S.M.A.R.T. goal setting for property managers

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 5 min. read

Published on January 19, 2010

Although it may seem as though we’re already several months into winter for those of us in frigid climates, believe it or not, 2010 has really only just begun. With that in mind, we’d like to expand a bit on last week’s blog about goal-setting. This week we’ll really narrow in on those S.M.A.R.T. methods for achieving all you want in the new year.

As a refresher, S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic (relevant), and timely (time-bound). Let’s break those elements down one by one to gain a clearer understanding of why goals that follow these guidelines will serve you and your business best in the year to come.


In order to get what you want, it’s important to know what you want. Think of your goals as a map—how can you expect to reach your final destination if you don’t know where you’re going? Sure, every now and then you might get lucky and stumble your way to a desirable destination… but you will make your life much easier by knowing the quickest route from Point A to Point B.

Let’s look at a specific example. Chances are, most of us would like to raise our profit margin this year. But what does that mean? In and of itself, raising your profit margin could mean anything from making $5 more in 2010 than you did in 2009 to making $100,000 more. Being specific forces you to really strive for something. Sure, if you make $5 more this year than you did last, you can pat yourself on the back for crossing the finish line, but what have you really attained when all is said and done? Specificity is a great way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to striving for increased success.


It’s important to establish metrics for measuring success. Saying “I want to improve my business” is too broad; saying “I want to improve my bottom line by 20%” is a measurable goal. Knowing where you stand and where you want to be helps assess your business strategy and gain a greater understanding of what works and what does not. While there are certainly some goals that are unmeasurable, most goals on your list should be measured in black and white terms.


Sure, we all want to shoot for the stars when it comes to success, but it’s also important to make sure you are setting feasible goals. Of course, you want to make sure that you are challenging yourself (after all, this is where professional growth and innovation are honed), but you also don’t want to set goals that are impossible to meet, essentially setting yourself up for failure. Can you raise your profit margin by 50 percent in 2010? Sure, if you work 24 hours a day and 2010 follows a dismal financial year for you, you just might. But is it probable for the average property manager? Chances are, it’s not. Keep your goals within your grasp… just make sure you have to stretch a bit to reach them.

Realistic (Relevant)

In addition to considering your own resources, make sure that you account for the environment in which you’re functioning. Maybe you are willing to work 24 hours a day to raise your profit margin by 50 percent. But even if you are, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to locate a pool of new tenants that are willing to pay a higher rental rate… the economy simply may not allow for it. When making goals, always be sure that you maintain a realistic view of the climate and circumstances within which you are operating.

Timely (Time-Bound)

Make sure that your business goals are assigned a time period for success. Your goal may be to open up a luxury 100-unit apartment complex. Is this an admirable goal? Yes. Is it something that you can accomplish in one week? Chances are it is not. Assign a time period to the goal, make your goal to open a luxury 100-unit apartment complex by year end 2010.  Even the best plans in the world will fall flat if there are no established deadlines. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with your goal setting deadlines, because these deadlines will motivate you to act now… not later.

In the end, the S.M.A.R.T. methodology provides a road map for setting productive goals and a framework for bettering business. It’s proven very successful for us here at Buildium and we can’t wait to hear how it works for you and your business in the new year.

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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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