Taking Your Property Management Firm to the Next Level

Thinking about expanding the team? Here are five issues to consider before you hang out the "Help Wanted" sign.
Kathleen Richards

For new and emerging property management firms, growth can be both  exciting and overwhelming. Many important decisions are  made during this pivotal period, and few require more forethought than whether to add employees. Kathleen Richards, founder of The Property Management Coach, shared insights into tackling the hiring process. 

Make the Most Out of Your Existing Employees 

A common issue with property management is managing employees’ time. A common drain on productivity is the habit of shuttling between the office and appointments to show properties. Before expanding your staff, you may first want to assess the team’s time management. 

“In my office, we always showed properties in the afternoon, and staff was in the office in the morning so they could get their work done,” said Richards. That was an efficient alternative to starting the day in the office, running out to a mid-morning showing, and returning, only to leave again at 1 for another appointment. That pattern only leaves team members “feeling frustrated that they aren’t getting anything done.”

Look Outside the Box for Help 

Photo by Walter Luecker on Unsplash

If you’re positive that you do need additional staff, does it need to be someone in the office full time? Retaining someone with special expertise, such as an independent contractor, may be a cost-effective alternative to bringing on a full time employee.

Utilizing technology can help with staffing needs as well, and virtual assistants can be great for doing back office work. Tasks such as leasing paperwork, watermarking items, uploading photos to the company website and answering phones can all be handled by a virtual assistant to relieve pressure on current employees.

Just be aware that although the virtual assistant may work in another location, training is still fairly intensive. “Hiring a virtual assistant is more work on the front end … but once you have them on board, they can help a ton,” Richards said. 

Be sure it pencils out Make Sure You Can Financially Handle It 

The costs of hiring a full-time employee quickly add up: training, payroll, social security, benefits, taxes. Prior to making that commitment, make sure your cash flow can handle it. Richards suggests a thought experiment: 

“Pretend you have an assistant. How much is it going to cost you? Set aside that money every single month, and if you’re freaking out over it and you’re losing sleep at night because you really don’t have the money to support an assistant, then great, you haven’t gone to the extent of hiring someone” who must be laid off.

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back 

Fear may be the biggest thing that holds small businesses back, Richards contends. “You’re wearing so many hats when you’re a small company. Since you’ve done everything yourself for so long, you’re scared to hire somebody because you think no one will do it as well as you do it, and it is a big leap to go from doing it yourself to hiring people.”

Getting bigger isn’t necessarily always the best option. “You really need to decide for yourself what kind of business you want, and then just own it and be comfortable with it. If you want to stay small and boutique—awesome! Be the best small and boutique company in your area.”