Building—and even more importantly, maintaining—good client relationships is essential to the success of any business venture.
But property managers must be particularly conscientious about good customer service because not only are they building relationships with the property owners who employ them, but also with the tenants who rely on them on a daily basis. It all sounds a bit daunting but when it comes down to it, good customer relationships are built on a combination of all the other business practices that make for an efficient and effective property manager.
1. Happy tenants = a happy boss.
Although your property owner signs your paycheck, don’t forget it’s your tenants who are really paying you. Your property owner has hired you to monitor the day-to-day details and is trusting that you take good care of his tenants. Keeping your tenants happy is the fastest way to ensure that your boss is happy with your job performance.
2. Create (and stick to) a clear set of procedures and guidelines.
Establish a set of written guidelines and procedures for things like rent payment and repair requests. Once you have these in place, then make sure they’re readily available to tenants. Tenants are more likely to let you know what they need—making it easier for you to keep them happy—if they know how to go about reporting problems and understand what’s expected of them.
At the same time, remember that in this business you’re dealing with people. And whenever people are involved, chances are at some point you’ll be faced with an issue that doesn’t fit into a neat little box or fall within a clear set of guidelines. Remember that no matter how prepared and organized you are, sometimes things will fall in a gray area. In these cases, you must call upon your best judgment, keeping things as fair and reasonable as possible in the process.
3. Keep your bottom line in check.
Keeping overhead costs as low as possible will win over any property owner. Staying on top of things and making sure problems are taken care of as soon as they arise or—even better—before they happen, goes a long way toward running a tight ship. Just a little bit of maintenance and regular property check-ins will help keep big problems to a minimum and save a lot of money in the long run.
4. Make sure information is current and easily accessible.
Keep clear records of payments, outstanding issues, contact information, and any other relevant information in an up-to-date and easily accessible log. Even if your property owner is hands-off, you’ll look more reliable when you have immediate answers on those rare occasions when he does check in. And if you use a simple online tracking system to provide all interested parties with easily accessible information 24/7, all the better.
5. Return calls and emails within 24 hours.
This is commonsense, but not necessarily common practice: Return tenant and property owner calls and emails quickly. Try setting aside an hour every day specifically for getting back to people—perhaps at the end of the day when an easy project is in order. Always respond within 24 hours (unless it’s a pressing issue or emergency, in which case you should always answer immediately). Even if you don’t know the answer to a question or cannot immediately resolve an issue, respond with a quick call or email to let your tenant or property owner know you’re on the case.
6. Keep the lines of communication open.
No matter how good you are about getting back to tenants and property managers quickly, it’s all for naught if they don’t feel comfortable approaching you in the first place. Establish an open line of communication with tenants; you always want them to feel like they can come to you when there’s a problem or an issue. This will help create loyalty (which means you won’t have to worry about filling vacancies as frequently) and also betters the chances of them alerting you as soon as a problem or repair arises. And the more quickly this happens, the easier (and, often, more cost-effectively), you’ll be able to take care of things.
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