How I started in property management: Jo-Anne Oliveri

Jo-Anne Oliveri
Jo-Anne Oliveri | 7 min. read

Published on February 4, 2014

This post is part of a series of posts by leading property managers about how they got started in property management.

Reentering the Workplace

In 1993, when my youngest child was ready to start school, I decided to find a career that suited my skills and interests. The problem was I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I searched. Whilst searching for a suitable career I read a book by Tony Robbins called Awaken The Giant Within. When I finished reading this mammoth book, I put it down and knew exactly what I wanted to do: Work as a property manager. So I enrolled immediately to complete the required courses.

Within a few short weeks of completing the book, I was working as a property manager with an elite agency in Perth, Western Australia. What a shock to the system that was.

As well as the training I had just completed and passed, I also had business and management skills gained through running our own family business. My first day of work was literally a quick tour of the office, “meet the team,” and “there is your desk.” Induction was not something they were familiar with, which was quite obvious, so it was sink or swim and muddle my way through.

I even had to ask for a password to log onto the property management software. They forgot to set me up. In fact, they didn’t even tell me anything about the software they used. I muddled my way through that too. It seemed that the business owner was just so eager to have the position filled that she didn’t care about anything except to know I was licensed and I had a pulse!

And so I was then given a list with details of my portfolio of clients and property. It seemed that all of the clients had a gripe about something, and every property needed maintenance completed that was long overdue. The tenants weren’t much happier either.

What a mess! The three other property managers kept reminding me that my predecessor who was not at all good at her job caused the problems. Their portfolios were, of course, perfect and their clients ‘loved’ them. The funny thing is that when these team members eventually left, we found the same problems within their portfolios: angry and disgruntled clients, maintenance not completed, and inspection reports not written.

Our agency seemed to lack accountability. Everyone did his or her own thing. There was no consistency in service standards or tasks. In fact there were no service standards. I was very disillusioned and a little scared. I didn’t want to become a statistic and leave the agency. I didn’t want my reputation tarnished or to be burnt out. I wanted to be successful, but how could I save my sanity and self-respect?

Seeing a Problem, Finding a Solution

I quickly learnt that most property management agencies seemed to run the same way: high turnaround of team and a high turnaround of managements and clients. Retention of team and managements was a major problem plaguing the industry.

This bothered me, but at the same time kept fueling my desire to find a solution. I absolutely loved my job. It seemed that to become a property manager all you had to do was complete your required ‘registration’ training and, Bob’s your uncle, you are a fully qualified property manager. Just learn theoretical information, and suddenly you are managing assets worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It didn’t seem right to me, and as I observed the other property managers I noticed that as experienced as some of them were, they all muddled their way through and worked reactively. They seemed to look after the client that was screaming the loudest for attention. Everything happened by default and not by design.

My passion was ignited, and I set myself on a quest to find the solutions for the property management industry. I loved going to work each day and saw this could be a wonderful lifetime career. The industry just needed to develop the solutions, make property managers feel good and confident about what they do, and empower business owners to create business, service and culture by design.

I set myself a 15-year plan to learn everything I could about the real estate industry and property investing. I wanted to know what it was like to own property, so I starting building my own portfolio of investment property. In owning property, I realized that my goal was to maximize my income and optimize the capital growth of the value of my property. I soon discovered what makes a tenant happy and how to ensure they felt valued.

In my quest to learn what was needed to create an industry by design, I also started researching and learning from other industries. My thirst for knowledge and solutions took me to North America. I attended the Disney Institute and found that we could learn so much from Disney. I researched Starbucks, Apple, Marriott, and McDonalds, just to name a few. I researched the car industry and what they did to gain the respect and confidence from car buyers. As an industry, we had so much to learn and so many possibilities if we started to adopt methods of practice learnt from the other industries. I visited property management agencies in the United States and Canada and discovered that our international neighbors had the same issues and challenges caused by the same reasons: lack of accountability, service standards, training, and consistency.

My quest to learn turned into a crusade to drive positive change in the property management industry. I worked purposefully in a local agency as a property manager, then as team leader, and during this time was awarded several state and national property management titles in Australia. In 2003 I was licensee in charge of a real estate agency with sales and property management. After several years I was then offered a position to develop and implement property management systems and training for Australasia’s fastest growing real estate franchise group.

All of these roles and promotions were part of my goal. I had myself learnt the secret of developing a career by design.

In 2009, I founded and launched ireviloution intelligence and the International Academy of Property Management. In my crusade to drive positive change in the property management industry, I knew I couldn’t just wish for a crusade, but I needed the solutions to make it happen.

Over the years, I discovered the missing components that lead to industry success. I searched for what went wrong in the industry and why.

One of those components was training. We were taught the theory of property management, but we needed to learn the how and why of property management. We needed to have apprenticeship style training and create career paths. The practical training was missing.

However, I knew that training alone was not going to create the change we needed. We also needed resources and processes to create consistency. And so ireviloution was launched, and I am still on my crusade to promote positive change in the property management industry throughout the world. I believe that we can and should create business by design and from business design you will have, service, culture, brand, team, recruitment, induction, careers, policies, clients, managements, and everything else by design.

I’m excited to be part of an industry that has such wonderful opportunities for growth and recognition and to know that we can be an asset to property owners and tenants. I’m so proud to call myself a property manager.

Read more on Property Manager Stories
Jo-Anne Oliveri

Jo-Anne Oliveri is Managing Director of ireviloution intelligence in East Brisbane, Australia, which empowers principals and property management teams creating and operating business by design.

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