On one hand, with today’s technology you’re no more than a click and seconds away from reaching anyone on the planet. If you have a question you need answered, you simply Google it.
On the other hand, in the property management world we’re still using business practices and service systems that were commonplace when we had rotary phones and fax machines.
We’re one of the few industries that hasn’t leveraged the full potential of the technologies available to us as well as common, more efficient business practices that bring out the best in our staff, site managers and resident volunteers in our communities.
This is having an impact on our ability to recruit, reward and retain quality managers while discouraging and stifling participation by resident volunteers.
I first noticed this after reading an article in the March/April edition of Common Ground back in 2016: No Rest for the Weary by Robert A. Felix, regional vice president for Associa in Carlsbad, California.
His premise was simple and struck a chord:
“Lack of volunteers, nonexistent attendance, unproductive discussions, tired decisions and stressed-out managers. Let’s call it a night on night meetings.”
He went on to lay out a compelling case, citing examples of how some communities around the country moved to day-time meetings much to the delight of board members and their managers alike. It virtually eliminated the monthly chore of working all day, rushing through dinner with the family, sitting through the meeting, and finally getting home in the late evening.
Overall, shifting to daytime meetings seemed to be a much better and efficient use of everyone’s time.
This got me thinking:
We expect our managers to wear many hats. Not only do they need to be property management experts, they often need to act as hockey ref, therapist, U.N. ambassador and cat herder.
So how can our industry make better use of our site manager’s limited time and still get essential work done more efficiently without sending them into accelerated burnout?
For example, it’s still common practice – especially for managers – to spend evenings on the road to attend their community meetings after already putting in a full day. This time commitment ends up burning out very talented professionals who look to move on. It also discourages resident volunteers from participating because they simply can’t commit to the time required by these outdated practices and models.
The future isn’t about technology. It’s about people.
If we want to attract and retain top caliber people – especially new generations of employees – we need to improve processes and protocols.
Using technology and modern management practices will allow us to save time and money, eliminate waste, increase productivity, and enhance employee and volunteer satisfaction. The following best practices drawn from other industries will help you get started.
Today’s employees welcome a flexible schedule, which allows them to accommodate their careers and personal lives. Flex time is a popular benefit and can substantially increase employee productivity and satisfaction.
The option to work from home is appealing and is becoming more and more accepted – and to some degree – an expected option for many.
We’re beginning to incorporate an easy-to-use virtual meeting platform with our community boards and it has been very well received.
Since most people are familiar with online meetings in their professional life, it is no longer a “scary” option. Today’s platforms are simple and easy for everyone to use.
Our managers also appreciate using virtual meetings for their communities. It’s becoming a real time saver and we’re finding that meetings tend to be more interactive and productive.
This allows managers to work from home or anyplace with internet access, giving them instant access to important documents with a few clicks.
It also allows board members to retrieve documents on their time, virtually eliminating the need to track down their manager and then having the manager dig it out and send it to them.
Everyone gets the information they need, when they need it.
This is not to suggest that we should become mind-numbed robots to technology, working from dark basements in sweatpants.
It’s the human, one-on-one, personal connections we make with our teams and clients that build vital relationships – the cornerstone to success.
However, we can do so much better. I believe that by harnessing simple, user friendly, technology to streamline antiquated systems and processes will improve and enhance valued relationships with staff, colleagues and our clients. They deserve no less.
Anthony Nardone MBA, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM® is the CEO of Corner Property Management in Springfield, NJ, and a member of CAI-NJ Board of Directors