Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Raising the Bar

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Raising the Bar

Article excerpt

Property Management Training for Generation Next

If ever there was a time the real estate management industry needed to raise the bar when it comes to quality training, it's today. Property management firms are facing the ripest market in recent years. Owner consolidation, combined with the tremendous economic growth of the last decade, has made large portfolio clients the rule. Meanwhile, the stagnant real estate market on Wall Street is leading market-savvy owners and REITs (real estate investment trusts) to hold on to their assets and focus on operations.

In any case, property management firms are needed to maintain held assets and service large, multi-site portfolios. The winners in this competitive market will be the firms that employ the best standards to raise the performance levels of their primary asset, the workforce.

Unfortunately for many, the commercial real estate market of the future does not accommodate the old rules. New business opportunities force us to look at our current policies and procedures, making them appear dated in light of new market rules.

Meeting the Training Challenge

Usually, executives are challenged with identifying the problem. The challenge today lies in establishing and training property management personnel to a new standard of policies that will prepare them for the real estate market of tomorrow. This requires a considerable investment in researching the essential elements in order to establish a consistent level and style of service that meets modern demands.

Benchmarking has become the preferred tool for many firms that choose to completely rebuild their policy structure. It is critical, in this first step, not to limit best practices to other property management firms. Understanding that your business is a service industry, there is an even greater pool of success stories in other vertical, service industries. Top corporations such as Four Seasons Hotels, Nordstrom's Department Stores, and Southwest Airlines have built their success on the careers of service professionals that willingly champion their company. It should then come as no surprise that their policies and employee standards are extremely progressive. Benchmarking the best practices of other industries, however, cannot possibly satisfy all the unique requirements of a property management firm.

Any set of policies and procedures must be able to address the practical needs of the field personnel. The property managers on the line, day in and day out, are in a position to make a substantial contribution to procedural guidelines that reflect realistic situations. Property management is focused on property managers, so it makes little sense for the corporate standards and policies to be developed solely by corporate executives. By including employees in the development of corporate policy, they will have a sense of ownership in the business, they will be more committed to the procedures, and the transition to adopting the new standards will go much more smoothly.

The sheer number of employees in many firms makes it unlikely that everyone will have a say in developing the new standards and procedures. However, firms have a variety of tools at their disposal to help them identify key needs and weaknesses in the workforce, which is critical to developing professional guidelines.

* Create senior staff f councils. Comprised of senior engineers or property managers, these councils are invaluable in facilitating the flow of information throughout the organization. Acting as an oversight committee, they can provide crucial insight into the professional needs and perspectives of the field staff. …

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