What do you do when you get to a routine inspection and find that the tenant has removed the entire wall between the fourth bedroom and the garage? How do we deal with a tenant who continually pays rent the day before a termination notice expires? Or, the ever popular, what do you do when a tenant abandons a property and leaves all of their stuff behind?
As an industry which deals with a wide spectrum of people living out their private lives in someone else’s home, these are the kinds of atypical scenarios that constantly pop up in property management. Yet, these incidences won’t be found in any standard operating procedure, documented in detailed file notes or taught during induction.
A lack of accessible knowledge in an agency can make learning the ropes or managing workload a much greater challenge than it should be. If each new predicament requires a long sequence of research and questioning before any effective action can be taken, this can potentially double the time needed to resolve issues. And, in cases where limited knowledge resources or time are available to find useful information, the initial response may not even be successful, tripling the resolution time. This can cost your business a lot of money, as well as put strain on both the employee and the service received by other properties in the portfolio.
So, how can we create an easy access system to learn the best practice to respond to exceptional circumstances quickly and effectively with minimal disruption?
Creating case studies to share knowledge
Property management is an industry where the best way to learn is from someone else’s experience. Creating a system for documenting complex cases is a great way to provide new and existing employees with a ‘problem solving bible’ where they can learn from each other’s experience and reduce the need to redo the lengthy research and groundwork phase for each new instance.
Case studies should include:
- A description of the situation that arose and how it came to light.
- Copies of communications that were sent or received during the situation.
- A copy of any legislation that was applied to the scenario.
- A breakdown of the action steps taken and their outcomes.
- Considerations for future instances (what could be done for better outcomes next time).
While each situation might be slightly different (or completely new, altogether), having access to the thought processes, learnings and resources utilised in the past can provide a good starting point and create the right mindset to attack a new problem. Many times, there is opportunity for cross-pollination of solutions from one problem to another.
Collaboration to build on ideas
“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up” is a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes that couldn’t be more true. Think about a time when you were really stuck on a problem, something you had been pouring over for hours or days. In your frustration you might have turned to a colleague to discuss the stone wall you’d hit (for no other reason other than to vent) and then all of a sudden they suggest a brilliant, and seemingly obvious, idea you hadn’t thought of.
We are all limited by our own minds but when we bring our ideas together and start exploring as a team, often inspiration and new ideas will arise from the interaction of different perspectives.
Creating a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing not only builds a great team but provides a great base for inventive problem-solving. Brainstorming sessions can be informal and simply a case of someone throwing a problem out and opening the conversation to whoever is present at the time to put forward any learnings or ideas or; they can be more structured, such as daily or weekly standup meetings which focus solely on workshopping current problem tenancies.
If you look around you, you’re probably sitting next to 3 or 4 great teammates who possibly have 10 or even 20 years collective experience and knowledge. Harnessing this knowledge to tackle problems together will allow every team member to operate at the highest level of experience, creating an unstoppable property management team.