Building One great Property Management team.
with Richard Thurtle
How do you put a great team together?
Well, I think the biggest contributor to a successful team is that you don't simply put one together, you build one. You assess what you need to make your team great - because it will often be governed by its current strengths and weaknesses - and you build from there.
It's no different from the Dockers, really. Every team needs a great midfield, but if you've already got one you might go looking for some tall forwards, or to bolster your defence. We're no different. The roles may change, but the strategy is the same. it's getting the right people in the right positions.
What's important as you go about finding those team members?
We work on a blend of youth and experience knowing that each help the other. When you've got a rookie on the team, for example, they not only learn from the veterans, but they provide an environment for the experienced ones to share, grow and communicate their experiences.
So, on a team like One we have a property manager like Georgina (Johnston) who has a wealth of experience, and at the fresher end, we have someone like Bianca (Borgers), who has just become a Junior Property Manager, and we're growing her into a property manager of the future. Bianca began in the sales area as a receptionist, then moved into a Property Manager Assistant role where she's learned more and more. That's the upside of having an experienced team.
Rather than sink or swim, we're teaching people how to swim.
Every team has strengths and weaknesses. How do you deal with those?
I guess it's good to differentiate between a minimum acceptable standard and weakness. Part of growing a great team is that you will have some who are incredibly knowledgeable in specific areas and others who have an acceptable level. If someone is a walking encyclopaedia of the Residential Tenancy Act, the challenge isn't to bring everyone to their level, but to leverage that knowledge across the team and ensure that that person resources the rest of the team.
A good example is Zora (Reeves). She joined us as someone who had extensive experience as a leasing agent. When we were given 100 additional properties to lease for a property developer, she was the person for the job. Along the way, though, we also grew her knowledge in some areas where she was less experienced so we could transition her from a specialist to an all-rounder; someone capable of managing her own portfolio.
When is a weakness a deal-breaker?
If someone is utterly deficient in communication skills, then we've placed an inappropriate candidate for the position because communication is essential. To be weak in this area would be a deal breaker and a team breaker.
Is there an optimal size for a team?
It will always be connected with the number of properties you manage. When we began, it was just me with a handful of properties, but from the beginning, we put in place systems and processes that facilitate growth. As it stands, if we added 300 new properties tomorrow to the number of properties under management tomorrow we'd need to hire some new people, but the systems and processes we have in place wouldn't skip a beat.
If you doubled the number of properties under management tomorrow, what would change?
Nothing. You'd see some more people in and around the office but there'd be no major change. Our Property Managers provide the full range of services to property owners. It gives them a stronger relationship with the owners and a far better understanding of all aspects of their properties. This wouldn't change. While some teams create functional silos as they grow and streamline some services, we don't and won't. We remain convinced that a single point of contact is the best method of service delivery for our clients, our people and the growth of our business.
What is your typical portfolio of properties for each Property Manager?
We work on 80-100 properties for an experienced Property Manager.
Does it change according to market conditions?
Not really. They might work harder and sweat a little more in the tougher conditions, and the strategy might change a little, but the portfolio remains the same.
Is the split always geographical?
Generally, yes. It's more efficient that way. There will always be outliers but we tend concentrate geographically.
Based on the strong, continuous growth over the past five years, it's certainly a plan that's reaping dividends!
We always planned that it would!