While scrolling through Facebook this afternoon, I came across an interesting question in a Property Management group I am in. It asked "What do you feel is the number one service lacking in Property Management?" My answer was communication along with several others responding in similar fashion. I want to elaborate further on my answer. I felt there was a breakdown in communication as it pertains to the responsibilities of the owner and those of the property manager.
- Who is doing what?
- What does an owner need to provide to the PM in order for the PM to do his or her job more effectively?
- What does he PM need to provide to the Owner to give peace of mind to the Owner that the PM is doing the job as promised?
- Aside from rent, what other deliverables is the PM handing the Owner?
- Are they timely?
These are just the few of the questions a PM firm can ask Owners and vice versa.
Another side of the communication coin is that of PMs to their maintenance staff. This was another issue brought up in response to the question above. Finding good maintenance staff is a wonderful addition to a PMs process and value added to Owners. It is my opinion that the reason so many PMs are finding it difficult to maintain good Maintenance support is again, a lack of communication as also workload.
- Clearly defining what you expect out of your Maintenance staff.
- When you expect it.
- How they are to report completed tasks to you.
- Have the workload available to make them feel productive and valued. If you can't, refer them out to others who need help.
Also, communicate routine maintenance to your tenants. Give them 24 to 48 hours' notice of a scheduled maintenance visit.
- Who oversees the Maintenance Department?
- Is there an on call schedule for those late night emergencies?
- What is the workflow process like?
- How does the maintenance team communicate with each other and the PMs?
- Will they have access to Owner?
These are questions that a PM firm should be asking when taking on an in house or long term contract with a Maintenance team. Of course, these are aside from the obvious questions regarding their ability to do the job.
The best way to avoid these communication pitfalls is to ask these questions during the signing phase of your meeting with owners and maintenance technicians.