Owning a rental property is a great way to earn money on the side. In time, one rental unit might even turn into several and replace your main income entirely. Of course, a significant part of a landlord’s job is making sure the property is in good shape and that new and prospective tenants have a point of contact for questions and rent and maintenance issues.
These demands on a landlord’s time can eat into their sense of independence. Hiring a property management company is the answer for many rental property owners. But for those that want to take on a more hands-on approach, a better option may be to build your own team to assist with the many tasks of property management. Becoming a property manager in your state and building this team takes work, but the payoff is the ability to grow your portfolio while providing essential services for other landlords and their tenants.
Ready to launch a property management team of your own? Here’s how to build one.
Hire Driven and Knowledgeable Professionals
You can’t hire just anybody to manage properties. Your team should have a solid amount of relevant experience, but they should also possess soft skills like attention to detail, a strong work ethic, excellent communication skills and a good attitude.
As you reach out to find experienced members of the community, remember the core functions of your property management team and use them to steer your search. You’ll typically need individuals with backgrounds in the following areas:
- Performing rent collection
- Adjusting lease terms as necessary
- Finding and vetting new tenants
- Drawing up legally compliant leases
- Evicting tenants if it becomes necessary
- Performing onsite repairs
- Maintaining the property and green spaces
- Performing bookkeeping and staying organized
Filling these roles means finding individuals with experience in the rental property and real estate industries, who have excellent people skills and who are willing to continue educating themselves on the legal and practical side of maintaining rental properties.
Have a Great Contractor on Standby
No landlord enjoys fielding calls about broken appliances or requests for emergency repairs. That’s why every property management team needs a reliable contractor or team of contractors on standby or as a reliable part of their team.
If you’re just beginning your search, you can look for contractors through local listings or by word of mouth. You might also consider giving your insurance company a call, as they probably have relationships with trustworthy contractors in your area and have already screened them.
Implement an Organization System
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hiring and team-building processes and forget you must also lead by example. Critically, that includes your approach to getting and staying organized.
If you bring a new team into an environment that has clutter everywhere and client files scattered to the four winds, your team is likely to follow suit. A good system for your new property management organization should include:
- A regularly updated employee handbook
- Emergency procedures and preparedness plans
- Up-to-date business plan with financial projections and research
- Comprehensive contact information for all parties, including contractors, vendors, management, and employees
- Clear and intuitive locations for sorting and storing incoming and outgoing mail, invoices, tenant documents and everything else your team needs
You will also need to build an office environment that is conducive to concentration and pleasant to spend time in. Several studies confirm work environment is a high-ranking factor when it comes to employee turnover.
Choose the Right Software
Though this is part of getting organized, it deserves a mention. Software and apps make the world go ‘round, including property management. Choosing the right accounting and operations software is just as critical to your organizational abilities as keeping your physical records and office space neat and tidy.
The ideal software solution will include features like organization for vendor and employee contact information, general document storage, guidance for tax compliance, budgeting tools and leasing management.
Landlords should also give thought to employees’ ability to access software across multiple platforms. Not every property management organization software solution keeps mobility in mind, but the ones that do allow you and your representatives to set up accounts for each member of the team.
Develop a Customer Service Mindset
As a landlord, you are, fundamentally, in business to serve others. Presiding over rental properties is a great way to earn a living, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that people count on you for housing and timely responses when they need help.
Take this responsibility seriously by developing a customer-first mindset and training your property management team on it. Customer service mindsets come with some especially important reminders for landlords.
- Make sure tenants know you take privacy seriously. Ensure members of your team provide at least 24 hours’ notice before entering one of your rental units.
- Ensure quick response times are a top priority for your team, including on weekends. Train your team to remain polite and civil no matter how the conversation goes.
- Be fair when it comes to security deposit amounts and refunds. Avoid overly punitive policies and confusion over expectations. Provide a clear move-out checklist for each tenant. If you need to charge a tenant for damage, itemize the deposit deduction for transparency and be realistic about the costs to ameliorate the issue.
Another crucial reminder is to make sure you have clearly defined job roles. Your team won’t be able to deliver the stellar customer service your tenants deserve if there is redundancy or uncertainty over who responds to calls, escalates issues or performs other management duties.
Don’t Stop Networking and Improving
Finally, remember to continue networking and making connections with other professionals who may make great additions to your team.
Instead of all at once, you might choose to build your property management team slowly as your business ramps up. If so, you’ll need additional driven individuals over time who can step in and respond to tenant problems and maintain your properties.
After that, take the pulse of your team regularly. See if they have feedback or if there are other tools they could use to make their lives — or your tenants’ lives — easier.
Building a property management team requires that you have access to professionals whose experience and knowledge complement yours. Stay involved and interested, and your team will stick with you for the long haul.