When my wife and I first began seeing each other, one of our first dates was to a cool spot in Memphis. We even had the whole place to ourselves.
That’s because, as a property manager early in my career, I picked her up and took her with me to rekey an apartment I managed.
Thankfully, she forgave me for that “date” and still agreed to marry me years later! And I’ve learned a lot since those early days about balancing life with work. Still, I won’t shy away from the fact that the property management business requires an immense amount of dedication.
I have devoted my life to property management, and I’ve learned many lessons along the way. Today, I’m sharing them with you. Whether you are starting your property management business, or you work in an entirely different field, I hope my story will help you in your business. Scroll through the slideshow below for the visual version of this blog post!
How To Succeed In The Property Management Business — Or Any Small Business!
1. Surround yourself with good people – in your business and in your personal life.
I owe a great deal of EZR Management’s success to my business partner, Bennett Rudorfer. Our business was set up for success from the beginning because of our loyal partnership.
I’m grateful not just for Bennett, but my excellent team of hardworking employees. Building a reliable staff is not easy. Putting in the effort to assemble the best team will make your job much easier in the long run, though.
Don’t stop creating your support system at the door of your office, though. Strive to surround yourself with other successful people to learn from. I’m fortunate that I have a great “cabinet” of friends and family who I can turn to for support and advice. If you are still finding your network, here are some ways to build those valuable relationships:
- Help others out. You’ve heard the adage: “Do unto others.” Start by thinking of ways that you can be useful to others in your community and in your industry. A helping hand is a great way to start off a meaningful friendship with like-minded folks.
- Join professional organizations. Attend industry events. Sit on a board for a non-profit that shares your interests. Get out of your comfort zone and you’ll start meeting some fresh faces!
- Don’t forget social media! LinkedIn is great for staying in touch with professional contacts you want to get to know more. Or consider creating a private Facebook group of business leaders in your industry to share struggles and provide suggestions.
2. Always think like a client.
Property managers have to answer countless questions every day. You might have a gut reaction to a certain question, but I recommend this approach: Before you answer, stop and put yourself in the client’s shoes. Is your answer still the same when you look at it from someone else’s point of view?
I understand the desire to protect the interests of your business first. But, your business relies on the partnership of your clients! Make sure to serve them better than your competitors would, or your competitors will.
No matter if you are in property management or another line of work, remember that when your clients win, you win. Any business model that takes advantage of your client’s misfortune and does not work toward their success is a short-term plan set up for eventual failure. That’s why we don’t have maintenance in-house, despite being a common revenue source for property managers, as just one example.
3. It’s never as easy as looks – but if you make it look easy, you’re succeeding.
Since I was a little boy, I knew I wanted to own my own business. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. When I graduated high school, I had a booming landscaping business with over 70 regular clients!
Of course, most small business owners would tell you they love their life’s work. Yet, no one always loves the tough stuff that has to happen behind the scenes. Particularly in property management, there are so many variables to address for even the smallest task.
There will be times that folks just don’t understand how hard you have to work, and it can be tempting to shout your frustrations from the rooftops.
Don’t lose sight of the big picture though. Every time you handle a problem with apparent ease (despite scrambling behind closed doors) you are reinforcing your clients’ trust. That trust will turn into positive word-of-mouth and ultimately fuel your company’s success.
4. Stop to celebrate wins.
The day when I went from running EZR Management out of my car to a bonafide office building was one of my proudest days. Yet, I treated it as yet another day at work! Many years later, I have learned that important moments like this should be savored and celebrated.
Everyone needs a break, or they will burn out. What better time for a breather than when you’ve accomplished a goal? The job of a property manager never stops. But taking time to stop and celebrate will rejuvenate you for the many long days ahead.
5. Keep looking forward.
While I am all about celebrating successes as a business owner, I also firmly believe that you should never stop improving and innovating. For EZR, our goal for 2015 is to improve the technology we offer our clients with newer, advanced software. New tools have a learning curve for everyone. But, they will also help our clients get their needs met faster, and my staff to streamline our responsibilities, create more time to focus on relationships instead of paperwork.
If you are looking for ways to push your business forward, here are a few simple ideas:
- Get out of the office. Even though the days of rekeying on dates are behind me, I still spend half my day in my truck, face to face with my clients, colleagues and interacting in the Memphis community. Relationships are key to learning the areas where you can innovate.
- Conduct a client survey via email to find out what their needs and desires are. If your business is growing, you may not be able to talk to all your clients personally, no matter how hard you try. A survey shows that you are listening and can help you understand pain points for the folks you serve. That’s how we found out that new software is a need among our own clients!
I hope these tips have been helpful to you. I’d love to hear what business lessons you’d share from your own experience – leave them in a comment below!
About Ryan Edwards
Ryan Edwards is the owner and property manager for EZR Management. He founded the company in 2006, building on his years of experience managing and renting properties.