In all industries, one of the greatest challenges employers face is hiring the right staff members. If not done properly, it can end up wasting your company’s time and money through things like onboarding and training and even drain momentum for projects, especially if turnover is high. In the property management industry, this is no different, and it actually may be even more of a challenge in some regards. The reason, in my experience, involves several factors, the most prominent being that the job requires a careful combination of people skills, customer service, organization and a team-based mentality, all within a high-pressure and fast-paced environment.
As a former chef, I think a great comparison of a similar industry would be the restaurant business — with the other common denominator being that neither industry typically requires a higher education or degree, making the pay rate for most new property managers not much higher than minimum wage. In some cases, salaries, retirement benefits and insurance may be offered, but typically, only after many years does a decent living wage for the more experienced become available. Posed with these issues, the turnover rate tends to be high in the property management industry, and property management is viewed by many as a temporary job versus a stable career.
With this in mind, here are some suggestions when hiring compatible staff who are crucial to maintaining quality and consistency in property management.
Offer a higher amount.
It may seem obvious, but money talks, and in the property management industry, raising your rates by $2 to $5 more an hour can be the difference between a good and great employee. It’s likely that a new hire will be well aware of the higher amount you can offer because they are looking for and comparing jobs. In the long run, a higher pay rate can be beneficial for the company and you will probably spend less time onboarding. It also enables the company to sets higher standards, such as requiring staff to get their real estate license or other specific designations.
Raise company culture.
The simple truth is, the better you treat your employees, the better the operation will run. It is also critical that you are aware of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and are able and willing to make shifts in departments if that person is not performing at their highest ability. This is even more crucial if the person has shown great moral character and a desire to learn and grow with the company. The only thing preventing them from thriving could be something as simple as a move from accounting to leasing. It’s much easier to train a new task versus going through the process of onboarding a new employee — who will not only have to learn a new task but embrace the company culture.
It’s also important to acknowledge your team regularly, with short daily huddles (quick 5- to ten-minute meetings), fun educational events with food and annual holiday parties to show the gratitude you have for what your staff does for you. When you bring a great feel to the company and empower your team, versus micromanaging, you provide them with a sense of responsibility, which often leads to better results and less oversight.
Hire slow, fire fast.
Although an age-old adage, the wisdom in hiring slow and firing fast, especially in property management, has never been sounder advice. That is why you should make sure you have a comprehensive hiring process in place and enable individuals with a sound structure upon hiring.
Just as important is terminating a toxic employee as quickly as possible, especially if you see behaviors and habits that are not in line with the company culture. Failing to do so can cause irreversible damage to the core staff and culture and will require time and energy in order to rebuild trust and stability. Some great tools to implement for hiring are personality tests, tiered interview processes and, of course, checking up on references. Putting these all together can help funnel the more appropriate candidate for the open position.
Train, educate, evolve and repeat.
There can never be enough education and training in the property management industry, and as the trade continues to grow, it behooves you to stay on top of the best trends that make the most sense for your market. This is not to say that every new thing that hits should be immediately embraced, but’s it’s smart to make sure you have a handle on as much of your industry as possible and are open to fresh new ideas. Having mandatory trainings throughout the year, as well as educational seminars, is highly suggested and will naturally bring about helpful ideas and insights to the business that can potentially add more value and returns.
Hiring is more of an art than science.
Ultimately, hiring and training staff is more of an art than a science, and what worked well in the past may need to be adjusted as the industry evolves. The key to sustained success is to ensure that everyone in the company has fully bought in and is confident in your goals and objectives. This will typically lead to a much more consistent flow and the ability to evolve with the times. Through continued training, education and a unified vision, you can create a successful and healthy work environment.