By David Crown
If you’d looked closely, you may have noticed a new type of property owner in the market. This class of owner is confident in every aspect of their investments. They don’t stress the minutia of day-to-day work on their properties. They live in a state of sureness regarding the direction of their assets, and they out-earn their competitors by a wide margin. But the owners I’m describing aren’t some species created in a lab for the sole purpose of profiting on rental property. They’re not hyper-educated prodigies of real estate. They don’t all wear the same sunglasses, and the truth is, they don’t know anything you don’t—except maybe for one thing. They know that no owner can afford to settle for management that’s less than excellent. Their secret is that, rather than hiring the bare minimum, they’ve chosen property managers they can depend on as trusted advisors. If you’re a rental property owner and your manager doesn’t offer you that type of confidence, you should find one who does.
At the core of this concept is the value of collaboration. Collaboration between an owner and a manager creates greater trust and improves our ability as managers to help our clients take action. My colleagues and I like to think of our collaborative skills as our bedside manner, how we approach interactions, especially conflict. We’ve found that collaboration—the willingness not only to offer explanations, but to truly listen to clients—is a powerful tool to help move past conflicts or disagreements. The challenge for most of us property managers is that we too quickly get wrapped around the axle, believing that we know the right answer. That’s counterproductive. Instead, a trusted advisor makes sure to give their clients opportunities to contribute to solutions. A trusted advisor offers the chance to share ideas while both sides discover the best course of action as they move forward together.
One simple phrase I find useful in a lot of conversations with property owners is, “Let’s just explore some ideas here.” This can help bring about a fair interchange—not just one side speaking its piece. And let’s be honest: as a manager, it’s not my place to impose my opinions. I’m there to serve and suggest to the owner, who will make the final call. But there’s a special satisfaction that comes from truly collaborating on ideas with a client, in which we arrive together on a certain path for repairs, remodels, or other property-related decisions. This all defines a consultative approach to property management: providing not only top-notch management service, but sound and savvy counsel whenever the client needs it.
To other managers, I say, “If you want to be consultative, you have to be impartial.” This can be difficult. But at the end of the day, if a client knows that our absolute conviction is to see them come through their current crises in the best way possible, without having our own vision blurred by any biases or partialities, we can deliver new heights of service. Our industry’s main driver is creating value, and a long-term partnership with a trusted advisor will do just that. Building trust takes work, but it’s always worth it.
David Crown is the C.E.O. of Los Angeles Property Management Group, and has over twenty-five years of experience managing all types of income properties. A hands-on leader who has managed properties in 16 states, Mr. Crown has been asked to serve as an expert witness in property management matters, and currently serves on the Forbes Real Estate Council. He can be reached directly at 323-433-5254.