dignity just to please a customer. Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand. (But do it kindly.)
3. Be consistent
There are so many leadership styles. Hands-off leaders tend to let employees set their own schedules and routines. As long as each team member is reaching the team’s objectives, the hands-off leader doesn’t get too involved with day-to-day operations. This lets experienced employees feel more independent, but newer employees may feel they don’t have enough direction.
Some leaders demand that things be done a certain way or in a certain order. As you can imagine, this works well in the military or a surgeon’s operating room, but it may not be effective for team morale in other settings.
Very few people have one leadership style, so it’s not like you have to pick one. Some people become more demanding under stress, while others never wear their emotions on their sleeve. You don’t have to be loud or bubbly, nor do you have to give inspiring speeches. And you certainly don’t have to run around giving everyone in the office high fives. Be you—just be the same you, consistently.
Regardless of your personality and leadership style, it’s so important for employees to know what to expect from you.
4. Have a sense of humor
Your employees are going to spend more time with you at work than they will with friends and loved ones at home. Imagine spending that much time in a place that’s mostly dead silent and serious. You’d probably have a hard time recruiting the best talent.
People want to enjoy their surroundings. Just because someone is laughing does not mean they are goofing around. If the work is getting done, let the laughter live.
And if you don’t have employees, you still have your tenants to consider. They’re most likely to reach out when there’s a problem, so a touch of lightheartedness might go a long way.
5. Be yourself
This one ties back to number three. Consistency is important, but so is authenticity. If you’re always “acting” at work, sooner or later your true self will come out. More than likely, it’ll happen in a time of stress.
You don’t have to pretend you’re bubbly when you’re reserved. Or vice versa. Do everyone, yourself included, a favor and just be your most natural self.
6. Be okay with being wrong (sometimes)
As the property manager, you’re going to be looked up to for answers. You’re not going to be right every single time, so be humble enough to admit when you’re wrong. People want honesty more than they want perfection.
7. Give credit where its due
One of the worst things a property manager can do is take credit for someone else’s idea. If someone comes up with a unique solution to a problem, be sure to recognize them. If the property owner is impressed by someone else’s idea, make sure that employee knows they really shined. People work harder and better when they feel valued.
8. Provide incentives and rewards
This is the yin to number seven’s yang. If you’re giving people credit for their work, they’re going to feel good. Eventually, however, they’re going to expect a reward. The reward should be based on the employee’s time at your company, as well as their effort and contributions.
If an employee doesn’t feel justly rewarded for their work, verbal praise will just feel hollow.
9. Set realistic goals
It’s one thing to think big. It’s another thing to think so big that you never reach your goals. Let’s say you offer employees a quarterly incentive for getting 90% positive reviews on social media. That’s a challenging goal, but it’s not impossible.
But what if your goal is even bigger: 100% satisfaction? Are you a better leader for setting bigger goals? Not necessarily. If just one tenant leaves a negative review, your incentive is shot for the whole quarter.
At that rate, you’re unlikely to reach your goals, and employees won’t want to work harder for the incentive.
10. Be versatile
If you’ve ever watched a basketball player do a layup, you know that every basket is a little different. It all depends on where the defender is standing, how fast they’re moving, etc. The player has to be versatile each time they do that one simple move.
When you get a maintenance request in Yardi Breeze, the process will always be more or less the same. You and your staff will get the request, call any contractors, track the progress, etc. The steps are the same, but it will feel a little different each time. That’s why versatility is important. If the solution you used last time isn’t working, you’ll need to think on your feet.
11. Stay accountable
When something goes wrong, good property managers hold themselves accountable. They don’t blame their staff or the computer. Instead, they look at what they need to do to solve the problem. The solution could be to offer more training. Every good leader is willing to hold themselves to the same standards they hold others.
12. Honor your commitments
Property management is a people business, so follow-through is important in every aspect of the job. Did you tell a new employee that the business would pay for training or certification? Are your residents expecting a new amenity because you said it was in the works? Did you promise your owners that they would see individualized reports at the end of each month? You’re setting the example for your team, so your commitment to those around you should be unwavering. This is how reputations are built and maintained.
13. Don’t procrastinate
Some people consider themselves procrastinators. They say, “I work better under pressure,” and sometimes this is true. After all, pressure can be a motivator, and people tend to work better when they’re motivated. But, procrastination can come from fear or anxiety. In other words, it’s about putting off unpleasant things to avoid having to do them.
Whether it’s a difficult conversation you’re not looking forward to or an expensive maintenance task that’s going to hurt your bottom line, procrastinating won’t change the end result. Great property managers align their goals with their top priorities. They tackle the difficult problems when they come up, not when it’s the 11th hour.
But here’s some good news for all you procrastinators out there: Not everything that comes up needs to be a code red, hair-on-fire emergency. Some things can wait, and these lesser tasks are the ones it’s okay to “procrastinate” on.
14. Be a forward thinker
Great property managers keep up to date with the latest trends and tech in property management. If you look back at the state of PropTech over the last decade, it’s shocking how much has changed. In 2011, a mere 35% of American adults owned a smartphone. In 2021, that figure has increased to 85%.
Property managers who saw the importance of this technology 10 years ago are probably in a better position to take advantage of it today.
This forward-thinking lifestyle applies to the use of property management software as well. We launched Yardi Breeze in 2018 as a fresh, simple take on cloud-based property management. But we also recognized that many small businesses would grow and eventually require more advanced functionality. That’s why we released Breeze Premier, which includes everything in Breeze, plus:
- Corporate accounting
- CRM follow-up activities
- Full-service invoice processing
- Rent deferment
- Job cost tracking
- Customizable financial reporting
Great property managers need to think about what their software does for them today as well as how it can help them in the future.
15. Get your paperwork in order
Payment records, inspections, eviction notices, lease documents, credit reports … what’s a property manager to do with all this paperwork? In the old days (which weren’t that long ago), you’d need a well-managed paper filing system. Luckily, property management software now keeps all these records safe in the cloud. They’re easy to access and impossible to misplace or lose to fire, floods, etc. Breeze even helps ensure that pesky 1099s forms are easier than ever to file.
Reducing paperwork helps your business go green, save money and of course, stay organized. Which brings us to our next point.
16. Be organized
Proper organization goes beyond keeping your paperwork in order. What about your daily routine? Breeze Premier’s CRM queue is the ideal way to organize your daily workflow without having to sort through a mess of maintenance requests, appointments, payment notices, etc.
And online portals don’t just simplify life for tenants and owners. They connect people straight to your office in a single secure, professional system. That includes all email and text communication, rent payments, maintenance requests, financials, owner reports, etc.
17. Manage your time
Great property managers have a daily routine. For instance, you might be the kind of person who likes to ease into the day. That’s a great time to drink your coffee and catch up on yesterday’s emails. If you find that you can’t possibly get to all your emails in a single day, it might be time to delegate that task or bring on someone new to the team, full-time or part-time, depending on the need.
Pro tip: Break up your day into half-hour or hour-long blocks, so you never spend too much time in one place or on one activity.
Pro tip: Lunch is absolutely part of a smart daily routine. Don’t forget to eat!
Bonus tip: Join industry associations & attend industry events
Just like all great leaders, property managers aren’t born. They’re trained. Property management associations help you stay up to date with the latest software, trends and training tools to help you succeed.
With that in mind, be sure to check out the national and regional events Breeze is attending throughout the year. We’ll keep adding new ones as they come up.