Four Ways Managers Can Help Their Owners
If managers follow these four tips, owners say they would improve their NOI. And, yes, one of the pieces of advice revolves around money.
In November, we looked at the owner-manager relationship from the manager’s perspective. We found that managers wanted owners to be patient, stay involved, share information and spend money. Now, owners sound off about what managers can do to make a community more profitable. Here are five highlights.
For one owner based on the East Coast, the key to good management starts with being proactive. If occupancy has moved below 90 percent, he wants to learn about it from the operator rather than finding out about it on his own.
“We want to hear, ‘Hey, we know the occupancy is 85 percent and here are the five things we’re doing to improve it,’ ” he says. “If managers do that, it’s a sign for us that we are working with a very, very strong operator. [Having them provide solutions] is something that we do not always see.”
Reasons vary for why managers have a difficult time informing their owners about issues. “Maybe it’s just a communication issue,” the owner says. “A lot of times we find that the manager may not have identified the problem, or they might not be taking stabs at solutions.”
Go Beyond Money
When asking fee managers what they wish owners would do differently, one of the most common answers revolves around spending more to fix issues and with finding talent. For their part, some owners would like to move beyond simply throwing money at problems.
“It frustrates me as an owner and asset manager when the solution from a management company is to just throw money at a problem,” says one ownership executive on the West Coast. “The solution does not always have to have a large dollar figure attached. Let’s actually solve the problem.”
This owner points to one example. “We had a property with security issues and trespassers were accessing the site,” he says. “The property management solution was that we needed to hire an around-the-clock security guard at $5,000 a month. But to us, it makes more sense to fix the gaps in perimeter fencing and eliminate the access points.”
Focus on the People Side of the Business
Despite a relentless rush of tech and automation into the commercial real estate space, apartment management remains, above all, a people business.
“We say all the time it’s a people business in terms of leasing agents and property managers,” says one national owner. “Who is there and what their attitude remains important. They need to be great stewards of our community.”
In some cases, this owner wishes management companies would put more emphasis on developing those “people” skills for their staff members.
“We are training them on how to process invoices and how to handle risk management,” the owner says. “Since we have determined that it’s a people business, I would like to see more training on how to deal with resident conflicts.”
Know Your Leads
Today’s residents find out about apartment communities from digital ads, social media, friends and many, many other places.
“There are a lot of lead sources,” says the East Coast owner. “We have found that some of the marketing teams are stronger than others at identifying where traffic is coming from.”
This owner thinks it is important for managers to know their source of traffic, especially during times of occupancy challenges.
“If there is a problem, maybe they go to a more aggressive SEO program to increase traffic,” he says. “If you know where your traffic is coming from, that path can lead you to a higher success rate. If you have more people touring your property, you are going to have a better chance of the leasing apartments.”