Property Management: Trust with a Smile!

By Terri L. Callaway, General Manager, Choice One Property Mgmt, LLC, Medford, OR

It has recently become apparent to me that property managers are slowly spiraling down the trust ladder towards the likes of lawyers and used car salesmen. I know this is a strong statement, and I mean no disrespect to lawyers and used car salesmen, both honorable and needed professions, but once the public brands a group in that fashion, it’s hard to shake the stereotype. So, has it really gotten that bad for we property managers?

Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, and I personally don’t believe it’s accurate. However, if you ask a room full of real estate investors if they've had bad experiences with property managers in the past, unfortunately you will be bombarded with stories that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. So, how can it be that an industry so reliant upon good management can be saddled with so many poor property management experiences? I would like to think it’s just a love/hate relationship, but honestly, in my opinion, it comes down to the business basics.

As an experienced property manager and General Manager of Choice One Property Management, a new Medford, Oregon based residential property management firm, I’ve had the opportunity over the last several decades to witness numerous property management offices that consistently underachieve. With social media becoming the new unfiltered Better Business Bureau for the public, a negative experience is just a few keystrokes away from branding your business on the Internet as less than stellar. This is not rocket science, but, unfortunately, many property managers are overworked and under-appreciated to the point that basic customer service skills sometimes take a back seat when dealing with clients, applicants, and tenants.

Nevertheless, all excuses aside, please understand it is virtually impossible, regardless of how you conduct your business, to please all the people all the time, and negative reviews will sometimes be posted. The point is, there are basic opportunities to make first impressions. If you’re a property owner, shouldn’t you expect the following: When you call your property management office, is the phone answered by a “live” person by the third ring? Is the company name used in the greeting? If you must leave a message for your property manager, is the call returned the same day? Is the rental office tidy and clean, presenting a professional atmosphere?

Is your vacant rental property being personally shown by someone who can answer questions about it? Are problems handled in a timely, professional manner? And last but not “lease,” is property management offered with a smile? If you can’t say yes to the above questions about your current property manager, perhaps you should consider a change.

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