Most of you will have heard the news of how the mystical Higgs Boson, the entity that gives mass to particles. It is finally confirmed by a stadium full of scientists’ as a real discovery. You may even have discussed the development with your colleagues, staff, residents, or vendors. (Well, ok, maybe not.) What you probably haven’t thought of is what this means for property management. I’m here to shed some light (years) on the topic.
No sooner had this discovery been made, a discovery which for some physicists has equated to their life’s work, an opinion article appeared in the New York Post suggesting that discovery of the ‘god’ particle is merely a way station. The device that facilitated the collisions is being re-tooled to allow for collisions at even faster speeds which may—wait for it—create even more such particles. Those working on this effort thought they had found the ultimate so now they will be on the lookout for more ultimates. Yikes!
What is in it for a property manager, management company, or even vendors? The idea that just when you think you have all your ducks in a row, you don’t. Just when you think you have all your property’s problems figured out or when you think your product or platform has its capabilities maxed out and everything is going on swimmingly, you will be caught on the tree limb while it is sawed off behind you.
Property management is filled with tactical actions and decisions which have to be made every hour of every day. Just like subatomic particles in a supercollider (just not moving quite that fast), you will have issues and people heading towards each other creating concepts (effects) that you hadn’t previously anticipated. Does this mean you have to be neurotic or maniacal about your daily job? Of course not, but you do need to avoid complacency and instill a sense of continuous self-improvement in yourself and those around you.
Recently, I heard of a vendor’s rep who, in the course of marketing her product, found two separate uses for the product which the management team had not considered. These uses provided a doorway into two completely untapped markets, where there was effectively no competition and where the uneasiness of a ‘cold call’ had already been removed (The prospects were already on board.). To say that the response the rep got from her higher-ups was disinterest would be putting it mildly. The point? The managers felt that the product, which did have the opportunity to be a leader in its market due to its cost structure, ease of use, and basic functionality, could grow simply through a tweak here and there and did not require a bold move with high development costs.
Think about a property which has enjoyed stellar occupancy rates for a long time, occupancy rates which brought smiles to the management company, profits to the bottom line, and lots of awards to the on-site management team. Fabulous, right? What happens if occupancy starts to drift downwards, either through the vagaries of the economic cycle, personal preferences, demographics, or some property-specific factors? Profits and awards will stop coming if the manager or company hasn’t continually done its best and regularly kept its offering current to attract new tenants or groups of tenants, instead choosing to complacently sit back and relax and not be outward-focused.
What can WE do to make sure WE don’t just sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight? Think of the recent NAA conference as one of those super-colliders, but one where the collisions were extremely pleasurable and took place at very slow speeds. ‘Super’ because all the best and brightest in property management were in one place for a few days, all looking both to contribute and absorb the newest ideas. Think of the regular meetings of the local and regional Apartment Associations. (Those are like mini-colliders, and lunch is usually served!) Even if the topic isn’t particularly of interest there is always at least one take-away from either a vendor’s presentation to share with someone back at the home office. You might make a new contact which could be helpful at some point. You might come up with an idea for a future presentation of your own.
What I am getting at is that you should make yourself available to your local and national colleagues as often as possible, whether as a contributor, attendee, or leader, even when it may not be totally convenient to do so. I personally have had the pleasure in working in a few different industries in financial services, but nowhere have I found the collegial nature that I have in property management. Our colleagues and vendors function as a virtual bucket brigade, taking information and passing it on so that the end result is a problem solved or more efficient process, with everyone’s uppermost goal, the complete satisfaction of residents.
Charles H. Fiori, CFA is a business development and sales professional with 20+ years experience in the financial services and multifamily industries. He has written and spoken on topics such as electronic rent payment, sales, strategy, job hunting, and market data. Charles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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