Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Hiring someone to help you with your property management business isn’t as simple as it sounds.
If you’re a business owner and you know you need to hire someone because you cannot continue to wear 16 different hats while trying to run and grow your business, the biggest challenges are immediate:
You don’t have the time to hire someone, and you may not be able to afford to hire someone.
But the need is there. How do you get out of that spiral?
Kathleen Richards knows how to help. She has joined the podcast before, and she’s full of exceptional advice and experience. She ran a property management company for a long time, and she’s spent the last few years building a coaching business for property managers who feel stuck. She’s discussing how to balance your team without putting your business or your budget at risk.
Process Before People: Preparing to Accept Help
If you’re wondering who to hire, where to hire, and how to pay them, you’re not alone. It’s normal for entrepreneurs to start out doing everything themselves and then realize they need help.
Before bringing those helpers on board, look at your processes. You need to have systems in place. Because if your systems aren’t working, perhaps you just need better systems, and not additional people.
Hiring the right person is crucial, so you need to know your processes and your strengths and weaknesses. Where are you the most pressed for time? You may need a business development manager (BDM) to take over sales or an assistant to help with administrative tasks. Maybe you are overwhelmed by maintenance tasks and you really need someone to handle that part of your business. It may seem like you have sixteen jobs to fill at once, and in the moment it may be tempting to abbreviate the hiring process for quick relief. But, you need to be intentional about which part of the work you’re going to hand off.
Think about what you’re good at. If you are a stellar sales person, don’t hire a BDM. Instead, get rid of the things you struggle to handle. If it’s maintenance, hire an assistant or someone to deal with maintenance calls, work orders, scheduling, tenant contacts and billing. Think about where you need help.
Instead of screaming fire in a panic, identify which room has the biggest blaze, and hire someone to put that fire out.
Paying for People: How to Hire Affordably
When you’re still growing your property management business, you might worry that you can’t afford to hire anyone. There are a number of ways to address this challenge.
Some people hire interns or students. This might work, but remember you get what you pay for. So, it might be better for you to pay a skilled person who can really make a difference in your workload. You need someone who can step in and take things off your plate on Day One. If you are busy, you probably don’t have time to train. An entry level person or an intern will need a lot of attention and supervision. Think about this before you choose this option.
Hiring a virtual assistant is another option. Kathleen hired a virtual assistant to take over her leasing process. You can also try a virtual assistant to manage maintenance scheduling and follow up. This is a huge cost savings. You don’t have to pay taxes because you’re not hiring an employee. So much of what you do in your business is in the cloud. You don’t always need a physical person in your office.
Hiring part time workers can also benefit you and save you money. If you do want someone physically present in your office or conducting showings, start with a part time person. You can advertise the job as part time to full time. Don’t hire someone who can’t grow into the position.
Let the experts help you, too. NARPM has a lot of quality vendors who can help you with the things that take up a lot of your time but may not be in your area of expertise. For example, you can find someone to help with your marketing, your website, and lockboxes so you don’t have to show the properties yourself. Put your NARPM membership to work for you, and utilize the vendors who can support you.
Test Your Budget: Put Money Aside
Kathleen suggests putting aside the salary you think you’d have to pay an employee.
If you’re not sure you can afford someone, spend a few months pretending to pay that future employee. Set aside the amount you’d be paying if you hired someone. If you truly can’t afford it, you’ll know after a couple of months. But, if you can easily put the money aside for six months and you have built up a bit of savings, you do have the money to hire someone.
For business owners who plan ahead, this might seem silly.
If you plan ahead and you know what each new customer is worth to your company and what you have to spend to acquire that customer, you know that the cost of bringing on new staff members is part of the growth process. But, not all property management company owners have business degrees. Maybe you started off managing a handful of properties for friends and family members and your business started growing before you could plan for it.
It’s not too late to start planning.
Payroll can be 50 percent of your revenue when you’re running a property management company. This is a service business, and you need to be prepared for growth and for what you’ll need to do to manage that growth. There will be payroll taxes and benefits and other salary considerations. Decide what you need and what you don’t need. Maybe you don’t even need a physical office.
Look around at the people you already know. Realtors can do showings and manage move-in and move-out processes for you at an hourly rate. You don’t need a full time employee for these tasks. There must be someone smart and capable you know who can be counted on to take some of the load off your shoulders as a business owner.
Try to think outside the box for ways you can get the support you need.
Hiring Right: Use a DISC Assessment
You’re desperate to get someone hired. But, it’s better to fire fast and hire slow.
Kathleen believes in hiring with a DISC model. DISC is a behavioral assessment tool that’s based on:
Personality types are important when you’re hiring. Breaking down a potential employee’s personality type into these four areas can help you hire the right person. If you’re looking for a bookkeeper, you want someone really strong in the C- Compliance area. That’s someone who will follow the rules, pay attention to detail, and balance the books. People with strong I and D traits will be great sales people. Property managers will have strong S and C traits. They are calm, steady, and good with administrative tasks. They’re organized.
You need a well-rounded team. Most people, when hiring others, hire people just like themselves. That’s a critical mistake. Instead, you want to balance out your team. Know your own skill sets and then build the team around what you already have. DISC will help you determine this and hire the right people.
It’s easy to administer. You can find free versions of the assessment online, and it’s as easy as emailing it out to your candidates. If they’re interested in the position, they’ll be willing to take the assessment and return it to you. From there, you can talk about job descriptions and duties and day to day work.
What do YOU Think about Virtual Assistants?
Kathleen mentioned virtual assistants as a good way to hire some help while balancing your budget.
But, Alex has found that to effectively work with a virtual assistant, someone needs to coach them, give them feedback, and provide supervision. It doesn’t necessarily require micromanagement, but it’s a person who needs to be managed like any team member you were bringing on staff. Making a virtual assistant your first hire might not work for everyone.
Kathleen finds huge savings with the virtual assistant model. It provides access to highly educated people who don’t call in sick and are happy to have the work. She loves the support they provide and while she enjoys providing work to local people in her community, hiring four people for the price of one is a savings that many small businesses cannot pass up.
What do you think? Do you have experience using virtual assistants? Would you agree with the Property Management Coach that they make good hires? Comment below!
Planning – Visualize Your Outcome
Kathleen has provided a lot of great information on how to strategize your hiring process. If you take away one major outcome from this podcast, let it be this: PLAN. Once you can see the outcome you want, you can build around that outcome. This is essential.
Looking at your numbers and thinking about your business plan can be uncomfortable and scary. It can even hurt. But, you have to face the numbers and the reality as a business owner. Sit down for a full day every quarter and do some planning. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just think about what the next 12 months should look like.
Talk to professionals like Kathleen who can help you look at your growth and your plans from a different perspective. This will help you eliminate some of your mistakes before you make them.
Just spend some time planning. Put a pen to paper. As a solo entrepreneur, it can be easy to forget to stop and look at what you’ve already accomplished. Do this. It is motivating to see how far you’ve come. Then figure out what to do next.
A Note from our Sponsor: PM Grow Summit 2018
PM Grow Summit is close to being sold out, and you don’t want to miss it. We’ve got diverse speakers from the property management industry who have come together to educate property managers like you. You’ll also get the opportunity to network, and often that’s just as important as the education. Take a look at pmgrowsummit.com and book your tickets online right now. It’s a deep dive into making your company better. A lot of smart people are speaking. Check it out. Make a decision, and soon. You don’t want to go another year without this essential information you need to grow your business.
Thanks to Kathleen Richards, the Property Management Coach. You can find her at thepropertymanagementcoach.com.
Contact us at Fourandhalf with any other questions or thoughts, and we’ll talk to you soon.