If you think the price of training your staff is expensive

Landlord surveys I’ve conducted over the past decade have shown that the absolute first order of priority for investors is a well experienced, well trained and knowledgeable Property Manager, and low fees did not override this with only 1 in 12 considering it as having any sort of importance in their choice of Property Manager.

In contrast, one of the most frequent refrains both I and other Property Management trainers hear in the course of our conversations with Property Managers is “oh, my boss doesn’t like paying for training” and this has been confirmed in surveys of Property Managers that I’ve conducted this year – there is a sentiment among some real estate agency owners that there is no value in training their Property Managers to perform at their best, both from a technical and a human skill perspective. Yet directors are the first to comment that all they get from their Property Management division are complaints about lack of service or skill from their landlords and tenants… 

What’s been expressed to me is that there is an imbalance between the amount of training investment in the sales people within agency offices and the amount invested in ensuring Property Management teams are supported to do their jobs well – there is a mindset with some agency directors that while they’re happy to send their sales teams away on 2 or 3 day conferences at a cost of several thousand dollars, they baulk at paying a fraction of that to have similar training given to their Property Managers; and when you look at the value of the portfolios that are being managed this is short-sighted at best or, at worst, dangerous to the long term prospects for success of the business. The online forums I’m part of carry huge amounts of negative comments from investors about the level of skill of Property Managers in general which is an indicator of their frustration at not having properties well managed; add to that, the area of greatest increase in professional indemnity litigation is loss caused to investment property owners due to the lack of care or skill from their property managers.

One of the hallmarks of good culture is an environment where teams feel supported and valued by their management, and part of this is ensuring that they are well supported and well trained to do their job, and are given opportunities to enhance their professional development, this is not purely in training them to better understand and implement the legislation, but also by supporting them with training to be able to cope with the demands of their roles – we’re in a candidate-poor environment and will be for some time, and a culture which will attract high quality staff is one where support of staff is an absolute priority.

While the majority of agency directors understand the value to the business of retaining clients and their management properties, it extends further than just the asset – for quite a number of agency owners, the rent roll is their largest superannuation asset and by not paying attention to and nurturing the way in which this asset is being managed for them by their Property Management teams, they are effectively ignoring their retirement savings. We pay our superannuation advisors a pretty hefty amount of money each year to manage our super funds, and we expect them to be well trained and protect our asset, so why would we not be investing in the training of our Property Managers to do the same for us?

This is the time of year where we look at our budgets for the next 6 months, and the more business-minded agency directors are aware that to be at the forefront of the industry, and be seen as the natural choice for property investors looking for a Property Manager, they need to invest heavily in their ongoing professional development and factor decent levels of expenditure into their staff training budget each year, not only for training on legislation but also with a focus on giving their teams higher quality human and wellness skills training with components such as communication, negotiation and mindset ranking high in their preference. They understand the business case for having a well-trained team – it’s a magnet for clients and new staff alike.

So my message is this, if you’re running an estate agency make sure that you budget for (and fully spend) ongoing training for your Property Managers; not only will you have a far more functional, better performing team, you’ll have a much happier one, and far fewer complaints from your investor clients which in turn will make a happier team again and a better culture for when you’re recruiting for your next Property Manager.

The success of your business might just depend on it.

As I said in the heading, if you think the price of training your staff is expensive, try the cost of not supporting them…