Why change up your business model now?: A property management consultant’s perspective

Deb Newell
Deb Newell | 5 min. read

Published on August 24, 2020

How many times have you heard that this is now your “new normal?” How many times have you pondered what COVID-19 will mean for the long term of your business?

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It’s no secret that your world—our industry—has changed and there’s no going back. Now, you must look at your processes, your team, and even your technology in a new way. Many of us worry about working remotely, and as exciting as that may seem to your employees, reality has hit, and it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Children, pets, and life now enter the conference room, which can be adorable and maddening all in the same moment.

So, for employers, how do you measure your company’s success in this new way of working while relying on old processes before COVID-19 started? How do you continue to measure your business and even grow your business?

As someone that helps property managers with my consulting business, Real-Time Consulting Services, I look at it this way—it’s time for a hard reset of your company, everything from people, to processes, to technology. Think of this as the battery jolt your business has been desperate for, whether you are new in the industry, or have been around for 20-30 years; outside factors have changed the game, and so should you.

So, where do you start?

#1: Jot Down Your Wish List of Projects

Create a list. You will find that you may become overwhelmed by the number of projects you identify. Examples can be anything from rebuilding your marketing and leasing processes, KPI-tracking reports, creating a new strategic plan, implementing new software, or reviewing current revenue streams and opportunities to increase your ROI.

Prioritize your list and focus on the top 3. This will allow you to tackle tasks in smaller bites, building on the overall solution. And even with only focusing on the top 3 projects, you still have to run the day-to-day business. I compare this to changing the tires on a car during a race.

#2: Define Your Business

It’s important not to operate your business blindly and to look for ways to continuously improve quality and processes with milestones and goals in place. Plan to understand what you want to achieve and with a clear intention of improving your business. Look at your current state, and analyze what’s currently wrong with the flow of operations and how it can be improved.

During this execution, you will be looking at defining the problems in the current operations of the business and must set quantifiable goals in addressing the issues to rewrite our plan. Determine what has been the disruption causing you to go off course, and you are trying to accomplish.  You will find that during this exercise, you will be measuring and analyzing what you can to help improve your overall processes.

We could not have predicted the disruption that has changed the course of our business. We need to ensure that we are applying actionable steps to allow us to reach new heights and implement changes that will produce positive results that can be measured.

#3: Rewrite Your Processes

Let’s face it.  The way we did things “pre-COVID” is not going to be the same during, and “post-COVID”.  Your old business plan and processes needs to be restrategized and tuned up. Put in place emergency plans that go beyond the weather. Look at your processes and the roles your team plays in each of those situations.

For example, application processing should be considered an online operation. If you had prospects before coming into your place of business, handing in paper applications and cash, stop now. I’ve had my clients tell me, “That won’t work, we live in an area where a lot of people don’t have email.” I challenged the team, knowing that many have smartphones, or children of parents have smartphones and can, if encouraged, get an email address.

This simple move, to push online application processing, sets the pace for the future course of lease signing, move-in, maintenance requests, and so much more. How much more efficient would our business be if we eliminated the exchange of physical paper, without sacrificing your level of service?

As you look at ways of changing your current processes due to our new environment, you will become more efficient, reduce waste, and concentrate on the value you supply your team. This allows your team to become more systematic, operating as a whole, and increasing productivity.

#4: Prepare Yourself for Change

The emotional quotient of being so close to your business and the intangible conflicts of interest that are often found in relationships with employees and business partners can cause roadblocks that are difficult to overcome and move projects forward. Without a doubt, you have to prepare your team to embrace a flexible mindset.

Whether you decide to do it yourself or engage with a consultant, be realistic about how much your team can handle. “Change burnout” is real and can result in having the opposite effect from what you intended. To stave this off from happening, be sure to communicate the reasoning behind some of the areas you are looking to improve. Encourage their feedback throughout the process because the idea isn’t that you get it right the first time, it’s more that you and your team adopt an iterative approach to your processes.

#5: Take Action

This final stage in the process will allow your business to operate more efficiently and in a controlled manner. You have spent the time planning, identifying core issues of your current operations, and realizing that it’s time (especially now) to take action and control the future of your business.

Implementing change in your business by adopting a new business plan will allow you to have a more secure and solid foundation. Building on this and changing your focus, will confirm the value you bring to your clients and establish a renewed energy in the team.

With your plan in place, how can you leverage today’s outside factors as an opportunity to create a more profitable business? Look at your business differently. Focus on the areas of exposure that have manifested themselves to you because of today’s current climate.

Creating a “new normal” through executing your strategic projects will write the next chapter of your success story and will guide the direction of your company’s future regardless of what happens down the line.

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Deb Newell

Deb Newell, MPM®, RMP® REALTOR® began her career in real estate buying and flipping properties. After turning over 35 properties in 4 years, and keeping them as rental investments, she started a property management company in 2001. Today, Deb is the CEO of Real-Time Consulting Solutions, where she strives to help property managers up their game and disrupt the markets where they do business.

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