What Property Management Business Plan is Best?

Property management business plans and systems are more important than ever, whether you’re trying to grow your company or simply manage the new normal of this pandemic. But which one is best for your business?

On today’s Property Management Show podcast, we’re talking to Deb Newell and Andy Moore about their expertise in both property management and coaching/consulting. We’re discussing property management business plans and systems and how to choose a path to better operations within your own company.

Introducing Deb and Andy

Deb Newell owns a property management company and has also grown her own consulting business. Real-Time Consulting Services is based in St. Paul, Minnesota. She helps her property management clients focus on three core principles established for businesses: People, Process, and Technology. The mission of Deb’s company is to help businesses see the deficits they have and to find ways to fix some of the gaps and miscommunications. Basically, she dives in as a company’s temporary COO to look at the operations and make them more efficient. She works with companies that are just starting out and have been in business for many years.

Andy Moore owns Gulf Coast Property Management in Sarasota, Florida, and he is also an expert in the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a management system that has worked very well for him and for the companies he has coached through the process of adopting the platform. As a property management business owner, he realized where the operational challenges were coming from in his own company and in the industry, so he became involved in EOS. As his consulting business grew, he became an expert and now works part time with property management companies to reorganize and focus.

Entrepreneurial Operating System – EOS

A visual representation of the EOS business model - six slices of a pie chart labeled People, Vision, Data, Process, Traction, IssuesYou’ve heard us talk about EOS on The Property Management Show before.

This is a business ethos and a system that can be applied to most businesses. It covers the whole gamut from marketing to operations to accounting. EOS provides a framework for the entrepreneur to operate that business within a growing company.

Often, Andy has seen professionals in the property management world start off as technicians. Maybe they were property managers or real estate agents or maybe they worked in maintenance, and then they came into the management or ownership of a company without any real idea for how to run the business. The EOS system becomes a fast-track to a business qualification. It gives someone an idea for how to run a business and to guide them through all the management systems that need to be navigated, including hiring and firing and managing. It helps entrepreneurs set expectations and deliver a quality service.

This is nothing new. It’s not groundbreaking. According to Andy, it’s taking a bunch of proven ideas and packing them up and calling it EOS.

Six Sigma and Other Management Frameworks

A visual representation of the Six Sigma business model - five circles with arrows pointing to the next circle, labeled Control, Define, Measure, Analyze, ImproveWhile Andy focuses his coaching on EOS, Deb takes a unique approach with a little bit of EOS and a little bit of Six Sigma. Her focus is on the lean management side and the idea of eliminating the defects within a business.

Her process is to go through the core principles and evaluate the business in such a way that the company can focus on the customer. By understanding how everything really works, looking at processes and how they flow, concentrating on the value of the business, and removing any blocks or defects, the company is brought to a better result.

An important part of the work is also getting buy-in from the team throughout the process. Every effort has to be systematic where a roadmap is presented. You might think one employee is an issue to your company’s success, but you have to dig deeper. Maybe that employee is struggling because of a lack of training or the absence of clear expectations. There’s always a root cause, and to execute any plan in the right manner, those root causes have to be identified and solved efficiently.

Different Management Systems Fit Different Companies

A team of people standing in a circle with their hands in the center.Deb likes to use her company as a sandbox for her clients; owning her own property management business allows her to test things out. But, it’s important to remember that there’s no one right way to implement a management system. There’s no wrong way to do things. Everyone runs their business differently. There are many variables, from size to region to property type.

You cannot completely copy one successful model that you see elsewhere. It might not work for you.

Andy says he runs into the same challenge. He has to make an effort not to impose his management style and the way he is structured on the others that he coaches. Every business is nuanced, and the dynamics from company to company always change.

EOS allows him to put up guardrails. He can always bring his clients back to the guardrails rather than simply telling a client how he solves a problem in his business.

There is always a temptation to copy what successful property management companies do. But, if you’re in a different market and you don’t understand why the company you want to copy is doing what they’re doing, you may be missing some key insights.

There’s always a new shiny concept or idea that promises to change everything. There are visionaries in the field, but not everyone is going to be able to implement those visions. Find the change agent in your company to drive what you want. If there’s not a person ready to do that, think about how to develop someone who can lead the path towards the larger goals.

How to Choose a Management Framework for Your Property Management Company

Andy turns down a lot of business from potential EOS clients because he looks for companies that have the best chance of succeeding with EOS. There are two reasons that it might not work:

  • The team is not big enough, and that could be in terms of staff, revenue, or doors managed.
  • The company is working on a portfolio structure rather than a departmental structure.

In Andy’s experience, EOS does not work for a portfolio-based company where one property manager is performing all of the tasks associated with a property. The doors tend to slam shut when it comes to accountability and communication.

EOS is not going to work for every company. It’s not going to be exactly what your company needs, necessarily. Some property management businesses have larger problems that need to be solved first. Hiring a consultant or implementing a management system will not erase some of the root problems or the lack of foundation that may be holding you back. It’s not a light switch. Management systems require work – hard work – and they also require a commitment. You’ll be working within their framework for years and once you reach your initial goals, it will be time to set new goals, and that will require additional change management.

Problems take time to solve. As a property manager, you likely have new clients calling when they need a tenant evicted. They’re in emergency mode and they just want to hand off their problem and let it be your problem. But, with change management, you have to be invested yourself, and you have to be committed to the process.

For more about standardized systems in property management, check out our two-part series with Dave Gorham.

A number of people pouring over graphs on wood table, with coffee.

Portfolio vs Departmental Property Management Systems

The difference in department-based management companies and portfolio-based companies is often regional. And, companies shift. They go back and forth between the two models depending on where they are and where they’re going. At Fourandhalf, the team was portfolio-based for a while, and then after going through EOS became departmental.

The best system and structure depends on your company.

It depends on how you manage owners and how accountability is measured and respected in your team. If you’re going to move from a portfolio based system to a departmental system, it’s going to involve more than shuffling around boxes on your organizational chart.

While a departmental system may make sense, most owners you work with will prefer to talk to one person. They don’t want to call five different people to get a report on their property.

At Andy’s property management company, things have evolved from portfolio to departmental to a hybrid where he has realized the value of an account manager who serves as that one contact person that owners can go to. They’re in charge of the portfolio, but they’re supported by different departments within the company.

You can only get to a structure like that with experience and systems.

If you own a property management company, you’re probably managing more than properties. You’re managing people. It’s easy to forget that you have to manage people as well as real estate. There’s an owner and a tenant and employees. When you establish a property management company, your job is to manage many people. Not everyone is equipped to do that.

You can get yourself familiar with structuring your organization with our 3-part series on workflows.

Blind Spots When Managing Your Company

The side mirror on a car, showing the street behind the car, representing blind spots for property management business plansBudgeting can be a big blind spot. Maintenance is as well. Most property managers would agree it’s the bane of their existence. Maintenance is something that has to be addressed and taken care of and if you don’t – that will be your company’s demise.

The lack of any operational systems will always be a blind spot. There’s training and strategic planning – all blind spots.

Those blind spots impact reputation. It’s hard enough to maintain a positive reputation in property management. This is a difficult profession to be in – property managers are required to be experts in several different things in order to successfully and effectively manage a rental property. There’s little recognition.

A number of tools are now available in the industry that can help companies avoid and manage those blind spots.

But, those tools aren’t free. Property managers aren’t charging enough for the work that they do. This is true. It’s also true that owners think property managers charge too much money.

Deb uses a babysitting analogy. The two most important and valuable assets people have are real estate and their children. Why are the services associated with real estate and children so devalued? No one wants to pay property managers more than $100 a month and no one wants to pay babysitters more than $10 an hour. It doesn’t make sense.

With companies and individuals entering the property management marketplace and offering to do the work for almost nothing, it further devalues the work that real professionals are doing. But, it doesn’t take long for those low-cost management structures to crumble.

Pandemic Property Management: How to Survive

The world has changed, and property management companies have been required to change, too. No one saw this pandemic coming. But, it’s easy to see which companies were prepared to pivot in a way that they had to and which companies are still scrambling to make it work.

Andy says his company hasn’t missed a beat because remote workers, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and clear expectations have always been in place. Policies and procedures are not sexy. They’re not fun. But they’re important, especially when it comes to managing staff and properties through this pandemic.

You may have staff members who are working from home, and you’ll have to be flexible. They may be homeschooling their children. They may be balancing work and home, and parenting with spouses or partners who are also working remotely.

Companies will survive if plans are in place. Companies that were struggling with organization and systems before the pandemic are going to find themselves in trouble.

Good things can come out of this, and if you’re interested in talking to Andy or Deb about their coaching and consulting businesses or you want to learn more about how our structured marketing plans can help your business, contact us at Fourandhalf.


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